Thursday, January 26, 2006

Lisa Brummel on Channel9 - She Reads Mini?

I haven't discussed the Lisa Brummel listening tour too much out of respect of her request to keep it internal (and it's been absolutely killing me on the inside). I did drop by one of the tour stops near me and, like most people, I give her an A+ on the topics she discussed. People have commented here that hearing LisaB have reset their leaving Microsoft clock by nine months. Other than the Company Meeting, it was the first time I heard her talk. I was some kind of impressed.

New Channel9 video with LisaB:

Reads Mini-Microsoft and Wears Shorts in Winter - Lisa Brummel, VP of HR

(Hey Charles, thanks for bringing up Mini-Microsoft! YouDaMan!)

One bit from Lisa regarding folks who blog about Microsoft (paraphrase): "Request to all bloggers out there: try to be productive. People listen much more clearly to feedback that's productive."

112 comments:

Anonymous said...

I haven't been able to justify my heads down feature spec deadline binge to get to any of the listening tours. I would love to hear some of the comments even on here....PLEEEEEEZZZZZ. Or does anyone know if they are recorded on winme?

I still maintain that an IMMEDIATE end to the stack rank would be the biggest positive fell swoop that she could make. (well and firing some partners and corp vps)

I have been looking on officeballot.com and finding that DAMN there are a LOT of corporate VPs that I have NO idea what 1/2 of them do even when I look in the address book. Let's can a few.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Mini. I too was impressed by the open and "grab the bull by the horns" approach I witnessed. I feel her tour has been a positive experience for the employees that have made it so far. I would also imagine most have walked away feeling better, but like me I'm sure there is that uncertainy of "well this is a good start, but I want to start seeing some action/results". However, one has to believe that if a VP is going all around the world on these tours that there will be some results that come from it (and it sounded like a few things were already in the works).

By the way, there's a great "Exit Interview" Word doc posted on her own 'LisaB Listening Tour' Sharepoint site on corpnet. The hyperlink can be found in current issue of MicroNews, which includes an interview with her about the tour. The doc I mentioned even mentions Mini-Microsoft! ;)

Anonymous said...

I watched the video. LisaB's focus seems to be on improving IT systems and creating a channel for employees to communicate what changes they would like to see so that they "feel" like management is listening.

I did not get the impression that she thought anything was wrong with the way things are done now except for maybe doing things more consistently.

Here's an experiment for you.

There's an email address called mswish@microsoft.com for customers to communicate what changes they would like to see in a Microsoft product.

Send a suggestion to this alias for the product you work on from an external email address and see if it ever makes it into your RAID database to be evaluated by the product group.

You can create a channel for communication but it does not necessarily mean that any meaningful change is going to take place. The information may even be filtered out completely before it reaches anyone who could act on it.

MS Alumni Member said...

One request for Lisa:

I realize that your first priority needs to be the current employee base. Serve them first. After that, could you work with the Microsoft Alumni organization to create a feedback loop for those of us who are still concerned for the company even though the environment has become too toxic for us to stay?

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Several weeks ago I was at a breakfast meeting for senior women at which steveb was supposed to speak. Due to his sudden illness that morning, lisa had to stop by (apparently with about 5 minutes notice) and did an amazing talk off the top of her head for about 25 minutes. She is one of our most impressive (maybe our most impressive)executives and gives me hope that maybe we can turn this "Titanic" away from the iceberg . . .

Anonymous said...

Don't be fooled by the feel-good dazzle, at the end of the day, nothing will change; please reread Cynthia's "Secret #6".

Anonymous said...

They posted a transcript of the Jan 17 session on lisab's sharepoint site (see this week's micronews article for URL). I attended that session and the transcript appears accurate.

Anonymous said...

I was at the meeting yesterday in Samm.

It was remarkable that Lisa mentioned that she was probably too low in the pyramid, which probably translates to very little traction that she would get from the business unit presidents. We have over 120 VP's, 500+ partners (my estimate) and 3500+ Directors/GM's and Lisa is one of them. I doubt the other bigwigs even bother to listen to what HR has to say, lest worry about product inter-operability.

Lisa means good. But this ain't going anywhere. Lisa - you've got a lot to work on transparency and ensuring the buddy system at Microsoft doesn't erode its entrepreneurial and rewarding culture. We don't think you have leverage there.

Some thoughts and an experience that is leading me to take another position outside MS after many, many years of working with some of the smartest people.

1. HR is a strategic function and needs equal footing with product division hierarchies. Microsoft's real assets are people, the products are the results. HR needs a President too, and , we need someone with experience in that area. Look at Fortune 100 companies for comparision.

2. Career Stage Profiles bucketize you into a numeric grade. There is quasi-growth without real growth in accountability and rewards. Would you call 300-400 stocks for a level 64 (3.5) vesting over 5 years a reward, hell its punishment?

Career development is for friends of friends at Microsoft today.

How can I determine my next steps to get noticed as a High Potential asset, a Partner - what can make me a GM or a VP down the road (without buddy begging)?

Today, if I am a high performing manager wanting to be promoted, I have to ensure my boss (who is a newly hired employee), doesn't recruit one of his buddies as the next Director/Sr.Director. How can I prevent that? How do I make the case for me to be considered, since he doesn't care or need to learn about my career.

Today, we hire so many new employees at 65+, that existing employees do not have a chance to move up the ladder - given that the newer managers do not give a damn about your past performance and track record (speaking from experience). They do give preference to whom they hired after coming on board (recency factor). At companies where there are formal Career Growth programs, these issues are addressed at length. At Microsoft, its killing morale.

A real life exchange in the newly named IT group.

Between High Potential employee and manager.

hey whats the high potential bench program, how do I get there?
Manager (smirks) - Why do you want to know? I am not aware of such things.
Well, I have career aspirations and would like to see myself in a middle management role in the next 3-5 years.
Manager - Put that in your CDP as part of your MYR.
OK - but what steps should I take to get there.
Manager - I'll let you know whenever.
OK - how can I be considered for a mangement positions that are opening up under you?
Manager - why do you want a bigger role?
I feel I am ready to take on resposibilites beyond my current role, and have the experience, skills, commitments and my results speak the same. In fact, I have been doing the "new positions" job for a while now.
Manager - OK. Let's touch base next week.

4 weeks later -
Manager announces - Blah, Blah from "XXXX" company joining us, brings us tremendous experience in "blah" blah" (and btw, we were buddies through the 90's and did that cool certification program together and oh, didn't we share a board position) - Ahh, Google can help you get to your past so easy.

Message:

Internal candidates are not worth it or cannot be nurtured into the position or there is no leadership development plan in place in a company that is 30 years old?

Good luck - IBM worked too slow on its culture a few years ago, and we know what happened.

bakitup@gmail.com

c said...

The LisaB sharepoint site is up? Where? It was mentioned at the meeting but no URL was given and no one seems to know anything about it.

Heather said...

MS Alumni Member-feel free to e-mail your recommendation to me with some detail and I'll post it on Lisa's Listening Tour sharepoint. I'm at heather.hamilton@microsoft.com. (disclosure: I work in Staffing which reports up through Lisa). Oh, and she was recently promoted to Senior VP!

Anonymous said...

>1. HR is a strategic function and needs equal footing with product division hierarchies.

What is MSFT core competency? Check out the number of people under LisaB and we have half the google headcount in HR. We dont need HR GMs of IQ 80 at equal footing with product group GMs. You should move to HR.

Anonymous said...

I would like to implore LisaB to visit some of the other campuses outside of Redmond/Seattle on her tour. I would argue that LisaB might find an eye opener or two on her journey.

Anonymous said...

As an outsider,
The comments made on the video were refreshing, unless I have become tainted by all the negative comments/bitch/moan/etc. Don't think so because as an employer of employees, after a few years you can spot the negative people right off. Call me jaded but...
Scenario 1:
Select better people to do hire interviews, followups etc...
Scenario 2:
Find out who has a negative view of the company by "Listening".
Sounds like a good start to me.

