Thursday, August 25, 2005

Was it Good for You?

So, as you get your reviews and numbers, what do you think? Around this part of campus, there are some happy people bouncing around my hallway. And some rather unhappy people with loud voices behind closed doors. And some generally miffed: And Then?

One commenter says:

Got my review back today.

You are a good reliable employee that met all your commitments and does everything that is asked of you. 3.0....0% pay raise...0 grants...$0 bonus

This sucks

(Just as I cracked my knuckles to type up a reply, in comes a post way better written than anything I could bang out - snippet:

I have to hold my tongue, but let me just say this: there are 2 kinds of 3.0s. One is for the employee who does meet expectations and is trending upward (I know you guys will hate that phrase). These, in my experience, generally get rewards--not great, but not nothing. The other is for someone whose performance has neither improved or declined, but is still not failing to meet the minimum bar. These get 3.0s with no rewards. I disagree with it, and I think that MSFT should institute a policy of 3% annual cost-of-living-adjustments, on top of which they would then structure rewards. [...]

The most pronounced change I've noticed in my 8 years here is this: when I came to MS, I felt like my executives and I were on the same team--we all worked hard and worked together to achieve common goals, for which people were rewarded in proportion to their contribution. This is no longer the case. The executives live in a whole other realm and see employees more as a cost than as a resource. Hell--this is true even with some middle managers.

Well worth the full read. Thanks for taking so much time to post that.)

I know there are a lot of 4.0s out there who exclaim, "Geez! Why do you spend so much time talking about the 3.0s! They get what they deserve. You need to focus on your exceptional contributors and reward them for results that the 3.0s never will be able to accomplish." Yah, you know when you're robbing Peter to pay Paul, you can always rely on Paul's full support.

I am just tired of our busted review model. Stack ranking is just plain wrong. Yes, you need to have a yearly review system. I absolutely believe that. You need to reward the super contributors well. But the amount of angst and anger that goes into the getting the review model done poisons all of us. If my report decides, "Dang it, I'm getting a 4.0 by any means necessary," well, they are going to find some very easy ways to get that 4.0, and most of those easy ways are going to be self-centric and focused around decreasing / inhibiting the performance of their peers so that they can have better results:

There is also the problem with team members competing with each other on teams. By making team members compete with each other, we weaken teams. On my last team, team members would withhold information from other team members in order to slow them down in their work and make it easier to beat in the stack rankings (as I said, there was a lot of work and any delay in getting things done could impact the deadline).

(Thanks for taking time for that comment, too)

I've seen people do this, no doubt you have to. I've busted a few heads and have had to kick a few butts around the public square when I've stumbled across people creating their own little 4.0 fortress to the detriment of the product. Which shareholder wants this kind of Darwinian environment? What kind of products do you think we produce from that? Or, not produce... and slip and slip and slip until we have one big orgasm of RTM'd bits produced from heavy cuts and harsh triage. Buggy and slow? Don't care. Ship.

Back to the current crop of review numbers. If you don't like your results, your numbers, and / or have serious problems with the review system, now is an appropriate time to get a skip level one-on-one with your manager's manager and have a reasoned, deep discussion. Sit down, read comments here, comments elsewhere, talk about it with your Microsoftie buddies, and come up with a series of hard questions.

You might want to float a few pass the manager before hand so that they can give you better quality answers rather than ramble off the top of their head the HR-speak we whip out when cornered.

Example areas to discuss:

  • If you got a 3.0, ask them if this was a solid 3.0 or a trended 3.0. Why?
  • Why are there two kinds of 3.0s?
  • What stuck out in their mind regarding your accomplishments this pass year (delve into your manager's defense of you)?
  • (If you're below price-of-living) Why are you working for less effective pay this year than last year?
  • Are new hires really coming in earning more than you?
  • Do they agree with the stack ranking system? Why / why not?
  • How can you improve? What are your peers doing better than you?
  • What short term results would the manager like to see from you?

Now given all of this, there is another question you have to ask yourself: is Microsoft the right company for you? Maybe not. Maybe you should add it to the list above to have a discussion about. I've worked with some smart people who luuuv the programming, but they failed at Microsoft in a train-wreck sort of way. Like most corporations, it takes a certain kind of personality to succeed within the eco-system the corporation has. Personally, I think our eco-system has been contaminated over the years, but the core is still there. And there are some people who will constantly mean to do well but not succeed.

If that's you (and perhaps your first bad review is an indication), take a moment to channel your disappointment into an updated resume (something that should make really feel good about yourself) that you start to sprinkle around the area. Take a mental health day and do an interview. It will at least help add clarity to your life. And maybe you'll find that while Microsoft's Darwinian eco-system just isn't right for you, company Bar is fantastic and you get to fall in luuuv all over again.

Two additional random things:

One: probably most people read the article It's not all love for Google these days but I especially noticed this little snippet:

Google, Hoffman said, has caused "across the board a 25 to 50 percent salary inflation for engineers in Silicon Valley" -- or at least those in a position to weigh competing offers. A sought-after computer programmer can now expect to make more than $150,000 a year.

$150K for a new hire?!? Now then, I know it is in a much more expensive local market, but how much more expensive than Seattle? What does a 94043 $150K translate to in 98052? All I can say is, "Go Google!" and we'd better see this in next year's adjusted industry pay 2/3s point.

Two: there's an interesting read over at Ms. Mary Jo Foley's Microsoft Watch: If I Were Steve Ballmer (hmm, that's just dyin' to be put to the theme of "If I had a hammer"... I see a new funny video!). There are some good re-org ideas there (well, unless you're in MSN, in which case you get lumped into the Everything Else division). Note that Ms. Foley is interested in more ideas (email address in the article) so please share with here some of those great ideas you have, whether they sum up to ten or not.

 

171 comments:

Anonymous said...

not so fast dude. most microsoft employees who went to google either got the same pay or had to take a slight paycut. look at any cost of living calc and compare 98005 and 94043. moving to google with their bloated stock price might reduce your pay. just ask mark jen. lol.

Anonymous said...

just ask mark jen. lol.

If you are relying on Mark Jen as your information source, you are a fool. From a compensation perspective, the people I know who left for Google are very happy with the package. It's all about the negotiation...dude.

Anonymous said...

Threaten to leave for google and see what gets thrown your way. The pay is absolutely higher, if they want you.

Anonymous said...

Mary Jo Foley's ideas are NOT what MSFT needs. She's basically lumping everything under either Windows or Office to drown unprofitable units' losses under Windows' and Office's cash gusher. It's just accounting sleight of hand to hide underperformance.

Having the separate biz units is a GOOD idea. What is missing is true accountability for the brass of each unit when they underperform. Right now, losses are deemed to be "investments" and no one is brought out on the carpet when they lose hundreds of millions of dollars.

MSFT doesn't need another reorg. It needs to hold upper level executives accountable for performance.

The new COO got a pretty sweet package. I wonder how his performance will be judged and how he will be held accountable. Oh, wait, no I don't. I already know that no matter what, he'll do extremely well.

That's what Ballmer needs to change.

Anonymous said...

Sorry this is off-topic but I just have to ask - what the fuck is up with the American Idol bullshit at the company meeting?

Anonymous said...

>On my last team, team members would withhold information
>from other team members in order to slow them down in their
>work and make it easier to beat in the stack rankings

That behaviour is easy to kill. You just give the people withholding information a 2.5 becuase they were not team players. In fact this helps you becuase have just met your 'less than 3.5' quota without even trying.

Anonymous said...

It works just like the US government. The folks at the top are so rich and get so much time off with sabbaticals and 'fact finding missions' thaty thay have absolutly no clue the effect it has below.

Anonymous said...

actually, this is totally symptomatic of the recent company policy of bringing in outside talent for upper level management positions instead of growing from within. We now have too many people from outside the company coming in trying to reframe this company in the image of the ones they left behind. VPs of other companies tend to try to duplicate the things they did before rather than learn the ecosystem of the company they're coming into due to the demands of shareholders and Board of Governors to show immediate impact and get results. The question I would pose to SteveB, BillG and all the Board is - "Didn't you learn your lesson after hiring and then firing Rick Belluzo?"

Although elevating our homegrown individuals sometimes doesnt mean the right people get to the top, but if we would have done that all along the company culture of fearless innovation and constant motion wouldnt have been neutered/shrivelled up and fallen off over the past 6 years...

While there are certainly enough product units who have tried to do earth shattering work, the number who have the potential to actually achieve something that would be as paradigm shifting as Win 3.1, Office 95, Win 95 and IE have falled off drastically.

MattyDread said...

Um...MaryJo's article suggests what Microsoft is already doing. Sure they've got 7 P&l's, but those are only for Wall Street.

