Thursday, September 08, 2005

Three Quick Things - Jobs, Dynamics, Monopolies

One: when I suffered through my first stack ranking experience, I was assigned a mentor to deal with my glowering funk. Strangely, the one bit of advice he provided me out of the blue was: "The best way to get a pay raise is to switch companies." And a year later he called me up, needing to staff up at his new company. Sure enough, everytime I switched to a new company a new big fat wad of cash landed in my account.

I bring this up given that if the job market is heating up so much that recruiters are hiring people to stand outside of Microsoft to hawk their openings, you can bet you can get a much better salary now. It's all about surfing the economy's inflection points. (Hint to recruiters: stand outside any entrances leading to Windows.)

While we're on that, have you left Microsoft during the past year or so? Are you in the process of leaving now? For various reasons, I'd like to hear more about it. Feel free to leave a comment here or drop me a note.

Two: regarding the whole "Dynamics" thing, I think this comment says it best:

I work in MBS. This "Microsoft Dynamics" business is such a joke. The division has such serious problems, beginning with the complete lack of leadership from the executives. Solution: waste a bunch of time and money on rebranding. Great. Nothing solved. Customers more confused than ever. [...] I think the next "logical step in our evolution" is firing the grossly incompetent executives and actually trying to have a strategy to *make money*. Anyone who thinks the MBS executives are not complete idiots needs to ask any MBS person about Doug Burgum's rambling, incoherent speech at the MBS Open House a few weeks ago. This is the guy that's leading us. ... Time to get out of that division while the getting's good.

Still no timeline to bringing in a profit? And still no accountability?

Three: Microsoft Bagholder's latest posting glowers, too. Basically it's concerned that if Ballmer's chair throwing tantrums are true, we're just going down the same path of destroying a competitive company at all costs and setting ourselves up for yet another anti-trust proceeding. I've had more than one conversation about that little chair story (usually accompanied by the soundtrack of foreheads being "D'oh!" slapped). Maybe we'll shoot our foot so well this time that the Feds will really break us up this time.

Maybe that will be the best medicine possible.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

I’ve been recruiting heavily for my group over the last year plus, and have seen the job market heating up. It’s even gotten hard to hire CSGs over the last few months. I mentioned to my HR recruiting contact that I though we were looking at trouble, since the way our salary is structured, we wouldn’t have a chance to react to the market until September. I assumed salaries would go up significantly in September because of the added pressure in the market, and hoped we would not lose very many people before then. So I was particularly surprised to see the same pathetic 2% merit budget this year as last.

I was only able to make one person happy out of every three that deserved it this year. How in hell do I keep a team together like that? Maybe I should go find one of those sandwich boards.

ShiftingRight

Alex said...

I left MS about a year ago.

Anonymous said...

I work in MBS also, and I agree there is a lack of leadership. Part of the problem is there haven't been any new hires in about 3 years--not even to backfill positions. The re-branding thing can't possibly help customers understand which product to purchase--we have 6 financial "solutions" that used to compete in the market...but now we sell them all.
Uhh...it makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

--MSskunk

methylamine said...

I left about three months ago.
I felt like I had lost my religion; when I started Microsoft five years ago, it was still riding the wave of brilliant, passionate people whose chief aim was to BUILD THINGS and see them used--TODAY.

I distinctly remember Microsoft as a technical meritocracy; at least more so than any other place I've been. The most admired people in my group were those with the greatest coding skill--there was never any question why they'd risen to the top, it was simply obvious--they were SMART, capable, and productive.

The key change that destroyed Microsoft Consulting was SteveB hiring Mike Sinneck to run services. WTF?? *WHY* would you hire a fossilized IBM dinosaur to run a Microsoft division? Especially when you'd stated repeatedly that MCS would never become nor aspire to become IBM Global Services.

As Joel Spolsky points out, stupid hires stupid. You dare not allow an idiot into your organization, for they will surely hire and surround themselves with their idiot cronies and sycophants--exactly as Sinneck did.

He's long gone; I won a tidy sum of money on a bet I made that he'd be gone less than six months after MGB, where he'd adulated himself with a color magazine and a lunar lander mockup on stage...*after* he'd randomly fired 10% of the organization. Bonehead.

But stupid is as stupid does, and the org is now riddled with middle and senior management promoted or hired during his tenure.

Like many other divisions in Microsoft, services and sales execs entertain themselves with "reorgs". I suspect it's programmer-envy; they hear us talking about "refactoring" and in true PHB fashion apply it to their org...every twelve months. Does noone measure the disruption and cost of these changes? Well actually, YES--the furious stockholders, who watch incompetent management fritter away their money.

I'm working in both .NET and Java now. What absolutely stuns me is how quickly the Java world can turn around tools and frameworks. I still prefer C#; however I'm working in a Beta of C# 2.0 while Java 5--offering nearly the same feature set--has been out for months.

The Java IDE--there's really only one, Eclipse--is a 105MB zip file. You know how I installed it? Unzipped it. How do I run it? Click on Eclipse.exe.

You know how I install Studio? Pay $2500 for top version (not out yet btw but will be about that amount or more); Insert DVD; answer inane questions; walk away for 2 hours; return with at least 1.5_G_B less diskspace and a doubled registry size.

When I want something new in Eclipse, I wander around a bit on Google and Sourceforge; today I might add code coverage, tomorrow static analysis, throw in some metrics--essentially anything I need. Mostly free.

I have yet to exceed 150MB total Eclipse directory size, and I have replicated and exceeded the full feature set of VS.NET 2005--which hasn't fucking shipped yet.

Is this because Microsoft developers aren't as good as Java/open source developers? Hell no! (though it soon may be at current attrition rates) It's because middle and senious management make it impossible for smart people to get anything done, and vigorously punish them when they do.

FIXING IT: My single best fix-up for Microsoft now would be to allow product teams and sub-teams to function on their own and stop the ludicrous cross-dependencies and retarded "integrated innovation". That whole rubric causes an N^2 communication matrix, and N has become a whole lot larger with all the marginal, crappy edge-products like MBS, CMS, etc.