Customer

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see BillG running the company again. Granted, he almost blew it with Internet and blew it with WinFS, but at least most folks deeply respect the guy and he wrote some code in his nearly years.

I think if he comes back to a CEO role he will shake off the crap that accumulated on top. Probably not righ away, but eventually.

Maybe I just have too much faith in Bill, though, but I think it would be a good move for MSFT.

Reformer said...

Don't judge Lisa Brummel by how good she makes you feel when she talks to a large audience. The master of that art was Carly Fiorina, communicator par excellence. However, when it came to execution, she was a disaster, forcing HP to fire her.

Judge Lisa by her execution. And may MSFT management have the courage to fire her, if she doesn't perform.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could get HR to be this receptive to me *sheesh* I know it's time for me to get out but come on!

Anonymous said...

I have no idea why I keep reading this blog. :-) I don't care how well meaning LisaB is, nothing will change. Nothing. At a company this large nepotism will rule. The buddy network will prevail. Your suitability for a position/advancement does not matter, someone else will get it. Where I'm at the people with the goodies are those that maintain visibility, usually through silly status emails, brown bags where they communicate the obvious and then there's the emails where they propose impractical solutions to "problems" they see with other teams or areas. But they are visible and the square jawed, pretty boy, executive-hair-flaunting managers eat it up.

So I just gave up. Aim for my 3.5, no longer go the extra mile for the 4, after all the compensation differential is minimal and the work differential is not.Since nobody below the partner level will ever retire on MSFT stock this is an easy decision to make.

I stay because I like the people I'm in the trenches with and we work on cool stuff that a company without the resouces of MSFT could not possibly do. That is worth it.

Anonymous said...

"Would you call 300-400 stocks for a level 64 (3.5) vesting over 5 years a reward, hell its punishment?"

Interesting...as a data point, I received more than double that amount of stock award as a level 63 with a 3.5 on a product team. Given the comments on this blog, however, we are both still competing for the leftover pennies though....

Anonymous said...

Internal candidates are not worth it or cannot be nurtured into the position or there is no leadership development plan in place in a company that is 30 years old?

Someone else made a comment in another topic about telling HR that they're going to leave Microsoft, get some more experience, and get hired back at a higher level. HR told them they would be "abusing" the system.

Microsoft has never been good at developing talent. How many courses to keep your skills up to date has your manager scheduled time for and paid for?

Even knowing how things work, most people at Microsoft will fight each other for scraps trying to climb their way over their colleagues for a promotion.

What's doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result called?

Anonymous said...

I found it disappointing and hurtful that Lisa spent so much time talking about how to bring in more women to the company, and zero time time talking about how to bring in more men.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see BillG running the company again.

I've heard worse suggestions. Bill originally took himself out of the game when the DOJ closed in. He knew that being CEO was going to be onerous and painful (possibly for several years to come - and it has been.) There may be enough water under bridge now that it would be interesting and enjoyable to be CEO again. Personally, I think bill and steve ought to be ripped and replaced - but how can we make that happen? A: We can't.

Anonymous said...

"I found it disappointing and hurtful that Lisa spent so much time talking about how to bring in more women to the company"

Well they've certainly done a good job of chasing minorities out of the company in general. 25 women in windows division at level 65 or above? Two african-americans are CEOs of major software companies (AOL and Symantec) but, in 30 years of doing business, how many black engineering VP level folks have there been? How many have made it to level 65 without being chased out of the company?

Lisa - recruiting isn't the problem for minorities. If the company were serious about hiring minorities for management, the company would have done it years ago. But, even if this is a real change, what will you do with them once they sign up? Retention is the real issue.

Smart people of any gender or race figure out pretty quickly that a club exists. If white men have trouble competing as evidenced on this blog...think about how it is for those that cannot hide their differences.

People have posted in generalities about "hiring buddies". Here is a more specific one -I'm aware of groups where husbands and wives have been director/GM level under the same VP. Included in the set of people determining stack rankings were senior managers and what I figure now to be likely individual contributor partners that had worked together at a previous company, hired each other into the same MS team, and now are still together at the top of the pay scale.

Wonder why people are complaining that they can't get a 4.0? The deck is already filled at the top.

How could someone from outide that group fairly compete in that environment and why would they stay? Add in a gender/race differential and failure is already in the cards.

Anonymous said...

Dont delude yourself for wonders to happen in the next six months. Repeat after me "I am not deluding myself!"

The problems run so deep and so much to the top that it is not easy to fix them. First compensation. MSFTs operating earnings declined year over year for the first six months inspite of the 9% revenue increase. MSFT made up by share buy back and investment income to show earnings growth. There is little room to make adjustments for compensation on the balance sheet without radical headcount reforms. One has to cull the partners compensation or cull the partners themselves. This is unlikely to happen as incentive bonus for the partners is being discussed/finalized. Other alternative is to fire a huge number of employees from test, pm and dev to make room. Non product development probably wont be affected. This is the most likely outcome as some action has to be taken after Lisa's most publicized listening tour.

Anonymous said...

LisaB's tour (LisaBS tour)

Partners are being considered for bonuses for what - hiring buddies (including wives, son-in-law's etc..) and creating shitty products?

Employees are being considered for raises/bonuses that will let them buy superior quality toilet paper over the next 5 years. Oh, and if you don't get that paper, you can request your stock certificates..those can be used instead.

We pay employees 65% of the market. Get the partners on the 65% market pay - 90% of the partners are chair warmers, will scoot and we can retain people that do the job. The ones that don't leave will have to slog to prove results like the rest of us.

Lisa kept repeating the 80/20 rule for every question asked. Here's how it is today - 80% of the rewards go to 20% of the company (that's in Redmond), I am sure the partners (sic!-suckers) outside of Redmond are bitching on this board too.

Time to get a little not so capitalistic after years of milking the MS cash machine..the employees are getting sour.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about firing VPs but they need to be leveled back compared with other softies in equivalently important roles. I joined MS after serving several years at AT&T. The great thing about the MS I joined was that front-line devs/testers/PMs felt just as empowered as the executives. People felt like they were working shoulder to shoulder with their management. Certainly a lot of that had to do with compensation. It was hard to feel like there was a cult of the executive since the compensation for everyone was great. 10 years later MS feels a lot like the AT&T I remember. The cult of the executive is firmly entrenched. To make up for sagging stock options executive pay has sky-rocketed when compared with engineers. I still love this company but I gotta say I miss the old MS. I understand that compensation is a tricky subject, but turning the empowered-geek culture of old into GE's culture or AT&T's culture isn't the answer. MS needs to fight just as hard to keep their star engineers as we do to keep an over-compensated Kai Fu Lee. The impact from losing the - life and blood of the company workers - will be much greater than that of losing a few over paid executives.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody have data about compensation distribution at other companies, esp. tech companies? I wonder if our "partner" level employees are getting paid at 65th percentile rates, and if not, why not?

Anonymous said...

Other alternative is to fire a huge number of employees from test, pm and dev to make room. Non product development probably wont be affected. This is the most likely outcome as some action has to be taken after Lisa's most publicized listening tour.

Microsoft is already stretched pretty thin in product development. You have everyone supporting multiple versions of a product and working on developing new releases. You also have senior managers coming up with ridiculous schedules causing multiple project resets. For example, on a product where every major release took several years to develop, we had a VP and a general manager suggest we ship a new release in one year. Given the amount of code that would be rewritten using a new platform (all of source code rewritten using .NET), that was an unrealistic expectation. Whenever you use a new platform in a server product, it puts stress on that platform to improve. If you don't provide the time for the improvements required in the platform, you're setting yourself up for failure. They failed and scaled back there plans for the next release to make up for the time they wasted.

