Saturday, August 13, 2005

Marching Towards Mediocrity

I enjoyed this comment in the last post so much I wanted to repeat it here:


First, to be perfectly fair, you should add the promo budget to the merit budget to get the real average raise across the company. Though honestly, HR is doing some creative math since they say 1.7% + 2.0% = 4.9%. And even 4.9% is thin stuff. Oh, yeah, it’s a lot better than some folks have gotten over the last few years, but the thing is, MSFT needs the best people it can find in order to compete. The software market is very, very lucrative, and that attracts competitors. MSFT with average employees is a sitting duck waiting to be taken down.

And the company is crossed up and going the wrong direction with the compensation package. Salaries at MSFT are better than average, but not outstanding (and this is by design – the company targets the 67th percentile, meaning roughly a third of software companies will pay better salaries). So, all else being equal, the company will get employees that are better than average, but not outstanding. That means companies that can attract outstanding employees will eventually eat Microsoft’s lunch. Unless the company can find some other advantages in hiring.

Well, MSFT does have two things going for it there. Great benefits and financial security. Now, what sort of employee is going to value great benefits and financial security? A guy with a wife and a couple of kids. So, with better-than-average salary, great benefits, and financial security, MSFT could attract outstanding married employees with kids. But a guy with a wife and kids wants to go home while it’s still light out, and wants to spend weekends with his family. This guy also maybe is more interested in a good steady job than in grubbing his way up the corporate ladder. He’ll do good work and contribute to a solid product, but isn’t interested in working 80 hour weeks to get a 4.0 and a promo.

But the company clearly isn’t interested in that sort of employee. We want aggressive, ambitious people who will bust their butts to stand out and get ahead. People who will take risks to grab the brass ring.

Only, we aren’t attractive to those people any longer. Not the best ones anyway. The guy willing to take a flyer to make it big isn’t impressed with financial security – he’s a risk taker. He wants salary and stock options, and we don’t pay enough for the best ones any longer.

So, there’s a mismatch between what the company is willing to offer and what it expects in return. The end result is that we’ll drive away the outstanding people who would be willing to work for 80% of the salary they could make somewhere else in exchange for great health coverage for the family and the stability to stay in the same place long enough to put the kids through high school. And we’ll replace them with the second-best of the young-and-hungry kids, because we’re paying second-best salaries and not offering stock options any longer.

It’s just plain stupid. We’re not using our competitive advantages and instead playing a game that belongs to other companies now.

I'm disappointed.


For some reason, pasting this in made me think of an old-time Microsoftie I used to work with who kept a balanced, fun life and managed to be incredibly productive and effective at work. I wish Microsoft would study his work day to better understand how all of us can get great things done with the lightest of touch. Even when he scaled up to be a super GM, he was having "this attached routine would give you better results" or "from this profile, this code path could be massively sped up" moments that made the rest of us wonder how in the world he managed to do that. He continued to mentor us at key points and have tremendous impact on the product, bits up. He's quite an inspiration... like Mel.

It would be much better for all of us currently working for Microsoft to be super efficient like that with our collective wisdom versus trying to hire every hot batch of newly graduated potential, desperately hoping that the new shiny cog will work better than that old, mediocre cog who just keeps hanging around the group and (dang!) just won't move on no matter how few 0% raises we give 'em.

Anyway, lots of comments around the previous posting. Unfortunately, lots of those were comment spam that I haven't cleaned up yet. And a few were debating about racism / favoritism at Microsoft. From my experience, Microsoft is an exceptionally fair place where people are making decisions around money. When you're trying to make a profit, you're trying to assemble the best contributors there are. Period. Capitalism can make you color blind to everything except for the crisp green Benjamins.

Now Malcolm Gladwell might say we are still inclined to choose based on unconscious bias (like how my building oddly seems to only hire from Ivy League schools). But I personally haven't seen racial bias. In fact, rather than favoritism amongst similar groups, the only time I've had concern of discrimination was between folks of the same group holding their reports to an extremely high standard and perhaps being more lax towards the rest of us who sort of stumbled through a hazy, beer-infused American education.