Let every product stand on its own. If it can or wants to wait on someone else's whup-butt new release, fine. But let something like Whidbey make a spot-release; don't force them to wait for Yukon.

Likewise don't force Yukon to wait on Whidbey...in fact, why the fuck should SQL Server include the CLR? Because Oracle has Java? Who uses that? Noone in their right mind in an enterprise application will allow code to run on their database, especially with the laughable choice of running the CLR in-process...It's a feature nobody asked for. Sure, you'll get some PM who championed it to trot out "customer quotes", but I can go give a speech touting a sparkly new feature and find at least one deluded dolt in the crowd who wants it, too.

Meantime, that one feature of CLR/SQL integration cost probably two years' ship time, and diverted resources that should have been driven toward making truly distributed database clusters workable, manageable, and cheap.

Perhaps the only way to modularize Microsoft again, and give individual products the opportunity to shine or fail on their own, is to get rid of the senior execs whose fixation on "integrated innovation" has blinded them to reality.

Integration is NOT the answer; modularity is. Eclipse is a great example; the fact that I can build a headless Linux box and run a minimal Tomcat on it is another. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could do a 100MB headless Windows + Whidbey/IIS--and sell it for $100? At that price, the better features of .NET and Windows can sell themselves. Instead that scenario will cost me at least a grand and a gig--I'll just use the slightly less capable but cheaper alternative.

Michael Stuart
aka methylamine

Anonymous said...

Recruiting surely gets harder. We apparently just tried to score Eric Raymond.

Anonymous said...

When I read about the Ballmer tantrum, I was embarassed to be a shareholder. And note how he doesn't refute the statements - just says they were exaggerated. Is there anyone on this planet who doubts that Mark's recollections are closer to the truth than Ballmer's? Bagholder as usual has it right - Ballmer needs to go, the current board is unable to perform their duties and a new outside CEO of Hurd's caliber would do wonders for this company and the stock. Ballmer and Gates win at all costs/petty/political attitude may or may not have been a requirement to get the company to where it is. But at this point, they're a detriment. On news of Ballmer stepping down to be replaced by a capable outsider, the stock would go up 10% on the day.

Grant said...

I left Microsoft three months ago, after 5 years.

One of the major reasons was, as you said, that the best way to get a pay raise is to switch companies. Five years at MS showed me that the fastest way to get promoted at MS is to leave. In five years, on two teams, I never saw someone promoted from within. Sure, people made ladder level increases (I made a couple myself), but never really changed function... all leads and managers were external hires.

Internal transfers are especially problematic... I accepted an internal transfer to a job 2 levels higher than mine, but as an internal transfer I of course retained my old ladder level. If I had come from outside the company, I'd have been making a good bit more money. I'm quite sure I could go back to Microsoft after being away for six months and end up 1-2 levels higher than when I left.

It would take years to move up 1-2 levels within MS. And I always had 3.5 and 4.0 review scores.

I ended up leaving MS for a generally-lower-paying field (moved from program management into IT management) and still have a higher salary. My total compensation isn't significantly higher (due to MS's benefits, which despite their continuual downward slide are still among the best in the industry), but I have the ability to actually make decisions and get things done without the staggering bureaucracy of Core OS Division.

Anonymous said...

HR and internal politics are in the saddest state I think I've ever seen any company - large or small. And I used to work for a Canadian company named MacLean Hunter - a publishing and telecommunications giant around for an extremely long time that fell within 2 years due to extreme mismanagement and terribly inertial decision making.

I will talk though on HR recruiting and referrals from employees.

I have a friend who has been a PM for several companies - EDS most recently, but with Young and Rubicam, and others developing eCommerce web sites for the big three auto manufacturers. She has excellent training, an excellent background with 9 years accumulated experience as a PM, certifications and ongoing recertifications.

I submitted her resume for a level 62 position with one of the groups here on campus. I sent it directly to the Hiring Manager since giving it to HR is like throwing it into a deep dark hole where no one will ever find it. They phone screened her, brought her to campus, had the full day loop and then kept her an extra day to have a long chat with the Hiring Manager about the position and future growth opportunities. They sent her back to Detroit saying they would be making an offer...

The offer came - L60, $82.5K + signing bonus and stock grants. Here's someone who exceeded the posted job requirements and met all of the "nice to have" skills. Someone who warranted the company rescheduling the return flight at the last minute at great cost. Then they low ball her... she countered with the expected "L62 (or will take 61) at $90-$95K range"

She told them this last Thursday. They asked her to write an essay to justify the counter.

She gave it to them on Friday.

They have not replied yet if they will modify the offer or not.

This brings up two points for me:
1) we bring in someone that has talent, we obviously like them enough to make an offer, and then low ball them so bad they get infinitely insulted and actually I dont think they'll accept the job even if the counter was met. Especially since it's been over a week now since the counteroffer was made and there is no definitive response from our own end.
2) we hire college kids at levels exceeding their skill sets and compensate in the upper ranges of the salary scale, then have to hold their hands through everything while they take 6-9 months to get to speed. Why?
3) our HR department is so friggin incompetent that they're actually trying to recruit hostile politically opposed individuals to come work for MSFT and then dont understand why they get the replies they do. Not everyone has the flexibility of principle that our upper and middle management exhibits, we shouldnt be surprised that there are people who actually stick to theirs.

Bottom line - I am grossly embarrassed with MSFT on a personal level as well as a professional level. The fact that no one has chosen to give a final answer to my friend (who I believe I was doing a favor to both MSFT and her since they can mutually benefit by her employment here) leads me to conclude that I cant recommend anyone come here to work.

If this kind of shit happens to someone before they even determine if they will choose to work here or not, imagine the kind of crap they'll experience after starting.

Not only that, has decision making here at the once formerly great and groundbreaking MSFT slowed down so much that they cant bridge a <10% difference in a salary offer to lure a talented individual into the company? Once upon a time a difference of $7500 was nothing to work into the P&L column as far as salaries go. What has made this change in the last year?

With this kind of inaction and inequity - I'm left questioning the length of my stay here right now...

Anonymous said...

Apple was able to boot out Steve Jobs in the 80s, right? Why can't the board/stockholders fire Gates and Ballmer? Do they control that much stock?

