Monday, August 21, 2006

Looking Forward - Reviews, The Company Meeting, and Then Some...

Microsofties, what are you looking forward to? My top of mind right now - interrupted only when I take a good-long moment to enjoy this fantastic Redmond summer-weather - is:

  1. Review results.
  2. The 9/21 Company Meeting.

The new review: is the new boss the same as the old boss? Most review models should be closed by now and review deliveries should start in earnest. Some folks have posted comments that we still have a curve and that this year's rewards are going to be pretty close to last year's rewards, with the rating split into two on commitments + stock. Yes, there is a blurry curve that groups get to decide. You don't get to have a group that is 100% exceptionally exceeding everything. Well, you can. But then everyone gets the same meager reward. Different VPs and presidents have decided there should be a ratio of somesort of Exceeds vs. Achieved. All I can say is that I feel like tra-la-la dancing through daisies since I didn't have to be in a meeting with a bunch of glum managers and deal with, "We need to cough up N more 3.0s to meet the model." (Where N = the number of good strong contributors you're about to demotivate and practice giving the speech on peer-relative performance.)

Tra-la-la!

I'm too deep in the middle of it all right now to take a critical, constructive view. The new review model process has been a hell of a lot of work. I think it's worth it, but best practices need to be rolled-up for the next iteration. I'm still amazed that this all came together so quickly and now it's all done except for presenting the numbers and letting the rewards kick in on 9/15.

The 2006 Company Meeting: I feel like I'm in the minority for being a Company Meeting fan, but like I've said in the past it's my yearly chance to chug the MSFT-Koolaid and enjoy being with the best people in the world. Except, of course, I kind of look around at what groups I think we could spin off or downsize. But other than that I'm pretty cheery!

I'm sure the Company Meeting demos and the PowerPoints are coming together now that we're a month away. What do you want to see and hear? Personally, I'd like to skip any Vista or Office demos. Unless they're fast and just part of something else. I'd love to see some consumer focused demos, whether it's Live services or Zune or Xbox / PC games. How about a demo of the new Flight Simulator? And how about actually showing the 360 running games vs. last year. And I'd love it if we're talking about profits vs. revenue. Profits good. And if you're demoing something made with a small, effective, agile team, brag about it.

Some folks might be a bit disillusioned with My Microsoft and the review results by the time the Company Meeting rolls around. I think the Company Meeting would be a great time for LisaB to unleash more goodness. My couple of ideas:

  • ESPP: the return of the old ESPP, 15%, lowest-date and all that. Again, I'm just asking for you to return what was taken away, but, still... please?
  • Internal Transfers: optimize our internal recruiting by throwing away permission to interview, cutting internal interview loops to two-future peers + hiring manager, and starting an aggressive internal recruiting group to help optimize Microsofties we have vs. piling on any more.

Oh, and get those iDrinks actually installed.

Other going ons...

(I have about five pages of notes from the past week of random things to discuss, but I'm going to save some of that until later.)

SPSA Countdown: so, how did the SPSA percent pay-out end-up? Obviously, I'm not in the know. But you can start gently pushing your least-favorite Partner-level-L68+ peer towards the retirement door by leaving in their office various brochures of villas and such they can buy and enjoy their pay-out with. They got theirs. Clap. Clap. Leave.

Email retention policy: is it a good way to keep everyone's email boxes clean to just a six-month history or a cover-ya-ash cynical maneuver to ensure we don't have anymore embarrassing missives pop-up in court when a plaintiff goes on a fishing expedition up Exchange Bayou? Comments are all over the place for this one.

It doesn't bother me too much simply because it hasn't screwed me yet. But it will. I'm sure a couple of years from now I might start panicking because I lost some important email and that the incident in turn will cost Microsoft a bunch of money as we try to reconstruct the information in that email. I agree with Alyosha`: in a hard to quantify way, this is going to be more collectively expensive to Microsoft for losing its tribal wisdom. But, hopefully, no more head bruising, self-inflicted dope-slaps induced from de-contextualized email passages popping up in the news.

My only note of caution: I've worked for a tech company basically run on the whims of lawyers and staying safe and ensuring we stayed out of court. Life sucked. We never achieved what we could have and politically adept people became really good at sic'ing the lawyers on any groups they felt were threatening our legal standing. It's the safe road that leads straight to mediocre-ville.

Buyback Later: so much for Buyback Mountain. A lot of shareholders passed on the dutchee and we're going to get around to it within the next five years. It's done the stock some short-term good, so I'm happy there. But it's caused some confusion and we know how much the market digs confusion (most hated thing, right after surprises). MSFT Extreme Make Over and Packet Storm have more discussion:

Windows Live Writer: excellent! Job well done. Kudos. I enjoy using Windows Live Writer. I'm not using it now for this post because I've got my own custom little content-management-system, but I was really happy playing around with Windows Live Writer and impressed with what it did. I'd be much happier with inplace spell-checking and grammar checking, but it's a nifty little tool that does just as well as stuff I've paid good money for in the past. My only regret is that good stuff like this only comes along when we acquire a product under development. What is wrong with our internal culture to not allow a tool like this to be built from scratch?

Random bits:


310 comments:

1 – 200 of 310   Newer›   Newest»
Louis Gray said...

Welcome back, Mini. With all of the discussions around Windows Live Space, and its purported leadership in blog counts (as well debated with Robert Scoble), do you have any feeling as to how the Live team is being seen within the company? Is Live and particularly the Live Space team seen as exciting or leaders, or simply a team forced to play catchup with SixApart, Google and the rest?

Anonymous said...

Mini, our stars seem to start aligning. I am looking for a really good next 12 months at Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'd like to skip any Vista or Office demos. Unless they're fast and just part of something else.

Mini, go grab yourself an RC build of Vista and install. You will be blown away by the perf improvements. This is not your granddaddy's Vista. RC1 will rock your pants off.

Kudos to the Windows team.....

Anonymous said...

Mini wrote, "What is wrong with our internal culture to not allow a tool like this to be built from scratch?"

Mini, have you tried expo.live. It is a nifty tool for online market place. As far as I know, it was completely built internally.

Anonymous said...

Finally...a new post. Now I can stop checking this every 2 hours. Thank you!!!!

finance girl said...

Bringing back the old ESPP? Yes please! Can the reviews happen already, so we can all enjoy our summers and actually go on vacation without concern? BTW from the outside, Windows Live is a strange name that doesn't tell the consumer diddley squat. Change the name represent the product, folks.

Technicaela said...

Mini, the new review model is already a huge improvement for internal transfers. Less need to fear the "I'm transferring out but my old manager is writing my review, I'll automatically get a 3.0" syndrome.

Anonymous said...

Anyway you can put the dates along with the post times?

BP/CMB said...

"Email retention policy: is it a good way to keep everyone's email boxes clean to just a six-month history or a cover-ya-ash cynical maneuver to ensure we don't have anymore embarrassing missives pop-up in court when a plaintiff goes on a fishing expedition up Exchange Bayou?"

Definitely the latter. The large company I worked for had a similar Post-Enron policy and it was a first time violation firing offence. They made it clear that this was not a space saving issue, and that individuals keeping their own private e-mail archive was equally taboo.

Personally, I think that if it makes sense for the government to be able to raid a company's e-mail for evidence (and I'm not saying that it DOES make sense) then the same laws should require companies to retain all e-mail indefinitely.

The idea tthat you shoule have to delete what may in many cases serve as your only record of important decisions being made and by who, just on the off chance that tthose archive may be used as evidence is ludicrous.

But that's the way it is in modern corpporate America.

Anonymous said...

I've recently been moved into the first Safeco building (86) and I'm actually enjoying a delicious starbucks machine brewed coffee as I type this. The machines make an annoying clicking noise when they are in action but they brew some tasty coffee.

Now if they can just get me an office instead of this cube I'd be happy.

Bill Lumberg

Anonymous said...

Keep your dry cleaning, your Safeway.com, your towels. Give us back an ESPP with real potential upside.

I know this topic has been discussed to death (and almost to termination, as I recall), but the day the ESPP became largely irrelevant there was a nearly tangible loss of enthusiasm and morale across the teams I come into contact with. Sure, we understand the stock isn’t going to double every year anymore, and we’re not expecting splits every 18 months, but it was always engaging and exciting to be following the progress of the investment of your own money. Each day the stock notched a bit higher than that starting price put a smile on your face that matched the one all your co-workers were wearing. I don’t hear people chatter about the stock in the halls as they used to prior to the ESPP emasculation, and many people have stopped participating altogether.

Our ESPP wasn’t the best (my previous company gave the best price at any point over the period, rather than just the bookends) but it was a helluva lot better than this mechanical, non-invested crap we have now.

FARfetched said...

On the outside looking in, mind you...

I wouldn't worry too much about the email non-retention policy. I'm trying to implement Getting Things Done, part of which is to process email instead of letting it pile up in my inbox (think of it as a stream rather than a retention pond). Email that requires an action gets acted on or added to an actions list. Other email either gets deleted, forwarded to someone and then deleted, or added to an external "future stuff" list and then deleted. Who knows: if you receive an email, you know it will only be around for up to six months and you could be more motivated to do something with it besides let it compost. Microsofties acting on their email instead of letting it pile up might result in an uptick of productivity.

Personally, I've never needed an email that was more than a year old anyway.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure this has come up in other threads, which I've stopped reading, because the comment moderation ain't working.

Instead of getting a dialog of people responding thoughtfully and sequentially to each others' comments, we get a flood of comments after Mini gets home from work, all responding to the comments that were ok'd the previous evening while Mini was at home.

It makes the comments far more repetitious and less interesting, to the point that I can't bring myself to wade through them anymore - I was willing to deal with spam/trolls/irrelevance, but not this horrible lag.

I understand moderation is a necesary evil in some cases, but it really kills the discussion.

Anonymous said...

So approx average pay raise % in the one of the big server orgs this time is 4% (including review %). The approximate bonus % is 10% unchanged from last year.

Anonymous said...

Regarding no permission regarding to interview internally in Microsoft - IMO the more painful blockade some candidates face is HR level rules. Why should a level 60 SDET interview only for a level 60 position or lower in another org? Why cant he interview for level 61? It is truly possible that some orgs are so slow in growth compared to others.

Anonymous said...

This is not your granddaddy's Vista. RC1 will rock your pants off. Kudos to the Windows team.....

Here, here! RC1 has come a long way from Beta 2, and I can't wait to install it on my main machine at work next month!! (Office 2007 ain't too bad either...)

And yes, take back the towel service, safeway.com, dry cleaning, and anything else only 1% of employees use, in exchange for the old ESPP program. Better ESPP == better pay package for employees == increased morale.

For the company meeting, last year's was way too long and too full of old information. As Mini said, PLEASE present us with stuff we HAVEN'T seen yet, like Zune, new Xbox games, and other upcoming products which haven't already been demo'ed to death. And SteveB, I look forward to you screaming until you lose your voice, running up and down the aisles, and jumping up and down like a monkey. It's the best part of the show! :-)

Anonymous said...

So approx average pay raise % in the one of the big server orgs this time is 4% (including review %). The approximate bonus % is 10% unchanged from last year.

Just for reference:

The U.S. Department of Labor statistics for the last year (from July 2005) puts the CPI (Consumer Price Index) at 4.1%. Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries will receive a 4.1% COLA for 2006. Compare to http://esj.com/enterprise/article.aspx?EditorialsID=2052.

Anonymous said...

"but it was always engaging and exciting to be following the progress of the investment of your own money"

Well, at least when your own money has a near guaranteed 15% return before you start - right? I can understand why that would be attractive, I'm just wondering on what basis the company would grant it and sell it to investors who haven't seen a 15% return on their investment in 3 years? I realize that that's the way it used to be, but then the company used to be able to grow income in line with revenue and the stock used to perform. And of course there are those no-risk grants now which, among other things, were meant to make up for some of the previous perks. Net net, for employees who are bullish on MSFT and want to participate in the upside with their own money (a very commendable idea by the way), here's a thought: buy shares or call options and make or lose money just like regular shareholders. Who knows, it might even give you a new perspective on what a great job your executive are doing - or not as it turns out.

Anonymous said...

What's all this fixation about pay raise % and bonus % on this blog? Who are these people?

Anyway I installed an RC Build of Vista (actually the EDW build that will go to hardcore Beta testers) and Yes, like the earlier poster said, it kicks ass. I absolutely love it.

But I am not surprised though. I have been around long enough to know that it is right about now that new OS's get into shape.

Before someone tells me that a driver for this is missing or that their bank website has misaligned icons in IE7, Vista has not RTM'd yet. But it is very close. No wonder some teams are done with Vista and have moved on to their next projects

Anonymous said...