So whatever bias we may or may not have is just a fleeting shadow to what I've been exposed to living and working elsewhere in the country. At Microsoft, flipping the Bozo Bit is much more prevalent, and I rarely ever see that unflipped. That flip usually manifests itself with your first 3.0 review rating, and if you get a second 3.0, you might as well realize that the bit has been really flipped and unless you're going to unflip it yourself, you should either move to another group or be like the rest of the cool kids and get the heck out of Microsoft.

 

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thats an interesting observation you put out. What you say is indeed true. I doubt Microsoft will be swallowed anytime soon (if ever), because of its sheer size and hold on the marketplace. Next to linux, Windows is still the easiest OS for the novice to get onto and quickly be able to use the features of the computer. And i must add, also with the vast majority of software that runs on the microsoft OS, I don't think that OS will go away anytime soon. If it did, entire companies would cease to exist or die out.

However all that said its true that they could stagnate. I'm no expert at this though.

I've bookmarked your blog and plan to continue reading. Thanks

Pastor Rob
Calvary Alliance Church, Beltsville, MD
Website: http://www.cmacalvary.org
ESL http://esl.cmacalvary.org

Anonymous said...

I wish Microsoft would study his work day


You really shouldn't wish that on the effective people. Let them do their thing and leave them alone. The people that should really be studied are the ineffective people. That way you know what not to do.

Anonymous said...

There is racism at Microsoft, in a strange way. Indians are given some sort of elevated status. It honestly isn't deserved, but the adulation Bill has for guys like Somasegar seems to have created this aura around Indian employees (all the more appaling in this particular instance).

Anonymous said...

I've never noticed a bias towards Indian employees in the Windows group. The only thing that approaches 'racism' that I've noticed, is that hiring managers seem to have a preference for hiring people of the their own nationality.

Anonymous said...

Racial bias? I call BS. Only bias I've noticed is that newly crowned GM's tend to go for the cute but ditzy hotties.

Anonymous said...

That flip usually manifests itself with your first 3.0 review rating

Disregarding of course the long established tradition of screwing over new hires by saddling them with a 3.0 on their first review.

Anonymous said...

The only rationale I've heard for giving a 3.0 for the first review has something to do with not knowing yet what a person is going to produce at MS. The idea is that people work really hard in their first year but then slack off after that. Since you get a 3.0 for all that hard work, you are then expected to work even harder from then on.

The logic breaks down though because isn't the review score supposed to measure you in relation to your peers? In other words, if your group is full of a bunch of slack-off's and you slack-off the least, then you should get a better score regardless of it being your first review.

Anonymous said...

Oh, c'mon, Soma is fantastic VP, just look how much better Whidbey is managed than Everett and VS7. After all, server and tools P&L is moving much faster than enyone else. Where is that previous VS VP?

Anonymous said...

"There is racism at Microsoft, in a strange way. Indians are given some sort of elevated status."

I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed.

As the company is reknowned for being on the cutting in regards to diversity, I was thrown for a loop when I ran into this paradox.

Unfortunately, when racism is 'reversed'/atypical like this, I'd say people are more afraid of saying anything because of potential backlash.

Anonymous said...

As a Microsoftie who has moved on to Goog---err, Greener pastures, here is my experience over the last few years at Microsoft:

When I first arrived at MS I was amazed at how many "rock-stars" there were to learn from. My first team was a group that was formed from an aquisition and there were people there who had immense technical depth but also business smarts and industry connections. After a few years many of the top-top talent left but it was okay, because there were still a bunch of super-talented people to learn from.

These were devs who had amazing technical depth, lots of industry knowledge, often times were long-time Microsofties with lots of company loyalty. I still had a lot to learn from them.