If you look at the actual organization--who is actually running what--you'll see that Windows Client (Will Poole), Windows Server (Bob Muglia-Eric Rudder), Windows Core (Brian Valentine) and Embedded (Pieter Knook) all report to a single person--Jim Allchin.

And Business Solutions was reporting to Raikes (who heads InfoWorker) until a year ago, when Ballmer decided it needed a little more adult supervision. It'll eventually move back in, no doubt.

So she's really suggesting "make the p&ls match the real org." But why? The p&l's are a trick to show Wall Street why MSFT is "investing" in new businesses. You see cost-cutting at MSN, and suddenly MSN's "profitable" (pay no attention to that "corporate expenses" number, which seems to mysteriously grow and change and be restated all the time). You see Xbox growing revenues 50% in FY'06 (predicted) and think, "OK, strong revenue growth, looks like a startup--exciting--could be a nice business once they cover costs."

If the P&Ls matched the real org, the reality that two monopolies (Windows & Office) are responsible for most Microsoft's profits would become even more obvious.

Anonymous said...

Is there any team or product offering 'preferential' treatment to g-ays? A g-ay hiring manager would be great...

Who da'Punk said...

Ended up with a 4.5, 10% raise, and 53% bonus. Thanks mini, couldn't have done it without you :-)

(rub my eyes long and hard)

Wow, congrats. I'm sure lots of people would love to by your "How I did it!" book. :-)

Put a few bucks aside. When this blog is over and done with I'd love to sit down, bum a beer off of you, and hear about your insights.

P.S. I've scrubbed through the comment spam that was easy to find over the past few posts. I've also turned on word verification and we'll see if that slows the spam down or not.

Anonymous said...

Wow, congrats. I'm sure lots of people would love to by your "How I did it!" book.

Thanks...I wasn't posting those details to boast, just wanted to add some perspective to the thread now that review season is done with. As for a "how I did it book" - I'm not one for writing, but would be happy to let a ghost writer work on that :-) I think the fundamental bottom line is having a good manager who is strong, respected, and delivering consistently. Without that, you're in the doo-doo

When this blog is over and done with I'd love to sit down, bum a beer off of you, and hear about your insights.

That would be cool. Like I said, I reckon I owe you a couple of beers anyhow :-) Obviously nobody (least of all you!) is gonna post their alias on here - but I've no problem with doing this when you reckon you're done and if you give some idea as to how you can be anonymously contacted dude...

Anonymous said...

got a 3.5 cuz i didnt do enough cross group collabaration... had a 4.0 last time around. haha. so basically i should have been a pain in every one else's butts and tried to slime off work to other teams so other team leads would know who this guy is. apparently the other team leads didnt know how much i had contributed... whatever

Anonymous said...

The $150K figure is NOT for college grads, unless perhaps they are famous. PhDs grads might get something close to that, though, and Google hires a lot of PhDs.

And FWIW, when I came back to the Bay Area from Microsoft, Google's first offer to me was 25% less than going rate, though they did eventually agree to match.

Anonymous said...

53% bonus seems obscene. I have got a 4.5 before, didn't get this type of bonus.

Anonymous said...

OK, so you've been moaning all year about how Microsoft sucks, and then the review turns it around: you suck, they say with a resounding 3.0.

Anonymous said...

As you might imagine, target bonus percentages vary by level. So 53% may not be out of line depending on the level in question, or it may be complete BS - welcome to anonymous comments.

In my org of <100 people over the past few years, we've given maybe one or two 4.5s per year when someone was really deserving. Good raise, likely promotion, bonus probably a little beyond the range for that person's level, but nothing too extreme as I recall.

The amazing thing to me is the number of chronic 3.0s who don't actually bother to leave of their own volition. No raise, minimal bonus, little or no stock, and yet they hang around year after year.

Anonymous said...

I think that witholding raises and bonuses is an intentional policy to get people to leave the company on their own without firing them. You see, firing someone is bad PR, especially when you fire a bunch of people. In this regard, you either stay and make less money (cogs go down) or you leave and they replace you with some poorly educated towelhead in India (cogs go down). Can't lose either way. So there you go, a good way to drive down R&D costs and therefore boost the profits despite a relatively lame revenue growth.

Anonymous said...

poorly educated towelhead in India

Why the towelhead nonsense? Go ahead and bash Indian outsourcing all you want, many of us agree that the quality of the work is sub-par, and others have pointed out that there is reverse racism in favor of Indians at MSFT, but if you stoop to this kind of level, your point is lost.

Anonymous said...

$53k isn't that obscene. I've gotten a number in that ballpark if you go cash only, cash + grants, Ive gotten more than that.

Anonymous said...

The towel head thing is totally uncalled for and detracts from a legitimate point (pro-Indian bias within the organization).

On that same subject, I saw recently on //msw that there's an internal session for helping black employees network, work on leadership, etc.

This is on the heels of HR ... !!HR!! offering higher signing bonuses for minorities/underrepresented groups.

This is on top of the the pro-Indian bias that's acknowledged and pervasive in the company.

Is this not reverse racism?

DUDE, WTF?

I'm sorry if people have some liberal guilt tied to race or sexual orientation, but seriously, what the hell is going on here?

Here's a novel idea. Let's work on getting the best candidates and reward the best work. Not the best Black candidate (or the best white candidate or Asian candidate or gay candidate).

Racism sucks, what sucks even more is that this is so in your face, and noone outside of those groups will say a damn thing for fear of being branded racist or non-diverse.

Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty obvious to me why our MCS champion didn't receive a promotion. He is definitely working outside of US and as a result L63 is a director level job, which you won't get in inividual contributor position.

The real truth which is currently not discussed on this forum is that the company nowadyas restricts a lot of internal moves because of grades. I.e. a high-profile consultant from Germany doesn't want to move to corp. because he will be paid much less than in his home country.

You can say that this is OK, but from my perspective company doesn't want employees nowadays to grow from subsidiaries to corp. teams.

Every time good HRs (and we don't have a lot of these) from subs have to fight with Redmond HR for appropriate re-leveling for internal transfers, but too much people don't want to join on lousy packages anyway, because it's better to stay at home 2 levels below Redmond ones and have a better life than in corp.

Anonymous said...

Can someone shed some light on the actual stack ranking process? If a given team has 20 heads ranging fr L59-62 split between roles (say 10 Devs & 10 PMs). Assuming there aren't any other dev/pm teams in the org, will ICs of diff levels & role still be stack ranked agst ea other? I know hrweb says no but somehow I suspect this is being done.

Anonymous said...

it's better to stay at home 2 levels below Redmond ones and have a better life than in corp.

Some high level IC's in Germany have been known to get their own MSFT company car (e.g. a nice Audi for 24/7 use) as a job perk.

Too bad we don't get that perk on this side of the lake.

Anonymous said...

Color me disappointed.

Worst review score in 11 years with the company. Promoted from a good team to Mt. Olympus 7 weeks before end of period.

The thing that kills me: it would have been plenty good for a 4.0 on the old team.

New mgr praised performance, but basically came out and said it was a 'take one for the team' situation.

Anonymous said...

'take one for the team' is a two-way street. You should be expecting some pay back some time soon.

Anonymous said...

You should be expecting some pay back some time soon.

You, sir, win the naivete award for the year!

Anonymous said...

You, sir, win the naivete award

Bite me.

Anonymous said...

it was a 'take one for the team' situation.

At that point, I would've told my manager to suck dick and walked out of his office.

Time to start looking for a new job.

Anonymous said...

Some high level IC's in Germany have been known to get their own MSFT company car (e.g. a nice Audi for 24/7 use) as a job perk.

In most european countries, this is standard practice for sales/pre-sales/consultancy roles. It's part of the standard package deal - unheard of in the US

Marc said...

Wanted to drop my 2 cents on the whole MCS/sub transfer from field to corp subject.

I'm someone who transferred from out of country MCS mid-year, so have some fresh experience. For the record, my transfer wasn't driven so much by a dislike of MCS, but family wanting to set down roots in the US.

I'll freely admit that I was a bit disappointed when I saw the offer letter from corp, but I decided to take a pay cut and take the position. In my case, I was coming off a high review score/bonus last year, which may have made that decision easier for me than it might be for others.

But the occasional politics aside, this is the happiest I've been since I started working for the company.

Based out of corp, there's a chance to more closely interact with the product teams, have a role with more global scope, and get involved with the company in ways that you just can't from the field.

And I know this varies by group, but in mine (DPE) there's an emphasis on work life balance.

I do agree with the point made earlier that there is some validity to the 'it's difficult to get to corp from the subs' statement.