OK, so you asked in a previous post what the 10K new softies are doing at Microsoft? Well, I'll tell you. They're STEALING OUR MONEY!!!! Yes, that's right. Our aggressive hiring practices have sufficiently depleted the payroll coffers. So THAT is why we aren't getting competitive raises or bonuses. We're paying hundreds of people to basically produce one slide deck every couple weeks on the pretend initiatives we're working on and we wonder why the company is filled with malaise?

Let me ask those of you who have openings in your groups. If your manager came to your group and said, "we can either hire someone new for the group, or all of you can light a fire under your asses and suck up the extra work and we'll divide that extra payroll evenly between you" I can guarantee that I'd kick it even into higher gear.

And what's keeping management from doing that? Well, it's these raft of newbies from outside infecting our leadership. Turner, Liddell, et al who have no vested interest in software and don't care about people. Turner would rather have illegals working for peanuts and sleeping in their offices like his Walmart cronies. Liddell just have to prove cost savings for a few years. So meanwhile, we all get antagonized with malaise and lower pay.

I say we revolt...let's all go form the company we know MSFT can be and do it right. I say the t-shirts at the company meeting should read "Innovate not Imitate" (front) and "Where DID you want to go today" (back)

Microsophist said...

ESPP? Really??

The program dilutes the stock, and with our flatlined stock you walk away with a few peanuts in your pocket at best.

Worse, if the stock tanks, you lose money *and* you pay taxes on the 15% discount.

ESPP is for winning companies, not Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

I was a company meeting fan till year, until last year, until I couldnt stand ballmer dancing around lying through his teeth. I guess the kool aid wore off, I am ashamed to say.

This year I think I am going to leave my door open and get some work done, thankfully no meetings!

Anonymous said...

I am thinking it will soon be time to roll out the "taboo--how did you do?" post and commentary. It would be nice if this was its own post versus mixed in as it was last year.

I am thinking of the following metrics.

Level:
Position Name: [as general as possible]
Org: (PG, Ops, SG)
Months in Position:
Years at MS:
Last Promo Date:
Rating: Exceeds, Meets, Fails
Merit %:
Promotion %: (if applicable)
Bonus %:
Stock Count:
Assessment: []Better than Expected, []As Expected, []Worse than Expected

What other information could we agree to post that would keep the discussion generic, but allow for the transparency we're all seeking?

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 9:37...

I'm TOTALLY up for sharing that data after the 9/15 f--king we're all getting. You can count me in. Nothing there violates confidentiality if you disclose your own personal data.

Anonymous said...

Position Name: [as general as possible]PM
Org: (PG, Ops, SG) PG
Months in Position: 2 years
Years at MS:2
Last Promo Date:n/a
Rating: Exceeds, Meets, Fails Meets
Merit %:2
Promotion %: (if applicable)0
Bonus %:10
Stock Count:250
Assessment: []Better than Expected, []As Expected, []Worse than Expected As Expected

Anonymous said...

I hope a comment about reviews doesn't spoil anybody's vacation (though why folks reading a blog about a workplace while on vacation is beyond me.)

Supposedly the ratings curve got abolished, but I've now heard of 2 vp's in different divisions who insisted on a minimum % quota of Underperform ratings. If you thought arbitrary 3.0's were bad, just try 2.5's on for size!

With just two samples it's still just a rumor...so let's hear from some other managers of groups with 50 or more folks who could confirm or deny this GE-ism.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the last post (about sharing level, bonus, promotion etc) makes a lot of sense. It would be really nice if everyone shared this info on this blog. I know I will.

Speaking of reviews, our review scores are coming out next week.

In other interesting news, there is a hiring freeze (unofficial) going on throughout the company. I guess all the teams are waiting for the big Windows reorg happening in the first week of Sept.

- Totally agree with Mini on both the points (ESPP and internal transfers). There was a survey on the career website (with regards to internal transfers) sometime back but I dont know what came out of it.

- Company Meeting. I feel the same way about this as the person who said that he had had enough of Ballmer's Monkey Dance (and not to mention the freezing cold winds and cold crappy food). This time around I am thinking of taking a raincheck.

Anonymous said...

How many people have an ESPP strategy of buy-and-hold? I don't hold any MSFT stock. I’ve maxed out my ESPP, but I sell as soon as it vests. I wouldn't buy MSFT if it weren't for the ESSP discount and once I get it, I'd rather pay short-term gains tax and turn around and invest it into something that will make money. I’m not an investor and I haven’t retired so my theory may not hold water, but I can’t see any compelling reason to hold MSFT stock.

So, not including your grants/options or MSFT stock held by mutual funds, how many people are holding MSFT shares for the long haul?

Anonymous said...

Well, I will start. I am not bitter - it was not as I expected but I got into a new role/P&L in Q3 and even though I did have an excellent review from my previous manager I did expect the "you were too new". I was told I was the highest of the achieved by my manager and that the numbers show that - well let's see

Level: 63 (IC)
Position Name:
Org: PG
Months in Position: 6
Years at MS: 5
Last Promo Date: 2 years ago
Rating: Meets
Merit %: 5
Promotion %: N/A
Bonus %: 8
Stock Count: 154% /1100
Assessment: As Expected - for the review, Was hoping to get exceeded

Anonymous said...

Bonus and Stock ranges for levels 59 to 64 are now avaialable on Http://HRWEB.

Very cool that they are making these officially available and being transparent. Thanks Lisa.

Now lets see how we do with the grants vs. the maximum.

Anonymous said...

I work in IT (Stuart Scott's org)and the review is in my opinion a total scam/sham - whatever you call it.

My org has been through more reorgs in one year than the last 6 years and we have had so many ex-leaders (remember George McKinnon?) and so much attrition it is unbelievable. Almost 30% of IT is a new hire to MS!

Now about the review - our reviews were done without even our final reviews being reviewed (get it?). In other words, we were told, our GM and his business manager decided to do the reviews for all the employees along with his directs in a resort 8000 miles from Redmond in early August..

According to an insider - the criteria for getting Exceeded was - does the GM know you. (period). The criteria for promotions was is the person going to be in trouble if he/she wasn't promoted (like a level 60/61 in the same place for 3+ years).

Fudget the reviews..

Anonymous said...

Not really looking forward for the company meeting but review for sure. I think given our reputation of doing merit around inflation rate and avg 10% bonus - quite sure about merit and bonus. However the big difference this time is really STOCK AWARDS. Let's hope it is really TRIPLEd as shown in those nice MyMicrosoft campaign.

Anonymous said...

Got my results today (exceeds), I'll post the numbers in a few days when more people start getting theirs since I don't want to be conspicuous.

But I'll just say, Brummel: you win, I'm sold. And hell, if I'd known you were going to be so nice to me this year I'd have let you keep the towels too.

Alot better than expected.

Anonymous said...

"Finally...a new post. Now I can stop checking this every 2 hours. Thank you!!!!"

Them new-fangled tools IE7 and Outlook12 both have rss support. Might want to try it :)

"I understand moderation is a necesary evil in some cases, but it really kills the discussion. "

+1

tin294 said...

I think it's all they should look forward with. After all its the only basis on how their market runs day by day.

Anonymous said...

This review cycle was better than last few years at MSFT. Lisa is off to a good start: kudos!

We just need to fix the antiquated, unethical, illogical mess with grade-levels HR has. HR refuses to look at the person and admit they made a mistake (Stubborn people – being nice) and give the person the proper grade level, even though senior management has signed off on it and validates my exp/performance against my peers.

Many people join MSFT to get in the door and then find out that once you are in HR never looks at your exp and performance and will not fix grade level issues. I have been successfully doing jobs below my peers. My current one is 3 levels (now two after review) beneath my peers and HR will not fix it. It is not a money issue for me (even though making the base level of the grade of my pees would be nice) as much as a career and ethical issue. I joined MSFT 4+ years ago to make it a career and need the leveling stuff fixed or it will haunt me another 4 years.

Great Review - have an AWESOME management team that fights for their people and truly looks after us. Sorry, I do not mean to sound bragging, but just wanted to give kudos where deserved to the MSFT management that does look after its people.

Position Name: [as general as possible] can’t say
Org: (PG, Ops, SG) Services
Months in Position:
Years at MS: 4+
Last Promo Date: 2005 – my management is trying to fix leveling issue and has to do it yearly instead up front due to HR’s lack of ability
Rating: Exceed
Merit %: 6
Promotion %: 4%
Bonus %: 25%
Stock Count: 1500
Assessment: I worked hard, hit numbers, community action, customer feedback and management showed their appreciation: Exceeded on Commitments and Outstanding on future

Anonymous said...

E-mail management - "tribal wisdom" - oh, please! What a crock! Who will ever get back to the mountains of useless crap piled in nameless psts? Or who would want to?

Are you just complaining about it because it's a change? Lately, it seems that any change is attacked just because it is, and not because the type of change merits a complaint. The mini-anti-msft? Getting a bit tired of it, as it is beginning to get too biased on resurrecting entitlement thinking.

At least with the new e-mail management system works, the way e-mail junk - the stuff that clogs my Outlook arteries - rolls off. I never look back - who has time? And there are plenty of folders to keep mail forever if you want to. Not sure why you would, but you can. So let's talk about the real issues, like incompetent managers, or the incompetent IT organization -not e-mail!

Anonymous said...

Bonus and Stock ranges for levels 59 to 64 are now avaialable on Http://HRWEB.
I saw the stock ranges, but where are the bonus ranges? Or do you mean the table that says 59-64: 0-20%?

Anonymous said...

"Regarding no permission regarding to interview internally in Microsoft - IMO the more painful blockade some candidates face is HR level rules."

Umm, no. HR doesn't impose level rules, hiring managers impose level rules that are often perception-based, not reality based.

Anonymous said...

can folks post their contribution rating too?

Anonymous said...

My teams don't have a minimum "underperformed". I'm new and thus not reviewed yet, but my boss says that no one in the org was required to give an underperformed, although groups did have an initial ratio of 70% "exceededs".. obviously this would have meant crappy exceeded rewards.

But no 3.0's/2.5's this year. I'm optimistic.

Anonymous said...

I have been successfully doing jobs below my peers. My current one is 3 levels (now two after review) beneath my peers and HR will not fix it.

First, quit bitching. Many of us came into MS taking heavy pay cuts from our previous jobs despite long resumes and industry experience. It is a choice we made however bitter the pill.

Second, re-read your statement above. You are levelled correctly according to the jobs you are performing. That the jobs are below what your 'percieved' peers are doing is a different kettle of fish.

Third, if you are complaining about your case, what do you want folks who are doing jobs several levels above their grade to do? Many people are in that boat.

Fourth, you new kids in town don't know how good you got it. Getting competitive salaries wasn't that easy 10, 9, 8, 7 years ago. That's why with your low levels you are making more money than people in your team who came in 5 years before you did. Sometimes even more money than your immediate managers.

Fifth, and this goes to you and everyone perpertrating this immature act of posting your review numbers here. STOP already. What are we supposed to make out of the numbers without knowing the context (Division, Group, Team, Budget, Projects, etc)? Are we that (pardon me Mini) stupid? Can't we enjoy the improved rewards quietly?

Anonymous said...

I said it last year and I'll say it again: a good number of the folks who got 3.0s deserved them. Yes, there are the cases where people got thrown into the bucket by the curve, but there was a reason they got picked over someone else. I know I deserved my 3.0 last year, and not only did it lead me to better performance this year, it got me to get out of a group where I was no longer a "good fit" with my manager's philosophy. I won't detail my numbers, but I was a LOT happier this year than last.

Anyhow, an overly relaxed curve is going to be a ticket to mediocrity. Managers MUST give the right messages to people, must continue to tell folks on the bubble where they can improve, and get rid of (fire, not turf) the chronic underperformers. If you're around one, you know it. And he probably knows it too. And if a manager won't work to fire them, he's not worthy of his job.

I found out last week that two of the dumbest contractors I've ever worked with are full-time now. One is not just dumb, but lazy, slimy, and dishonest. And they got HIRES on an interview loop, which means there's a cadre of dumb people interviewing them.

That was more demoralizing last than my 3.0 last year. I turned it up this year; these folks never will.

Anonymous said...

I understand moderation is a necesary evil in some cases, but it really kills the discussion.

I like the kinder gentler mini microsoft site. I'm glad there is some moderation. Not only does it make the conversation more upbeat and constructive but it reflects well on mini (who is more than just some unctious troublemaker) Change was required and this blog was a good medium to that. Things are looking up; there is less and less stuff to rant about everyday.

Anonymous said...