Then a few more years went by, and of course I myself grew as a dev, but there was also a change in the talent around me. Most of the best devs had moved on, and one day I looked around and realized I was one of the most sophisticated developers left in our division...

I decided it was time to move to a place where I could continue to grow, and after looking around at teams within MS, I left the company. I quickly got offers from Yahoo, Google, Amazon, and a few startups.

I encourage developers to look around and think about who they work with and the talent level of their group... if you have no one left to learn from, how do you grow?

Anonymous said...

And Google does NOT want to people to work long hours? Yeah, right... Even if not, it soon will since as a public company it is required to increase revenues. Trust me, that 'do not evel' thing will quickly go away as soon as control turns to shareholders and institutions. BTW, I have been with Microsoft for 8 years, has been moving well and only worked two Saturdays in my entire career. And no, I am not Indian. But my boss, who promoted me three times, is. Funny.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, c'mon, Soma is fantastic VP"

Yeah, right. Anyone who ever has to deal with windows sustained engineering can tell you what a wonderful VP he was. Such vision to create an org that is 10 times the required size, with bureaucracy that would make the most corrupt government proud. Although maybe he does it to skew the benefits when he outsources all of it?

Gotta love how the guy shows up from India, makes a killing over here, like he never could have over there, and then starts selling US workers down the river, all the while Bill and Steve urge him on.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a bad person by any means - but I'm going to love seeing Google crash and burn in the near future

Anonymous said...

I'm one of the "married with kids" guys who is supposed to be attracted to Microsoft's stability and benefits.

And I just left!

Anonymous said...

"Oh, c'mon, Soma is fantastic VP, just look how much better Whidbey is managed than Everett and VS7. After all, server and tools P&L is moving much faster than enyone else."

Developer Division is a disaster. Server & Tools PL is doing well in spite of its mistakes and poor execution (Whidbey, Kodiak, Yukon) not because of stellar leadership.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear more elaboration on why Developer Division is a disaster if some of you have the time.

Anonymous said...

I am new to msft (less than 6 months) and many of the items mentioned here ring true. Here are some things I have noticed over the past months that match what others have said. BTW, I work in Windows SE.

1. WinSE is bloated, inefficient, and overloaded with process.
2. Called it racism, nepotism, whatever, but I have definately noticed the 'indians helping other indians'.
3. Why is it okay to let a new hire stumble around aimlessly for 3 months, without showing what they should be doing or how to do it?
4. Why does msft hire so many recent college grads? Haveing many years of industry dev experience, it is easy to see why we have such a problem shipping quality products on time. Yes, most people here are very smart, but most do not have any experience either. So many stupid things get done becuase they don't know any better (because as we all know a CS degree doesn't really prepare you for real commercial software development) and yet we 'trust' these people to make decisions for which they have know background so they can make an informed decision.

I could go on, but I will wrap it up with this. I think that with all of the resources we have here, msft could once again be a major innovator, and improve quality. However there will need to be some major 'cultural' changes needed before that happens.

Anonymous said...

This guy also maybe is more interested in a good steady job than in grubbing his way up the corporate ladder. He’ll do good work and contribute to a solid product, but isn’t interested in working 80 hour weeks to get a 4.0 and a promo.

These are the people that get labeled "career 3.0s". Microsoft is the only company that doesn't want this class. Other companies would die for a good, reliable, loyal employee, but can't find them.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear more detail about why you guys think DevDiv is a disaster. I knew that WSS (home of SQL and Exchange) was pretty bad, but DevDiv seems to be doing okay. I like Treadwell quite a bit, and Soma seems to be driving the group toward execution. I know that Whidbey is late, but part of this has more to do with the fact that no one ever costs projects realistically at the start.

But I could be wrong, and I'd like to hear from folks with strong opinions. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

You should see how bad it is for people who join MS out of MBA school. They stiff them on pay, level, and career advancement. Heck, this year, they are giving MBA hires a higher base salary then people currently make who joined several years ago out of MBA programs. No wonder why MSFT loses about 80% of their MBA hires within 2 years!