For the field, they're paid what the market will bear in their geo. As a result, levels for the same position are different depending on where you are in the world. You've got sr. consultants in south cone making what a consultant might make in the US.

As a result, the levels are lower, and I know a good number of folks who couldn't even get interviews because people use the levels as a correlary to skill.

I've also heard about folks interviewing for PM positions in the product groups and got alot of pushback because they hadn't come up through the ranks at corp.

If you are looking to come to corp and are having some challenges, here's the advice I give to folks.

Determine where you want to go, make contact with the product group and ask where you can help out from the field.

If you're an expert in a particular area, make sure you're visible on the internal DLs.

Being visible and having a relationship with the team, they can get a better feeling of what you can do, and more often than not, if you're good, they'll let you know when there's an open slot and suggest you apply for it.

My 2 cents...

Anonymous said...

Company car is part of the deal for high level (Practice Manager, GM, etc.)

Consultants typically get a stipend monthly, as they're traveling pretty extensively for work (and do not file mileage/trip reports for daily work)

This happens outside of US, but the benefits packages outside the US are (speaking from experience) not always as good as what you get from corp (i.e. family leave, ProClub membership, insurance quality, etc.) And for most of the world, they can't go to the company store.

So I wouldn't complain about this, it all evens out in the end.

Anonymous said...

So I wouldn't complain about this, it all evens out in the end.

Not really. I'd rather have a company car than the Proclub membership or even the free sodas.

Anonymous said...

I've also heard about folks interviewing for PM positions in the product groups and got alot of pushback because they hadn't come up through the ranks at corp.

This is what happened to me coming to corp from MCS. I interviewed for PM positions in core product teams and they were looking for me to take a 2 - 3 level cut as I had no experience "shipping product at MS."

Anonymous said...

interviewed for PM positions in core product teams and they were looking for me to take a 2 - 3 level cut as I had no experience "shipping product at MS."

This is typical from my experience - MCS folks, for reasons I don't fully understand are typically leveled 2-3 levels higher than those with similar skills in the product groups. I don't think it has as much to do with shipping products as general skill levels. This isn't a slam on MCS, I think they get paid what they deserve, and get paid competitively. I've interviewed at least a dozen people from MCS over the years, and they were all over leveled compared to the group they were being hired.
MCS folks - please don't take this the wrong way - I just wanted to make the point for those that didn't know.

Anonymous said...

Can someone shed some light on the actual stack ranking process...

In the groups I've been in, it's performance against level. Stack rank conversations went something like this:
Leader: "Who's next in the stack rank?"
Manager 1: "Bob - he did X, Y, and Z"
Manager 2: "Sue did the same work"
Manager 1: "But bob is two levels below Sue"
Leader: "Bob is definitely next - we'll come back to Sue in a few minutes."

Anonymous said...

I work for MS, but not in Redmond. Do most people in Redmond have a pretty good idea of who on the team got the 4.0 and who got the 3.0?

Anonymous said...

Most of us know who should have gotten the 3.0s and the 4.0s.

Anonymous said...

I'd much rather they disclose the rankings and make it an open, if not fair competition. If someone beats me on the stack, then I want to know who.

Anonymous said...

Imagine if, one day, HR's database got cracked and all salary, level and review scores for the past few years were released for everyone? Would that be a shitstorm or what? :)

Anonymous said...

If someone beats me on the stack, then I want to know who.

Nothing better than taking out the competition.

Anonymous said...

How the team stack ranks is totally unique with each team. In my old group in DevDiv, the Test Manager would simply compare everyone to each other and then the arguments would ensue. My lead told me confidentially that in my case I was being held up against someone two levels higher than me until he made that point - then the group reconsidered and approved my level increase...

There are plenty of cases where leads who are overwhelmed with the stack ranking process (either through intimidation or lack of caring for a particular IC) dont speak up to support you and then you get screwed because your lead was ineffective. In those cases you need to realign yourself in the org or in another team/division since even if you're kicking ass but with low visibility, you wont get the respect and rewards due to you until you get a new lead who is more assertive and a better advocate for your work.

btw: I did reasonably well - changed groups late in the review cycle and still got a 3.5 and decent numbers (more would have been nice, but at least I didnt get fucked over with the token 3.0).

Anonymous said...

"We now have too many people from outside the company coming in trying to reframe this company in the image of the ones they left behind. VPs of other companies tend to try to duplicate the things they did before rather than learn the ecosystem of the company they're coming into due to the demands of shareholders and Board of Governors to show immediate impact and get results. The question I would pose to SteveB, BillG and all the Board is - "Didn't you learn your lesson after hiring and then firing Rick Belluzo?""

ROTFLMAO. Remind me again who the main executives were who got MSFT into its various legal predicaments which are overwhelmingly responsible for the massive credibility hit the company had taken and the oversight now required? Or the main strategic architects of the current stategies which have resulted in anemic growth and an inability to ship product? Or the folks responsible for hiring all those outsiders that you regard so poorly? MSFT's documented track record of home-grown mgt fuckups is extensive enough that there's little need to blame outsiders.

Anonymous said...

You're correct, but there's a major difference: once upon a time msft was a fast moving company that could recover from most every kind of setback because we didnt have to wade through layers of mediocre management who didnt have any clue of the technology they were overseeing. These days promotions are doled out on a visibility criteria that is so vague and intangible that people who just make sure they pack as much indecypherable info into a indecypherable web page with lots of charts and pretty colors end up getting greater responsibility. Then they move up and build their empires with people who follow the same pattern of bafflegab and bullshit - before you know it you have the middle management tier of people who exist in Scranton, Pennsylvania solely to exist in perpetual self-preservation.

When you bring in people from the outside who never worked in an IT industry or have a technical background you are asking for the bullshit to be further propagated as no one wants to admit they dont understand shit of what's going on.

We have plenty of really smart and talented individuals at the IC level who more deserve the chance to set direction and policy than their managers who struggle to channel their energies... Let the bright ones control the destiny of the company and I think you'll see MSFT credibility and value increase very profoundly.

Anonymous said...

"Imagine if, one day, HR's database got cracked and all salary, level and review scores for the past few years were released for everyone? Would that be a shitstorm or what? :)"
This actually happened a few years ago for I think it was all of MSN. I don't think the data got passed around very far and they threatted to fire anyone caught with a copy of the data but it created a mini-storm.

Anonymous said...

Yep - the MSN salary info was leaked out within Blake Irving's org. Some HR moron sent it to the entire division. (Talk about a career-limiting move!!!)

Not only was it level, salary, and bonus info, but it also had a list of which people in the org had received a Gold Star bonus award and the amount of cash/stock given. People were OUTRAGED by certain Gold Star awards - golf buddies of senior management, do-nothing dev leads, it was quite a shit-storm for sure.

Anonymous said...

Just scored a 3.5 and a 2.5% raise. WTF??? That's for "exceeding some expectations" ... talk about a year over year pay cut. I shouldn't gripe though - at least i dodged the 3.0 bullet.

Anonymous said...

A 3.5 is becoming the new 3.0

Anonymous said...

"These days promotions are doled out on a visibility criteria that is so vague and intangible that people who just make sure they pack as much indecypherable info into a indecypherable web page with lots of charts and pretty colors end up getting greater responsibility."

Promotions and esp options have always been doled out based on visibility and other subjective criteria - it's the most political environment in IT. More importantly, I'd argue that MSFT's current problems are 70% a result of bad decisions at the very top and only 30% poor execution due to weak middle mgt. Again, the latter has always been an issue - MSFT was just growing enough with sufficiently weak competition for it not to be a hugely visible problem.

"Then they move up and build their empires with people who follow the same pattern of bafflegab and bullshit - before you know it you have the middle management tier of people who exist in Scranton, Pennsylvania solely to exist in perpetual self-preservation."

Saw this 5 years ago with weak dipshits surrounding themselves with other weak dipshits - most having been in place for 5 years or more at that time (i.e those "really good" MSFT people of old). Again, little new here.

"When you bring in people from the outside who never worked in an IT industry or have a technical background you are asking for the bullshit to be further propagated as no one wants to admit they dont understand shit of what's going on."

When you take a company largely comprised of mid and senior level mgrs who couldn't spell enterprise computing far less understand it, then it's not surprising that the same proved true. For the record, I saw a whole lot more new folks who had a superset of their mgr's/mgr ability than the reverse - which resulted in all sorts of similarly negative consequences.

"We have plenty of really smart and talented individuals at the IC level who more deserve the chance to set direction and policy than their managers who struggle to channel their energies... Let the bright ones control the destiny of the company and I think you'll see MSFT credibility and value increase very profoundly."