"My teams don't have a minimum "underperformed". I'm new and thus not reviewed yet, but my boss says that no one in the org was required to give an underperformed..."

maybe they didnt cover this in NEO: when your manager tells you that there is no curve, he is either joking or just plain cruel.

too much kool-aid for you, young jedi. moderation moderation moederation...

Anonymous said...

Level: 68
Position Name: cant say
Org: PG cant say
Months in Position: 3 year
Years at MS: 3
Last Promo Date: n/a
Rating: Meets
Merit %: 6
Promotion %: N/A
Bonus %: 120%
Stock Count: 30,000

Anonymous said...

Bonus percentage, stock percentage, blah blah blah. It looks like a simple X.Y number has been replaced by a convoluted system of percentages.

You want the real reason Microsoft is deathly slow? Its the bloated policies and procedures. You can lay off all the people you want, but it won't make the machine run any smoother.

Anonymous said...

Re: e-mail retention:

I think the whole thing is rather ridiculous. I have a folder structure set up, I like the way it is set up, and I don't want to mess with it. IT says that the folder structure cannot hang off my inbox. So now the folder structure hangs off of "Business Operations and General", or whatever it's called. Congratulations, IT, you were successful in renaming my mail folder from "Inbox" to Business Blah. Combined with the deleted-three-years-after-being-moved-here rule, I see a tri-annual dance of "bulk move everything out of my inbox and back in" in my still fairly distant future.

That said, the idea does have merit, but what I REALLY would like to do is specify an "automatically delete everything in this folder x days after it was read" rule, possibly with exceptions for flagged/categorized mail. For instance, I have various automation folders that receive test run results, build announcements, and various such things. There really is no use to me whatsoever in keeping any of that longer than a week, whereas some project related mail should be kept on the order of months, and some discussion list mail may still end up being useful years down the line. Oh well, maybe we'll get improvements to make this feature more useful next version.

Anonymous said...

Anyhow, an overly relaxed curve is going to be a ticket to mediocrity. ... I found out last week that two of the dumbest contractors I've ever worked with are full-time now.

The strict curve might be the reason these idiots were hired in the first place. If you churn idiots, you don't have to fire any of your good employees. Removing the curve might lead to less overhead/politics/stress and higher quality products. I wonder, how many of Microsoft's dumba** "initiatives" are started because somebody wanted a 4.0...?

Anonymous said...

Achieved means your performence is more than Avg(old scale: 3.5+),or it is typical 3.0?

Anonymous said...

I recently pulled the ripcord and am starting a new role outside MS. I left right after the FY end. I had a very strong management team and expect would have received an appropriate score. To be blunt, I left for more money and responsibility in a smaller company where my contriutions are already being recognized.

I had 5 managers in five years. Two were excellent, one was OK, the other two were appalingly bad. This was not just my opinion but was the opinion of the majority of the folks I worked with in each case.

I think the problem was (and will continue to be) the inconsistent and often poor quality management that plagues MS rather than the system. The old system worked when it was applied fairly by good management teams and was just a blunt hatchet when exercised by incompetent or self-serving management. I don't see the new system as any different.

Review scores and rewards should reflect your actual performance and your demonstrated potential. In my experience, two times out of five (when I had good managers), mine did.

Is that par for the course? Are 60% of the managers at MS mediocre or worse at being managers? Have other folks had the same
experiences?

Anonymous said...

there is a hiring freeze (unofficial) going on throughout the company

in corp maybe this is the case - in the field it's definitely not. I know 4 subs that have tons of open headcount and more plans to increase this aggressively next year.

"the company" ain't just located in Redmond you know...

Anonymous said...

The person who wrote they were a 68 (7 posts above) is lying. The numbers are way out of whack & the stock, specifically, is incorrect. If they were a really a l68 partner they would name another figure as well. People making up stuff again.

Anonymous said...

Repeat after me "visibility, visibility, visibility!"

Inflation is 4.1% and average US wage growth is 6.8%. If you got worse than 6.8% raise, you are not keeping pace with the crowd.

Anonymous said...

in corp maybe this is the case - in the field it's definitely not

My guess is you didn't see the projected WW headcount growth for field two years ago vs. actuals now. While it is not a freeze, it effectively close enough.

And a large open headcount is not a great bragging right anyway. Could that be a signal the market of potential new hires is drying up and again, an effecive freeze will or already is happening.

Anonymous said...

Is that par for the course? Are 60% of the managers at MS mediocre or worse at being managers? Have other folks had the same
experiences?


My experience is on par with yours. Eight managers in eight years. Some knew they were weak and got out of the way. Others didn't and it was a struggle then and continues to be a struggle for those reporting to them now, since Microsoft never seems to get rid of bad managers when all of the feedback and signals are there.

I think the problem is the management culture at Microsoft. It is manage up, not down. I have worked in a number of different companies before Microsoft, of different sizes, types, markets. I have never seen as much of the management ranks managing up as I do here at Microsoft. Wouldn't it be great if every VP told every partner, "I don't want to see you for 2 months... but I will be seeing your direct's direct's directs during that time to see how things are going."

Anonymous said...

Its the bloated policies and procedures.

Can't speak for everyone, but over here in Services and IT, we'd kill for any policies or procedures. It is the lack of any business discipline that is killing our particular organization. Without structure, our tools don't integrate, our reporting is almost non-existent, and the level of consistency, while slowly improving, is a joke.

finance girl said...

Not mine but spouse's:

Position Name:PM
Org: PG (Windows)
Months in Position: 1 year w/current group
Years at MS:10
Last Promo Date: 2 years ago
Rating: 3.5 oops I mean Acheived and Strong
Merit %:4
Promotion %: (if applicable)0
Bonus %:10
Stock Count:450
Assessment: 3.5 oops I meant Achieved and Strong

4%? 4% allows us to pay the increase in gas, increase in taxes, and increase in utilities. Wait. It actually DOESN'T.


Hey MSFT! Ya'll aren't all that anymore as an employer! If you want to keep your key people you need to PAY them. You know, little rectangle pieces of paper with dead guys pics on them? No, towels do not constitute a fair substitute.

MSEurope1 said...

I was pleased for the commentators how said they got 1100 and 1500 options (even if I was slightly 'envious').
However when I got to
"Level: 68, Stock Count: 30,000"
I nearly fell off the chair; it being exactly 200 times what I received (level 60, Europe).
But I guess its the going rate for the 'few' high flyers. Trouble is it sounds like there are far more than a few, and I can't really see what they do (or what their special potential is) that justifies it.
And before someone else points it out, yes there probably are at least 200x more level 60's than there are level 68's
In fact that would be an interesting chart, numbers of people at each level and average (or range) of salaries, bonuses and options
to see if it was linear or exponentially rising
(somehow don't think it would be exponentially tailing off)

Anonymous said...

actually, expo.live is cool...but it sure killed micronewsads.com...

Anonymous said...

RE: SPSA payout

The meeting was today and it was shocking.

Stunning.

It only resulted in a round of applause, not a standing O...

101% of target

From now on, SPSAs are going to be annual events. Too bad I'm not sticking around for the next one - too much dependence on MSN to hit the target (the "Online Usage" metric).

And Steve reiterated: if you are a partner, you are making at least $500K per year in just salary+stock+bonus. No one seemed to care that the stock has not moved at all since they rolled out the program 3 years ago.

He still thinks (and said as much) that "we have the best compensation of any US company". Funny how my poll numbers show the sentiment hasn't flowed all the way down to the folks getting the 4% raises and 10% bonuses after working for 5 years on a product that will make us Billions.

For more fun, go look at the proxy statement from last year to see how much folks like Jim Alchin and Kevin Johnson are going to make from this. It will make your head spin.

Anonymous said...

Level: 64 (IC)
Position Name: Program Manager (TAP)
Org: SMS
Months in Position: 12
Years at MS: 6
Last Promo Date: 1.5 years ago
Rating: Exceeds
Merit %: 7
Promotion %: Selected for Leadership Development Program
Bonus %: 16
Stock Count: 2200
Assessment: Exceeded

Anonymous said...

Level: 64
Position Name: HR Manager
Org: n/a
Months in Position: 12
Years at MS: 3
Last Promo Date: 1 years ago
Rating: Exceeds
Merit %: 6
Promotion %: n/a
Bonus %: 13
Stock Count: 1800
Assessment: Strong+

Anonymous said...

The L68 poster above is most likely a troll.

To those who are curious, here is a sample of some real review scores of people in my division.

Level, Review Rating, Stock, Bonus, Merit (Title).

L68, Achieved, 7200, 30%, 5%

L67, Exceeded, 5100, 21%, 2%

L66, Achieved, 2800, 14%, 2% (Director of PM)

L65, Achieved, 2000, 18%, 4% (PUM)

L65, Achieved, 2000, 22%, 4% (In Marketing)

L65, Achieved, 2000, 13%, 3.5% (Group Manager)

L64, Exceedeed, 850, 11%, 4% (Operations)

L64, Achieved, 1275, 11%, 3.5% (Media Solutions Director)

L64, Achieved, 1275, 9%, 3% (Test Manager)

Promoted to L64, Achieved, 1000, 10%, 4% (Lead PM)

L64, Achieved, 1000, 10%, 3.5% (IC Dev)

L63, Achieved, 1000, 8%, 3% (Dev Lead)

L63, Achieved, 800, 10%, 3.5% (Lead PM)

L62, Achieved, 900, 10%, 3.5% (IC PM)

L61, Achieved, 350, 7.5%, 3.5% (SDET Lead)

Promoted to L60, Achieved, 200, 9%, 3.5% (IC SDET)

L59, Achieved, 150, 7%, 3.5% (IC Dev)

L58, Achieved, 100, 7%, 3.5% (Support Engineer)

L57, Achieved, 75, 6%, 3.5% (Project Manager)

L56, Achieved, 75, 0%, 9% (Services Coordinator)

L54, Achieved, 50, 0%, 3.5% (Admin)

(Pay hike for level increases are not given above.)

It all looks fair to me. If you believe you are not compensated fairly, start looking outside MSFT.

Anonymous said...

Level: 61 IC
Position Name: dev
Org: won't say
Months in Position: 2
Years at MS: 2
Last Promo Date: 1 year
Rating: Exceeds
Merit %: 5
Promotion %: 6
Bonus %: 26
Stock Count: 1800
Assessment: Exceeded ka-ching, welcome to 6-figure land

Anonymous said...

It is really sad to see Windows COSD leaders/directors to be of such a bad quality. They are too old and dont seem to be motivated. They know how to flatter the VP's and cloak project/org issues. I think an overhaul is overdue.

Anonymous said...

Inflation is 4.1% and average US wage growth is 6.8%. If you got worse than 6.8% raise, you are not keeping pace with the crowd.

Could you provide link to this data?

Anonymous said...

Level: 61-->62
Position Name: PM
Org: PG
Months in Position: 36
Years at MS: 3
Last Promo Date: this review (previous was last review)
Rating: Exceeds
Merit %: 5
Promotion %: 6
Bonus %: 12
Stock Count: 900
Assessment: Exceeded
Contribution: Outstanding

Anonymous said...

actually, expo.live is cool...but it sure killed micronewsads.com...

I've sold almost nothing internally since I've been putting stuff on expo.

Same items, same or lower prices. I was usually getting more emails about an item on the micronews than total page views on expo. And most of the views are in the single digits. I don't think enough internal folks have signed up for this.

The only good thing I have to say about expo is that at least I can block those idiots who try to offer me 25% of my posted asking price.

Anonymous said...

I heard personally from several managers that the stock "increase" is bogus. The Managers still have the same # of stocks to work with. The only Difference is that they now have the ability to give one person more than before. So in essence they have to rob Peter, to pay Paul, if they want to reward any individual who has performed well...

Oh; and they are required to give a set number of people "limited future potential" on their review...boy, that seems like a huge improvement over having to give someone a 3.0 ........NOT

Anonymous said...

"It all looks fair to me."

It all looks more than fair considered that the company managed to lose even more of its owners money this year (5%) than last (3%). I can't hardly wait for the SPSA numbers to see how much the *really* senior executives decided that brilliant performance was worth...

Anonymous said...

any comments on
http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ratcliffe/?p=170

Anonymous said...

so no one is getting stocks closer to maximum? is that number just a trap?

Anonymous said...

To those who are curious, here is a sample of some real review scores of people in my division.

--
As a partner, I can say that this post is a troll. The L67/L68 numbers are much lower.

Anonymous said...

Level: 61 IC
Bonus %: 26

KEEP DREAMING!!! KID

Anonymous said...

I love this first paragraph quote from the ZDnet article mentioned above: "I'm not sure what they are smoking at The Financial Times today, but it's produced a hallucinogenic $288 billion in unrealized value that Microsoft is failing to deliver to investors."