Anonymous said...

Oooh, I see, Soma is coming to US and is making a killing instead of you, I supposed. Right. BTW, I am not American citizen either (not Indian).

And you know what? I know career 3.0. He works long hours, but his code still sucks and hit bug fix rate is the worst. After working in a team for 5 years he still does not know how the product works and unable to answer any questions in newsgroups. But he is VERY loyal. However, it would really, really better hire someone else.

Anonymous said...

In my group, the people from India were just as unmotivated as the people from other places.

Anonymous said...

I’m the guy who wrote the post Mini quoted in this entry.

The career 3.0 that Anon@8:34 PM talks about sounds like the old joke – the guy who everyone else wishes would only work 40 hour weeks because when he works overtime, he just makes a bigger mess for the rest of the team to clean up.

And that’s one of the problems with 2nd tier ambitious people. They make a lot of messes for folks to clean up. Right now we have too many ambitious people with too many “initiatives” who go around making work for everyone else. I’m not entirely sure about Mini’s idea that we need fewer people, but I do think we need fewer projects. Or at least, fewer projects that create work for other projects. It’s been years since I’ve worked on a project that was allowed to define its own vision of success. We’re always at the mercy of any number of mid-level managers on other teams bucking for a promotion by driving some initiative or other. None of them actually do the work themselves. They just cram it down other team’s throats. Sometimes they just get in the way by claiming some turf and snarling at anyone who comes near it.

But that’s the way it is, when you don’t have stock options any more. To get really rich, you have to make it to VP. So the ambitious folks go grubbing their way up the ladder, and that means “driving initiatives across divisions.” Whether the initiatives make any sense of not.

Maybe what we should do is start tying part of the review scores for GMs and PUMs to how they’re rated by the ICs and front-line Leads in the rest of their division. “Would you say [insert name of PUM] and his/her group: a) made it easier for you to ship a quality product on schedule, b) harder for you to ship a quality product on schedule, or c) had no major impact on your ability to do your job.”

Since we’re all Anonymous here, you can just call me by my Dirt Name: ShiftingRight

Anonymous said...

"Why is it okay to let a new hire stumble around aimlessly for 3 months, without showing what they should be doing or how to do it?"

Well, because you are not really expected to achieve anything in the first year while you are earning your 3.0. The 3.5 and 4.0's figure you are better off doing this on your own time.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of PUMs rated by ICs in any other group they had contact with, that would stop a lot of bullshit.

I'd also like to see mspoll numbers published by PUM. When you are looking for an internal transfer, you can get a real idea of what the people in that team think. It would also be good to publish turnover numbers.

Anonymous said...

When you are looking for an internal transfer, you can get a real idea of what the people in that team think. It would also be good to publish turnover numbers.

Good f-ing luck with that. There's no way this would ever happen since the only people who care are the ICs. The last thing a PUM or VP would ever allow is some sort of metric by which their performance could be judged.

Anonymous said...

Fire all the gossipy people. Anyone that says anything negative about another person, to anyone but that person, should be fired.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, I see, Soma is coming to US and is making a killing instead of you, I supposed. Right. BTW, I am not American citizen either (not Indian).

I made a killing too, I don't care about any exec's money, they can all go to hell. I just enjoy my IC job, and can walk away anytime if it pisses me off.

But ask yourself this about Soma. Why does the guy who runs Devdiv have IDC reporting to him? He took it when he moved from Windows. What's the real agenda there?

Anonymous said...

Is there racism at MS? Well I've worked at MSFT since the 90s, and in 3 groups of about 300 people total across all three groups there were...3 hispanic and 2 black people

what's that mean? donno

Anonymous said...