Anonymous said...

"Apple was able to boot out Steve Jobs in the 80s, right? Why can't the board/stockholders fire Gates and Ballmer? Do they control that much stock?"

Not the best example given the stellar job he's done since returning to AAPL. But yes, it's possible. However, they control a lot of stock, they're the founders and Gates [at least] is rightly/wrongly synonymous with the company. So it would be tough, pressure would likely have to come from large institutional shareholders, and the board - handpicked by Bill and Steve - would have to grow some balls, bite the hand that feeds it and actually do their job of looking out for shareholders. For 3+ years now, institutions have been happy to do nothing while their customers either lost money in MSFT or underperformed the indexes badly. In most cases, that's because it isn't their money. But dissapointlingly, even where it has been their money (i.e. union pension funds) there has been little vocal opposition. A lot have also just voted with their feet - which is why institutional ownership is down hugely from say '99. Net net, there is no pressure from institutions and so the board will be only too happy to keep their nose in the Gates/Ballmer supplied trough. The only real pressure that Ballmer/Gates are likely feeling is the pressure to recruit/retain employees that a flat-lined stock has exascerbated. Can you say GOOG?

Anonymous said...

methylamine, I understand why you want Microsoft to drop the emphasis on "integrated innovation," but it can't do it.

Gates' goal from the very beginning has been to take over the software field. To do that required an ever-expanding web of interlocking monopolies. Microsoft has to keep making its software mutually dependent because it is only maybe 1/25 of the way to its ultimate goal, and also to keep competitors like open source and Google from undermining its monopolies.

Mini-Microsoft is right to want to make Microsft lean and customer-focused. The problem is that the company is basically on the path that Gates and Ballmer have always wanted, and in the future it is only going to go much further in the same direction.

--Eduardo

Anonymous said...

Rebranding MBS to Dynamics is a non-issue. Branding is affects perception by prospects and the MBS was a clunking non-brand that wasn't very snappy.

Some have opinioned that fixing the problems in MBS/Dynamics is as simple as reducing the offerings from 4 to 1. That won't work. These products are not like Office but more like Windows. Each of the 4 products has a large eco-system of ISVs building on the respective platforms. To simply pull the rug from the ISVs and the customers all at once will do nothing but disrupt existing customers and prospects even more. People buy ERP systems for the long run. The mindset of most buyers in this market is "if it ain't broke don't fix it". Once they have an ERP system in place that they have spent upwards of 1 million dollars implementing, they will NOT simply switch. And anything less than a clear direction for moving forward will only push prospects to competitors.


No, the problem with MBS/Dynamics is the same as the rest of the company... Integrated Innovation. This strategy is a recipe for diaster as more and more teams are putting their eggs in each others baskets. Nobody is in control of their own destiny. Throw in a little stack ranking of employees and nothing will happen, just eternal churn. Interestingly the only team in control of their destiny, Office, wouldn't be able to sell new version except for improvements to Outlook.

The failure of O12 will only be surpassed by the failure of Vista. Microsoft will be lucky to have MBS/Dynamics to fall back on when these big dogs fail.

In my tenure at MS, the real problem is that everyone is a yes man. Nobody will tell their management that their ideas are stupid. Nobody will tell their management that anything but "Yes, we'll do it, even if it is really crappy. We'll do it even if it sucks, 'cause we can fix it the next time around." Sadly, this mentality is probably correlated to stack ranking performance reviews.

Well, that was fun.

Anonymous said...

http://www.proudlyserving.com/archives/2005/09/an_open_letter.html

Not just Dare Obasanjo, now Adam Barr too! I'm hoping this is backed up by movement soon - and we owe it mostly to you, Mini! You rock!

The rank and file are openly mocking our leadership. I'm sick and tired of crappy cusat, especially over something as obvious as whether doc formats 'should' be open. Brian Jones XML blogging was meant to be a coup de grace, and mgt fluffed it with FUD again. Now he's hijacked and bogged down by some perfectly valid points about what govts need (as well as some hardcore IE-style vitriol).

To all those brave souls blogging on this side of the firewall, blog on! And keep up the cacophany - we can do great things.

Anonymous said...

Probably not the most overpaid, but are they worth it?

Executive Year Base Salary Merit % Bonus Bonus % Salary+Bonus
Steven A. Ballmer 2004 591,667 310,000 52% 901,667
Chief Executive Officer; Director 2003 550,000 7.6% 313,447 57% 863,447
2002 545,833 0.8% 205,810 38% 751,643
0
William H. Gates III 2004 591,667 310,000 52% 901,667
Chairman; Chief Software Architect; 2003 550,000 7.6% 313,447 57% 863,447
Director 2002 545,833 0.8% 205,810 38% 751,643
0
James E. Allchin 2004 558,334 342,000 61% 900,334
Group Vice President, 2003 504,168 10.7% 400,000 79% 904,168
Platforms Group 2002 493,750 2.1% 400,000 81% 893,750
0
Kevin R. Johnson 2004 480,336 435,000 91% 915,336
Group Vice President; 2003 379,125 26.7% 300,000 79% 679,125
World Wide Sales, Marketing and 2002 340,959 11.2% 243,100 71% 584,059
Services 0
0
Jeffrey S. Raikes 2004 562,500 400,000 71% 962,500
Group Vice President, 2003 522,917 7.6% 300,000 57% 822,917
Information Worker Business 2002 493,749 5.9% 250,000 51% 743,749

(http://sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/789019/000119312504158873/ddef14a.htm)

Anonymous said...

A practice in Silicon Valley is to leave the company you are working for, develop a product that you know they need, and sell it back to them.

In the example below, the person mentioned did not work for Microsoft prior to the purchase of his company but it gives an idea of what is possible.

Intersé Corp.
Sunnyvale, Calif.
CEO: Terry Myerson. Founded in 1994 by Myerson, Midori Chan, Ed Hott and Pa ul Strisower. Private; 15 employees. Software for extracting trend and usag e data from Web sites via an interactive analytical tool, rather than a sta tic report writer. Partnerships with Arbitron New Media and Next Century Me dia. Privately funded.