6% growth this Q? A flat-lined stock? A daily ass-kicking by Google and even Yahoo? CRM a punch line? Mobile losing a ton of share to Symbian? Vista 5 years in development and heavily stripped back to even make that? Xbox $5-6B in losses and counting? Daily articles on "MSFT's Demise"? The only thing the current "stategic" MSFT mgt team excels at is mediocre results while granting themselves or those directly under them obscene levels of compensation. Meanwhile, customers, regular employees and shareholders all get screwed. Net net, MSFT mgt ranks are in dire need of review/chop/replace/downsize but pick your battles. Inspired leadership at the top would overcome most shortcomings at the mid-mgt layer - just like it historically always has. It's just been missing for some time. Gates/Ballmer/Alchin/Raikes and several others all need to step aside before this company becomes a complete train wreck.

Anonymous said...

I got a 4.0 but was denied a promotion (apparently my VP decided this) because my last review score was a 3.0 (which I got in the first place when I moved teams in January - not good). WTF?

Anonymous said...

I got a 4.0 but was denied a promotion (apparently my VP decided this) because my last review score was a 3.0 (which I got in the first place when I moved teams in January - not good). WTF?

At least it wasn't your direct manager. I got a 4.0 and no promotion - my dev lead conveniently forgot to put me in for a promotion despite him agreeing I should've been promoted. What a crock of shit.

Anonymous said...

You know the review process is broken when you get a 4.0 and are still disappointed in the system.

I worked half as hard as I did the year before but figured out how to play the game better and got a better score. It's depressing because it demonstrates that it's not how much you contribute or your relative impact to the team that matters…what matters is how well you play the game.

Whatever! I used to be really proud to part of Microsoft but now it’s just a job. Management obviously views us as wage earning employees that they should squeeze for all the productivity they can (work more hours for less compensation and benefits). Conversely, I have little loyalty to Microsoft and simply want to minimize the amount of my life I give to them while maximizing what they pay me.

Anonymous said...

"Conversely, I have little loyalty to Microsoft and simply want to minimize the amount of my life I give to them while maximizing what they pay me."

With that attitude, anything they're paying you is too much.

Anonymous said...

You say, "If you don't like your results, your numbers, and / or have serious problems with the review system, now is an appropriate time to get a skip level one-on-one with your manager's manager and have a reasoned, deep discussion."


Its a little late now. You should be managing your manager and your manager's manager all year long with the full court press starting in May. They tell us to drive our own careers.

Anonymous said...

They tell us to drive our own careers.

More correctly worded - game the system and become favorites with those who influence your stack ranking.

It's fucked up when you have to offer up pussy to get your 4.0. Then again it's also fucked up they assume at least 22% of us aren't working our asses off and should be penalized for falling into the wrong bucket.

If you want a hoot, search for "merit matrix" on msweb and start looking at some ppt files. The one with 7-13-05 in the filename is pretty good.

Anonymous said...

>When you bring in people from the outside
>who never worked in an IT industry
>or have a technical background
>you are asking for the bullshit
>to be further propagated as no
>one wants to admit
>they dont understand shit of what's going on.

Jesus you just nailed it on the head for the issues with my group - everyday, I sit in meetings with a bunch of "leads" and I look around and see only one or two other people who might be able to code their way out of a fucking paperbag. Don't get me wrong, theres some really smart people - but we have ENOUGH fucking PM's in charge of "driving" issues thank you very much, we really need more technical people making the big decisions. Otherwise, what happens is you get a bunch of unbelievably stupid decisions made and then it gets handed off to the technical IC's who then go "What the fuck!?!?!".
Of course, its too late to change course at this point because the schedule is already FUBAR'd ("we'll just add more testers if we want to get the test pass to finish quicker!!!") and if the IC's don't get on the bandwagon they're labelled as "bad" team-players

Anonymous said...

"Imagine if, one day, HR's database got cracked and all salary, level and review scores for the past few years were released for everyone? Would that be a shitstorm or what? :)"

True story: our director lef this old laptop in the scrap as broken a few years ago. I got it out (because I was poor and needed a laptop), and, lo and behold, it contained the full Model database (salary, level, ranking, comments, bonus etc) for that year.

I still haven't made it up to the salary level of some of the major cronies in our org (ex: former lead of mine @ 150k in 1998 who never had a clue about programming or c++ but was best buds with dev mgrs/directors), and, guess what - knowing where I am situated, I am massively bitter because I am way underpaid. Moral: knowledge doesn't pay off, it just makes you aware of how badly you are getting screwed.

Anonymous said...

"Conversely, I have little loyalty to Microsoft and simply want to minimize the amount of my life I give to them while maximizing what they pay me."

With that attitude, anything they're paying you is too much.


Wrong. This is the kind of attitude that is a result of years of unfair evaluations - when you do 80h weeks for several years only to get 4.0's with a 5-8% bonus and no promotion, while your management files patents on your inventions and you find out that people with less qualification are hired at the level it took you 8 years to achieve. You can hardly get back all those years of work you invested and if you changed groups, you have a good chance of running into the same shit all over again, so you decide to hang loose and try to get as much back as you can by slacking off. The amount of goodwill this company has burnt through by underleveling is amazing; we hire the best of the best and then treat some of them with extreme preference and the majority of others like complete shit. If we only ever halfway tried to go for the appearance of trying to engender fair compensation, our productivity would double overnight.

Anonymous said...

anyone willing to compare numbers? Just want to know , how numbers vary across the company for the same level and score.

I'm a L61 and got a 4.0 - no promotion - salaray increase of about 4% and merit bonus of about 9%.

someone else got a 15% merit bonus for a 3.5 at L61 - this doesn't seem fair.

I've been at my current level for over 3 years and was expecting a promo based - worked for a 4.0 hoping it would come with a promo. What do i need to do to advance my carrer?

Anonymous said...

I have been a 4.0 for the past 6 reviews. Sorry, its a sad state, but I have to agree with the downfalls of a "stack" ranking.

It would make a great "Survivor"-type episode. Many on my team, including me, have done some pretty "crappy" things to get stack above our peers. Social Engineering is the only way here, and screw your buddy before he screws you....caz he will when it comes down to your kid going to private school or yours.

150K starting seems great. I have to wonder if Google will hit the Microsoft malaise in a few years.

Now back to making our execs richer..

Anonymous said...

Many on my team, including me, have done some pretty "crappy" things to get stack above our peers.

Your team isn't the only one where this happens (I suspect this is a much wider problem at MSFT). I've seen people on my team "scam" the system to get a higher review. Unfortunately my team's management blissfully ignores this occurance.

It's pretty sad when people put their own interests ahead of the company's interests. Makes you wonder what could be accomplished if peer competition wasn't a worry - but that's what you get with our wonderful review model.

Anonymous said...

"Wrong. This is the kind of attitude that is a result of years of unfair evaluations - when you do 80h weeks for several years only to get 4.0's with a 5-8% bonus and no promotion, while your management files patents on your inventions and you find out that people with less qualification are hired at the level it took you 8 years to achieve."

Cry me a river. There's unfairness in any big company - how you deal with it (or whether you choose not to and move on), is all up to YOU. If you think so poorly of your company that you have "no loyalty", that's your first clue that something needs to change or you should leave. Deciding to stay despite that and worse, maximize your payment while "slacking off", imo says you should never have been a 4.0 in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I got a 4.0 but was denied a promotion (apparently my VP decided this) because my last review score was a 3.0 (which I got in the first place when I moved teams in January - not good). WTF?

Happened to a friend of mine. Four years in his (low) level, 4.0 this year, no promotion. He was apparently refused a promotion at the GM+ level because he got a 3.0 last year. Way to encourage a turnaround! "Take one for the team" is bullshit.

Same thing happened to his lead. They're both leaving.

Anonymous said...

The no promo after a 3.0 the previous year is pretty standard, no?

Anonymous said...

No one ever said the world was fair. Get what you can get and screw everyone else. Once you can grasp that concept, you become executive material.

Anonymous said...

The no promo after a 3.0 the previous year is pretty standard, no?

Depends on your situation. I've gotten a promo with one year getting a 3.0 and the next being 4.0. Then again I was a L59 dev who was seriously underleveled. YMMV.

Anonymous said...

Comparing notes - 59 level sdet in Windows, 3.5 score, 3% bonus, 3% increase. Salary 67k.

Anonymous said...

To those who have been so negative to the griping of those of us who actually work the trenches: Hey Mr VP/GM/Middle Management - get back to work trying to figure out how to save your own ass and keep things status quo! You've been playing the social engineering game for years and have made it up the ladder by playing it - how can you be so fucking critical of other people playing the game? They just dont have the same skills of political bullshit and bafflegab that you have!