And this quote from a poster above:
"Oh; and they are required to give a set number of people "limited future potential" on their review"

The relative size of the wealth distribution pool does tend to get smaller the closer a company gets to a maturation level where their products, which once were new and unique are now commodities.

The days of thousands of MS Millionaires is probably over, but you should let the MS Kool-Aide seep out of your system to sober you up a bit. Chinese factory workers get 40 cents an hour to manufacture commodities for you to buy at Walmart. Software and computer hardware are beginning to show signs of the same fate. And the IC is a high tech factory worker in some ways.

Save your money, buy a piece of land somewhere, and hope you can hold on long enough to have something of value when you are in your 60's to allow you to retire with at least something. It could be worse. There are millions of white collar Americans who have indeed found out at that juncture that there is nothing there.

Anonymous said...

As a partner, I can say that this post is a troll. The L67/L68 numbers are much lower.

Wrong, not a troll. These are *actual* numbers this review cycle.

Other partners are welcome to comment on this.

Anonymous said...

>>As a partner, I can say that this post is a troll. The L67/L68 numbers are much lower.<<

I confirm the above statement independently. The stock numbers mentioned are too low.

Anonymous said...

Level: 61 IC
Position Name: dev
Org: won't say
Months in Position: 2 years
Years at MS: 6
Last Promo Date: 1 year
Rating: Exceeds
Merit %: 5
Bonus %: 16
Stock Count: 650
Contribution: Outstanding

Anonymous said...

>> L61... Exceeded ka-ching, welcome to 6-figure land

Either you're lying, or I'm underpaid by about $15K as a L61 Dev in Office.

Anonymous said...

Level: 66
Position Name: IC in an engineering discipline
Years at MS: 11
Rating: Exceeds
Merit %: 5
Bonus %: 25
Stock Count: 3500
Assessment: Exceeded
Contribution: Outstanding

I'm busting my butt trying to work my way toward partner, but it's freakin' hard as an IC.

Anonymous said...

>> the IC is a high tech factory worker in some ways

This, I'm sure is written by a PM, who's useless outside Microsoft (since PM is a Microsoft invention) and doesn't yet realize two things:

1. PMs can be outsourced just as well (see IDC)
2. Despite staggering populations in India and China, there don't seem to be that many good developers there. Most of the good ones prefer to live in the US, which they can.

Anonymous said...

Ready for my response to the new review system? yawn.

I had top scores on my review and the cash equivalent was boring. Nothing exciting, no great change.

I prefer the old system. I'd rather be in the 4.5 range than just Exceeds.

Anonymous said...

"The relative size of the wealth distribution pool does tend to get smaller the closer a company gets to a maturation level where their products, which once were new and unique are now commodities."

Windows and Office were "new and unique" ages ago and yet...they are not commodities now...at least not in the truest sense. What's missing is competition. Then, and only then, will people stop buying.

However, Microsoft has found a new competitor: Itself! How many home users are not going to buy featureless Vista because XP works just fine?

This would make for a great marketing case study in some "B" school: Multi-billion dollar company pulls all stops to insure its latest product...fails!

Here's another: My wife gets on my computer 3 days ago to create a simple training plan for her local chamber of commerce. I have Word 2007 beta loaded up (which, incidentally, blew away all of my Word 2003!)

I am dressing for work and I hear a scream and some expletives -- basically, "WTF is this?" She is lost! Now, she's a bright gal and almost a power user but, she wants me to come in and help her. Guess what; I can't. I am lost.

Who designed this mess? Herein lies the problem: Nobody asked the customer. Militant ignorance, as one other poster put it! Aaarrrrggghhhh!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a partner, but the list of comp above is pretty close to other distributions I've seen. Certainly not a troll, the list is well within reality.

Anonymous said...

so no one is getting stocks closer to maximum? is that number just a trap?

I'd like to know more about this too.

I got an Exceeding/Outstanding rating, and my stock is 150% of the target. It's something like 1/5 or 1/6 of the maximum (if I remember correctly).

Anonymous said...

Chinese factory workers get 40 cents an hour to manufacture commodities for you to buy at Walmart. Software and computer hardware are beginning to show signs of the same fate. And the IC is a high tech factory worker in some ways.

Absolute rubbish. Software engineering, at the IC (pm, dev, test) level is an intellectual activity that is really, really hard to get right.

I've worked on projects with outsourced developers in India, and the results were a complete fiasco.

The problem we face in the software industry currently is that it is actually incredibly hard to find good pm, dev, and test hires. I've seen my fair share of MA's in computer science who don't come near the talent bar we need at Microsoft to build best of breed software. On the other hand I've seen devs who came straight from high school who are superstars.

The idea that IC positions in sofware engineering are equivalent to factory worker positions and that software engineers are interchangeable (like factory workers) is a long-standing myth. We really have the opposite problem happening: a shortage of the intellectual talent and creativity we need. Sure, we're going to need to do a better job tapping the talent pools in countries like China and India, but you're talking about finding diamonds in the rough. The average programmer spit out by the educational machine (US, Indian, whatever) is not anywhere near a Microsoft-caliber developer.

Anonymous said...

Level: 60
Position Name: dev
Org: IT
Months in Position: 3
Years at MS: 1.5
Last Promo Date: May, 06
Rating: Exceeds
Merit %: 7.5%
Bonus %: 15.53%
Stock Count: 200%/400

Anonymous said...

>> Either you're lying, or I'm
>> underpaid by about $15K as a
>> L61 Dev in Office.

No I'm not lying. And neither are you underpaid. I was *at* 61, and got promoted to 62. (My lvl 61 pay was ~90k.)

Keeperplanet said...

First, sorry for the TL-DR post here.

"This, I'm sure is written by a PM, who's useless outside Microsoft (since PM is a Microsoft invention)"

What a great compliment. Thank you so much, since I am not a softie nor am I a PM nor am I a Dev or Tester. I'm a customer. I love it when it is so clearly shown how the mind plays tricks on us. An old axiom: never assume anything--it makes an [ass] out of [u] and [me].

I noted a couple of other responses to my post about Windows commoditization here:

"What's missing is competition. Then, and only then, will people stop buying."

and here:

"Absolute rubbish. Software engineering, at the IC (pm, dev, test) level is an intellectual activity that is really, really hard to get right."

Bear in mind, this is the 21st Century, and my use of the term commodity was the only word I could find to explain what is going on. Of course an OS is not a box of staples, and of course its hard to do, but there is a basic functionality now that can be boxed, packaged, downloaded, split up, or embedded that is looking to the private equity investors more and more like a commodity.

OK, softies, don't get all bent out of shape, I'm going to mention the 'L' word. Just out of curiosity, I did a search here: http://www.linux.org/dist/list.html of all languages, all categories, all platforms of Linux distros. I ended up with 380 hits. Add to that the number of versions Microsoft has out below Vista, plus OSX and Leopard, then add to that the new category of web based computing, thin clients etc., then add to that all the appliance products (cell phones, PDAs, etc.) that use parts of operating systems, embedded, or otherwise that perform the same basic functions, i.e., platform for apps, reading, writing and arithmetic, and you will begin to see my point.

Microsoft can float along for years on its monopoly market, and in truth could shut everything down except the Windows division and actually make more money and have better stock value for a very long time. As people to not like change that much, the simple truth is as people begin to wake up to what is more and more available other than Microsoft to do the same thing, the commodity aspects set in.

Personally, I think at some point, Microsoft will go private, end its endless and self-bankrupting cycle of never ending unpaid patches and fixes, end its 6 year new product cycle and move into the closed system model (Apple) because three things: investors, customers and governments will force such an action. To me, it is as invertible as gravity and directly linked. It is not a simple 1/0 or on/off function--its not linear. It is more like a trillion 1/0 points in a cloud, blowing in the wind, being defined by the gravitational masses around it. Not this year, not in the next two or three years, but certainly within ten years.

Anonymous said...

Level, Review Rating, Stock, Bonus, Merit (Title).

L68, Achieved, 7200, 30%, 5%

>
L59 makes on the average 75K. Each level is higher than the previous level by 10K give or take. L68 will make 165K base salary.

This person got 50K bonus and 36000 from the stock award/per year. Add to put the sum at 255,000.

This is not a partner salary. This proves that this post is a troll put up by a partner.

Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to my layoff package. Lots of us are....IC, in PM, 8+ years. I won't be around for the meeting or the espp stuff.

Anonymous said...

re: microsoft outsourcing

the reason you had such a bad experience with outsourced projects at microsoft is that microsoft has a very unstrategic approach to outsourcing - mostly because we are so arrogant about NIH syndrome.

Doing outsourcing properly is a 1-2 investment in developing the right processes, training the outsourcers in your tools etc. The payoff? Fully loaded cost for a good dev in China is $30K for the top companies (with the best talent) versus >$200K at microsoft.

Smart ISV's are making long term investments (goog is hiring 5K in China), Microsoft is outsourcing on low-level manual test right now. We have weak partners and we pay them to do basically the lowest value add stuff. All of the decisions are made by low level PM.

As far as the comment that the average MS dev is way superior to the average dev in india/china...wake up, dude. The average MS dev now is that same guy in Redmond at a much higher basis. Sure, Microsoft has some rock stars that are the tops. But the average microsoft developer is, well, pretty average.

you can thank our government and the silly H1B laws for this wonderful dynamic. Cheaper labor here or there?

If you are in redmond with your head in the sand about how great you are - look at a few things:
1. our product cycles
2. our cost structure
3. 1M developers in China + 1M more in the university pipeline alone

Anonymous said...

Some tidbits on the topic of stock awards:

- As a manager of 'only' 15 employees, I dont get to set any stock - you need to have 25+ reports before you can see the numbers. Pretty frustrating since you're dependent on the people above you to do the right thing...

- Stock award budgets seem to have been created based on pre-review number of people in each level band. If some people get promoted out of one band into the next, guess what: there's more stock per person left over in the old band and less stock per person in the new band (apparently all stock must be given out). So in effect poorer performers in lower bands will be better rewarded compared to their higher performing peers. Lesson for managers - to be truly fair, dont promote anyone in August - do all the promotions mid-year.

- I had one employee - a true high performer - doing the job of 3 people. If anyone deserved max awards he did. But in the balancing, this got whittled down to 2/5 of max so this does seem to bear out the theory that no one is getting max.

On an unrelated note: our VP did push down a % of exceeded vs achieved creating some really hard-to-deliver messages for this review. Somedays I hate being a middle manager.

Anonymous said...

I am starting to get depressed reading the stream of comments. To the outside world I am afraid (I had a few friends read the comments before writing this) we are looking like spoilt brats who only care about compensation. I know it is that time of the year when we find out what our rewards are for the work we did all year. But before you post, please try to think about a shareholder who bought the shares of the company in early 2000 or 2001. We have not delivered anything - nada to these folks. And some of them are nowhere as young or well off as most MSFT employees.

Accountability is not just for our leaders. As rank and file employees we are also accountable for our own performances as well as the performance of the company. Based on the performance of our stock price, we have not done very well over the past 5-6 years. So accepting below average raises while we work to provide above average returns should be acceptable.

I know there are those who will argue that partners and execs are raking it in, I point to what Warren Buffett has said about the SEC's efforts to make exec pay transparent. It will actually drive the pay up as execs will get jealous of their peers making more than them and demand higher comp. He goes on to say that jealousy is one of the sins that he has the most trouble with as you feel better after a round of gluttony but feel horrible when you are jealous.

Transparency is for adults who know how to handly it. I am afraid that reading from these comments that transparency will not be a good thing for MSFT employees. Really sad.

Anonymous said...

re: Why didn't I receive (closer to) max stock grant sizes?

A previous poster already explained this. The available stock pool is too small to allow for max stock grants, unless you rob others of their deserved stock. For this to work, the over-sized award needs to be treated in an out-of-band manner and not come from the general pool. But it doesn't work that way this year.

Anonymous said...

>>>This is not a partner salary. This proves that this post is a troll put up by a partner.<<<

You do not really understand simple calculation. I hope you are not a micrsoftee.

Let me do the right calculation for you.

Salary $165K.
Bonus $50 K.
Stock = 7200 * 25 = $180 K

Total is about $400K.

You mistakenly divided 7200 by five to calculate per year compensation as if the partner would not get another set of stock the next year or if the partner did not get a bunch of stock the last year.

Anonymous said...

If there was ever a justification for MiniMsft, here it is: Microsoft has a Senior Design Anthropologist. WTH?! And she says taking a teenage daughter's cell phone away as punishment is the same as child abuse. Someone fire this whackjob, quick, before she causes pain again.

http://bink.nu/Article8176.bink

Anonymous said...