Shares for the purchase of Intersé Corp.

Name of Selling Shareholders: Terry Myerson
Microsoft Common Shares Owned Prior to Offering: 200
Number of Common Shares Offered Hereby: 165,729
Number of Common Shares Owned After the Offering: 165,929

Anonymous said...

Re: SteveB

This behavior is nothing new for SteveB. When SteveB was in charge of the Systems Division, he would come out of his office yelling his head off berating the Windows devs for the quality of their code (pre-Win3.0 timeframe). I stayed out of Systems until after SteveB moved on.

Anonymous said...

The idea of leaving MS, developing a product you know they'll need and then selling it back to them is a great one that's got to be better for both entrepreneureal employees and the company itself than the current arrangement.

The former employee gets to actually innovate and ship something. Once they do, they have, hopefully, the contacts and the institutional awareness to help sell the thing to the company.

Microsoft and its shareholders only have to pay for the product if the team actually succeeds, which they have a better chance of doing unfettered from the huge corporate tax (from product synergy, to HR policies of MS).

I got to witness first hand what happens when MS tries to set up an internal environment to foster entrepreneurialism and it wasn't pretty.

Anonymous said...

The other day, the top three computer stories on Google News were:

Apple announces iPod nano
Google hires Vint Cerf
Microsoft announces MBS rebranding strategy

I wish we shipped something or hired someone cool.

Anonymous said...

I wish we shipped something or hired someone cool.

Does anyone believe that would could have beaten Apple to the punch with something like the nano? anyone? anyone?

All I see are shaking heads and sighs...

Anonymous said...

I left MS in 2004, or rather was pushed out in 2004. I was replaced by contract workers. I began as a contract worker in 1998 and got my blue badge in 1999. I worked hard. I'm not a techie. I have over 10 years experience managing people and businesses. I started at the bottom in the training group for support. I kept believing that MS was moving towards managers that had management experience, instead of making the best techie the manager. I went to a women's conference in WA where I heard this preached. I was so excited I finally started applying for team manager positions in support. After over 4 years, my technical skills were such that I met the requirements that were posted. But I was scoffed at. It didn't matter that I knew how to manage a business and the people in it. That I had a proven track record of meeting P&L goals and motivating employees to be the best they could be. I wasn't "technical" enough.
Considering I have degrees in both psychology and business and an IQ in the 130 range, I was smart enough. I always heard how MS wanted smart people. The position I held when I was first hired was something I had NEVER done, but I did it well enough to get a FT position doing it and not even have to be back-filled by another contract worker. And I took on more responsibilities and found ways to work smarter. I guess that was probably part of the issue. I found ways to cut through bureacracy and get thngs done.
I admit, as I tried to move ahead, I became more and more discouraged and wasn't performing at the level I had been. I stopped working 7 days a week. I started taking time off to do things with my daughter occasionally. I started "just doing my job" and quit doing more than that. I couldn't see why. It had pretty much been said to me that I would never move beyond where I was. I was spinning my wheels. In August of 2003 I was told my job would be eliminated, but no one knew when. Imagine going to work every day and wondering if today would be the day. After a couple of months, I basically had a break-down and it was suggested I take a medical leave of absence. I did, came back too soon, and was sent off again. But when it was time to come back, I was told to hold off. No one knew yet what was going on with my job. This was 6 months after I was told it would be eliminated, but no one knew when. At some point, I was told they couldn't get rid of me right after coming back from leave, because that would look bad. As you can see, eventually I was told I wouldn't be coming back. I was out of work for 11 months. I lost my home and my daughter had to leave the school she had been at since she was 4. I've cried my eyes out more than once. I used to laugh and say that if you cut my, I would bleed Microsoft blue. I loved that company as much as I loved my daughter. But maybe that was the mistake. I made that company more important than it should have been. My faith and family should have been first in my life, instead, I was worshipping at the alter of MS.
I wouldn't give the time I had there up for anything, except my faith and my daughter. I learned so much and looked forward to going to work every day, at least for about 5 years. I had two of the best managers in the world. I also saw some of the worst ones in the world. I saw managers that were on a power trip because they were brought in from another company to the almighty MS. I got the feeling that they felt if MS needed them and not someone internal, obviously they were much better than anything that was already there, so they seemed to have these saviour complexes that came off as "you suck and I'm better so everything that was here before me must change - a be damned anyone that doesn't like it" - you know, my way or the highway.
I'm grateful for my time at MS and I still keep two shares of my stock. I had to sell everything else to feed my child while I looked for work. I still believe in what I was told back in 1998 and I believe that many of the people that work there believe it too. That company can do so much good for the world, but until it is managed at all levels by managers that understand how to manage people, it looks like it will stumble over and over. People are key. If no one shows up for work tomorrow, the machines cannot keep going on their own. People are complex. More complex than an OS or any other piece of code. Each has their own needs and wants. Good managers understand that the people are the key - not deadlines and budgets and politics. People make a company.

Anonymous said...

I basically had a break-down and it was suggested I take a medical leave of absence.

I have seen this before.

When they want to get rid of you, they first create a hostile work environment. It is called constructive discharge which is illegal but difficult to prove.

This kind of treatment probably started a lot sooner than you realize and could very well be the source of your discouragement.

If you do not quit after that kind of treatment, they suggest you take a leave of absence or a medical leave. The purpose of which is for you to notice how much better you feel not being in a hostile work environment in the hopes that you will quit.

If you took the leave and/or did not quit, the fun continues (e.g. reduce responsibilities, etc. -- see elsewhere on this site for other tactics).

If you are not aware of what they are doing, it can affect your mental health a lot more severely than if you realize what is happening.

It does not really matter if you improve if someone has a hard-on for seeing you leave.

You can either:

1) Try changing groups to see if the abuse stops if they haven't 2.5'ed your ass which means you cannot change groups.

2) Document everything and ask an attorney if you have a case

3) Quit


What precipitated the breakdown?

Was it stress at work?

Considering I have degrees in both psychology and business and an IQ in the 130 range, I was smart enough.