Management will try their best to make everyone feel like things are changing when, in fact, they are not. It is a lot cheaper than actually doing anything.

If that doesn't work, they will have to make some hard choices. Microsoft would be committing a fatal mistake trying to downsize product development on shipping products.

The lack of quality in senior management is wasting product development resources causing major delays in shipping new product. On top of this, a review system, in an environment of a flat stock price, that focuses the attentions of employees on finding non-productive ways of competing with fellow employees slows down development of new product significantly.

LisaB's focus on IT systems will not address the real problem but it will keep her busy.

There will be a few more years of decline before they see the problem because that would mean admitting they made some serious mistakes.

Even after they admit there's a problem, they've poisoned the well of senior management with people who are out of their depth.

It is definitely interesting to watch.

Anonymous said...

>Lisa kept repeating the 80/20 rule for every question asked. Here's how it is today - 80% of the rewards go to 20% of the company

This is true of every org in Microsoft. (including HR) You also have 80-20 rule working inside the top 20% that gets 80% rewards.

Anonymous said...

I think Microsoft hired a lot of really good people in the midst of the dot com bust only because they were the only company in town hiring at the time. I can see this in the internal resumes that I receive from people who have low-level jobs (58,59,60) but have exceptional education and experience. Although these people were grateful to obtain their jobs at the time, they (myself included) are running into a brick wall when they express interest in moving up in the company, even though they are every bit as qualified (if not more so) than the people that Microsoft is hiring from the street. I received an internal resume last month from someone working as a software tester at MS with a B.S. in Economics and an MBA from excellent schools who prior to coming to Microsoft worked for a premier consulting firm for 8 years and only ended up at MS because he got burned during the dot.com bust. Guess what: he left the company, rather than accepting the level 59 promotion he could have received if he stayed, now that the external market is opening up.

There are some very restrictive rules in place for people interviewing for internal jobs. Hiring managers will not even talk to you if you try to interview more than one step above your level, and I think that there is rule that employees can only be promoted one level per year. However, candidates who are interviewing from the outside with the exact same credentials can walk in the door with the level 62/63 pay and stock awards. Also, I think the “permission to interview” requirement also makes it harder for employees to advance because you are just giving your manager reason not to give you the 4.0 because they figure you will be gone if you can.

I echo the frustration expressed by someone previously that Microsoft employees are punished rather than rewarded for having prior experience at Microsoft when it comes time to change jobs internally.

percentiles said...

65th percentile?

Microsoft is the 800lb gorilla of software in the puget sound. If they are paying at the 65th percentile and let us assume for the moment that they employ 50% of the software engineers in the ares, then Microsoft employees could be the lowest paid software engineers in the area.

Anonymous said...

"Interesting...as a data point, I received more than double that amount of stock award as a level 63 with a 3.5 on a product team.

I'm sure it varies across the company but generally your stock award has little to do with your rating. You can be a 3.5 and get nothing or a ton.

Your rating is based on your 12 month "contribution" and dictates your bonus. Your stock award however is more an indication about how your manager thinks you're going to be doing X years from now, it's much more subjective.

It's common for new hires to get low ratings because it's just so hard for them to compete with their peers who've been here longer. At the same time its common for them to get a high stock rating because their future potential is so great: willing to work long hours, little bundles of energy, yet-to-be-jaded by mini-msft yet etc.

Similarly for old timers it's relatively easy to get a high bonus and harder to get a high stock rating since there's a wealth of information about their past that can be used to predict their future and everybody levels out at some point.

There are guidelines that govern how your stock rating (A - D) maps to the # of shares you get but it's very much up to whoever is building the model and their budget, adding to the variability.

Find out who the model builder is for your team and ask them to tell you how all this stuff works, what stock rating you got and what the spread of shares looked like.

It's one thing to be disgruntled about your review and your "rewards" but you really need to know how the system works to be able to do something about it. Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect to the good intentions of the persons doing the planning, the changes to the comp system read as if they have been thought out by people already flush in cash.

Consider for a moment the life a 60,000 USD salary will buy in Seattle if you don't have the stock options to pay for a house. Considering the 80 hour weeks - it is sad that transitioning to become a dock worker would be an improvement. Wish I had known before I spent years studying computer science.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini-

How about starting a thread on "What to ask your manager for CYD?"

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with comment about we overqualified employees who arrived during the dotcom bust. It is getting pretty ugly as we watch our new bosses getting hired from the outside with far less skills than we have - for jobs we are not allowed to interview for.

Unfortunately the longer you are here the more devalued the package of talents and background you brought with you becomes . . .

Anonymous said...

Sorry - I just dont buy the "feel good" words anymore. It kind of feels like SteveB in drag - same kind of presentation with fingers pointing back at the employees stating that "it's up to you to improve your situation..."

Geez, that's a little like SteveB at the company meeting in 2001 saying "we need to encourage some of the [deadwood] in the company to pursue other opportunities outside the company... let them see how much better their careers will be on that path." Doing this little talkie tour is a little like letting the pressure release valve do its job without turning the heat down - a temporary fix that will allow for another year of the stack rank review system. Just more hot air that distracts everyone while giving the impression something is being done to change what everyone knows is an unfair and inequitable review system.

I'm leaving on Friday - but I'll be watching this space to keep track of the developments here. When the positive changes occur and I get that "outside enrichment" that will make me more valuable to this place I might just come back - but it wont be for any less than a L64+ position...

Anonymous said...

they alledge LIsa is trying to remove the hiring restrictions of the "career perf score" victims..

Victims = good employees who were tagged by a manager who was abusing power or let go over personal issues.

However, this will open the door for those folks who really were bad hires.

I hope we improve the recruiting/interview training as it is deerly needed.

Anonymous said...

Consider for a moment the life a 60,000 USD salary will buy in Seattle if you don't have the stock options to pay for a house.

Sounds like your priorites are screwed up. I managed to sock away enough to buy a house on not much more than that after 5 years here.

Anonymous said...

It is a joke to argue that $60k is not a lot of money. I believe the average income for a _family_ in the US is $51k, and many families have two working parents. Personally, I could live very comfortably on a fraction of my salary. Not everybody considers a new house, new SUV, and 5 trips to Starbucks per day necessary for survival.

At the same time, I feel rightfully indignant that there are so many people at Microsoft making 10x-100x the money I do for simply warming a chair, or worse, making colossally bad strategic decisions.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% that the longer you stay in the company the bigger penality you pay. That is one of the reason I left Microsoft couple of months ago. I was hiring fresh college graduates making more money that some of my folks who were in the company for 3 or more years. I had a L60 employee(3 year at MS) making $6K less than someone I hired from college at L59. Then the thing that really blew me away was when one of my peers who left the company 2 years ago, rejoined MS and came up 2 levels higher. I know when he left MS in 2003, he was L61, and now he comes back at L64, and I was stuck at L62, and fighting hard to make it to L63. So that revolving door really works.

Also the system is stacked against people to make moves inside the company. I was hiring manager and everytime I hired someone internally I knew so much about that person that there would be some negativity that I would get to know and I would not take the risk. But with external candidates you have 5 hours of interviewing and if they get through the interviews, one is done, but with internal candidates there is the 5/6 hours of interviews, all the past reviews, scores, talk to present and past managers and some informal checking around. With all that information something bad is bound to come up.

As hiring manager to look good, I had to play the game. I felt aweful when I knew I had a good L59 guy interview for my L60 position, but I could not offer that to him, other than huge explanations to HR as why i want to hire someone at level up. So easy route was hire someone from outside, where that is not an issue.

Bottom line the longer one stays at MS, with salary compression it becomes difficult. Frankly I got a 30% jump in base salary when I jumped out of MS. Maybe 2 years later I shall try to come back and I am sure I will keep this salary(just imagine how long this will take me t achieve this staying inside MS)

I still think if not for the compensation stuff, I would have hung around in MS. It is a great company, but does not know how to treat its loyal employees. I guess the buddy system is eating it up.