Here is a view from outside MSFT. I left a few years back and here we are (translating levels to MS levels):

Level: 64
Position Name: Dev Manager
Org: elsewhere
Months in Position: 24
Years at other company: 3 1/2
Last Promo Date: 16 months ago
Rating: Exceeds
Merit %: 13
Promotion %: n/a
Bonus %: 4
Stock Count (translated to MSFT stock price): 3900
Assessment: there is a life outside MSFT

Anonymous said...

please try to think about a shareholder who bought the shares of the company in early 2000 or 2001

--

I really don't care about the shareholders. Their goals and mine are no longer aligned. My goal is to get promoted, increase my pay and get as many stock awards as possible (I dump these as soon as they vest).

Anonymous said...

"the company" ain't just located in Redmond you know...

- but it pays subsidiary employees lower rates, and caps levels more aggressively. US employees transferred to subsidiaries get paid much more than local people doing equivalent work.

Anonymous said...

I am starting to get depressed reading the stream of comments...
---

Hi Steve! Hey, got a question for you. What's it like to live in an ivory tower?

Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to my layoff package

In the spirit of this thread - could you describe how your package is structured and how you got it?

Anonymous said...

REVIEWS is listed as one of mini's top worry?! Why do you guys put up with this abuse. My only concerns is meeting our deadline and shipping a high quality beta demo of our product. Then taking a week off to de-stress.

Where I work review are not on the radar becuase its small enought that we don't need that kind of wasteful beauaracy (sp?). All of our contribution shows up in our products.

It's really a shame that you folks still work that way. That's why I left Microsoft so I focus on other more important concerns rather than the mandacity of the process known as "reviews"

Anonymous said...

As a manager of 'only' 15 employees, I dont get to set any stock

Thanks for this info! Now I am curious as to what the managers actually have control over? Let me guess.

1. Rating: yes. I am 100% sure that rating is given solely by the managers.

2. Promotions: yes (?). Can one get promoted without the manager recommending it? I was told by someone that when you reach the end of the salary rage for your level (and if your review scores are decent i.e. 3.5 or above) then HR automatically promotes you. Is this true?

3. Stock awards: no (unless you have 25 or more reports according to the above post). Is this correct? If so then decides the number of awards - the first manager up the chain who has 25 reports or HR?

4. The rating (or potential or whatever it is called) for stock awards: yes (?) Does this come from the manager? I am guessing yes but I am not sure.

5. Pay raise (merit increase): no (?) Who decides the pay raise?

6. Bonus: no (?) Who decides the bonus?

Thanks in advance for your answers!

Anonymous said...

L59 makes on the average 75K. Each level is higher than the previous level by 10K give or take. L68 will make 165K base salary.


L68 makes closer to 180K base pay.

Are *ALL* L68s partners? I don't believe so.

Anonymous said...

It's really a shame that you folks still work that way. That's why I left Microsoft so I focus on other more important concerns rather than the mandacity of the process known as "reviews"

Let's review the history:

A. top talent employees (at all levels) lose all patience with sub-standard rewards over the last 5 - 6 years, and begin to reject the refrain of "next year things will be better."

B. in response, HR and upper management overhaul the review system such that, in theory, top talent employees will see rewards better aligned to the great work they're doing

C. review time comes around and results start trickling in

Seems 100% justified to me that employees are comparing notes and trying to find out if things are actually better this time around.

Many, many of us here at Microsoft have lived the philosophy of "I'm just going to focus on building great software and I presume the rewards will come..." for a long time only to find out that the presumption was false. We accepted relatively low base bay (relative to the industry) because the stock-based component of the rewards was supposed to make up for the lower base pay (see Microsoft's compensation philosophy stuff internally).

Well guess what, the stock-based component has done nothing, which means many of us are watching a huge portion of our total compensation expire in worthless options.

As for the "hey, pity the shareholders..." comment. Give me a break. We're all shareholders. You think the big institutional investors who own most of Microsoft's stock are going to base their decision to buy or sell MSFT on comments on this blog? Come on.

Anonymous said...

shame on those who post your numbers here. What's the purpose?

Anonymous said...

Salary $165K.
Bonus $50 K.
Stock = 7200 * 25 = $180 K

Total is about $400K.

You mistakenly divided 7200 by five to calculate per year compensation as if the partner would not get another set of stock the next year or if the partner did not get a bunch of stock the last year
>>

Yo partner! does this person has guaranteed employment for the next five years to vest this. Your math shows

MSFT lowest cost

165*5 + 180 = 1005K

MSFT highest cost

2000K

No wonder managers like you are causing problems

Anonymous said...

"I am starting to get depressed reading the stream of comments. To the outside world I am afraid (I had a few friends read the comments before writing this) we are looking like spoilt brats who only care about compensation. I know it is that time of the year when we find out what our rewards are for the work we did all year. But before you post, please try to think about a shareholder who bought the shares of the company in early 2000 or 2001. We have not delivered anything - nada to these folks. And some of them are nowhere as young or well off as most MSFT employees."

Kudos for making this point - and you could push the dates back to 1998.

"I really don't care about the shareholders. Their goals and mine are no longer aligned. My goal is to get promoted, increase my pay and get as many stock awards as possible (I dump these as soon as they vest)."

Then time for you go - don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Anonymous said...

>>>>No wonder managers like you are causing problems<<<<

Let me try again. The package this partner has got is tied to his current performance. He will get 7200 stocks no matter what his future performance is as long as he could keep his job.

Losing the job is a risk. Let us say it is not more than 10%. So you may cut 5% from his 7200 stocks (why 5% because when he loses his job on an average his 3600 stocks would have vested).

But in rounding I anyway assumed 5% less stock price.

Think it this way. If this partner keep repeating this performance year after year and therefore keep getting the same package (ignore inflation, promotion etc), then his average annual pay out is about $400K.

I hope that's enough tutorial for you. If not then you need some high schooling. I again hope you are not at Microsoft (but may be at Google!)

Paulsc said...

I, for one, am quite satisfied that my McBonus was fairly awarded and while the StockMcNuggets aren't very filling at least I can look forward to a steady stream of them for the next five years or so.

But, I could have used a little more Merit sauce and next time, hold the mayo.

Anonymous said...

L64, Achieved. Only 600 shares but a lot of bullshit.

My manager put a spin on this big time and I really don't care. I've been here 8 years and am leaving Microsoft shortly. I used to manage a team and am now an individual contributor for 2 years for lifestyle reasons.

Personally, I am just weary of Microsoft and Ballmer. I'm a field guy and am spending more and more time on internal crap than interfacing with customers.

Anonymous said...

the company" ain't just located in Redmond you know...

- but it pays subsidiary employees lower rates, and caps levels more aggressively. US employees transferred to subsidiaries get paid much more than local people doing equivalent work.

BALONEY ! I've worked in a product group, been part of corp and am now in the field. I make MUCH lesser in the field since I work outside the US. We take a grade level drop too (unless you've kissed someone's xxx). But it sure beats being at corp. I'm sure there are people in some subsidiaries that make more, but in general, the overseas subs make lesser. And we don't even get towels in the bathrooms :-)

Anonymous said...

Then time for you go - don't let the door hit you on the way out.


Employees asking for "fair" compensation has nothing to do with shareholders. Shareholders would like it if everyone worked for free. Shareholders are not being forced to hold MSFT stock at gun point.

On the other hand, employees who believe they are not compensated fairly, test the market for yourselves and see where you stand.
MSFT is no Gulag, except for those without a green card.

Anonymous said...

I know there are those who will argue that partners and execs are raking it in, I point to what Warren Buffett has said about the SEC's efforts to make exec pay transparent. It will actually drive the pay up as execs will get jealous of their peers making more than them and demand higher comp. He goes on to say that jealousy is one of the sins that he has the most trouble with as you feel better after a round of gluttony but feel horrible when you are jealous.


So you would rather have the execs rake it in inspite of the stock's underperformance, have the rank and file work for less than market wages, and keep the exec pay a secret?

Good idea, Steve.

Anonymous said...

shame on those who post your numbers here. What's the purpose?

Why shame?? What's wrong with transparency? Especially as it's anonymous, which means that specific groups aren't singled out and people get a decent feeling for what's going on compensation-wise across the company.

I say more power to everyone who's posting their numbers. The only problem is knowing which are legitimate and which are bogus, but it's pretty easy to spot the bogus numbers.

I see no problem with doing this. It's certainly not a breach of confidentiality with Microsoft by any stretch. Sharing someone else's numbers would be wrong if they were tied to specific employees. That's not the case here at all.

So...why shame??

Anonymous said...

I hope that's enough tutorial for you. If not then you need some high schooling. I again hope you are not at Microsoft (but may be at Google!)
--
You are right, I am no longer at Microsoft. The partner guy is raking it in, has no risk to his job and probably isnt contributing more than the L64 person. So much for adding share holder value.

Baffled in Redmond said...

Review results: weird.
Achieved and ...limited. Lead went out of his way to say everything I did was just fine, but I guess either I have no visibility or I took one for the team.

Would you hire me? Or keep me around? Maybe not with those ratings. So here is the bottom line:
merit: 3.5%
bonus: 5%

Oh, and promotion, L59 --> L60; 4% promo bonus????!!!???

I'm glad to beat inflation, but it seems schizophrenic to do it like this.

Anonymous said...

OMG. 6 months is less then one product shipping cycle (18 months) at Microsoft.

I'm as customer sometimes have to digg old emails from Microsoft PMs to remind that they have promised something to do and still has not done this.

With 6 month policy thouse folks will get into complete denial. If you don't want to keep emails - make sure somebody who do (me) can support his claims that this is original email he has recieved i.e. add digital signature to all outgoing email (Yahoo DomainKeys anyone ?).

Anonymous said...

I am an L64 an am debating whether to take an internal L65 job or an external opportunity. The $ is much better outside - but I am curious as to whether there is any big bump at L65 and whether the company makes any more concerted effort in investing in you (leadership development etc.) What is the retention strategy L65-67 (non partner)?

Anonymous said...

Where are the Windows Org bashers these days? Are you seeing what the public is seeing in Vista?

Vista Review 1

Vista Review 2

Anonymous said...

>>>You are right, I am no longer at Microsoft. The partner guy is raking it in, has no risk to his job and probably isnt contributing more than the L64 person. So much for adding share holder value.<<<<<

Well I was just arguing the math as an incorrect implication was derived by somebody (if not you) in an earlier comment. There was no judgement in my math discussion about the righteousness about the partner's packet whether the job done is same as L64 or L74.

Good that you are not at Microsoft. People who do not think and can't even do basic arithmatic correctly are better be somewhere else. Do tell me that you are at Google, IBM, Apple or Sony to double my pleasure though!

Anonymous said...

What about changing managers every 6 months? This is a practice that didn't seem to change with the "new and improved" (tm) microsoft.

For the last few years I and most of my org had to go to this after every review cycle. My first manager (dev lead) after I joined my current group was promoted to dev manager. Second manager didn't want to be a lead anymore, third manager came from outside then moved on to manage a different team. Fourth manager is going to be replaced soon as we're about to go through another reorg.

So every 6 months I have to prove to somebody that I'm worthy of working for microsoft. Talking about a career...

Anonymous said...

WRT Indian/Chinese devs being just as good as (or better than) American devs, maybe, maybe not. You have to do better than provide PhD statistics. Why should I assume degree programs are comparable beteween countries? Besides, anybody who's been on dev interview loops can tell you that a post-grad degree doesn't mean much.

Here's a completely honest question, so don't take it as flame-bait: why are all the web services I use American? Is it a geographical thing? Are there popular foreign services that I'm not aware of? Are the Chinese and Indians not good online businessmen for some reason? How is it that these countries are full of super-geniuses, yet the only software they make that I know about is Baidu?

Anonymous said...

Redmond Income here.

Median Household income 2004 (sorry its old, guess 5% up in 2005?) here.

So if the average family lives on 50K or so, and the average Redmond family lives on 80K, even single earners getting 90K here are doing *better than average*. I know we aren't average people, but come on!

I'm a 59 and I'm making enough to put the max into my 401k, pay rent, car ins, etc, and pay off my fairly big student loans at 175% of the minimum, plus go out to dinner occasionally, and have quite a chunk left over. My recent business grad friend is getting 40K in California. A communications person I know, 4 years into entering her field, is only getting 35k, and her company is paying for a masters for her, and after that they are considering paying her 50k.

I know many of you are long time great performers, but earning 100K+ in a 50K country is NOT mediocre rewards for your work.

Can anyone point out a recent bell curve of income distribution? Microsoft can't be doing that badly.