I've been here since 1998 and have seen all sorts of individuals get promoted - both merited and unmerited. There is plenty of prejudice and nepotism here just like in any other BIG company - the key goal for all of us here is to change the system as it exists today so that there are no questions about fairness, it's fair and just and that's all.

Yea, the stack ranking isn't fair. Yea, there are many people in positions of management and leadership who dont deserve it. Those people who are saying "if you dont like it, leave" are essentially just trying to save their own sorry incompetent asses since they dont want to see change! Changes in how we evaluate people and who does the evaluation would mean their jobs would suddenly be in jeopardy and they'd be getting the 3.0s and minimal reward 3.5s they deserve.

Fuck you all who think everything here is nirvana and should stay as is. If you need to think about what this company will turn into if we continue down this road, just read a bit from the Nortel story, or MCI, or any of the other companies who were flying high and no one checked up on them until it was too late!

Anonymous said...

While we are sharing a little: I'm above level 64 and in the more gracious curve (not as many 3.0s to dole out). I got a 3.5 against a tough crowd, another tiny raise, and a surprising bonus that left me groping around on the carpet trying to find my eyeballs. And a good chunk of stock - but for some reason, I don't think much of my stock anymore. I imagine that once the stock price starts going up (when, right, not if) I will actually review all of those stock awards and start connecting them with wealth of somesort and then I imagine my morale and impact will sharply increase. Until then, it's just a wonderful Jay-Oh-Bee with some of the best co-workers in the world.

Anonymous said...

Cry me a river. There's unfairness in any big company - how you deal with it (or whether you choose not to and move on), is all up to YOU.

Right. Because I can just decide to banish the unfairness and everything will be flowers and sunshine. Let me give you clue, simply accepting unfairness and quietly working with it WILL NOT FIX THE PROBLEM. How hard is that for the "see no evil" people to understand? Problems that aren't vocalized will NOT be addressed.

Anonymous said...

Yea, the stack ranking isn't fair.

Neither is working on a chain gang, which is what the process feels like sometime.

Anonymous said...

"Let me give you clue, simply accepting unfairness and quietly working with it WILL NOT FIX THE PROBLEM. How hard is that for the "see no evil" people to understand? Problems that aren't vocalized will NOT be addressed."

Try not to get confused - you seem prone to it. Criticizing the jerkoff (you?) who's decided to respond to the unfairness with zero company loyalty and minimal effort, in no way suggests that I condone and/or want to minimize the company's numerous and obvious pay for performance issues.

Anonymous said...

While we are sharing a little: I'm above level 64 and in the more gracious curve (not as many 3.0s to dole out).

Ahh yes, let's not forget that the curves change shape (somewhat dramatically) as the level grouping gets higher. In addition to the 65 - 67 curve I've seen another at 68+ and pretty much everyone gets at least a 3.5 or something like that and 50%+ get 4.0s. Nice, eh.

I'm sure that'll make the majority of the posters feel better about the fact that upper management is subject to a less rigorous curve than us leaf nodes ...

Anonymous said...

Criticizing the jerkoff (you?) who's decided to respond to the unfairness with zero company loyalty and minimal effort

That would be me. I do not understand why reducing my hours to 40/week including lunch plus shunning work over the weekend in response to seeing HR's promises on the day I was hired not come true despite years of me going the extra mile on my behalf makes me a disloyal employee. I would say that it is the company that behaved disloyally, but this is of course a matter of the point of view.

Anonymous said...

Let's just say this year was better than year, and you know what I did different this year? I played the game, as dirty and vapid as it is.

"Be More Visible" = front row at every PUM hosted meeting, "moral event", etc. and popping into his/her office just to push my nose a bit farther up the..you know where. The funny part, is the there was already a very long line...

I plan on getting a very good "pucker" ready, starting in April, and maintaining right up until Sept.

Why be a sourpuss and play the game? "The Golden hand cuffs" have no key...

Anonymous said...

As long we're comparing, mine was rather interesting:

3.0
3% merit increase
6% bonus
and some stock as well (probably B or C stock)

I think I got one of these so called "trended" 3.0s, as even my manager said it was very close. When he first told me my score, I taught, well I probably got zeros across the board, so the numbers came as a pleasant surprise. Somehow, I'd rather have gotten a 3.5, and nothing, but overall, I can't say I'm too unhappy.

Anonymous said...

"dirty and vapid as it is."
OK, obvioulsy I got a 3.5 because I don't use a grammar checker...

Anonymous said...

I think it's interesting to compare numbers. Mine are: 3.5, 3% raise, 12% bonus. Salary (before the review) in the low 70k's.

Anonymous said...

just to make a few feel a little better.

9year veteran of msft. Premier escalation engineer. published many, many kb's, whitepapers, delivered workshops, etc..

4.0
2% merit increase
3% bonus

*review went something like this*
"Thanks for the hard work, likely your group will be in Bangalore next year, I might be able to get you a relo." By the way, msft is very secretive and mitigating bad pr /risk and likely wont mention it.. jobs will be lossed in NC not like a massive layoff, but a slow leak..." you might consider a TAM role.

Again, thanks for all the extra hours, middle of the night escalations"... work/life should be a priority for you NOW..hint, hint

Anonymous said...

The most hilarious thing about the review process is that it's easily as disruptive to production as Thanksgiving and Christmas. But I digress.

If there were ever a greater disincentivizing mechanism I haven't seen it. I was a career 3.5 and 4.0 employee for 9 years and last year I got my first 3.0 and why? I exceed every goal and was performing at at least two levels higher. So it turns out to be some vague crap they sprang on me at the last minute to justify the score. So I had to ask - if you expected me to do this vague thing, how come it wasn't reflected in my "commitments" that YOU approved? The answer? I should have KNOWN they wanted me to do that? So remind me again why I bothered to write up these "commitments" since they mean jack anyway? Yeah, it's all just going through the motions. I think my real problem is that I actually come to work and do WORK and I don't engage in all the ass kissing and brown nosing that's required these days. If they want to manage me out for that - cool. I'm happy to go. If they expect anything more than 40 hours a week - they're dreaming. They're the ones that broke our social contract first. Tell me that I'll be rewarded for all the extra time and effort, then change the fieldgoals at the last minute so they don't have to. Screw me once, shame on you, screw me twice...

Anonymous said...

Can I say one thing?

TOWELS TOWELS TOWELS TOWELS TOWELS

So silly, saved pennies, made SUCH a huge statement to me.

So I did well in my review this year. I build a prototype in 2003 that a few years later (this year) Microsoft was considering implementing for real. They had a choice between running my prototype forward in the R&D program here or buying a company that had the same tech. They chose my prototype instead of buying a company, and we shipped it with me as dev lead of a small group (4 devs.) My review was good - bumped my level to 65, $27K bonus, raise from 117K to 125K... 4.0 score...

But when I sit back and think, I saved Microsoft millions in terms of not having to buy this little company, and this is what I get? Time to move on... should have left the company, built the technology and sold it back...

Anonymous said...

anyone willing to compare numbers? Just want to know , how numbers vary across the company for the same level and score.

---

Can someone put a web site up where everyone can input their level, %R, %P, %Bonus, and Stocks?

Anonymous said...

Level 60
salary $75K
review score 3.5
merit increase 3.5%
bonus 9%
stock 105

new salary is still below one or two of the new hires at Level 59 on my team and all new hires at Level 60. Fair, eh?

Anonymous said...

Level 59
salary $72K
review score 3.0
merit increase 2.0%
bonus 5.6%
stock 0

Hey, it could be worse--I'd give my right arm to reach 60. I've had three managers in two years with completely different performance expectations from each one. The result's been a 3.0 every year. Wonder how much longer they'll be willing to keep me around at this rate, if I don't quit first...

Anonymous said...

i terms of compensation which is better to be in - PM, Dev or Test ?

Anonymous said...

new salary is still below one or two of the new hires at Level 59 on my team and all new hires at Level 60. Fair, eh?

The salary bands for each level do overlap - so this does happen. It might be worth a talk to your manager to get the salary range for L60 and see where it overlaps with L59, and find out why you're in this predicament.

It's very likely you're at the low range of the L60 band. For comparison, I was making 76k when I was promoted to L60 in Aug/2002 (Note that I'm a dev).

Anonymous said...

Level 57
salary $89K
review score 3.5
merit increase 2.0%
bonus 11.4%
stock 0

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, at 12:46 PM :

Level 57 - 89 K , did i read that right?

I'm L61 and get less than that - talk about salary overlap!

Anonymous said...

Services
L60
4.0
Salary $99k
Raise 11%
Bonus 42%
Stock 300

Anonymous said...