Study organizational psychology and use your experience in a case study.

until it is managed at all levels by managers that understand how to manage people

This is not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft does not love you. Your family loves you.

Do your family a favor. If you are not getting what you need, get a better offer somewhere else and take it.

Anonymous said...

Likewise don't force Yukon to wait on Whidbey...in fact, why the fuck should SQL Server include the CLR?

Despite all the problems with the performance, security, and design problems that I and others found in Whidbey, the company wrap goes:

Type safety blah blah verifiably safe code blah blah fewer security bugs (in your code but not theirs) blah blah SDE productivity blah blah less pressure on finding more SDE's blah blah ...

To make the CLR usable in real products, SQL and other server products have to drink the company Koolaid to motivate the necessary changes.

Otherwise, people get lazy and just ship it.

You are CLR testers among all of the other responsibilities you have picked up to reduce costs.

Rent Office Space and laugh about how fucked up your working life is, put on some Nikes and wait for the mother ship, or find something more rewarding.

Anonymous said...

"When they want to get rid of you, they first create a hostile work environment. It is called constructive discharge which is illegal but difficult to prove."

I know this one ... right dalen

Anonymous said...

This is the anonymous that was pushed out after being sent on medical leave. I tried to find other work, but I was not in WA, I was in NC. There are only so many types of positions and the ones I was "qualified" for were few and far between. Now I work for a management consulting firm and we just shake our heads when we read about MS. They have spent money on one of the finest organizational consulting tools in the world, but I never saw anything come of it. It's the "say-do" gap. They say many things about how they want to manage, but doing it never happens. We all know how it is there. You barely can get the things that have to be done completed. How are you supposed to find time to do the things that will make things better? We always said we were like the cobbler's kids that had no shoes. We can make worklife easier for so many, but can't for ourselves.
I refused to quit no matter what. My manager understood completely, but he couldn't fight the powers above. He knew it would be better for me mentally if I left, but I am a single mom. I couldn't afford to not have an income. He was an amazing man. He died of a stroke not long after I left, God rest his soul. He was probably the best manager I ever had in any company I had ever worked for.

Anonymous said...

Thats a terribly sad story.

Anonymous said...

Now I work for a management consulting firm and we just shake our heads when we read about MS.

For clients that want to migrate from Windows to Linux (and a small amount of corporate Karma), Versora Progression Desktop is a product to migrate a Windows desktop computer to Linux.

We all know how it is there. You barely can get the things that have to be done completed. How are you supposed to find time to do the things that will make things better?

By “better”, the company means “reducing costs”. In employees minds, “better” means a better work environment which, for some, includes taking the back stabbing out of the review process.

The company made time for pushing more testing automation and documentation on SDE’s because it results in reduced costs in testing and reduced costs in SDE turnover.

Anonymous said...

“I used to laugh and say that if you cut my, I would bleed Microsoft blue. I loved that company as much as I loved my daughter. But maybe that was the mistake. I made that company more important than it should have been.”

Loving something that can’t love you back is a mistake. I’m a long time Microsoftie and I say this without any animosity -- Microsoft, like any business, is an organization which exists primarily for the enrichment of its owners. It can’t feel, be sympathetic, or be loyal. It is what it is!

“I started taking time off to do things with my daughter occasionally. I started "just doing my job" and quit doing more than that.”

You refer to your employment agreement with Microsoft as if it was something that belonged to you…as if it was “yours”. In the last several years I finally clued into the real nature of my employment relationship with Microsoft and I began to understand that I am actually in the business of being an employee. Microsoft, my customer, has a particular need for which they believe I have the experience and ability to meet and are willing to pay me accordingly. I want to retain Microsoft as a customer and am willing to work hard to make them happy and to do a great job. I get a lot of personal satisfaction at doing the job the best that I can.

Just like any customer, Microsoft is always looking to be a better value from their business arrangements. In terms of the employment arrangement this means they want more work for less compensation. In turn, I am constantly evaluating if this relationship meets my business needs and is an acceptable arrangement. When things get to the point where it is no longer acceptable, I will go find another customer.

Anonymous said...

Just like any customer, Microsoft is always looking to be a better value from their business arrangements. In terms of the employment arrangement this means they want more work for less compensation.

What some people have a problem with is how Microsoft chooses to terminate a business arrangement with an employee.

Fucking with someone's self esteem and mental health in a passive aggressive effort to terminate their employment is not an ethical business practice.

http://seattle.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/2004/04/19/focus4.html

In fact, to demonstrate just how dysfunctional Enron's culture was, we need only look at the company's performance-review system. Fondly referred to internally as "Rank and Yank," the forced-ranking system was created by McKinsey & Co., and brought to Enron by Jeffrey Skilling.

Although certainly intended to separate the wheat from the chaff, the process resulted in back-stabbing and served to chip away at the foundation for a healthy corporate culture, as one employee was pitted against another. And those willing to break the rules, or worse yet, those who directly contributed to the corruption, were promoted above those who wanted desperately to maintain integrity.

Anonymous said...

All i know is dalena needs to be fired.

Anonymous said...

Who is this dalena that's been mentioned a few times on this blog recently? Some bigwig? Which division? (BTW I'm an ex-MSFTie and don't have access to the global address book, otherwise I'd just look it up.)

Anonymous said...

What some people have a problem with is how Microsoft chooses to terminate a business arrangement with an employee.

Fucking with someone's self esteem and mental health in a passive aggressive effort to terminate their employment is not an ethical business practice.


I agree that the company should be honest in its dealings with employees and should just say out-right if the service provided by the employee isn't sufficient or the job is being eliminated. I can't help but wonder if this strategy is adopted because people like to file lawsuits for just about anything these days.

Anonymous said...

minimsft for the masses:
http://www.forbes.com/home/technology/2005/09/12/microsoft-management-software_cz_vm_0913microsoft.html

Anonymous said...

Finally,

A credible business publication putting out the real track under Ballmer.

http://www.forbes.com/home/technology/2005/09/12/microsoft-management-software_cz_vm_0913microsoft.html

Anonymous said...