Anonymous said...

Stat is a strange thing - you can make it do whatever you want to.

About the 65th percentile thingy - what this means is that Microsoft pays more than 2/3 of the companies out there. This is good, very good pay. Some people thinks that this mean Microsoft pays 65% of the average salary out there - this is NOT true. Whoever came up with this 65th term should be tortured by George W Bush, it gives people the wrong idea.

Boeing might pay more, but then they can leach off the taxpayers and build weapons of mass destructions that kill alot of people. Totally different business.

Anonymous said...

Check out the LisaB interview in Micronews. It is amazing how clueless the "senior leadership" is. Looks like LisaB is telling the emperor ( "senior leadership" ) that they aren't wearing any clothes.

Anonymous said...

Compare the base salary of a Seattle police detective to that of a Microsoft level 59 engineer.

Seattle Times

Anonymous said...

Wow, this really sucks. I am a new hire (just out of college, joined in July) and I am already doubting my decision to join this company. Are things really this bad - and should new college hires stay clear? I was hoping to get some real world experience at one of the most respected companies in the field, but am I jeopardizing my career and future by doing so? I guess it's time to re-evaluate my priorities and chart out my goals. Any advice from the long timers?

Anonymous said...

Paying at 65% level means we are not getting the top 35% talent.

Anonymous said...

To the person talking about a $60,000/year salary ... when I was shopping for a new townhome a bit over a year ago I discovered that the cutoff to qualify for "low income housing" in one complex was $73,000 ...

Being realatively new to the area, I found that somewhat shocking. And depressing. I don't know what's worse ... discovering that your salary is considered near the low income range, or discovering that you can't purchase a townhome because you're barely over the low-income housing cutoff.

Anonymous said...

To the person saying that we should be happy earning greater than $51k, you're not factoring in cost of living adjustments; Seattle's cost of living is roughly 25% higher than the rest of the country, which would mean that $51k in an average location is the same as earnnig $63k in Seattle.

In the college town I went to, decent houses could be purchased for $60,000.

In the city I left to move to Seattle, a basic 2,000 sqft house in a good location could be purchased for $120,000 (and, point of refernece, I earned $54,000 in that city).

My parents purhcased their last house in that area for $160,000.

Here, you're lucky if you can find a condo in poor condition in a poor location for $200,000. Houses are out of the question, unless you want to spend 3 hours a day in your car commuting.

Anonymous said...

Well according to Fortune Magazine, Microsoft ranks 42nd out of 100 best companies to work in America.

The only tech company to rank higher is Cisco. None of your other key competitors (IBM, Google, etc) is even on the list...

Are things really that bad?

Anonymous said...

Lisa - recruiting isn't the problem for minorities. If the company were serious about hiring minorities for management, the company would have done it years ago. But, even if this is a real change, what will you do with them once they sign up? Retention is the real issue.

Right on. Nearly half the company is comprised of woman and minorities, yet management is still the same good old boys club it's always been. Lisa, if you're serious about making Microsoft a better and more competitive company, then I challenge you to shatter the glass ceilings and force management to enact real changes that will put an end to management inbreeding.

- Kill stack ranking once and for all and replace it with a fair system based on actual employee performance, not just a manager's biased perception of it.

- Regarding ERIT, guarantee fair investigations of employee discrimination complaints by eliminating LCA's role and replacing it with independent outside counsel.

- Lastly, make managers and employee aware of civil rights laws and the value of diversity to Microsoft through training and company wide awareness efforts.

These represent real changes that will level the promotional playing field for women and minorities and help ensure the best people are given a fair chance to run the company.

Anonymous said...

To NewHireFromCollege: Yes, stick around. Microsoft is a great place right out of college. You get exposure to great people, tools, process, etc. (and some bad ones too, of course) and work on software that really makes a difference. Work hard, get promoted a few times, maybe become a lead, no worries.

The issues people discuss here start to pop up after 3-5 years when you are thinking about the path you want your career to take. At that time you can re-evaluate if all the complaining has led to real changes, or perhaps you need to "think outside the box" for your next career step.

Anonymous said...

As an Alumni I hear everyone's pain. I got hossed by a manager because I gave her a piss poor review in my 360 feedback. She instantly interviewed each of her employees and found out that it was I that gave her negative feedback. I wasn't trying to attack her, I was trying to get her to improve her management style and she couldn't take the feedback and became instantly hostile towards me and delayed my review for over 2 months while she "fished" for negative feedback from my peers. Then she gave me the fateful 2.0 review in order to pressure me to leave.

Well I didn't quit. I survived for a few months until I could find a new sweet opportunity. I found that with a new company that paid me 38% more cash with a nice $40K sign on bonus. That's when I said bye bye bitch and left.

Since I have left, this women has been promoted once again. I chat with old friends there and they all pray for the day that she leaves. This person is not worthy of living in a sewar, let alone a Management position. I can't wait for the day that someone in upper management realizes that all she does is kiss ass up the food chain then craps all over anyone under her. Her day is coming, I can smell it.

MS Alumni and Survivor!

Anonymous said...

While I agree with other posters here on a lot of their comments (esp yanking the ranking and deadwood) and while I don't have a lot of hope that a lot will change, at least someone is listening.

In my experience, HR is just a servant of exec management... simple. So, I'll keep my expectations low and plug away.

These are tough problems that many large companies face and there are no easy solutions. To wax poetic about the (rose-colored) past only raises discontent. MS is what it is...but I do hope that it improves.

FWIW -- I sent an email to Lisa about incubation (really, not valuing risk taking) and I got a thoughtful response email from her in response.

Anonymous said...

Kill stack ranking once and for all and replace it with a fair system based on actual employee performance, not just a manager's biased perception of it.

Getting paid by the hour would keep management a little more honest and could not be corrupted by a manager's personal biases.

Ever think of becoming a contractor? Health care insurance can be purchased for individuals and families. If you're making $150000 per year, it is feasible to buy your own. Or, if you're Microsoft alumni member, you can get health care coverage through that organization.

If you get a Microsoft manager that tries to get you to work overtime for free, have your attorney give him a call.


If you read the Seattle Times article someone previously mentioned, you would see that a Seattle police detective makes a lot more than many employees of Microsoft through working overtime. Many Microsoft employees work overtime without being compensated for it effectively reducing the amount they make per hour.

OT overdone? Some cops at Port double their pay

In 2004, Detective Roy Woo worked the most overtime hours in the Port of Seattle Police Department, logging 1,995 hours of overtime and collecting overtime pay of about $93,200 on top of a base salary of about $66,600. Over the past five years, Woo has averaged about $150,400 a year in gross wages, compared to a base salary of about $62,700 for the same period.

Because the state retirement pension is based on his highest-paid five years, Woo will be eligible for an annual pension of at least $81,200 if he retires at the minimum age of 53, based on current salaries. Without the overtime, his pension would have been about $33,800 a year, based on current numbers.

For standby hours, Peltekian receives 50 percent of his regular pay; for on-call hours, he gets paid 10 percent. During those shifts, he cannot drink alcohol and he has to be able to respond within a short period of time. Including that pay, he made about $156,600 in 2004.

Peltekian will be eligible for a pension of at least $74,900 a year, based on current numbers. Without overtime hours, his pension would have been about $30,800, based on current salaries.


Any other system that management could come up with could be easily corrupted because it would involve managers doing the evaluation.


Lastly, make managers and employee aware of civil rights laws and the value of diversity to Microsoft through training and company wide awareness efforts.

This will not do anything. You cannot change someone especially with a lame company course. You can only teach them how to hide their personal biases better.

They can always hide behind the stack ranking curve and claim someone else did better than you. You have no way of verifying what they say.


Regarding ERIT, guarantee fair investigations of employee discrimination complaints by eliminating LCA's role and replacing it with independent outside counsel.