Services
L60
4.0
Salary $99k
Raise 11%
Bonus 42%
Stock 300


it all seems like it depends on when you came into the company. If you came in before 1998 you were blessed. Or, if you came in after 2003 you were similarly blessed. That 5 year dark ages in between when Comp 2000 and the change from options to grants were a pretty horrible time imho...

Anonymous said...


Services
L60
4.0
Salary $99k
Raise 11%
Bonus 42%
Stock 300


Now come on. Are you serious? I mean 42% bonus for a 4.0 at level 60? I haven't heard anything like that.

Anonymous said...

I delivered one of those 3.0 reviews where I feel like I've just ruined a perfectly "good" lead. Not an outstanding lead, or a super-star-future-VP, but someone with solid results that any group would be happy to have to rely on getting good results and getting features delivered to customers. If it wasn't for the curve, he would have received good feedback and constructive ideas about doing better. Instead, his career just took a direct flaming soccer ball to the groin and his morale is busted.
I'll obviously put a bunch of time in to get his once-great career back on its feet and contributing beyond his peers. But in the meantime, his loss of enthusiasm for the team means that the product is going to suffer (if he doesn't leave, in which case some features are at risk of being cut). I could be focused on far more customer-relevant issues. But thanks to The Curve, we're all off-track and doing damage control versus creating great, solid, competitive software.
When you have a bunch of choices to fulfill your 3.0 quota, the least of the evils is still evil.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the performance review stack ranking. I am certainly glad to be a fugitive from that chain gang.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. So I finally got my review. It's not bad, it's not good. However, if I look at the way my career is going, I just don't feel I can stay. The last year has been hard, and I feel bad about leaving my team in a lurch, but this is going nowhere. As long as MS is refusing to recognize excellence and not allowing a normal workweek, people will be disappointed, and some will choose to go. A last message for our overpaid management: choose one - either let your employees have a life or fess up the $$$.

Anonymous said...


Level 57
salary $89K
review score 3.5
merit increase 2.0%
bonus 11.4%
stock 0


WTF? Who makes this kind of dough at L57 anything? VP EA?

Anonymous said...

WTF? Who makes this kind of dough at L57 anything? VP EA?

I call bullshit on these numbers.

Anonymous said...

I choosed not to publish numbers because I figured that there was no way to validate numbers posted in public. I think the posts here confirm that (57/89k??? Laughable)

Anonymous said...

The thing I hate about reviews (dev) is that code quality doesn't matter. The 'example dev' on our team is an oldtimer whose code is the worst c possible. My lead and dev mgr have not even looked at my code for the review, they looked at my management skill - and I am IC?!

Anonymous said...

L60 SDE / 81K / 3.0 review / 1.5% raise / 4.0% bonus / 0 stock

Essentially I got dinged for slipping ZBB roughly a week right around review time -- some of it my fault sure, some of it I probably could have managed better -- but overall, a relatively minor slip-up that looked a lot worse than it actually was. Perception is reality and all that. I appreciate the feedback, it's the 3.0 kick in the crotch that gets to me. Otherwise I would have been considered a solid contributor.

Anonymous said...

excuse the ignorance, but what's an IC?

Anonymous said...

individual contributor.

Or integrated circuit, depending on how borgizer you feel.

Anonymous said...

Code quality definately doesn't matter for reviews. Least of all if you're one of those sanctimonious static analysis tools a-holes whose tools file thousands of useless bugs on devs who ship actual code.

Anonymous said...

Just to compare... Crappy Windows SE team, 3.5
10% bonus, 2% increase.
I'm leaving ASAP.

Anonymous said...

Crappy Windows SE team

That group is so broken. I've stopped feeling sorry for the people who haven't figured out that leaving it will be the best decision of their career.

Anonymous said...

>individual contributor.

>Or integrated circuit, depending >on how borgizer you feel.

Insignificant cog. The sooner we realize it the lesser the blow

Anonymous said...

I got my 3.5/2.5/10 - but at least I only worked 30-35 hr weeks (40 during crunch time) - its a lot better than the year I worked 80 hr weeks, and got a 3.5 for not being part of the "good ol boys club"

Anonymous said...

3.5/3/7

Anonymous said...

What a waste of energy. Guess what folks? You're a free agent. If you think you deserve more and have given up trying to fix the system, then leave - no one has a gun to your head and I'm sure lots of other companies will jump at the chance to get such a rare and valuable skill set. Unless of course you're not quite as valuable as you figure...

If you think you deserve more and haven't given up, then hunker down and figure out ways to fix the system constructively vs simply whining (or at least voice some constructive suggestions along with the criticisms a la Mini).

If you think everything is A OK and there are no problems whatsoever, then you're either delusional and/or part of the SMT -in which case you should have been excessed long ago.

Anonymous said...

Now come on. Are you serious? I mean 42% bonus for a 4.0 at level 60? I haven't heard anything like that.

Enterprise Services (formerly known as MCS). These numbers are consistent with what I have seen in MCS this year.

Level 57 - 89 K , did i read that right?

Read - "salary compression". Recruiting is pushing hiring managers to make offers waay near the top of the pay range for the appropriate levels, resulting in compa ratios way above 1.0.

I've been here for 5 years and have been a L64 for 2 and have not received a 3.0 since I joined in Spring 2000. Recruiting routinely suggests that I offer L63s more than I'm making now as base pay and occasionally suggest a signing bonus to sweeten the deal. Then again, they are comped on number of hires which encourages them to minimize the chance of someone balking if offered a salary competitve with what the rest of us are making.

Someone's going to need to deal with this soon ...

Anonymous said...

Quick question: Why is salary * bonus % < bonus amount? A quick hallway poll tells me the bonus amount awarded to my coworkers is short from .4% to 1.2%... Anyone know why this is?

Anonymous said...

Mine is right on the money...remember bonus is based on current salary, not salary following any merit or promo raise.

Anonymous said...

Recruiting routinely suggests that I offer L63s more than I'm making now as base pay and occasionally suggest a signing bonus to sweeten the deal.

True story: friend of mine who started at the same time as me left MS in the hot days of the dot com boom. Got rehired recently. He's now a very well paid 63. I am a still at 60. I like the guy, but -objectively- I am the better coder. Anyone is of course free to draw their own conclusions.

Anonymous said...

I'm applying for a position at Microsoft right now and was wondering if someone on the inside can help me find the right group.

Here is my criteria:

* I went to a strong CS school and have completed the software development lifecycle a lot of times; however, I realize that I still have a lot to learn.
* I have both a CS degree and a math degree (so working with mathematical people is a positive)
* Group should allow me to learn quickly. I plan to work really hard and want to work in a group where that translates into me learning a lot
* Want super-smart coworkers that work quickly and communicate with high-bandwidth
* I don't have kernel programming experience (this will exclude certain groups)

Any help would be appeciated (sorry for possibly hijacking the thread).

Anonymous said...

as a former microsoftie reading this entire I have 1 question - wtf happened to the MSFT I worked at and loved in the 90's????

Anonymous said...

L59 in test
4.0
Old salary 70K
5% raise
13% bonus
165 stock

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if it is a fireable offense, but I'd love to see an anonymous website which people can input division, level, title, salary, comp ratio, and review numbers. If there anyone up to the challenge?

Anonymous said...

"...I'm applying for a position at Microsoft right now and was wondering if someone on the inside can help me find the right group..."

Haven't you been reading this thread or this blog? If you aren't already working at MS, I'd go elsewhere. If I knew what I knew now and was just graduating looking for my first job, there's no way I'd go anywhere near MS.

Anonymous said...

"as a former microsoftie reading this entire I have 1 question - wtf happened to the MSFT I worked at and loved in the 90's????"

Ballmer got hold of the company, the stock ceased climbing and all the guys who were used to multi-million dollar salaries because of the stock options concluded that they really were worth it and should continue being rewarded on a similar level, which of course meant they had to screw everyone else.

Anonymous said...

"Want super-smart coworkers that work quickly and communicate with high-bandwidth"

At microsoft your coworker is your enemy. No one works quickly. Most of the 'super-smart' coworkers are gone. What is left are people that are experts in interviewing and bullshitting.

Anonymous said...

Bonus is based on actual earned income for the year, not base monthly pay * 12. If you received an income adjustment during the year or haven't worked at MSFT for the full 12 months, your bonus is pro-rated accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Could you, guys, please, post also how long is your annual paid leave?

In some contries it is 20 working days by law.

Is it just two weeks paid leave in MS America? Can one (and how successful this is going to be) negotiate a longer paid leave when offered a job?

Anonymous said...

"I'm applying for a position at Microsoft right now and was wondering if someone on the inside can help me find the right group."

Send mail to i p p j o b s at microsoft dot com and someone will be happy to talk with you.