One last link, its a little old again but pay is good!

I know people who have been working 10 years who don't even get this much when they work overtime.

So let's not bitch about pay and rewards, and why don't we focus on making Microsoft a better company, and making the products we create better. Because we're already getting paid to do just that.

-L59 SDET

Anonymous said...

Level: 63
Org: Field
Years at MS: 10
Last Promo Date: FY06
Commitment: Achieved
Merit %: 4
Promotion %: N/A
Bonus %: 28
Stock Count: in the 700s
Contribution: Strong
Assessment: Definitely worse than I expected. In fact, I would say that I did better last year, given that my actual numbers in FY06 were better than FY05, but the review numbers almost the same.

Anonymous said...

I am an L64 an am debating whether to take an internal L65 job or an external opportunity. The $ is much better outside

I can understand why you would ask the question, but it is a difficult one to answer. As you know by now the average raise initially is usually 4% promo for one level sometimes a mgr can swing an 8% but only if you are lucky enough to get a double level increase and/or have some money in that group. Level 65 is hard to get in many areas of MSFT so if you got offered one it is something you should think hard about.

I may get flamed for the next few comments and that is fine.

MSFT like a few tech companies has some intangibles that are hard to place a monetary value on: many positions offer you the freedom to work from home some or most of the time, many positions are not micro-managed and you are able to "run with it".

If you do not have a significant other or they do not work fulltime the 100% free medical saves money. I save $6k a year and we have no children.

Some 65 level positions, I am told are a dead-end, but many seem to lead to something. Whether that is a 66, more responsibility and experience to take with you elsewhere later, or more recognition that depends on the group.

On the topic of "training" it seemed you asked - everything at MSFT is take it and run. You really have to tell your manager you want "XYZ" or just say you are taking this class. I have found that many upper level positions and/or services do offer you the ability to learn more.

Good luck on the decision of money over lifestyle and a little more learning to take with you later. That is great you have an opportunity to get a 65.

Anonymous said...

got my numbers last week and it wasn't pretty. it seems starting some lousy projects on the side constantly is more important than shipping an actual feature. is it the case across the company or is it just my group? (windows)

Anonymous said...

>I am an L64 an am debating whether to take an internal L65 job or an external opportunity.

L64 to L65 jump is not huge. One goes from 15% to 30% bonus potential in most roles.

Standard pay range too, only expect potential to make $12,000 more in new level. This is director level, not partner but you are get three steps closer to the big game.

Think about other MS benefits too though like how many weeks you get in vacation, stock, and of course, the TOWELS!

Anonymous said...

>I am an L64 an am debating whether to take an internal L65 job or an external opportunity.

For L64 to L65, expect only a chance to get more bonus % in most roles and chance to make up to 12K more a year in salary.

Sure, you can get a few more stocks but not much more as this is director level (very respectable though to get there)

For me, I think about vacation + other benefits like relaxed environment with dress code, etc as perks. Pay is up there but if you are not happy in your job or employer, pay is not as important.

Anonymous said...

I crossed into 6 figure land too, this review! Not bad for a UE guy who thought he'd be asking people if they wanted fries with their order. :)

As for the whole Dev vs. Test vs. PM thing: from the UA perspective Dev and PM can both be insufferable, though occasionally useful. It's QA who knows how the software ACTUALLY works, and without them, the customer would never understand it.

Anonymous said...

Are the Chinese and Indians not good online businessmen for some reason? How is it that these countries are full of super-geniuses, yet the only software they make that I know about is Baidu?

Because building a product and marketing and selling it on the global market needs a lot of seed money (or initial investment). There isnt that kind of support and infrastructure to help new businesses in those countries (atleast in India). Thats why you can see a lot of successful Indian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley but not in India. Service sector on the other hand needs little intial investment and the returns are also faster.

Anonymous said...

So let's not bitch about pay and rewards, and why don't we focus on making Microsoft a better company, and making the products we create better.

The problem is you are not comparing apples to apples. Comparing the average salary in Microsoft to the average salary in Washington (as an example) isnt right. You should compare the average salary in Microsoft to the average salary in other software companies in Washington. Microsoft, out of its own admission, pays in the 66 percentile range...meaning there are 1/3 of the software companies out there pay more than Microsoft.

Most people complaining here are comparing the offers they have from other software companies to what they would get if they stayed on at Microsoft. That I think is a fair comparison...

Anonymous said...

>> Are you seeing what the public is seeing in Vista?

Come on now, Paul Thurrott is not "public". He'd praise a turd if it had "Microsoft" written on it.

Anonymous said...

I am an L64 an am debating whether to take an internal L65 job or an external opportunity

Pure Troll. Stop wasting people's time. Every job change in Microsoft is a lateral move. You can move into a job advertised as a L65 but you are still a L64 and will have to prove your mettle for a few years before being considered for a promo like any other position. There are no guarantees.

Anonymous said...

>> Are you seeing what the public is seeing in Vista?

Come on now, Paul Thurrott is not "public". He'd praise a turd if it had "Microsoft" written on it.


ABM, go google "Vista 5536 review" and tell me if you see any review that doesn't give the pre-RC1 build an A+.

Oh, I used the term "google" intentionally. I know about its orgasmic qualities to ABMs

Anonymous said...

Review results: weird.
Achieved and ...limited. Lead went out of his way to say everything I did was just fine, but I guess either I have no visibility or I took one for the team.

Would you hire me? Or keep me around? Maybe not with those ratings. So here is the bottom line:
merit: 3.5%
bonus: 5%

Oh, and promotion, L59 --> L60; 4% promo bonus????!!!???

I'm glad to beat inflation, but it seems schizophrenic to do it like this.


Dear Baffled,

I think you're in real trouble in that group. The promo to 60 combined with the limited
means they most likely think you'll never progress beyond that level. If you're a tester,
there may be hope in another group. If you're a dev, you're probably completely screwed.

I also don't understand why a manager would promote someone who was only doing "achieved" work. Shouldn't you have to be "exceeding" at your current level to get the bump?

Anonymous said...

Question to Anonymous@4:40:

Double level increase? I've never heard of this. Can you (or someone) please explain under what conditions someone might receive a double level increase?

Anonymous said...

Most people complaining here are comparing the offers they have from other software companies to what they would get if they stayed on at Microsoft. That I think is a fair comparison...

Sure, if your entire existence is focused solely on money. If the big bucks is that freaking important to you folks, don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

Anonymous said...

The problem is you are not comparing apples to apples. Comparing the average salary in Microsoft to the average salary in Washington (as an example) isnt right. You should compare the average salary in Microsoft to the average salary in other software companies in Washington. Microsoft, out of its own admission, pays in the 66 percentile range...meaning there are 1/3 of the software companies out there pay more than Microsoft.

Most people complaining here are comparing the offers they have from other software companies to what they would get if they stayed on at Microsoft. That I think is a fair comparison...


That is a good point that I wasn't mentioning on purpose. This is mainly because I think that sometimes we forget we're in one of the highest paying fields out there right now. 20 years from now developers are going to be paid more like engineers in hard sciences are being paid now, instead of like a hot item.

If unhappy-enough-to-uproot folks vote with their feet, Microsoft will have to pay higher than the 66th percentile to stay in business.

If you are not unhappy enough to uproot, don't worry. The best and brightest folks with no kids/house are voting for you. It won't happen fast, but it is happening. We've lost some really good people to g**gle. I know some folks who are here to get 5-7 years experience and then move to Apple/Independent Game Company/Their own Startup/Google, and then settle down.

My original point: We are a highly paid profession. It sounds really whiny to bitch getting paid what we are when others get so much less. We keep up with inflation for the most part and get good benefits. We don't have to budget. I ate at the Dahlia Lounge last weekend.

You still can hardly beat the newb pay as well. I'll tell you how I feel in 5 years ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Mini,

Has something changed on with site with the refresh settings? For the last 1 or 2 weeks I've had to force a clear-cache refresh to see the latest version of the site on all the pages.

jamie said...

hi mini

just in case you ever get around to a WGA thread...
(off topic again - sorry)

http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=230527#230527

:)

jamie said...

oops /edit: highlight part=

Validation:

"To mark with an indication of official sanction."

http://www.answers.com/validation&r=67

keyword - "mark" / Vista = win ver 6
:0

Anonymous said...

-L59 SDET who thinks he has more than enough money. I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing you don't have kids and you don't have a mortgage. Go get either of those and let us know how big your piggy bank is at the end of each month. Median home price crossed 500k a month or 2 ago. A "starter" home (whatever that means) on the east side is 400k. How the heck are we supposed to attract and retrain fresh talent when no one can afford to settle down here?

Don't get me wrong, many MSFT people have no fucking clue how to manage money. You know the people who somehow managed to lose millions on risky stock moves over the last 5 years. Or the people who have a mortgage 6x or 7x their annual salary. Or the people who have to drive new BMW or Mercedes. However, even if you are smart about your investments and fiscal purchases, it is still tough to get a foothold in this area. If hadn’t bought a house years ago in this area, I don’t know how the heck I’d buy one now. The point I'm trying to make is that Microsoft pays well, but not great considering what it means to "live here". Not just pay rent, put gas in your 10 year college car, and buy 6 packs of bud light

Anonymous said...

Level: 63
Position Name: Daily Customer Contact
Org: Outside Dev
Months in Position: 32
Years at MS: 2.6
Last Promo Date: FY07
Rating: Exceeds
Merit %: 6
Promotion %: 4
Bonus %: 13
Stock Count: 850
Assessment: [x]Better than Expected

Anonymous said...

This review was amazing. To quote someone else "Thank you, LisaB."

The review
I am L63 LPM in a product group. In level for 6 months. I work damn hard and I'm good at what I do. Yes, I am known my GM, but any lead of any kind that isn't well-known by their GM isn't doing their job. I was cynical about rewards before (my last promo came with a whopping 5% salary increase -- I laughed: you double my workload by making me a lead, and you give me a 5% increase. Awesome).

I expected a good review, but this blew me out of the water.

First, a promo (L64) - yeah, after 5 months. I hadn't even started looking at the CSPs to figure out what I needed to be doing for the next promo. Admittedly, in the past 6 months, as I came to know more about the org, I began to realise that I was better than most of my peers. Now that I've looked at the CSP, I know I deserve it.

Assessment: Exceeded.
Merit+Promo salary increase: 15%. That is noticeable because it amounts to almost $1K a month after taxes (more or less).
Bonus: %15

And then the shocker:
Future: Outstanding. 500% of target.
4000 shares. $100K at current prices.



Why I'm telling you all this
The stuff above may read like I'm showing off, but I'm not. What I'm doing is making sure that the talented folks who are reading this and feeling that the future is dismal know that it isn't. As a lead, I know who the other people in the team are that were well-rewarded in this review and I'm very happy about it (and yes, I was happy about it even before I found out what my review was). Those people are obviously talented and obviously hard workers and they deserved to be rewarded.


I've never been doing this for the money (as I constantly remind my friends on Wall Street who make $200K in their second year out of collecge) -- I do it because I love what I do. Most of the really good people I work with feel exactly the same way. We all gripe about the MS reward system, but it never stops us from working hard.

This increase is noticeable, but what I really love about it is the clear, unambiguous message I'm getting from my management: "We see and appreciate what you're doing. We believe in you We are placing our bets on you." That is what is so exciting about this: It is a literal "putting your money where your mouth is."

There will be people reading this who will be bitter. For some of you (you know who you are), I say, there's the door. Don't let it hit you on the way out. For others, I say, get out of your group. Find a group where the people love their work and everything else will flow from there. There are groups like that and they always have space for talented, motivated people.

There will be people reading this who will feel motivated to kick ass, knowing that the rewards are there for those who excel. To those people, I don't need to say anything.

A few words about the process.
As a lead, I enjoyed this review process. I didn't give everyone "exceeded", but that's because not everyone deserved it. I was able to give exactly the messages I wanted to give. I was able to give the rewards to the people I wanted to motivate, and the hardline messages to the people who needed to hear those messages (shape up or ship out).

The stock amount I got is "max stock" for my level. In my org, the team was "required" to give the maximum stock allotment to a percentage of the people in the org. Because the maximum is literally 5x the "average", it forces down the stock for several people, but it creates significant differentiation. Some people who would have gotten some small amount of stock, got 0 stock in order to pay for my 500%.

I could feel guilty about that, but I don't. I haven't always been top of the heap. I got a (well-deserved) 3.0 several years ago. But I still got some options, and I still got a merit increase. The amount of options I got was a pittance. It had no effect on me (especially when amortized over 5 1/2 years). In fact, getting zero might have had a stronger effect on me. I would have preferred that my stock and the stock of every other underperformer on the team have been given to one person such that they felt far more motivated. Instead, I'm sure the top performers on the team got maybe twice what I did. That's ridiculous.