"Is there racism at MS? Well I've worked at MSFT since the 90s, and in 3 groups of about 300 people total across all three groups there were...3 hispanic and 2 black people

what's that mean? donno"

If you don't know what it means then why did you bring it up? I've been at MSFT for almost 4 years and I haven't experienced racism directly or indirectly and I'm as black as they come.

-- Dare

Anonymous said...

for anyone to say that there is no discrimination or racism at a company with nearly 60,000 employees is irresponsible. Heck, I was told by some HR monkey that MS tries to promote "under represented minorities" - So, if you are Indian or Chines, you are out of luck. But if you are African American or Hispanic Female, you could pretty much what you wanted and get a good review score and bumps up in level. The sad thing is that i have seen this happen personally. So, I guess you can they that their is no "discrimination at MS" but there sure is a formal "reverse discrimination in place"

Anonymous said...

I work in the field. With the recent vertical sales alignment “tailwind” project there are a lot of open positions in the EPG sales force. During a recent all hands call that I was one a GM announced the open positions and encouraged everyone to submit resumes of external candidates. The GM went on to say that if Microsoft hired your referral you would receive a gift certificate for $500 bucks. If you referred a "under represented minority" and they were hired you would receive a $1,000 gift certificate. WTF? I thought we wanted the best and the brightest, not the most under represented!

Anonymous said...

More proof that you can't please everyone.

One person complains that there aren't enough blacks and hispanics while the others complain that trying to target hiring/promoting blacks and latinos is reverse discrimination.

Amusing.

-- Dare

Anonymous said...

How about hiring the best without first checking the color of their skin?

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I've worked at Microsoft for more than 8 years and I've never seen anything even remotely similar to racism or reverse discrimination.

Anonymous said...

"BTW, I have been with Microsoft for 8 years, has been moving well and only worked two Saturdays in my entire career. And no, I am not Indian. But my boss, who promoted me three times, is. Funny."

I'm guessing (a) you're a woman and (b) you're in marketing.

Tell me I'm wrong and I'll eat a penguin.

Anonymous said...

Heck, I was told by some HR monkey that MS tries to promote "under represented minorities"

Ah, so you're saying if I was a half-black, half-indian, all-lesbian, legally blind retarded female amputee in a wheelchair I'd be CEO?

Anonymous said...

"Fire all the gossipy people. Anyone that says anything negative about another person, to anyone but that person, should be fired."

Disagree. There are times when you will vent about people like your manager or spouse out of frustration.

Chances are, if you're saying something negative, i.e. person x isn't pulling their weight and the team needs to pick up the balance. The person slacking knows they're not doing what they're supposed to, and are imposing an awkward situation on the rest of the team.

There are situations, where the person of the discussion is your manager. I've personally been in a situation, where people on my last team - upon learning of my xfer to another group/building - began telling me how unhappy they were, how they were unfond of our manager, etc. This was roughly 50-75% of the team. I was floored, and some of their comments were spot on valid and when they were I agreed with them.

The comments were re: management skills. I think my former manager was a great IC, and worked hard at being a manager, but didn't have all the skills yet. As a result, the people on the team suffered in certain areas.

Now in that situation, one of the people who asked me about my manager and whom I agreed, apparently went back to my former manager and from the reaction I get these days, told him/her a variant on the truth in true syncophant fashion.

Does that make me a gossip? If someone says the stock hasn't gone up much in years and I agree. Am I a gossip, or am I someone agreeing with facts.

No, the issue is not with the person who said x. It's the synchophant losers who then go to people, take an innocuous comment and add their own gossipy spin 'Did you hear? Person x is really down on the company because the stock price is down. She's totally looking at going to Google."

And let's not forget the people that speculate on people's love lives. C'mon, now that is just plain sad.

Hopefully this WalMart guy will help shake things up a bit.