Anonymous said...

"I'm applying for a position at Microsoft right now and was wondering if someone on the inside can help me find the right group."


Have you applied to Google yet? Given the set of criteria you mentioned, I think you would be alot more liklely to find what you are looking for there. While I am sure some kool-aid drinkers will argue with this, I really don't see how MS could be better than Google for a recent grad.

Anonymous said...

What is i p p j o b s?

Anonymous said...

Could you, guys, please, post also how long is your annual paid leave?

It used to be 3 weeks for new hires, until defrocked HR chief Ken "don't mind me while I bang some recruiters" Dipietro, with Ballmer's blessing, cut it down to 2 weeks for new hires.

Anonymous said...

to the hiring managers out there - do you consider candidates who are a level below the required level in the job postings ?

I'm not looking to get a promo, just want to be able to grow into the new level - i've been in my current level for about 4 yr but just haven't been able to get the feedback i need to get to the next level

Anonymous said...

just remember you own your career, until management decides you're too critical to be allowed to interview elsewhere and slapped a whopping 2% raise to show it

Anonymous said...

do you consider candidates who are a level below the required level in the job postings ?

Yes. Doing a horizontal and letting someone grow into the posted level is generally accepted from what I have seen.

Anonymous said...

just remember you own your career, until management decides you're too critical to be allowed to interview elsewhere and slapped a whopping 2% raise to show it

Does anyone actually have experience with fighting permission to interview? I got denied recently because I am so critical to my team (61/3.5), but I know for a fact that we are hiring L60 with higher salary right out of school. If I am so important that they don't let me manage my career by changing groups, how come the new hire is paid better than I am?

Anonymous said...

Is there a permission to interview required if you were to interview at Google/Yahoo/Amazon etc?

No one can really deny a permission to interview to competent people, and the incompetent ones should try to hold on to the job they have.

The reasonable hiring managers in microsoft are willing to run an informal loop for a promising internal candidate to get around this red tape, use this to your advantage. If you get a hire from the other group tell the current group that you are leaving.

Anonymous said...

"What is left are people that are experts in interviewing and bullshitting."

Anonymous said...

"What is left are people that are experts in interviewing and bullshitting."

There is no statement that is more true to the current climate.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 6 yr vet of MS, w/ a lifetime average > 3.6 - pretty disillusioned though

Regardless, my question is how do I even start looking for a job at a Google/Yahoo/Amazon, etc? MS hired me out of college, so my entire professional career has been here, I don't know how to get a job outside of college recruiting...anyone have any advice?

P.S. I'm another of the "too critical to leave" 3.5's (with an inflation raise!) - but I don't need permission to interview outside of MS :)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm just some spic that's been at MSFT for almost 6 years, closest I've never had a 1.0 COMPA, so I've always been paid less than 50%+ of my peers, and I regularly end up greater than my fair share of work for my team (in this year I estimate I did about 35% of the testing for a 5 person team)

So for my efforts I got a 3.5 and a less than inflation wage, mediocre bonus which again reflects the wage which is less than 50%+ of my peers.

Why'd you have to die johnny cochran?

Anonymous said...

No one can really deny a permission to interview to competent people

Yes they can, and will. Lvl62 with lifetime avg review above 4.0 (I managed a 4.5 once). Utterly despised the group I was in, asked to interview outside and was flat-out refused. Too many other devs had left the team already. In the end, I wound up resigning and, although it was painful at the time, I'm much happier now. HR was no help and the other teams interested in me couldn't override the decisions (or were unwilling to).

Adam Barr said...

People are confusing two things. a) Asking permissions to interview with another group at Microsoft, and b) asking permission to interview with another company.

For a) yes, your current group can say "no" (not for an informational, but for a full interview). How long they can say "no" for depends.

For b), the notion of actually asking permission to interview AT ANOTHER COMPANY never occurred to me. Why would you ask, and what would the answer mean? Just take a day off and fly down (or drive over), and don't violate your Microsoft NDA during the interview.

- adam

Anonymous said...

You are taking too much BS if you cant switch groups due to bureaucracy. I have hired people from other groups with the management on the other side protesting, and while you get some incompetent managers trying to use red tape to keep people, I have never had an occasion where someone that wanted to come join us and we wanted to have could not join. The main thing to realize and harp on is that there is nothing preventing the employee to go to the competition if he is unhappy in his current group. Or to resign and interview as an external in the new group.

The "permission" is just baloney to scare the timid among us, its not enforceable on competent employees. The fact of the matter is that if you are good enough to be hired by another group and thats where you want to be, that is where you should be. It works the best for the company as well.

Anonymous said...

Open insurgency by Dare Obasanjo of MSN on his weblog 25hoursaday.com. If he wasn't so political, public statements like this would be grounds for dismissal.

I might loathe him for his general 'visibility' but he makes good points in this post. I hope it doesn't come back to bite him either officially or more surreptitiously.

Anonymous said...

Is there any truth to the rumor that Ken DiPietro was fired for sexual misconduct with other employees?

Anonymous said...

that's the rumour, can't say I blame him - I've been to bldg 19 on more than one occasion and it's pretty nice

Anonymous said...

“"Conversely, I have little loyalty to Microsoft and simply want to minimize the amount of my life I give to them while maximizing what they pay me."

With that attitude, anything they're paying you is too much.”

Having little loyalty to the company does NOT mean a person doesn’t do the very best work they can for the company or that they’re taking advantage of the company. In fact, you and the company can both be very happy with neither being particularly loyal. Loyalty has very little to do with the quality of the work delivered and much more to do with how you perceive your employment agreement with the company. Many times employee dissatisfaction, much like what is being aired in these blogs and comments, is driven by a difference in perspective in the work agreement between the employees and the company. So what is this disconnect?

For profit business like Microsoft exist for one reason and one reason only -- to enrich the company owners. WE ARE WAGE EARNING EMPLOYEES AND ARE NOT OWNERS. MICROSOFT DOES NOT EXIST TO ENRICH THE WAGE EARNING EMPLOYEES. (Enriching yourself is actually your job as an employee, not Microsoft’s.) Many employees seem to feel entitled to a job and subsequent enrichment from the company. If you fail to recognize the real relationship between you as an employee and the owner enrichment motive of the company then you’re bound to be dissatisfied and will probably do a poor job competing for employment.

I don’t resent this dynamic between business owners and employees. I recognize that the company only pays me the salary they do because of my potential to help enrich the company owners. I seek to strike the appropriate balance between the efforts I put in to enriching the company owners with the financial compensation they provide in return. This dynamic work just fine without loyalty in either direction. If you expect loyalty from an unfeeling and profit motivated corporation or give it in return you’re either naive, foolish, or both. You will be much happier once you come to terms with what your employment relationship with Microsoft really means.

For me personally as a long time Microsoftie I feel there has been an imbalance in the last few years between the effort I put in and the rewards I’ve been getting out. For me the choice was to go to another company that would pay more money for the effort or to reduce effort. As I am one of the family oriented types that many of you seem to dislike having as part of your peer group, I decided I didn’t want more money and would rather spend more time with my family.

I say bring on the 3.5s and I will be super, great, blah, blah, happy reading books with my kids in the evening or walking with the family in the park after dinner. The rest of you loyal mini-microsoft fools can work 70 plus hours a week in hope of a 4.0 if you wish.

Anonymous said...

If the rumors are true, then its rather hilarious that the HR director was forced to resign because of sexual misconduct.

Whats up with Dare - that some pretty ballsy shit to post, and as much as I hate hotmail, the stupid butterfly, etc its a little harsh to say that MSN hasn't done anything good. Can't you get reprimanded for posting shit like that? Superstar or not, you can't really get away with that.

Anonymous said...

Read between the lines, Dare's about to quit soon (why post this so soon after reviews?), and he's going to do it as publicly as possible, whilst maintaining the facade of being a good little msnserf.

Go Dare!

Anonymous said...

I didn't say MSN hasn't done anything good. That was an anonymous comment in my blog. I like the stuff I work on from Messenger to Spaces and the next version of Hotmail is looking pretty sweet. And then there's Virtual Earth.

As for quitting soon, I like working at MSN and don't plan to voluntarily stop in the immediate future.

-- Dare

Anonymous said...

Is there any truth to the rumor that Ken DiPietro was fired for sexual misconduct with other employees?

Zero. There is zero disclosed proof that this was the basis of his firing. If people have it, then they should share it with, say, the PI or Stranger vs whispering it here.

I'd like to think it would stay unexplained in my hopes it was actually a random act of accountability and that executives can actually be fired for doing a piss-poor job.

Anonymous said...