Ballmer Antics:

Aw, c'mon guys. Obviously, we all wish that we all should behave politely under stress. But we are dealing with human beings here. Human beings get angry. An angry human being does irrational things. And the fact that the object of your anger is skipping to google doesnt help matters.

Ok, I agree - ballmer should have given MarkL a kiss and sent him on his way. But it didnt happen. Atleast this was a private interaction, which google is exploiting for their own benefit - to get some brownie points with the judge regarding the KFL lawsuit.

If I were ballmer - I would have wished MarkL all the best. Anyway, what good has markl done lately for Microsoft anyway? The last big thing he was involved in was hailstorm, and we know how that turned out.

Besides, do we know what eric schmidt says privately about his competitors? I am sure he has some choice words there as well. Remember the "Ballmer and butthead" public comments of ScottMcNealy before we bought him?

Regarding the comment about killing google - sure it doesnt sound good. But the guys at the top are hypercompetitive, alpha males. I wouldnt want anyone else there. Sure, I want them to compete ethically and legally,but I want them to compete, nonetheless. And if that incurs some bad language sometimes, so be it. If you think this was bad, you should see how Bill berates presenters in internal product reviews.

Anyway, there are a lot of very good things to complain about, and ballmer blowing his top is not one we should be spending time on. It happens everywhere. Deal with it.

Thomas said...

What some people have a problem with is how Microsoft chooses to terminate a business arrangement with an employee.

Fucking with someone's self esteem and mental health in a passive aggressive effort to terminate their employment is not an ethical business practice.


Given that the company engages in illegal bully-boy tactics against its competitors, is it really surprising that the company engages in the same conduct with its employees?

Anonymous said...

"Anyway, there are a lot of very good things to complain about, and ballmer blowing his top is not one we should be spending time on. It happens everywhere."

First of all, just because others may do it, it doesn't mean we have to condone it or let it pass without comment. It was childish behavior - I wouldn't let a four year-old get away with that, let alone the CEO of a company in which I hold stock. If you can't maintain your cool with a single employee, I have no faith in your ability to run an entire company (insert graph of stock performance over past five years here).

Secondly, with all the legal issues MS has been in recently (and handled poorly thanks to the egos of Gates and Ballmer), upper management has to be 10x more careful about outbursts like "killing" the competitors. Cry all you want about double-standards, but it's the reality MS lives in.

Self-control...it's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

I love how this actually happened behind closed doors and now its played out in the courts.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the company should be honest in its dealings with employees and should just say out-right if the service provided by the employee isn't sufficient or the job is being eliminated. I can't help but wonder if this strategy is adopted because people like to file lawsuits for just about anything these days.

Mail-in rebates and constructive discharge -- anything to save a buck.

How long does it typically take for someone to quit when Microsoft turns the constructive discharge thumb screws?

Would those statistics ever see the light of day?

Instead of paying them salary while you are waiting for them to quit, would it be cheaper to give them severance pay so they would have enough time to find work somewhere else without losing their home?

Instead of waiting while you waste someone's life, Microsoft could hire someone sooner to fill their position with someone they believe is better or costs less.

Anonymous said...

How long does it typically take for someone to quit when Microsoft turns the constructive discharge thumb screws?


What reasonable person would work a hundred hour week to get a compensation increase that is barely or not even adequate to keep up with inflation?

Anonymous said...

How long does it typically take for someone to quit when Microsoft turns the constructive discharge thumb screws?

What reasonable person would work a hundred hour week to get a compensation increase that is barely or not even adequate to keep up with inflation?


What reasonable company would leave someone in a position where they believe the employee is doing a sub-standard job until the next review the following year?

50000 employees x 6.5% turnover for performance problems x $80000 average salary (pick your own number here) = $260,000,000 spent on people you don't believe are competent

Add in the cost of all the damage you believe these people are doing to your products.

When instead you could pay them enough to get by while they look for another job? They wouldn't waste a year of their life working for a company that does not respect the work that they do.

Since the company loves cutting costs so much, perhaps the next HR clown could get out all there fingers and toes and do the 'rithmetic.

Mark Lucovsky said...

I left Microsoft on November 18, 2004 after spending 16 years at the company. I was there for the extremely exciting growth phase of the company, the dark days of the anti trust years, and the longhorn/integrated innovation disaster.

Leaving Microsoft was a great move for me both mentally and financially.

Anonymous said...

"Who is this dalena that's been mentioned a few times on this blog recently? Some bigwig? Which division?"

He is just one of those POS midlevel managers who should be axed. His wife is a lawyer thus helping him master constructive dismissals. He is in networking (netxp). Ask him how the OHI is and about the departure rate is for their team....

Anonymous said...

>2.5'ed your ass which means you cannot change groups.

I bet you can't seriously expect to change groups without a 3.5 or higher. Hiring managers will see a 3.0 and just pass on you, after giving a courtesy interview of course.

Anonymous said...

I left Microsoft less than 1 month ago, after being here for more than 10 years.
It is hard to describe how much Microsoft has changed in 10 years.
When I started, I had almost direct access to JimAll and we were focusing on shipping our stuff. There was a lot of positive energy, and you felt that working hard made your project move faster.

Today, the feeling is that you have to work harder, and nothing is moving. Bureaucracy, paperwork is everywhere. Fill this template, put that data on a web site, run these tools before checkins, make sure all tests are properly reported.... It can take up to a month, with 5-6 people involved to checkin a single line of code in Longhorn.
One of the the thing that definitely broke me was one day, I received a note from legal asking me to review the security policy in place for our internal sharepoint sites. I was managing a few of them, and I had to read through tens of pages of legal stuff, review all my sites, make appropriate changes... At least 3 calendar days of work. (you should know that for a PM, a day of work is about 2 hours -- the rest of the time he does other useless stuff). How is this contributing to me shipping a product, or making our company successful? I wanted to develop products!

Another bad thing hapenning at Microsoft, is the number of middle-management layers. In our group we had to prepare for a presentation to JimAll. Four months in advance the guys started to work on it. Review with PUM, reviews with GM, review with VP, back to PUM, GM and VP and senior VP, rewrite for the PUM... A team of 4 people spent hundreds of hours working on this review. Was the end result better - maybe. Did JimAll get to hear the message from the people doing the real job - absolutely not. He heard the middle-mgmt message. This is ridiculous.