This is a good suggestion. I would say you need that for all employee complaints instead of going to HR. The company is not going to sponsor something like that.

You can though by hiring your own attorney.

Anonymous said...

>> Paying at 65% level means we are not getting the top 35% talent.

Paying at 99% level means we are paying more than the ability to 99% percent of the employee. You must understand that there is a tradeoff. This tradeoff for the larger companies sits at a lower percentile level than for the smaller companies.

Anonymous said...

If you think you're poor because you can't buy a house, it's time for a reality check. First, you can get along fine without owning property. Second, a mortgage payment isn't the same as a cell phone bill. You'll be able to get your money out of a house in Seattle and use some of it to buy a $60k mansion in Florida.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm

I watched the LisaB video now. I heard nothing but fluff. It was wonderful how she got her position. Be there for 16 years, know the people at the top from being there so long (when the company was small), and suddenly you get a VP spot. I heard nothing in her background at all that qualifies her for being in HR, especially at that level, except that she says she likes people. (Where is the HR experience, maybe a PHR or even at her VP level she should have an SPHR.)

I read that Corporate Confidential book by Cynthia Shapiro, and I think maybe LisaB should read it. (If she wants to help people). After she reads it, maybe she can contact the author and spend a few hours learning a little about HR and about a good balance between employees and the company.

I haven't seen anything yet. So far I think she was given the job and she still won't be allowed to do anything to make any differences. Please prove me wrong, I would love to see it. I would love things to get better here.

Anonymous said...

You can't compare a level 59 to a Seattle police officer.

Cops are unionized and they can abused the overtime system and can not be fired for murdering and torturing civilians.

Why are new college hire given level 59? They should come in at 57 or 58. I agree with one of the guys - the level system is broken. Internal people are being penalized....a super coder at level 59 with 6 month tenure will have a hard time applying for a level 60 job and some groups inflate the level.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like your priorites are screwed up. I managed to sock away enough to buy a house on not much more than that after 5 years here.

Was this before or after the housing bubble?

You are aware that things have changed a little during the last few years?

bigdog said...

All of the salary talk here is interesting, but that's not the main reason people come to Microsoft these days. At least I think that's true -- it's certainly true for me. I took a 30% pay cut to come here recently, and did so simply because it's a good place to get experience in current Microsoft technologies.

I figure I can ramp up on a variety of MS tools for a year or two, and if things look as bleak then as the picture many people are painting on this site, I can move back to greener pastures with some new skills to add to my arsenal. And a stint at MS on the old resume, which can't hurt either.

Best case, maybe I can find a way to move up to something I'd enjoy sticking with for longer than a couple of years. Especially if Lisa or whomever can get rid of the stack rank and convince management to try something a little more results-oriented that fits high-performance self-motivated employees better.

The absolute worst case would be to become one of these MS know-it-all-ogists who can explain in impressive style why they're working far below what they're worth. Everyone's got options, and it's a free country -- work wherever you want, for whatever reason you want.

For me right now, that means working where I can learn a lot about software technology. And like many MS employees these days, I'm not the least bit interested in Microsoft culture except what I need to figure out to get along with everyone and keep working on my goals. Anyone who's run a business for any length of time would be amused at what gets called "entrepreneurial" around here. I haven't met a risk-taker in Redmond yet.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this really sucks. I am a new hire (just out of college, joined in July) and I am already doubting my decision to join this company. Are things really this bad - and should new college hires stay clear? I was hoping to get some real world experience at one of the most respected companies in the field, but am I jeopardizing my career and future by doing so?

As an outsider, this is totally your decision. Just remember that what you are reading here are responses to posts by those who already have a negative opinion about their job and the company they work for. Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, etc...
What is happening here is an exposure of these people. They feel that posting anonymously no one will know, but that only goes so far in the real world, people talk. Foot in mouth disease may not be a recognized medical term, but it actually exists.
These are the people who will quit or just get by on what they have instead of reaching their goal. Been there and done that, and could still do it again if the need arises.

Customer

Anonymous said...

Looks like another Microsoftie has started some pro-active blogging:

http://nextmsft.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

"Why are new college hire given level 59? They should come in at 57 or 58. I agree with one of the guys - the level system is broken."

Levels 57 and 58 are not even salary anymore, they are hourly. People at those levels were pushed out a couple reviews ago.

Anonymous said...

Why are new college hire given level 59? They should come in at 57 or 58. I agree with one of the guys - the level system is broken. Internal people are being penalized....a super coder at level 59 with 6 month tenure will have a hard time applying for a level 60 job and some groups inflate the level.

Microsoft hired a lot of people at bargain rates during the dot com bust.

New Computer Science graduates are scarce (more so than in years past).

Since Microsoft pays on the 65% percentile, in order to compete with other companies, the level has to be inflated to be able to offer a competitive salary to a Computer Science graduate.

If your level goes up, your salary goes up. If you're a company controlling costs, you have a performance management system that uses a curve and tell most of the people that they don't deserve a promotion based upon their relative position in the rank (which you have no way of verifying). In absolute terms, they may have the skills to be promoted but you've convinced them that they need to work harder to get the brass ring and you've saved the company a lot of money.

If you believe you are in demand, get a job somewhere else at a higher salary for a couple of years and if you're still enamored with Microsoft after that time away get hired back at a higher level.

Anonymous said...

There's a lot about Microsoft that sucks but it's a good way to start a career. Of course there's the big corporate name to give your resume some legitimacy, and passing a Microsoft interview still impresses people. And if there's one thing Microsoft has a lot of, it's tools and processes, so you will get good experience with source control, bug databases, product lifecycles, working with testing, etc., that will make you more valuable to your next employer. So, work for Microsoft for a while, and when you feel like things are going south, remember that you have options and you're probably in a better place to take advantage of them.

Anonymous said...

Looks like another Microsoftie has started some pro-active blogging:

http://nextmsft.blogspot.com/

--

yah and they want you to crosslink to a spaces site so they can track IPs ... no thanks.

Anonymous said...

"Looks like another Microsoftie has started some pro-active blogging:

http://nextmsft.blogspot.com/

--

yah and they want you to crosslink to a spaces site so they can track IPs ... no thanks."
=============================

The blog does not support anonymous either ...

Blogger beware ...

Anonymous said...

"Request to all bloggers out there: try to be productive. People listen much more clearly to feedback that's productive."

I think lisa means "constructive" .... it is her job to use it productively which is currently being reviewed by many as the pivotal point for staying or leaving.

Step in lisa fix it.

Anonymous said...

Don't be fooled by the feel-good dazzle, at the end of the day, nothing will change; please reread Cynthia's "Secret #6".

For those who haven't read Corporate Confidential, secret #6 is the fact that job of HR is to protect the company against its employees. This book may as well be titled Microsoft Confidential. Don't be naive Mini - Lisa knows better than to bite the hand that feeds here. Her feel-good tour is nothing more than a PR effort to let employees blow off steam over a stock price pegged in the mid-20s and a screwed up compensation system that rewards an elite group of "partners" instead of sharing the wealth with employees who actually get things done. Words, especially from a VP of HR, are cheap and so far we've seen ZERO action. If you actually think the partners and upper management will tolerate any changes that could threaten the status quo and their hefty bonus then you've drank too much of that MS flavored Kool-aid Lisa is serving on the tour.

Anonymous said...

I am the guy who posted how Microsoft system is screwed up for people who stay there for long time.

I was a manager for almost 5 years (half my MS career). The last year I was at Microsoft(left a few months ago) my job was to hire lots of SDET's. It is a tough job recruiting SDET's. With scare CS grads and the market tightening up it is tough to sell the Testing job. I managed to hire almost 9 SDET's(mostly campus and some CSG's)in 6 months.
Then one fine day I announced that I was leaving Microsoft. All those recruits were shocked and felt betrayed(since I sold them MSFT so much). But I told them that MS is still the best place for fresh graduates.
My reciepe is stay there for 3 or 4 years, learn stuff and move on. If you are lucky and get a good mentor/manager then you can have success and stay there, else get out. I still think MS is a great place for fresh graduates or even people with 1 or 2 years exp.