At the end of the day, I'm a rabid believer in a meritocracy, and I love the fact that Microsoft -- when it's well run -- is a meritocracy. There are bastions of cronism (like my previous team), but nowhere is perfect. Having been a manager of star performers, I know that one star performer on a team is worth 3-5 (or more) people and I love the fact that the new system allows us to reward those people.

I'll end my little essay here. I am incredibly motivated for the next year, and I know that the other star performers of the team are also equally motivated. That makes me very happy and optimistic about the next year.

PS. My management could probably figure who I am from the info above, but whatever. If you are reading this: thanks! :)

The ViewMaster! said...

While You Are "Fiddling" With Your Review/Compensation, The Users of Microsoft Software Are Headed Out The Door...

[telekinetical]™

It's been almost a month now since MSN updated its space ... i last posted twice on this space regarding about all the problems with te new changes & hope that the MSN Team will resolve all the problems soon.

However, so far there seems to be little imporvement, MSN Space it still takes an unusual time to load. As for the "Edit Space Page" you can forget about that it takes so long to load and when I want to edit a blog the same thing as well. I take it other people are experience the same problems as well.

I guess I can pretty much as "Goodbye" to my MSN Space cuz nohing works as well as before at all. **** I guess when I post this comment the MSN Team as always will not respond or even bother to drop into my space and tell me what's going on ****

**** Thanks for Nothing ****

August 28 1:03 AM
(http://telekinetical.spaces.live.com/)

Source: The Space Craft: Talking about Fine tune your friends order


...SLAMING The Door, ...n'Your Face!!!

I *WARNED* You About This, Earlier...

You BETTER Get With The "Program", Get Some Troops Over To Windows Live Spaces To Solve These Problems Or, Next Year, Come Review/Compensation Time, There's Gonna Be EVEN MORE "PAIN"!

:-(

Anonymous said...

Double promotion is possible, it is just extremely rare and some orgs make it impossible through sheer force of bureaucracy(Office). I've been here 5 years and only ever met one person this happened to. It was because he was hired in as a low-level IC who immediatly and spectacularly proved he could be a lead and was given a 61->63 bump.

Speaking of rare events:
1. Has anyone in Office ever gotten a non-end-of-year promotion. What gives?

2. Anyone ever get a 5 review

Anonymous said...

Level: 63
Position Name: IC Dev
Org: (PG, Ops, SG) Rather not say
Months in Position: 24
Years at MS: 7.5
Last Promo Date: FY04
Rating: Meets
Merit %: 4
Promotion %: (if applicable) 0
Bonus %: 10
Stock Count: 900
Assessment: As Expected

Salary didn't excite me back when I joined and doesn't excite me now. Don't get me wrong, I won't work for uncompetitive pay but the real excitement is with big options. Awards are good but are low risk/reward proposition. I am seriously considering leaving if I find the right opportunity... I don't see myself ever at Partner level in the next 10 years, by which time the "partner" level would be "diluted"; like what today's "architect" as compared to back in 99.

Anonymous said...

Sure, if your entire existence is focused solely on money. If the big bucks is that freaking important to you folks, don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

Let me answer your juvenile reply one more time. I didnt say that my entire existence is focused on money - that was your deduction.

Compensation is important to me and everyone else - if it isnt to me then I dont mind taking yours as well.

I very strongly recommend that you preach your views on compensation to our executive management as well. Who knows - they might see a point in your views and decide to share their SPSA payout with their team or SteveB/BillG might donate 1% of their stock holdings to the employees.

Anonymous said...

A few comments...

I can only speak for my circumstances. I won't even try to extrapolate into generalities, but hopefully my experience is helpful to folks. I do encourage people to interview outside if they are dissatisfied, so that they can compare concrete offers instead of hypotheticals. For me, I have for quite some time felt undercompensated. I have interviewed the past few months and emerged with several offers in hand. I now have real comparisons to make instead of stewing and griping in silence.

Compensation
I'm a multi-year, consecutive 4.5, been promoted every year except last year (even though I got yet another 4.5...I don't get it, but I do know that at L65/L66, promos are harder and less frequent, no matter how well you do...I don't get that either, for the record, but it is what it is).

Nevertheless, with multiple consecutive 4.5s in my 10 year career at MS, I have lots of stock options and grants to look back on. Of course, most of the options are useless and the ones that aren't don't apply to most of the "new crop" of employees, so I'll omit them for the sake of discussion. My stock grant compensation increments my income somewhere between $25-35K, depending on market conditions. (As a matter of personal financial policy, I immediately cash in my grants and re-invest in non-technology stocks/funds). In addition to my annual bonus (which is usually maxed out because of my performance), I end up with an annual cash income somewhere around $200K. I never looked at it this way until now, simply because I am now comparing the full deal at Microsoft (salary, stock, benefits, peace of mind from knowing the company won't go under, etc) with the opportunities elsewhere.

My opportunities elsewhere, given my experience, accomplishments, references, and interviewing skills are for approximately the same amount in base salary and bonus. Of course, I'm only interviewing at pre-IPO startups, so the stock options could either be very lucrative or, let's face it, more likely not. I'd be a principal at some of these startups, so there's a better chance (if I'm as good as I believe I am) that the companies could be successful based on my contribution.

Those are the facts I'm presented with. The conclusions I've come to are:

1. The full deal at Microsoft is not so bad at all. Frankly, I've been whining and complaining for quite some time (silently and otherwise), and now that I've been forced to compare concrete details, I have newfound appreciation for the Microsoft deal.

2. The opportunity elsewhere is significantly greater...and riskier. There is less bureaucracy, less politics (again, because I would be a principal, I can help set the culture and tone), and significantly greater focus.

Again, I'm glad I interviewed because now I can be productive in my decision-making process over the next two weeks. I can weigh real pros and cons about relocation, compensation, and Microsoft in general.

Microsoft's new culture
Now that compensation is out of the way, I'll comment on the increasing "management culture" of Microsoft. The thing that frustrates me so much is that the partner-level is laden with so many incompetent people. We are behind PlayStation, Google, MySpace, Apple, Salesforce.com, and others because these partners, who are paid to be forward-thinking, visionary leaders, are instead process wonks.

Meanwhile, there's a whole generation of aggressive, smart, visionary leaders in the L64-L66 ranks who just need an opportunity to show what they can do (yes, I'm referring to myself as well). To me, that is the first and foremost reason why I'm even thinking beyond the compensation issue and still pondering leaving.

I simply don't believe that Microsoft can innovate quickly enough, nor do I believe Microsoft affords aggressive, visionary employees an environment in which they can thrive and feel satisfied with the products they build.

Anonymous said...

-L59 SDET who thinks he has more than enough money. I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing you don't have kids and you don't have a mortgage. Go get either of those and let us know how big your piggy bank is at the end of each month. Median home price crossed 500k a month or 2 ago.

I'm not L59 SDET but I'll reply anyway, because you're proving his point. What makes you think you're entitled to homeownership in Seattle? That's completely arbitrary. Why not a yacht and a private jet while you're at it? You can lead a happy, comfortable life by renting in Seattle or by buying a house in the suburbs of Issaquah/Renton/etc. The fact is that millions of people in the Seattle area make do with less than what you have--how do you explain that? And if you think it's bad here, consider SV/SF and NYC. People manage to survive there, too.

I think a strong argument can be made that people at Microsoft "deserve" more money. Microsoft claims to hire the best and the brightest and then only pays them 66th percentile. That doesn't seem fair. But anybody who claims that Microsoft doesn't pay "enough" is nuts.

Anonymous said...

"I really don't care about the shareholders. Their goals and mine are no longer aligned. My goal is to get promoted, increase my pay and get as many stock awards as possible (I dump these as soon as they vest)."

Then time for you go - don't let the door hit you on the way out.


But why? I enjoy my work, I enjoy the people I work with and I'm fairly satisfied with my pay. I personally think SteveB would think I'm a near-perfect employee. Did you come to work at MS so that you could increase shareholder value? Is that why you took the job? Beyond some vague economic theories, and in all seriousness, why should I care about the shareholders?

Anonymous said...

please change unsatiable to insatiable. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The point I'm trying to make is that Microsoft pays well, but not great considering what it means to "live here". Not just pay rent, put gas in your 10 year college car, and buy 6 packs of bud light

This L59 SDET is female. No offense taken for guessing based on averages. The m/f ratio here *10 minute rant removed :) *

No mortgage, or anything yet, you are right. But loan payments at a minimum are about 1 car payment, even if my car is 7 years old and used before I had it. I know that's nothing on the mortgage and kids (money holes I hear.).

Redmond is WAY to expensive to settle down in right now I agree. Maybe Microsoft will shrink (MINI!) and maybe I'll be good+lucky enough to keep a job here. Till then, renting will have to do. I probably can't afford one of these houses for a long time.

Anonymous said...

I would never relocate my family to somewhere I couldn't own a home. Call it entitlement, call it whatever you want. I don't have any wild dreams about granite countertops, 3 car garages, etc, but being able to earn enough money to buy a reasonable home for family is more important than the name on my business card.

Anonymous said...

I'm not L59 SDET but I'll reply anyway, because you're proving his point. What makes you think you're entitled to homeownership in Seattle? That's completely arbitrary. Why not a yacht and a private jet while you're at it? You can lead a happy, comfortable life by renting in Seattle or by buying a house in the suburbs of Issaquah/Renton/etc. The fact is that millions of people in the Seattle area make do with less than what you have--how do you explain that? And if you think it's bad here, consider SV/SF and NYC. People manage to survive there, too.

While I agree with the general sentiment that people in dev/test/pm at MS should not whine about pay scales (are you brave enough to ask your admin how they're doing financially? How about some of the Eurest folks?), I think the argument called "you don't deserve better because so many in the world are fucked up" is a load of crap.

None of us "deserve" (in some higher moral sense) the opportunities and rewards we've managed to get. Our egos tell us we do, and that's all well and good up until something happens (an earthquake, flood, tornado, cancer, car wreck, robbery, whatever) and it's taken away. The Microsoft deal is pretty damn good in an overall sense, it allows many people (though still a small minority in the overall population of the region) to spend lots of money on houses, lawn maintenance, etc. etc. etc.

The greatest thing about Microsoft is that if you really want it and have the talent, you can figure out how to move up the ladder and get more of the pie. No one owes you a break, but you can make your own.

If you can't make that happen and wind up in limited/underperform land or stagnated, find another position or company.

Anonymous said...

But why? I enjoy my work, I enjoy the people I work with and I'm fairly satisfied with my pay. I personally think SteveB would think I'm a near-perfect employee. Did you come to work at MS so that you could increase shareholder value? Is that why you took the job? Beyond some vague economic theories, and in all seriousness, why should I care about the shareholders?

Jesus! Where to start. If everyone was a near perfect employee as you have defined here, no one at the company would care about shareholders... who by the way own the company. The shareholders care about making a profit themselves, getting a raise themselves... and unlike the 80,000 softies these days, they collectively know better how to do this... by caring about the customer, by innovating, staying ahead of the competition, etc. That's what they want.

But if you just want to get more money, go for it. I hope you can live with yourself at the end of your life.

"Yes grandson, your granddad had a very fulfilling life. I made $24 million dollars."

"Doing what grandpa? Making the world a better place?"

"Nope. Hahahaha! Why would you want to do that! No. I just reported to work each day and somehow money came to me."

Anonymous said...

"At the end of the day, I'm a rabid believer in a meritocracy, and I love the fact that Microsoft -- when it's well run -- is a meritocracy. There are bastions of cronism (like my previous team), but nowhere is perfect. Having been a manager of star performers, I know that one star performer on a team is worth 3-5 (or more) people and I love the fact that the new system allows us to reward those people."

Totally agree with the latter, but never saw the former (a meritocracy) in my 5 years at MSFT. Cronyism, yes - everywhere. Strongly differentiated bonuses for high achievers, never. Popularity and visibility counted for a lot more than results when I was there. If that's changed, that's a big positive.

Anonymous said...

I think a strong argument can be made that people at Microsoft "deserve" more money. Microsoft claims to hire the best and the brightest and then only pays them 66th percentile. That doesn't seem fair. But anybody who claims that Microsoft doesn't pay "enough" is nuts.

This is really argument for arguments sake isnt it? If Microsoft pays in the 66th percentile, and their peers pay higher, then they dont pay "enough". Why you feel the need to spin that is beyond me. And its not that people have a "right" to own a home near Seattle, just don't be surprised when people leave Microsoft for companies that will allow them to.

