According to the website GlassDoor.com, which keeps track of this sort of thing, Munoz is currently enjoying a surprising 89% approval rating. Although this score lands him a few points below the likes of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has a staggering approval rating of 99%, and Google CEO Larry Page who comes in at 96%, he’s still doing pretty good. 86% is more than high enough to put Munoz in the top tier of GlassDoor.com’s annual rankings of CEO’s. By way of comparison, the GlassDoor.com’s top 25 CEO’s include over performing leaders like Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz, who ranks at #19 with an approval rating of 92% in 2013. And Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, who has a 92% approval and ranks at #18. Mark Zuckerberg is in top place, with that enviable 99% approval rating I mentioned a second ago.
Why is it important for employees to like their CEO? Because good CEOs tend to create good work places. Good management is all about creating a good workplace. Customers share the workplace with employees - so a rewarding work environment is exactly the same thing as a rewarding customer environment.
When employees enjoy coming to work, they tend to work harder, cooperate more with the goals of management, and self-govern in ways that cannot be reproduced in an environment of low morale. Employees that hate dragging themselves to work do not do nearly as much for their company as employees that cannot wait to clock in. So a good manager will constantly want to improve their customer/worker environment.
This is even more important with “flat” organizational structures like the one ground service employees have on the ramp at IAH. United ramp workers in Houston are virtually self-directed; workers collectively determine what hours they work, what days off they will have and what area they work in. It is possible for baggage handlers in Houston to go months without ever speaking to a supervisor, and with collective bargaining, they even help determine their own wages and work rules. Workers that want more days off can take as many as they can afford to give up (up to 50% of their shift), and those who want extra money can easily pick up extra days from coworkers that want more days off.
In other words, there are some pretty good reasons to think of Houston’s IAH baggage handlers as a massive, virtual branch of United management itself, not just subordinate automatons. Winning this workgroup over, and gaining their respect, is every bit as important as winning over airport directors, managers and human resource offices. In fact, if Munoz wants to operate an airline that customers enjoy traveling with, these self-managing front line employees, and their opinions, will be critically important.
It looks like Munoz knows this, and is a CEO that can, so far, show appreciation to the front line workers. And it looks like the appreciation is becoming mutual.
UPDATE: Since this article was written, Oscar Munoz's approval rating improved to 89% from 86%