Anonymous said...

its amazing how many people keep saying that there is no racism at MSFT. Reverse Discrimination is racism! Heck now HR is making a policy of giving you 2x hiring bonus for any minority candidate? Tell me that is not racist! They are saying that a black is worth more to them then a white employee! The best I saw was on a minority employee who got promoted, while her entire team and others she worked with wrote in her feedback that she was one of the worst employees ever at MSFT! This company is really doing some stupid things in the name of equality

Anonymous said...

okay, why do people use the phrase 'Reverse Discrimination'? (yes, I know its in the dictionary) But seriously, what a lame phrase. Does this mean that only white people can 'Discriminate' against non-white people? Perhaps we should just stop tacking race altogether, and just hire the best. With all of these stupid 'requirements', its no wonder we can't ship anything on time. Everyone is too busy worrying whether the Indian in the next office got a promotion instead of the Russian down the hall. Just think what 30,000+ supposedly brilliant software engineers could do, if they could just stop worrying about things that don't matter.

Anonymous said...

The last thing a PUM or VP would ever allow is some sort of metric by which their performance could be judged.

That is so true. We had an email send out in winse to all the managers (mak's extended directs) that discouraged posting of goodbye emails to the "windows se all" alias. Even beyond that, he encouraged managers to post new hire emails (usual background info). How lame.

Anonymous said...

Heck, I was told by some HR monkey that MS tries to promote "under represented minorities"

Funny enough a few years ago, one of our managers(a guy) went to recruiting event in Seattle for MS. Recruiting forgot to tell him it was a recruiting event for women, so he showed up and was probably the only guy at the whole event.

Anonymous said...

The last thing a PUM or VP would ever allow is some sort of metric by which their performance could be judged.

I couldn't agree more. I've been at the company for 6 1/2 years, and in every MS POLL I've commented on the lack of accountability for PUM/GM level managers. So far the only response has been more bureaucracy put in place (how many VPs & GMs between you and the execs now vs. 4 years ago?). I couldn't even tell you what half the VPs at the company do.

On the subject of discriminaton, I have seen a mixed set of things. I haven't noticed any real bias towards any ethnic group at all. I have noticed you sometimes find clusters of ethnicities probably due to internal recommendations etc. For example, in my current group Russians are prominently represented in dev, there is a big cluster of Romanians on the test side. It just happens sometimes, but I don't see any bias there.

The only real disappointing thing that I see is that women are under-represented on the development side as a whole: only 2 devs out of 45 in my group are women -- it was similar in my previous group.

As far as singling out Somasegar as a crappy VP -- well, most VPs are useless dead weight, aren't they? The DevDiv VP that preceded him was just as bad or worse. Frankly, I couldn't tell you what half the VPs in this company even do. Just usless bureaucracy.

Anonymous said...

I know a manager who was told that he "should" keep a woman on the team (he wanted to remove her from the team and eliminate the role) as a direct report since he did not have any other minority women on his team who directly reported to him. Can you believe this CRAP!

Anonymous said...

I am from the field and have been with Microsoft for almost 8 yrs and during these years have had the oppotunity to move continents and teams. Racism at Microsoft like any other place is a reality.

If anyone thinks its not then you are an ostrich-however it used to be way less when I joined or at the very least it was not institutionalised like it now has in the name of diversity. I am appalled to know that HR has different hiring bonuses based on the colour of your skin ( I am not white) . I came to this country and company because even though they are not perfect we were the most meritocracy oriented places to live and work for.

The issue is much deeper- The company has become indifferent.Period. We are no longer an innovative place but a metric crazy bloated bureacracy. As HR has their diversity metric to measure and the VP's thier own share. Moving Stock price is hard to put on any metric and with the influx of former Big Blue and Sun people( who have just killed thier last enterprise) we are now becoming the new Blue.

