Executive Careers Blog

Evaluating the CEO - Time to Go or Stay?


It's been a sad year.

We've all felt it, whether it's senior management or an employee at the other end of the totem pole. While companies hunkered down and waited for the worst to pass, some chiefs and senior management saw the downtime as an opportunity to mingle with their grassroots and take their open-door policy a step further. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journaldiscussed how the chiefs at US Airways, Quicken Loans and PricewaterhouseCoopers took advantage of the unexpected downtime to get granular with their employees and get feedback from employees at every level.

Their efforts paid off, resulting in a loyal and productive team.

However, these steps weren't taken just to give a morale boost, although that was high on their list. The chiefs tried to cut through hierarchies to get feedback straight from the employees. These were team members who would otherwise never have had access to them, despite an open-door policy in place. The hugely popular reality show Undercover Boss (See: Learning from the Undercover Boss) addresses this well. Of course, in both situations, there is always the danger of delving too deep and ending up emphasizing on the trivial. And the personal one-on-one is not a one-fits-all formula for managers.

So, for those of you who don’t prefer the social aspect of hosting lunch meetings with random teams of staff, there is always the anonymous survey route. And it can be used for personal performance feedback as well as a more company-oriented questionnaire.

Philip Rosedale, the founder of Linden Labs, a virtual world technology company, discusses how he used such surveys to identify and resolve employee friction and ease flow of communication horizontally as well as vertically in The Responsibility Revolution, penned by Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen. (Read: When Going Rogue is the Only Way Out) Using Surveymonkey.com, a popular survey generation website, Rosedale would send out a short questionnaire to all his employees every quarter. It posed three simple questions:

1. "Do you want to keep me or find a new CEO?"

2. "Over the last three months, did I get better at this job or worse?"

3. "Why?"*

The beauty of the survey lies in the simplicity of the questions.

Rosedale would then share the answers to the first two questions with everyone at Linden Labs. Answers to pointed questions like these would make any of us squirm.

But sharing these results with the team that makes your job easier and compelling sends them the right message: That you see their feedback as useful and equally authoritative.

And as Rosedale says, "You can argue with a mentor, but you can't argue with the crowd. When every third person says, 'You're scattered,' it’s the truth."

Reminds me of a former boss who used to often say, "Your job isn’t to be a good worker. Your job is to make me look good as your manager."

Do you have the courage to ask and confront those questions? Leave us a comment, email or connect with me on Twitter @VaultCSR!

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*Excerpted with permission of the publisher Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Imprint, The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win. Copyright (c) 2010 by Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen.

Aman Singh is the Corporate Responsibility Editor at Vault.com. She is a New York University alum and previously wrote for The Wall Street Journal. Her area of work includes corporate diversity practices and sustainability, and how they translate into recruitment and strategic development at Fortune 1000 companies

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