I just hope MS figures out how to reward its old timers better(not those partners, but people who dont make it to the partner levels, like L62 - L65)

fCh said...

Allow me, an outsider to your area/company, to put the $60K starter salary at Microsoft in a different perspective. However puny $60K may look to some, would there be any idea what's the starter in investment banking, some law practice, or a liberal arts professor? It's too bad newly minted graduates come in the workplace at a time when some salaries and especially home prices are inflated, but don't despair, it's all applied economics that dictates low will always follow high. Lest forget, it's the same economics that presents management (yours included) with the option of off-shoring and outsourcing.

And even if you were to judge a profession by income alone, do it relative to work over a period of time. One final point, on the house prices in the Seattle area. I am not the one to argue with the fact that those prices are so high for similar reasons people complain in this blog: too many earlier MSFT 'successful' employees relative to the ecosystem. While Mini's solution (a trimmed down company) may help in the long run, don't forget that no company can afford to subsidize in perpetuity the cost of housing. Moreover, $60K is still decent money, even for a $350K property, if some financial restraint is shown for a few years.

Cheers, fCh.

P.S. A job as Seattle police detective carries some risk with it, doesn't it?
P.P.S. My favorite observation is this one: Paying at 65% level means we are not getting the top 35% talent. In the end, a company gets what is paying for...

Anonymous said...

> especially at that level, except that she says she likes people. (Where is the HR experience, maybe a PHR or even at her VP level she should have an SPHR.)

You dont need *HR stuff to be a HR manager, GM or VP. This is why HR is a low skilled job and large functions of HR should be automated or outsourced.

Anonymous said...

Then one fine day I announced that I was leaving Microsoft. All those recruits were shocked and felt betrayed(since I sold them MSFT so much). But I told them that MS is still the best place for fresh graduates.

By then they probably figured out what a crap shoot it is to find a manager that is fair (especially within the stack ranking system).

Anonymous said...

"I still think MS is a great place for fresh graduates or even people with 1 or 2 years exp."

I'm sorry, but this is simply terrible advice. Because of the way stock, bonus, and salary are so closely tied to your level, and given how difficult it has become over the years to get a promotion, you don't want to enter MS at the ground level. A new college hire would be much better off working several years at another company (or jumping companies) until they could get hired into MS at level 63+.

Anonymous said...

especially at that level, except that she says she likes people. (Where is the HR experience, maybe a PHR or even at her VP level she should have an SPHR.)

You dont need *HR stuff to be a HR manager, GM or VP. This is why HR is a low skilled job and large functions of HR should be automated or outsourced.


Wow, I don't know who you are, but clearly you know nothing about HR either. I suggest you go try to figure out all the stuff real HR people need to know in order to do their jobs well. Some of which includes labor law, benefit law, and a whole bunch of other law stuff. Just because MSFT doesn't hire any qualified HR people, doesn't mean they are unskilled. It just means MSFT doesn't have any skilled HR people. There is a ton of stuff to know. Also, many of them are plenty skilled.

Just because one programmer codes in assembly for 3 different processors, C/C++, and Java and a different programmer codes in VB, PERL, C#, etc. doesn't mean that either of them can call the other unskilled or non-technical. Their knowledge just doesn't overlap. Because you think they are unskilled doesn't make them so. I think you have no idea what they really do.

Anonymous said...

I visited Google today in SF, and then went back to the MS campus in Mountain View. Let me just say that the energy in Google is 10x that of MS. Even with a hit to their stock today, they have this "we will prevail" atitiude that MS used to have in the early 90s and during the anti-trust trial. I wish MS could be that high energy place again. It's just sad to see how MS has declined. Google gives free lunch to anyone who comes on campus, but MS cant even feed customers who pay thousands of dollars to attend VS Live in SF.

Anonymous said...

"Google gives free lunch to anyone who comes on campus, but MS cant even feed customers who pay thousands of dollars to attend VS Live in SF"

Yes this is embarassing. For a "technology vendor" try to "sell" things we are dismal at showing the love. I am repeatedly amazed that we will ask small partners or customers to repeatedly come to Redmond, but whine and complain that we have no budget to treat them to a nice dinner or worse reciprocate with a visit to their offices. Our group GM recently at an all hands told everyone how we really need to get out there and get customers interested in our newly released products and get the customers excited...and in the same breath said we have no budget for travel and we hope to get the customers to come to Redmond. So let me see, we're going to ask the customers to PAY to come to Redmond, spend time out of their offices so that they can PAY us more when we sell them something. The GALL....we should be ashamed as a sales focused org.

Anonymous said...

>I suggest you go try to figure out all the stuff real HR people need to know in order to do their jobs well. Some of which includes labor law, benefit law, and a whole bunch of other law stuff.

LisaB is the most qualified person to represent HR department in ages period.

Just sit in a library and read about the laws for HR. It wont take more than a week to figure it out. Or take a class on it. HR is not legal department - it is not hard.

Anonymous said...


I suggest you go try to figure out all the stuff real HR people need to know in order to do their jobs well. Some of which includes labor law, benefit law, and a whole bunch of other law stuff.

LisaB is the most qualified person to represent HR department in ages period.

Just sit in a library and read about the laws for HR. It wont take more than a week to figure it out. Or take a class on it. HR is not legal department - it is not hard.


Yeah, that was absolutely a dumb statement. What makes you think she is qualified. You like her, so she is qualified? I don't think so. I agree with the other person. I don't see her qualifications for HR.

I also think you are way off base. There is no way that someone without HR experience can walk into a position, go to the library, study material and know what they are doing in a week. It is kind of insulting to even think that way. Also absurd.

It is like saying C/C++ programming can be learned in a week, because when you read the book, you know the syntax, and therefore can create a program. Different people have different levels of skill with that knowledge. Someone who can create an "aoti()" or create a "Hello World" program isn't in the same league as the person who creates a ".wmv" player, or writes the netowkring code in Vista's PeerToPeer group.

Similar to saying everyone who has taken a drivers exam for their license knows some state driving laws. I guess we know enough now to go out and become officers of the law. (Irrational and absurd).

Go back and learn what you are talking about. Calling HR unskilled is just uninformed.

However, I will say MSFT doesn't have any HR people that have demonstrated anything other than following the company line, statements, and agendas. Of course, who can blame them. Their jobs are on the line as well.

Even if LisaB did have experience in HR, (which being charismatic isn't a qualification), she won't be able to do anything to change the status quo, because people above her like things the way they are now.

Anonymous said...

I am repeatedly amazed that we will ask small partners or customers to repeatedly come to Redmond, but whine and complain that we have no budget to treat them to a nice dinner or worse reciprocate with a visit to their offices.

Lovely, the Wal-Mart approach to vendor and customer relations.

While everyone may travel to Bentonville to do business in the retail world, there is no reason at all to travel to Seattle to do business in the computing world.

Completely hubristic.

Anonymous said...

LisaB is the most qualified person to represent HR department in ages period.

Just sit in a library and read about the laws for HR. It wont take more than a week to figure it out. Or take a class on it. HR is not legal department - it is not hard.


Your argument is that LisaB is the most qualified to run HR because HR is not that difficult?

Employment law is complex.

Employment law in Washington State

Anonymous said...

" I'm sorry, but this is simply terrible advice. A new college hire would be much better off working several years at another company (or jumping companies) until they could get hired into MS at level 63+."

I tend to think these kind of opportunities are rare unless you are talking about MSN and their inflated levels. I would say new college grad should give MS a shot. What is the worse that can happened?