Talent Development is key for the growth of any company and we pay lip service to that. Someone pointed about MBA hires and I think he was spot on. My only advice is that each person needs to have a plan for their developmemt ( personal and financial) and execute on it. This is not the same place it was 8 yrs ago and it will never be. So we should feel great for having had an oppportuity for having been part of a once agile company that is now having a major crisis of confidence. The current crop of leadership ( mostly the middle Tier) sucks.. bigtime.But Life goes on and life is bigger for me them Microsoft. I have a lot to be thankful for while working here. Met a lot of great people and built wonderful friendships... but I am now giving myself a couple of years till I find another great place to work in the interim build my skills so that i dont run into the same crap that I have to deal with here.

Anonymous said...

As illustrated by current national and world events, the opportunity is still exists for any idiot to become a Chief Executive.

Anonymous said...

Good f-ing luck with that. There's no way this would ever happen since the only people who care are the ICs. The last thing a PUM or VP would ever allow is some sort of metric by which their performance could be judged.


Hmm.. there is a pretty simple workaround, right? Why can't we have a non MSFT-hosted anonymous rating system, that could gather such metrics/feedbacks on managers/VPs etc.?

This is even not prohibited by agreement with MSFT, at least if there is no comments in this system, but only ratings.

Bruce said...

When I joined Microsoft, I was a young single guy who worked 80-hour weeks. Now I'm older, I have a wife and two kids, and while I still work the occasional 80-hour week, its certainly much less frequent.

I know more, and work smarter, than I did when I joined. I have no ambition to be a VP, and while I wouldn't turn down a million dollars, having a million-dollar salary is not a big goal of mine. I want to work with smart people, create products with impact, and be a kick-ass programmer. I have to admit that I've never been much of a risk-taker.

So according to the comment quoted above, now I'm not wanted? I'm not the kind of employee that Microsoft wants?

You know what? Too many chefs spoil a meal. I contribute plenty of value to Microsoft, I'm happy being an individual contributor, I'm satisfied (but not ecstatic) with my salary, and quite pleased with my benefits. I *really* resent the insinuation that I'm the kind of employee that will cause the company to fail. Sure, its great having your 80-hour superstars who live on the edge; maybe you even have to have those folks to be successful. But you know what? If you want to be successful long-term, you need your 50-hour superstars too - people who kick ass even if they aren't risking their ass or their job on some wild venture.

Anonymous said...

Regarding devdiv and Soma:

From what I understand, Soma was hired to provide a much needed buffer between the execs that actually managed the products (Craig Symonds, David Treadwell) and that great big asshole Eric Rudder. The only visible impact I've seen from Soma is the expansion of the "engineering excellence" group, which is basically a big group of bureaucrats.

Anonymous said...

"When I joined Microsoft, I was a young single guy who worked 80-hour weeks. Now I'm older, I have a wife and two kids, and while I still work the occasional 80-hour week, its certainly much less frequent."

I am going to be very honest and say that an individual whose life consists only of 80-hour weeks to work on something whose major benefitiary is someone else (i.e. he is not working for himself) is probably f*cked up... and it is this kind of personality f*ck up a company wants.

If this is truly in the end the way it is, I find this very sad and depressing, hardly for something to cheer for. It's just sweatchop slavery - albeit perhaps well paid.

Anonymous said...

I am a customer-facing field employee (not anywhere near Redmond thank God) who has been with MSFT for 9 years. It's just the same in the field though. We are saddled with ex-IBM, ex-Sun and ex-Oracle middle management new hires who did their best to bring their own companies down and now have been recruited by our outstanding HR department who doesn't find any of our own people "worthy" to lead (which says a lot about our culture of developing people doesn't it) to lead us down the same path. Very discouraging. Look at the current middle to upper management in EPG if you want to get really depressed about our future.

Anonymous said...

It's funny to see all the scare anectodes about "oh horror, those racist minorities and sexist womens are coming to take MY money!", when the following quote was in the original post:

"Well, MSFT does have two things going for it there. Great benefits and financial security. Now, what sort of employee is going to value great benefits and financial security? A guy with a wife and a couple of kids."

EXCUSE ME? How about also a WIFE with a husband and a couple of kids.