"as a former microsoftie reading this entire I have 1 question - wtf happened to the MSFT I worked at and loved in the 90's????"

I started in the mid-90's and left not too long ago. Over the last 5 years, the place changed from a fierce producer of software and millionaires to a something more along the line of a Boeing or GE. I'm guessing 1/3 of the employees are using their awesome health benefits on anti-depressants. (Can someone from hr confirm?)

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing 1/3 of the employees are using their awesome health benefits on anti-depressants.

Yes. I used to drink a lot, but those weren't paid for, so I got a prescription for anti-depressants. I think my code isn't as good as before, but I'm happy with it anyway.

Anonymous said...

>I didn't say MSN hasn't done anything good

Dare,
Please accept my apologies - that was my post above and if you look at your comments log, it *looks* like that comment entry is yours.

Its pretty hard to tell who's comments start/end where

Anonymous said...

The rumor I heard re: DiPietro was that he was having an affair with one of his reports; he was told to knock it off; he didn't; so he was fired.

Which I guess is as good a reason as any.

Anonymous said...

I had a promo to 61 (which was overdue) at mid-year discussion. I got a 4.0 a year ago.

Guess what I got this time? 3.0? 2% raise, 4% bonus. I'm told that I was in that "3.0 to 3.5 gray zone."

Gee, give me a promo at midyear, which means I'm doing something right, right after a 4.0 and six months late I'm a 3.0.

Fuckin' A.

I'm moving to California in nine months. This just clinched it.

Anonymous said...

this is totally symptomatic of the recent company policy of bringing in outside talent for upper level management positions instead of growing from within

A former business partner of our GM got the business development position in our product group.

Out of all the people on the planet, the friend of the GM turned out to be the best person for the job. What an amazing coincidence!

Anonymous said...

Comparing #'s:

L61 in test (1yr in level)
current pay: 85,545
comp ratio: .95

Review data:
4.0
14% bonus
5% merit
324 shares
"B" stock rating

Worked about 70hrs/week, and let me tell you the time away from family and loss of sleep was not worth the extra 3% bonus above a 3.5

Lesson learned, as that is not sustainable and caused major burn out. The market is picking up, and recruiters are on the prowl calling up folks through networking and probing once they call someone from their resume posted on monster. If that doesn't go anywhere, they ask if that person knows someone who could fit that role and they keep hounding. First time in 4 yrs that I have seen this and been contacted so much.

What makes it hard for folks that I see and myself, is the soon to be vested stock chunks in 3 yrs when we'll have all 5/5 vested, then that adds to your yearly compensation with bonus and salary. From what I see outside MS, it's hard to get that kind of money so you "might" need to take a little paycut. Very few places give out 8-15% bonuses.

Anonymous said...

What makes it hard for folks that I see and myself, is the soon to be vested stock chunks in 3 yrs when we'll have all 5/5 vested, then that adds to your yearly compensation with bonus and salary. From what I see outside MS, it's hard to get that kind of money so you "might" need to take a little paycut.

Most other companies give stock options instead of stock awards - the good companies will give a ~10% bonus as well.

Assuming a company is doing well, then the value of their stock options may well be more than that of MSFT's stock awards (and ESPP).

I just finished interviewing and got some very nice offers on par w/ what I'm making at MSFT (obviously trading stock awards for options). You have to look at the right companies considering MSFT pays more than 2/3 of the ones out there.

Anonymous said...

Note: FORMER VP Ken ...

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/kendi/default.mspx

Anonymous said...

How does pay differentiate between PM, Dev and Test? Also, which one levels faster?

Anonymous said...

"Also, which one levels faster?"

PM, by a LARGE margin. Those with the visibility have the power.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, PMs DO NOT level up faster. In fact, they level up SLOWER. In many groups, you'll find that some of the PM 4.0 and promos get stolen by the dev team.

Probably as it should be, too, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

L63 in dev (~18 mo. in level)

Review data:
4.0
13% bonus
5% merit
~1200 shares
Salary=~110,000
"A" stock rating

No promo. A bit pissed about that. Submitting resume to Google etc.

Anonymous said...

*review went something like this*
"Thanks for the hard work, likely your group will be in Bangalore next year, I might be able to get you a relo." By the way, msft is very secretive and mitigating bad pr /risk and likely wont mention it.. jobs will be lossed in NC not like a massive layoff, but a slow leak..." you might consider a TAM role.


If you'd consider a cross country relo, you should talk to some of the product team devs you've worked with on really tricky cases. They'll know about the positions that are opening up during this high movement season.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's the 15th now. Reviews are all posted, signed and completed.

Just think, in 2 1/2 months, we get to start on the mid-year discussions that are just as informative and productive.

Anonymous said...

[Frick commented in the wrong post the first time]

I'm hoping you can answer a question for me.

the good news, I received a 4.5 review score this year, which had me extremely excited. The not so good news I got no promotion, and a not-so-spectaular bonus of around 14%. Contrast that with last year after recieving a 4.0 I was promoted a level and received similar bonus, pay raise numbers. I firmly believe I'm doing strong level [me + 1] work.

Should I be pissed?

Anonymous said...

also for comparisons sake

PM L60
Score: 4.5
Raise: 6.5%
New Salary: $87,000
Bonus: 16%
Stock 390 Shares

No promotion either (though I got one last year with a 4.0), which is a tad frustrating

I also wanted to call out that I received this score working on average about 45 hrs a week. far less than many of the posters. I believe this is because PM, unlike dev and test can really get mileage out of the "work smarter not harder" cliche'. I worked my butt off in short concentrated bursts taking on some pretty higly visible projects and was able to really put some distance between myself and 'harder' working folks.

thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Pity there's no HR person contributing to this thread on ratings, levels and promotions. While I am not a HR person, I have had enough exposure and insight into salary levels/ladders from a comp design that I can share the following. Most salary levels have sufficient ranges from minimum to maximum that it can support a person in said level for 3-5 yrs. Promotions to higher levels is not merely a function of one's performance rating. A level change means the job scope and responsibilities have changed. We need to be better educated so that we can set our inner expectations, and thus, not be frustrated un-necessarily. Consider that the higher ups, Group Mgrs, Dtrs, GM and VPs are getting promotions every year or 2 or 3.

Anonymous said...

Oops...in the last sentence on Gp Mgrs, Dtrs, GM and VPs, I meant, they are NOT getting promotions every year or 2 or 3.

Anonymous said...

L62
Salary - $87K
Score =- 3.0
Merit - 2.0%
Bonus - 14.4%
300 shares of stock

in the SMS&P PAM role. was told not proactive enough and did not meet committment I did not know I has as was never discussed. Real reason as I understand is a colleague threw me under the bus to benefit themself. Also believe since the division did well against quota and earned a high RBI Bonus, management was told to hold down review scores and CBI Bonus.

Overall I agree with the comment in BW that the review process drives more competition than cooperation and we need to do something to change this.

Anonymous said...

My organization is dominated by women. And whether it's related or not, my org has an intense gossip culture. People can start rumors about each other and tear people down and screw them on their review scores JUST BY PASSING A RUMOR. The model of my org also encourages (though not openly) that people share contents of confidential e-mails and conversations with their managers. And those contents will show up on annual written reviews. I kid you not. For me, no amount of money or increases or bonuses will ever make me want to walk around here looking for people to snitch on. The people who do it are the scum of the earth, and I'm guessing they will get their real reward later on.

Anonymous said...

Be advised if you are unhappy w/ your performance review and would like to provide additional comments contact HR and they are willing to add these comments to your review. HR will post the document as a written response that will sit alongside your performance review document in your employee record.

Anonymous said...

"Be advised if you are unhappy w/ your performance review and would like to provide additional comments contact HR and they are willing to add these comments to your review. HR will post the document as a written response that will sit alongside your performance review document in your employee record."

There's a good career ender. Say something negative, and your lead and and future interviewers will see this and not want to touch you with a ten foot pole.

Anonymous said...

* There's a good career ender. Say something negative, and your lead and and future interviewers will see this and not want to touch you with a ten foot pole.

So sit there and just take it, eh? No wonder the review process sucks, everyone wants to complain, but so one wants to make a stand when they've been screwed! If this is the attitude nothing will change.

Anonymous said...

I disagreed with parts of my review Sep 04. I wrote a factual piece contesting the mgr written comments. This was embedded into my review doc and posted. My career is doing fine. So, be and act professionally.

Anonymous said...

I just started. Don't know what my level is. HR told me it's a guarded secret. How does everyone here know?

Anyway, I must have been hired at a fairly high level. This board is scaring the day light out of me though. BTW, do an IC developers ever move into a PM role?

base pay: $130K
Signing bonus: $10K
Stock: 500