As for the risk with being a Seattle police detective....the risk is closed to ZERO. How many Seattle cops get shot dead each year? one or none. Getting paid $150K (with pension at$80K) more than cover for any risk.

Anonymous said...

Regarding HR implementing change by this summer: looks like HRIT is honestly trying to put new tools into place for this June.

As of today, they can not succeed. Not because of any fault on their own, but simply because the people they partner with and work with do not under any circumstances want them to succeed. The current system has worked absolutely fabulously for them, and they don't want to change. I already see it with my leadership. They are setting HRIT up to be screwed over using unshipped technology under the guise that we all do the right thing and get some dogfooding in. Plus just limiting the amount of time we spend with them to help them set up a new system for the entire company to use.

If HRIT's work is going to be successful, they need to have LisaB and SteveB meet with all the principals and knock their heads together and let them know they are being held accountable and their annual review depends on the tools being working and inplace by June. Otherwise, there will be lots of satisfied snickering when it all falls apart come May.

Anonymous said...

>Your argument is that LisaB is the most qualified to run HR because HR is not that difficult?
Employment law is complex.

HR is not practicing law nor does it create/pass legislation. We have hired HR managers from other companies and states who know nothing about Washington state laws.

Anonymous said...

HR is not practicing law nor does it create/pass legislation. We have hired HR managers from other companies and states who know nothing about Washington state laws.

It shows.

They do have to know enough of the law not to break it.

The relevant law covers such things as discrimination and protected disabilities.

How can you claim that Microsoft values diversity if you don't know if they are violating laws designed to protect people?

Anonymous said...

"HR is not practicing law nor does it create/pass legislation. We have hired HR managers from other companies and states who know nothing about Washington state laws."

Very true .. moreover we hired from companies in other "AT-WILL" states and these kinds of laws while are commonly gray are unique on a per state basis.

Anonymous said...

Regarding HR implementing change by this summer: looks like HRIT is honestly trying to put new tools into place for this June.

As of today, they can not succeed. Not because of any fault on their own, but simply because the people they partner with and work with do not under any circumstances want them to succeed. The current system has worked absolutely fabulously for them, and they don't want to change.


If the current systems works "absolutely fabulously", why change it?

Are you advocating wasting shareholder's money on an unneeded HR IT system?

You need a new system to hold old review forms reeking of corruption?

Anonymous said...

If HRIT's work is going to be successful, they need to have LisaB and SteveB meet with all the principals and knock their heads together and let them know they are being held accountable and their annual review depends on the tools being working and inplace by June. Otherwise, there will be lots of satisfied snickering when it all falls apart come May.

Is someone in HR advocating SteveB and LisaB use intimidation behind closed doors?

Do you work on these HR IT systems and you are just trying to get them put into use whether they are needed or not so it looks good on your review?

Anonymous said...

Imagine what happens when we use Redmond based HR people for acquisitions of companies that have significant foreign presence. The lack of understanding of foreign labor laws and the resulting legal implications make all of our acquisitions much more expensive and painful than they need to be. While the Lisa B stuff sounds "nice" and maybe playes well in her Redmond based rah rah sessions, the reality of being on the other end of an MS acquisition couldn't be any farther from this fantasyland.

Anonymous said...

Your argument is that LisaB is the most qualified to run HR because HR is not that difficult?

Employment law is complex.

-----

True, that is why you have a legal department. That is.... if they are not too busy fighting antitrust lawsuits.

Anonymous said...

Do you work on these HR IT systems and you are just trying to get them put into use whether they are needed or not so it looks good on your review?

I forgot about the cynical nature here. My bad. No, I don't work in HRIT.

These tools are around getting away from of a curve-based peer relative compensation system and focused on being able to reward for individual excellence.

Is this endeavor still a waste of time now? Or do you disagree with what LisaB has been saying and you are not expecting any actions?

If you guys have been giving high marks to all her talk, you have to expect some kind of forms and tools around it to be rolled out. And, from what I see day-by-day, there are plenty of people sticking out their foot to encumber progress here.

Anonymous said...

>Do you work on these HR IT systems and you are just trying to get them put into use whether they are needed or not so it looks good on your review?

Some HR people dont want to use tools. It is like China - you control information and then control the people. HR group wants to control VPs this way to increase its headcount.

Anonymous said...

These tools are around getting away from of a curve-based peer relative compensation system and focused on being able to reward for individual excellence.

Is this endeavor still a waste of time now? Or do you disagree with what LisaB has been saying and you are not expecting any actions?


Who decides what information is entered into these "tools"?

Who decides what employees get to work on? Managers.

If you work on an idea without their permission, they put something bad on your review about not getting management's permission to use company resources (ie. you).

If you present them with the idea and they really like it, they may take it away from you and give it to one of their friends to implement. Reread this Blog. There are several examples of that mentioned.


The employees managers don't like they load up with other people's bugs from previous releases so they don't get to show any individual excellence that would result in any significant rewards.

An IT system is not going to make anything more fair if the people entering the information are not fair.

You seem to be missing the point.

As far as LisaB goes, what people say and what people do often are not the same thing.

Having a shiny new IT system doesn't mean anything if she lets managers abuse the system.

From what I've seen, HR lets them do whatever they want.

Anonymous said...

And, from what I see day-by-day, there are plenty of people sticking out their foot to encumber progress here.

Not everyone thinks what you perceive as progress is actually progress.

People voicing their opinions seems to really bother you.

Free speech seems to annoy Microsoft.

Perhaps you would like to hear it from someone you don't consider to be one to stick their foot out.

Microsoft takes down Chinese blogger (my opinions on that)

Then again, plenty of other people seem to find Microsoft's stance of free speech objectionable.

Lawmakers slam U.S. firms aiding China cyber-cops

Freedom of speech advocates condemned Microsoft in December after it pulled the blog, or Web log, of a critic of the Chinese government after getting a government order to do so.

Anonymous said...

True, that is why you have a legal department. That is.... if they are not too busy fighting antitrust lawsuits.

People in HR have to know not to cross the street when the little orange hand shows up without consulting an attorney.

They also have to know enough of the law not to create too much work for the legal department when it comes to how they treat employees alone or in concert with managers.

Anonymous said...

They are setting HRIT up to be screwed over using unshipped technology under the guise that we all do the right thing and get some dogfooding in. Plus just limiting the amount of time we spend with them to help them set up a new system for the entire company to use.

A new IT system will protect you from that kind of devious behavior. Yeah right!

Are these devious people in management?

Anonymous said...

>>Here, you're lucky if you can find a condo in poor condition in a poor location for $200,000. Houses are out of the question, unless you want to spend 3 hours a day in your car commuting.

wateva. cry me a river.

in silicon valley, a starter condo is $490,000. sure we get paid a little bit more, but we also have a state income tax, an equal sales tax, and more taxes because this is taxifornia. you redmond folks have it easy.

Anonymous said...

However, I will say MSFT doesn't have any HR people that have demonstrated anything other than following the company line, statements, and agendas.
---

What are you saying? HR like EU should go after employees of MS and figure ways to sue the company? You are on top of yourself.

HR managers shouldnt be leveled at more than L59. HR doesnt take responsibility for any action blaming the "manager" or the "consultant". You show the IQ to come up with one initiative that makes money for the company then you are worth more 70K/year.

We already have a very large, unresponsive and largely disfunctional HR org. You are like the communists in some sense. You need to justify your existence not based on facts but with random unillustrative points.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini - I hope this isn't off topic but I didn't know how to contact you directly. I was recently hired by MSFT and start in six weeks. What advice do you or your readers have for me? I'm a business type, not a coder.

Anonymous said...

Quote: How many Seattle cops get shot dead each year? one or none. Getting paid $150K (with pension at$80K) more than cover for any risk

Dude, you've got me worried... How many Microsoft employees got shot dead last year? Can you compensate people for the risk of getting shot dead? How much is adequate?

