Maybe Nadella isn't God, Microsoft employees say after hearing layoff plans

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella walks on water if you believe his ratings as a boss by Microsoft employees. But after his announced plans for laying off 18,000 employees, Microsoft workers are far cooler to him. Is this the end of his honeymoon?

Nadella's ratings at Glassdoor, a site at which employees review their CEOS, have been among the highest in the industry, far above what former CEO Steve Ballmer's have been. Back in May, I blogged that Nadella had an 85% favorability rating, while Ballmer's for 2013-2014 had been a lowly 39%.

Between then and the layoff announcement, his rating continued to go up. GeekWire reports that for the third quarter of 2014, Nadella received a lofty 96% approving rating, far above the average 69% CEO rating. Computerworld's Gregg Keizer notes that the 96% would have put him at number 4 on the Glassdoor annual list of best CEOs, if he had that rating for all of 2013-2014. His ratings, averaged since he took over as CEO have been 88%.

But since his layoffs announcement, Microsoft employees appear to be not quite so enamoured. Glassdoor has not yet compiled his favorability ratings since then, but Gregg Keizer has done a bit of digging and analysis based on comments on the site. Based on his analysis, Nadella's rankings have gone down considerably. He reports:

Before the job cuts, 62% of the Microsoft current or former workers said they approved of Nadella, while just 3% said they disapproved and 27% answered with the politic "no opinion."

After the layoffs were announced, the mood changed. In the eight days following the cuts, 47% said they approved of Nadella, 13% said they disapproved, and 32% claimed they had no opinion. (The figures do not total 100% because not all who posted a review on Glassdoor provided an answer on the CEO question.)

That's a very big dropoof and shouldn't be a surprise. When you think your boss may be firing you, you don't necesssarily think good thoughts about him.

Does this mean his honeymoon is over? Most likely yes. Up until now, the decisions he's made have been ones that people have been clamoring for, such as releasing Office for the iPad before its ready for Windows 8 and admitting that Windows is no longer the center of Microsoft's universe. But announcing the biggest layoffs in Microsoft's history doesn't quite go down as easily for Microsoft employees.

The ends of honeymoons are inevitable, though. It was going to happen sooner or later. From this point on, Nadella is going to be judged by results, not promises. And that's a good thing. In the business world, realities are always better than illusions.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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