And you think you aren't sexist or racist? Think again.

Anonymous said...

Hi there.. Need your guys (Microsofties) help.. I am so lost and dont know what to do with my career. In 2000 or 2001, I was a flyback to Redmond after graduating college (MS in CS)..
This was at the time the Xbox was announced but top-secret and unreleased and before XP came out. I was your typical white male was 24/25 when I interviewed.
So, I spent the day with the Digitial Media Group interviewing with them for a Software Eng in Test spot. Here's what happened.. I did okay for the first guy I met. The next engineer asked me to program a double-linked list in C++ for some string insertion algorithm on a whiteboard in 10 mins and I totally sucked /choked. It was just a totally different
feeling being 1) at Microsoft 2) writing code for a stranger /idol. When you are in Ohio and get flown out to Microsoft, i put alot of pressure on myself and froze.
So, I blew that problem even though I know I could have got it if I had some space and could think instead of some impatient engineer making me feel put down. So, I had lunch with some blue haired developer asking me questions like "How do you test a life raft? and making cheap shots that I had my masters and couldnt code very well.
Its not my fault or is not as easy as it sounds.. When you are asked a question like write a function to reverse a string in C++, it is pretty straightforward (in psuedocode) but you still have code convention issues.. Do I use char pointers or CString or does this need a try/catch block and then you have to act cool.
So, I didnt get an offer. I really have NO idea or never got a reason. I called my HR rep and asked and never was told the reason. So, I ended up taking a IT developer job locally in Ohio. But now a couple years later, I feel like I want to do real engineering and make the techologies instead of being the three millionth C# programmer. So, now I feel like I blew it and am really depressed and want to get another chance but feel like I cant because I am too old now (30) and have spent too long in IT as a corporate developer.. So, what can I do? I am one of these people that work my ass of and am smart and creative. How can I get noticed again? Should I move to Seattle? Any ideas or if you could look for me in the HR database for my rejection would really help me out.. Write me at simpleorganizing@mac.com I really could use some advice.. Thanks!!
Jacob

TheKhalif said...

If you don't know what it means then why did you bring it up? I've been at MSFT for almost 4 years and I haven't experienced racism directly or indirectly and I'm as black as they come.


Wow, now that's funny. Maybe I softened up a lot of people for you. Not to say anything negative but racism in employment is when you have to decide why you aren't being promoted and are of "minority status."

Maybe you should read the "Arrogance" post. After living in Redmond for 2 years I would have to say that you must be one of those "easy-going" types who thinks that "they didn't mean anything by it."

TheKhalif said...

for anyone to say that there is no discrimination or racism at a company with nearly 60,000 employees is irresponsible. Heck, I was told by some HR monkey that MS tries to promote "under represented minorities" - So, if you are Indian or Chines, you are out of luck. But if you are African American or Hispanic Female, you could pretty much what you wanted and get a good review score and bumps up in level. The sad thing is that i have seen this happen personally. So, I guess you can they that their is no "discrimination at MS" but there sure is a formal "reverse discrimination in place"


Not another one. For all of you Windows guys, have you ever heard the name Christian Howell?
He was possibly the most active, creative, never had a project fail person I ever saw at Microsoft and I watched him get passed over for drunks and kiss ups that no one wanted to work for.

No wonder I quit.

TheKhalif said...


its amazing how many people keep saying that there is no racism at MSFT. Reverse Discrimination is racism! Heck now HR is making a policy of giving you 2x hiring bonus for any minority candidate? Tell me that is not racist! They are saying that a black is worth more to them then a white employee! The best I saw was on a minority employee who got promoted, while her entire team and others she worked with wrote in her feedback that she was one of the worst employees ever at MSFT! This company is really doing some stupid things in the name of equality


Do a search for the name Christian Howell in the NTSELF public folder. Just beacause a black is incompetent doesn't mean that blacks don't help prevent outsourcing. At least they speak English.