BTW, In writing your answer, can you factor in the point that some dweeboid from the Office Division has already suggested that Mini be shot, for doing what he's doing?

Anonymous said...

Reads Mini-Microsoft and Wears Shorts

Sounds familar.

Anonymous said...

"Dude, you've got me worried... How many Microsoft employees got shot dead last year? Can you compensate people for the risk of getting shot dead? How much is adequate?"

While it is true that a life can not be replaces and no compensation is really adequate, it is also true that while we live our life we take significant risks to it. Not all people die because of old age at 100 plus. Many people die from accidents (life is no fun without travel), heart attacks (partially increased risk due to the enjoyment of eating tastier food) etc. Many people are willing to take somekind of risk for a compansation. Why? More money could make the life easier and more fun.

So it is not also fair to justify any kind of homongous salary due to the risk on life. I am not saying $150K with $80K is a high or low compensation but I am saying that one could argue that it is a high compensation. It is not a fair argument to say that any compensation is good becuase of increased risk to life. By that logic we could give millions of dollars salary to each risk taker. What happens then? WA state goverment won't have money for other life saving programs and hence the risk to life would increase somewhere. So there is a balance between risk to life and physical resource (i.e., money), and you could argue that $150K salary with $80K compensation is not the righ balance.

Anonymous said...

> I just hope MS figures out how to reward its old timers better(not those partners, but people who dont make it to the partner levels, like L62 - L65)

L62 is a partner level? Seriously?

Anonymous said...

Any thread regarding HR is a waste of space. HR's only role is to serve as a prism for Executive Management - enter Lisa Brummel and the magical tour. Brummel scoured Mini's blog and has picked off the top 5 points of contention. Patriotic employees view it as a good effort. Anyone with a brain will call it what it is - crisis management. Microsoft's history has been punctuated by 'listening events'. Not the least of which is the MIX this March. What Microsoft Execs really listen for is: 1. the stock ticker (a rising stock price creates malleable easy-to-control employees) and 2. New ideas. Use em if you own em, steal and re-develop them if you don’t. The rest is carping and complaining – and only so much of that will be tolerated from anyone. Take note.

Anonymous said...

Quote: While it is true that a life can not be replaces and no compensation is really adequate, it is also true that while we live our life we take significant risks to it.

All I was really saying was that a Seattle cop has to deal with road traffic accidents and murder scenes, where there are dead people lieing around and distraught relatives to deal with.

To be honest, I ythink even COSD is pretty tame, compared to that :)!

c said...

Levels 57 and 58 are not even salary anymore, they are hourly. People at those levels were pushed out a couple reviews ago.

Not true. Office still has FTE STEs @ 58. Possibly 57, too, but that's unlikely - they would have to have been hired in 2002 at entry-level and not been promoted since then.

Urp. said...

L62 is a partner level? Seriously?

Um, NO. 68+ is partner level. Also, to clear up any misconceptions on salary, 68 is the "normal" range above 67, not some magic inflection point (i.e. midpoint is roughly 10-20% higher). The stock awards are larger, but tied to customer satisfaction more closely.

Anonymous said...

People in HR have to know not to cross the street when the little orange hand shows up without consulting an attorney.

They also have to know enough of the law not to create too much work for the legal department when it comes to how they treat employees alone or in concert with managers.

-----------------

So essentially, all you need is a bunch of secretaries. Anyone can read and follow rules.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% that the longer you stay in the company the bigger penality you pay. That is one of the reason I left Microsoft couple of months ago. I was hiring fresh college graduates making more money that some of my folks who were in the company for 3 or more years. I had a L60 employee(3 year at MS) making $6K less than someone I hired from college at L59. Then the thing that really blew me away was when one of my peers who left the company 2 years ago, rejoined MS and came up 2 levels higher. I know when he left MS in 2003, he was L61, and now he comes back at L64, and I was stuck at L62, and fighting hard to make it to L63. So that revolving door really works.

You are so right!!! I have faced this too. I had to struggle it out to get a decent pay hike and I had this other friend of mine who joined from another company who was offered much more. I am happy for my friend but the fact that I stayed in the company and worked hard for it wasnt really good for me. Is this how MSFT should reward people?

BTW I didnt quite beleive earlier that a L59 could get more than a L60. Now I know why one of my other friends hired at L59 fresh out of college into the very same team made about $10k more than I did at L60. :-(

Whats the point in getting 4.0s if finally you feel cheated so badly!

Anonymous said...

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/060209/microsoft_headquarters.html?.v=6

(MSFT to spend $1B to further expand campus)

Translation: Damn the icebergs and lay on more coal and ballast, the SS MSFT refuses to adjust course despite increasingly obvious signs of problems or even outright failures. This company is done. All that's left is the inevitable Business School debate on what the final straw was. Ballmer's giving them lots of options there - an overhiring binge, ridiculous beauracracy, an overpaid and largely ineefective management elite, miserable execution (i.e. Vista, MBS, Search), failed new investments (take your pick here from MSN through MBS), failure to adapt to leaner/meaner competitors, etc, etc? Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Cries to make the place smaller, rid us of the ineffective! - It's been mentioned here before but the comments and pro/con votes keep growing at www.officeballot.com Perhaps leadership will take notice of who isn't cutting it. Yeah it's random data and loud bitching by some but it's interesting to see how people will vent when they presume it's anonymous (interesting that there is no real about us info on that site and the whois record points to a register by proxy service - Maybe Lisa Brummel set up a honeypot?)

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm a vendor who's about to make the transition to FTE. I've been a vendor with MS for around 3 years, and I have to say that while there are issues that I've seen, it wasn't any better than the now-defunct Big 6 I used to work for, or a couple large insurance conglomerates I worked for. But I don't want to get into a p*ssing match. I'm looking for some honest opinions/feedback on what it's like on the other side. I've been in the business for ~15 years - so I'm not a rookie. I'm not completely bowled over with the L60 designation, but I'm really excited about the opportunity in front of me. Be as blunt/honest/direct as you like - I just want to get the skinny.

BTW - I love this blog. Keep up the good work, mini!

CanadianBeerBeaver said...

Mini,

The problems you mention happen not only with FTEs but ALSO with interns. I have started a blog at http://minimsftinterns.blogspot.com/ to document the experiences of MS Interns around the world. From my point of view, at least with regards to MS Canada, the coop roles are CRAP! All we do is ship boxes, and carry chachkas. If this is how they plan on filling the MACH pipeline, they're SERIOUSLY gonne find it pretty empty!

Anonymous said...

Well I'm glad that Lisa Brummel is listening. The situation has gotten bad at Microsoft, and the whole review system is just plain broken.

While I agree that there are alot of people that need to go, those are often the ones who avoid dismissal. The review process has become entirely political.

I've seen a lot of comments in this blog by current Microsofties who have the opinion that "those who were let go deserved it, and the review system is getting rid of bad wood like it's supposed to."

That couldn't be further from the truth. I saw people that who year after year escaped dismissal while top performers left the company. And fair reviews based on performance? How is that a director who has never met me adds comments to my performance review? How is that I can deliver 200% of my goal, along with unsolicited letters of praise from a VP and PUM in the product group I served, and get a 2.5 score?

I'll tell you the answer. That happens when a director tells a manager "I don't care what you think. I don't like him, so manage him out." On the next annual review I was straight up 4.0 material, having the same kind of unsoliced praise from collegues and customers, and blew all my goals out of the water. But this time I was only awarded a 3.0. Why? My manager's manager (director) came right out and said that a 4.0 after a 2.5 triggers HR to look at what happened. HR's assumption is that only one of those scores can be correct. So I got a 3.0 in order that my director not have to answer embarrassing questions.

Microsoft's performance system in no way assures the compnay that it will keep and promote the best. It has become a broken political tool by which both good and bad employees are ousted, and in the end Microsoft loses.

In the end you reap what you sew, and Microsoft is sewing a lot of bad will.