It’s been five months since the HP board stunned the tech world by handing the CEO job to celebrity CEO and failed politician Meg Whitman. So we ask, how do you think she’s doing?The recent revelations of Mark Hurd’s job-ended behaviour has got everyone thinking again about HP’s troubles with its CEOs. Moral of that story: you can’t chase an employee and then expense your misguided amour to your employer, lie about it, and keep your job.
This has been a long sad road for a company that was once renown for its employee-centric, decentralized management style called “the HP Way.”
HP employees knew Hurd’s colours. He was loved by shareholders for rescuing HP’s balance sheet from the disastrous CEO before him, Carly Fiorina. But employees felt he cut his way to those results with a string of bad decisions. They accused him of being stingy over the company’s profit sharing while awarding himself and a few of his favourite executives obscene bonuses. His was described by some employees as autocratic and a bully and was secretly called Mark Turd.
The guy that replaced him, Leo Apotheker, was another disaster for altogether different reasons. Just days before he was dismissed, Jeff Reeves at Investor Place said the company represented “everything that’s wrong with corporate America right now — stupidity, a lack of innovation, bloated operations and no leadership.”
Employees called that one from the start, too. We asked HP workers one week into Apotheker’s reign what they thought. A few were unsure but others were disheartened. One told us. “A CEO from inside would be better choice. The HP crowd feels very sad and are demotivated.”
Another said “HP is a stressful place to work. What HP employees will think of the new CEO will depend on how he values his workforce. A true leader will lead with the qualities that Hewlett & Packard outlined in their HP-way. If Apotheker is a cut/slash/burn type of guy, then the board recruited a more-of-the-same dictator.”
HP employees have proven to be the best meters of how well their CEOs will do.