I really loved the Microsoft of 10 years ago, but today there is a complete paralysis of the system.

As much as I heard people complaining and being bitter, I doubt anything will substantially change as long as they have good financial results. Why would Microsoft change it?

Anonymous said...

I would say that a HUGE issue at Microsoft is the ridiculous layer upon layer of management, as the previous poster said. In my group, it is career--and review--suicide to question even one link in the managerial chain. Heaven forbid that anyone would have an opinion contrary to the papal bull that has already been handed down. It is possible to do world-class work, have a spotless year, and ask one "unprofessional" question during the year and get a poor review because of that one question. Now, if you are willing to submit yourself to taking managers to lunch, laughing at their jokes, and subtly tattling to them about co-workers, a couple of those questions can be forgotten. It’s sort of like dealing with a mob, if you catch my drift.

I watched a previous manager literally hunt down a couple of my co-workers who dared to question him/her or something about his/her organization. He/she literally went out and got people to squeal on those he/she wanted to expel from the organization. Scary stuff. And why was he/she able to spend so much time hunting people down? Well, because he/she is a middle manager whose primary responsibility is to agree with his/her manager, whose primary responsibility in turn is to agree with his/her manager. What we have built here is a culture of nodding.

Anonymous said...

Reading the responses here for me, who has never really taken much interest in Microsoft's internals, comes across as some hidiously twisted version of Dilbert.

To those who have been hurt, I wish them the best of luck. To those doing the hurting, look to Microsoft's beginnings to see how the company you are failing will fall. It won't be another huge multinational that will kill you, it'll be an upstart with a product that is cheap, effective and easy to deal with, backed by developers who are happy to help. And you won't be able to respond to it, because just like IBM, you are now too big to manuvour the hulking monstrosity that is your beaurocracy against that small, nimble competator.

I don't know that the next big thing will be linux/OSS or another closed source OS with support from major application vendors, but I do know that what is being contructed in the form of Vista, will not win that fight for you.

Anonymous said...

I worry most that Microsoft will try and 'kill' Google.

The world needs companies like Google and Apple, without which, the industry will suffer through the lack of innovation and rapid product developments.

Unfortunately, given Microsoft's past record, i do worry that such anti-competitive behaviours and other unfair tactics will crush Google..

This is not good for the industry as a whole.

Microsoft has garnered much respect over the last 5 years in how they 'play'. -- Don't screw that up. "Don't be evil".

Everyone in this world has to be at ease with who they are, they need to be comfortable with their purpose in life.

This is true with Microsoft also, it needs to be at peace with itself.

Anonymous said...

I was at Microsoft for 5 years. I loved my job testing software in the Windows division. My peers highly respected me as a tester, I am still friends with the devs, PMs, and testers that I worked with.

First, my offer letter was for a SDET but when I started they shoved me in a STE role. I didn't care at the time, I was happy with my job. That was a mistake. Years later, STEs were considered "button pushers" and SDETs were considered "automaters" despite the fact that every STE that I met *did* spend more than 50% of their time writing automation.

Four years later, the components that I had fallen in love with, had spent years working on, and had filed many hundreds of bugs on so that they would eventually be great, were moved into "maintainance". They went from having 50% dev and test owners to sitting in a pool of 20+ components that had only a single dev and no tester assigned to them for the next year. A year later, I had the new PM emailing me basic questions about one component because nobody on the team had any idea how it was supposed to work.

I wish I had been laid off at that time, instead, demoralized, I was re-orged under a lead who treated his entire group abusively and I was demotivated so much that my performance declined. I was the only person in his group to tell him that people weren't happy and two weeks before I accepted a new job that I had been scouting out, he asked me to leave.

Leaving Microsoft was the best thing to happen to me ever! I am so much happier on the outside. The day after I was let go, before I had an offer on the new job, I was jumping for joy that I didn't have to go to work and face the abusive lead. I now have a great job and I don't have that horrid 520 bridge commute.

I still feel for my former co-workers, several of them are in the middle of the 4-8 year citizenship application process and they would have left years ago if they had US citizenship. They are bored and demotivated, but it pays the bills and keeps them in the country while they try to become citizens.

Anonymous said...

It is really strange to see employees complain about their once beloved company "did'nt they know that MSFT played hardball with nearly every other businees that seemed to have a better product or anything for that matter" did they as employees expect better treatment when it came to them? .
I am writing her only because I have to deal with MSFT products day in and day out and not a day goes by without swearing at the company

Anonymous said...

I left MS last summer after 6 years in the windows division. Although my reasons for leaving were not all to do with the unfortunate direction the company had taken, it was a major part of my decision.

For my first 4 or so years I was a developer in the test org and had a great deal of contact with people all across windows. It was truly a pleasure working with most of them and getting things done across group was generally not a problem. (There was however one guy who you had to buy a bottle of scotch to get anything done. :)) I had the ability to inovate in the team I was in, and influence the shipping product and my manager helped a great deal in growing my skills. I also received regular promotions, raises and bonuses. It was a golden time. I felt the company 'got it' and times were good. I worked my butt off and got rewarded. The windows 2000 death march really wasnt that bad.

Then 2 things happened. We started to see the influence of Balmers 'new, more mature Microsft' and I got reorged into another team.

The reorg prompted me to take a dev position in another windows group as my new manager/lead was an obvious paper shuffler. In the end, this was not a great move as my new extended org got reorged shortly after my arrival and the manager I planned on and looked forward to working for left.

The new company meant a number of things. Not all immediately evident. Things like the yearly, 'revenue neutral' review change. Benfit reduction in ESPP, etc. Spending an hour of my time jumping through hoops to get a new harddrive. Having to have 6 people minimum(2 PM's 2 devs, 2 leads) in a meeting cross-group to get anything done. PM's fresh out of school making decisions. Generally the day to day process of doing my job became painful and unpleasant.

In the end I think it was a matter of the pendulum having swung too far. The company went from the wild west to fulsom prison. I became very frustrated that a company I thought I would never want to leave had left me.

I can't think of a more rewarding thing than knowing that every time someone uses their computer, they are using your work. I thrived on this for years. But in time I looked around and saw that the people at the top were taking way more than their fair share of the rewards for my effort and telling me to get along with less. Im no communist but in the end, I had had enough.

Thanks Mini for this chance to vent.

Anonymous said...

"I agree that the company should be honest in its dealings with employees and should just say out-right if the service provided by the employee isn't sufficient or the job is being eliminated. I can't help but wonder if this strategy is adopted because people like to file lawsuits for just about anything these days."

I'm a manager of a small team I was put in charge of 2 months ago and I "inherited" an utterly useless person. Almost all of the candidates I give no-hire I would rather have than this one, but I have no chance in hell of firing her. Why? Unions, lawsuits, bullshit upon bullshit. She got a 3.0 this year (former manager), a 2.5 last year but former manager had no balls.
So now I'm stuck with an employee who is worthless, taking up a headcount and I can only give her a motivating speak in my 1-1s if I don't want her to be downright destructive.
My god, if only I could actually speak right out of the bag and fire this dead weight!
I may sound tough, but this really pisses me off...

Anonymous said...

OK, so I am relatively new to MBS. The “Lune di Miele” is wearing off quickly. Perhaps too quickly. After 1 year +, I am realizing that the entrepreneur spirit does not apply. Hell, why not bog productivity down with mindless meetings, repetitive actions, and did I mention mindless meetings! Plus, who’s held accountable anyway. So, back to my point. I’m new to MS, not new to the industry…. Have been doing this for 10+ years in the partner and customer community. I hate complaining, so:

3 Problem Statements and 3 Solutions:
Things are simple.

Problem 1: Get rid of Burgum. Last I checked we were a global company, not a relic of the frozen tundra of Faro, ND. Why let him f-up the European market for us as well? Prior to the acquisition of Navision and Axapta, those companies had major market share, and guess what, also turned a solid profit. Now, all that talent has gone. And not to Fargo…

Solution 1: Bury him under the IW management team. Oops.. that just happened, that’s good, cause someone got the message.

Problem 2: So you say $2 Billion goes to R&D. I have a feeling that ½ of that goes to marketing for creative re-branding…. Dynamics or ManagePoint (2nd naming choice for MBS), it don’t make a difference. Maybe Green or Converge. Let’s meet on that. Did I mention let’s meet on that, and you send me a S+ and so on.

Not a good move, but hey, it’s too late for that.

Solution 2: Introduce the name and get over that quickly. Deliver a CLEAR message for the products, for the market, and to the partners. Create a roadmap, stick to it and present customers with a clean conversion path to the new generation of products. If you purchase Great Plains today, these are the benefits. Five years from now you will be on a common platform with the rest of the MBS products. If you purchase Navision today, these will be your benefits for the next 5 years. And so on. Offer customers choices, cause otherwise JDE, PSFT, Oracle will. Crowd the competition out of the deal.

Problem 3: Winners and losers. This will be a fun one. What happens in 5 years when 4 product lines merge into one? A high percentage of partners will disappear. Can’t compete and space too crowded. Little competitive differentiation. Where do I buy my banana, now that I have 10 grocery stores in a 2-mile radius?
Without partners, you lose market share. And that’s bad.

Solution 3: Verticalize and specialize. And, NO, don’t start 4 years from now. That means we need to offer MBS partners incentives now to specialize on a market segment. Own that space, know that space, dream of that space at night. Some are doing it, but not enough. Not to mention that this will help over the next 5 years as well to turn a profit.

Conclusion: We were first to consolidate, first to make mistakes, and will be first to win. That is, if someone above is listening ….

Anonymous said...

I bet you can't seriously expect to change groups without a 3.5 or higher. Hiring managers will see a 3.0 and just pass on you, after giving a courtesy interview of course.


Why would the hiring manager waste his and his teams time doing the courtesy interview if he's not interested in hiring you?

Anonymous said...

I think Microsoft is completely fucked up --- when I left the company 2 months ago, I like the team for many years and the team was very professional, they held a fairewell party, but the exit interview was just a disaster --- the fucking HR lady (in Office group) didn't say any single word about thank you for your contribution or something like that, that fucking HR lady was the most cold-blooded woman I have ever seen in my life. I wished her die the next day.

Anonymous said...

Ok. Hrmm.. Reading this worries me. I'm in IBM Global Services right now, and have just been notified of my second (I had one three months ago) finals day for east coast.

IBM has it's own problems, but being as mature (>50 years) as it is, I think most of the technology side has progressed to a point of delivery, where the management side is constantly caught in the waxing and waning of the management 'moon' cycles that companies in the US and worldwide have had to deal with for the past 20 years, so it's not exactly problematic and more simply just predictable. 'New' management style gets adopted inside of IBM like any other company, just more slowly or quicker, whichever suits the business entity embracing that change.

What *really* worries me, or rather -- what more correctly EXCITES me is that MSFT may be on the verge of it's second great shift. I think the first shift centered around the anti-trust days, when Microsoft developed it's playing rules for the 'new economy'. Possibly this second shift is about to occur, and basically lays out the foundation for doing 'good' business, not just 'cool' or 'desired' business, but really solid business.

If I join into this organization now, I may have a chance to deal with start-up-again fever in some aspects as MSFT struggles to re-invent itself. IBM did this (probably their 4th cycle or so) roughly 4 years ago with their On-Demand initiatives.

I'm very curious to see what MSFT has in store.

One thing worries me, I don't believe MSFT is going to pay what IBM pays. I'm probably a Level 62 (consultant II) equivalent in IBM, and I'm going to make $112K this year with bonus. Anyone know what the equivalent MSFT band/level range is for salary at Consultant II?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, same here. Left MS 1 year ago after 4 years.

I just couldn't take it, seeing marketing people enjoying almost twice my salary. Getting company cars to ride to the office and me as a consultant had to to go the customer in my own car. etc etc

So I switched for a better payroll.

It is really a shame as I loved the company and the atmosphere of the first years.

No bitter fealings though. At least the ride was great!