But there's no need to fear. I'm not even sure why anyone is so worried about these issues. We are now a "People Ready Business" and a "People Ready Business" knows that people are its most important asset.

I know because I've just taken the training on it so I can sell it to customers as the rationalization for why they now need to retrain thousands of Office users.

Anonymous said...

'm not L59 SDET but I'll reply anyway, because you're proving his point. What makes you think you're entitled to homeownership in Seattle? That's completely arbitrary. Why not a yacht and a private jet while you're at it? You can lead a happy, comfortable life by renting in Seattle or by buying a house in the suburbs of Issaquah/Renton/etc.

Clearly you haven't priced a new house in these areas, because it's in the range that he's already complaining about :)

And while I haven't rented in several years, all of the prices I see are insane (last time I looked, well over $1k/month for a small 1br apt. within 40 min. of Microsoft). I can't even imagine what it would be like for a family of 4. They probably can't save any money for a down payment on one of the overpriced homes in the area. If you can't afford a decent house in a decent area, it's hard to say that you're overpaid. And by decent area, I mean places other than Renton or Kent. A safe neighborhood w/ good schools, and a reasonable rush hour commute.

I know some folks that have bought new homes all the way in Tacoma because they couldn't afford any houses in the Seattle area (I think they were looking for a 4br house at the time). Can you imagine doing that commute every day?

Anonymous said...

Beyond some vague economic theories, and in all seriousness, why should I care about the shareholders?

I'll put it simply: because that's what you are being paid for. It isn't for nothing that the National Society of Professional Engineers' code of ethics lists "Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees" as one of its fundamental canons. You have accepted the terms of employment at Microsoft and you are now legally and ethicaly obligated to act for the benefit of its owners[1], the shareholders, in the course of your duties.

If you can't handle that, then honorably end your employment.

[1] To the extent legally and ethically permitted

(Mini, trim this part if you want, but after reading here for awhile, one is keenly reminded that sociopathy takes many forms.)

Anonymous said...

"Beyond some vague economic theories, and in all seriousness, why should I care about the shareholders?"

We're you asleep the day they taught Finance 101?

Anonymous said...

RE: I'm not L59 SDET but I'll reply anyway, because you're proving his point. What makes you think you're entitled to homeownership in Seattle? That's completely arbitrary. Why not a yacht and a private jet while you're at it?

I think it all comes down to expectations. Most people who go to work at a Wal-Mart store or a McDonalds know that they are never really going to get much more than a COLA increase in pay. However, most people who come to Microsoft think that they are going to eventually move up and make good money, but often are disappointed with the reality.

I think that Microsoft does a terrible job of realistically setting new employees' expectations around what their future prospects are. For the level 59 SDET, sure he/she may be happy now (that is, if he/she is not a troll), but, even if he/she does advance a couple of levels, he/she will realize in a few years that his/her compensation does not get him/her very far if he/she wants to buy a house or start a family in the Seattle area. (As a side comment, you obviously have not checked out housing prices in the Issaquah and Renton areas recently!)

Maybe this is part of a strategy: pay people enough to get them in the door but then put a lid on their compensation to make them want to leave to be replaced by new blood.

Other approaches the company could take might be:
--Have a clear up-or-out policy, similar to what the big accounting firms have, so that people who start at Microsoft know what to expect and just work there for the first few years to obtain experience.
--Move jobs to where housing is more affordable or allow people to work remotely from any location, rather than forcing everyone to work in Redmond.
--Just not hire so dang many people, get rid of the deadwood, and pay partners what they deserve so there is more money to go around. (sounds familiar eh?)

Anonymous said...

This review was amazing. To quote someone else "Thank you, LisaB."
……
The above story/example, assuming it is true, demonstrates following problems:

1. The review is much more about perception and impression, whom you know instead of real contribution and deliverable. If you kiss your GM’s ass and becomes his favorite boy, you get promoted twice within 6 months. If you do real hard work but not play perception and impression games, you may not get promoted for 5 years. The story above is just an extreme case how arbitrary the review is.

2. A newbie lead PM, which role was invented by Microsoft and is useless in startups, Google etc, without shipping any product, probably not a single line of code, is get promoted twice within 6 months. No wonder PM organization is so bloated in recent years (PM:DEV was 1:10 now it’s like 2:3). Whole Microsoft is full of bureaucracy, special thanks to these fully rewarded and motivated PMs! Way to go to further slowdown MSFT and make it another IBM.

Anonymous said...

Level: 61
Position: IC Dev
Org: PG
Months in Position: 28
Years at MS: 5
Last Promo Date: FY03
Rating: Meets
Merit: 2%
Promotion: 0
Bonus: 8%
Stock Count: 280

Assessment: Total Shock! :-(

Just had my review yesterday, still trying to get over the complete disbelief and shock. I don't recall in my 5 years at MS having worked harder than the past year. Busted my butt all year long, got loads of stuff done, met and exceeded each commitment, and had total respect and good will of all my peers and other teammates from various disciplines. I can bet my freaking house that you cannot find a single person in the organization to say one bad thing about me, personally or about the quality of my work and dedication.

I was pretty much certain of getting an exceeded rating, with a double digit bonus, decent pay raise and stock, and even a promotion did not seem out of the question. I was so sure of that, my normal review time anxiety and stress that I have every year wasn't even there this time. I knew that no manager could possibly give me a subpar review, given the work I'd put the during the past year. I did not think my manager would screw me in this way.
There had to be some personal reason, and yet, I never saw anything leading up to it. Since I've never said anything bad about anyone, including my manager (it's not my style to talk behind people's backs), I'm not sure when and how I could've pissed him off.

I was so motivated and jacked up to work even harder in the upcoming months and continue my positive momentum, and yet, it's all gone now. This was my reward for working 60+ hr weeks, and often times, doing the work of 2-3 people. I really wonder how the people who screwed me this way can live with themselves, especially my manager.

I'm not even sure what to do at this point. I'm so angry, that quitting, which was my immediate thought when I got my numbers, seems like a cop-out. And yet, due to the shock value, I have no idea what to do. I'll check back here in a couple of days, and maybe there'll be some suggestions for me. Seems certain that I'll be leaving the group, but is there any way for me to get this stuff changed? Who do I tell that I've been wronged?

Anonymous said...

I'm obliged to follow the dictates of my management moderated by my own ethical principals and my sense of self-preservation. The shareholders happiness isn't my concern, it's the concern of my (snicker) superiors who in turn are appointed by the shareholder representatives. If their appointed management aren't observing their formal fiduciary responsibilities, why must I risk my livelihood to counter their wishes?

The National Society of Professional Engineers carries no weight at Microsoft or any other enterprise for that matter. Maybe if I wasted time passing the insane PE test about steam engineering I'd care, but I'm not an (snicker) MCSE either.

Anonymous said...

Seems certain that I'll be leaving the group, but is there any way for me to get this stuff changed? Who do I tell that I've been wronged?

No there isn't, and you can tell HR but it won't do any good. You live with this review, and the first-hand knowledge that the review system is not designed for equality, and that the budget IS the curve. You make sure, before you tip your hand, that you have as many neutral, informational discussions with your manager and their manager so that you're sure you understand why this happened (as far as they'll tell you).

And then you go find a better home.

I'll bet your house you're in Windows :)

Anonymous said...

Do what you have to. Either you trust the decision that gave you the crappy review and set about becoming a better leader/dev/etc - or you don't trust the people above and around you and you leave for someplace where you can.

Everything else is just emotion and ego.

Anonymous said...

I'm not even sure what to do at this point. I'm so angry, that quitting, which was my immediate thought when I got my numbers, seems like a cop-out. And yet, due to the shock value, I have no idea what to do. I'll check back here in a couple of days, and maybe there'll be some suggestions for me. Seems certain that I'll be leaving the group, but is there any way for me to get this stuff changed? Who do I tell that I've been wronged?

I understand that feeling, I felt the same last year. You need to get beyond how you feel and try to really understand why it happened.
You cant get this thing changed, there is no way, and dont even think of telling HR. The worst thing you can do right now is to act emotionally.

Anonymous said...

I'm not even sure what to do at this point. I'm so angry, that quitting, which was my immediate thought when I got my numbers, seems like a cop-out. And yet, due to the shock value, I have no idea what to do.

Hey! Welcome to the club. Pull up a chair and let me explain how this all works to you.

Yes, you may have felt that you worked your ass off this past year, but guess what? Some senior manager somewhere up the food chain doesn't know or care who you are. And guess what else? Your manager and your manager's manager are probably too busy circling each other and sniffing each other's butts to care about your problems.

Yes, you could get your HR rep involved. She will come, sit in your office with a vacant smile, and politely listen to your tale of woe. Then she will leave, and you will never hear from her again.

The end result will be that you got what you got. And next year, your manager will probably toss you a teensy, tiny little bone because he'll have a vague notion that he screwed you this year and if he does it to you twice in a row you'll probably be pissed enough to leave.

Yes, you may feel some power in fleeing from your team and you may have the fantasy that they'll be screwed without you there to do the work of 2-3 people, but guess what now? With management like that, your team was probably never all that productive in the first place and your manager will hardly even notice that you're gone. And unless you are lips-on-the-ass friends with your new manager, you will be the new guy on the team and then, that's right, guess what? You'll get screwed again next year.

Basically, you have joined the shadow force of the people that actually do all the work at Microsoft. All these people you see here strutting around and rubbing your nose in how great they are and how much money they make don't produce much of anything at Microsoft - except more work for other people at Microsoft.

You see, there is a whole contingent of people you'll see running around at Microsoft - the people screaming at the fry cook in the cafeteria because the hamburger that was just presented to them has a crack in it, the people who can't figure out how to park their car in a single parking spot on campus, the people who will stampede over people in wheelchairs and elderly women to get a free trinket at the Xbox 360 launch - these are the people reward each other with Microsoft shareholder's money. These are the people that spend more time plotting how to step on their peers while they should be plotting how to make more money for our shareholders. Yet, there they are with their fat sausage-like fingers wrapped around the pursestrings. Infuriating, isn't it?

Well, relax. Do what I do. Come in, work your 8 hours, ignore your coworkers and your manager, be really productive for each of those 8 hours, then get the hell out of your office and do something that really makes you happy.

Forget about stock awards and bonuses - if I get one, fine, if I don't, oh well. Yeah, it's nice to get that chunk of change but if it means that I have to feign interest in my group manager's little league team, my dignity is worth more to me. And if my group manager hands out rewards based on the faces he sees in the bleachers watching Timmy awkwardly pitch softballs like a retarded orangutan, well, I'd be willing to bet there's at least a couple of people on my team disingenous enough to buy a fake little league jersey, put Timmy's number on it, and wear it around the office. And yes, this is something that actually happened in one of the groups I used to work in.

Well, that's it for me for now. I'll see you at work tomorrow. Or actually, I won't, because I'll be in my office doing work.

Anonymous said...

To the L61 IC in "total shock":

You told us the numbers, but not the rest of the story. What did your manager say you could improve, and did you agree with his or her assessment?

If you agreed, then suck it up this year, and make sure you blow those criteria out of the water next year to remove an easy excuse for not giving you "exceeds" next year.

If you disagreed, then from what I have heard, it's very, very rare to get a review number changed. Anyone know differently? When I didn't feel that my review was accurate, I first tried to discuss it with my manager, with specific counter-examples to many of his comments. When that failed, I went to my skip-level. She rewrote a great deal of the manager's comments, so that in the end, the review sounded quite favorable (at least future readers would come away with a positive impression), even though I still took the newbie 3.0 for the team that year. That is to say, the review implied, a "stuck as the newbie" 3.0 rather than a "didn't do the job" 3.0 when rewritten.

My numbers: L61, Exceeds, merit 6%, bonus 8%, stock 150 shares above L61 median. Yes. Different numbers than yours, but in actual dollar value after taxes, not THAT much different, are they?

Anonymous said...

Email retention policy + loss of Windows Desktop Search functionality w/ O12 = severe loss of productivity I've already been biten with not being able to send those "evidence of former agreement" emails. and w/o search, you can just forget about it. estimating it adds about 10 minutes to every task I do now that I have no access to search.

lastly, there was an internal blog by HR about reforming internal transfers but NEVER saw the results of supposed "changes"

Anonymous said...

I haven't received my review. But after reading the comments here, I have a feeling I'll receive the same measly compensation.

Don't get me wrong. If you look solely at the amount that MS pays, it looks good. But if you compare it to the cost of living here, it's bad.

Because of this, I don't feel like going to the company meeting anymore. I cannot cheer along when Steve shouts "I LOVE THIS COMPANY!".

I'm gonna boycot.

Anonymous said...

>I am an L64 an am debating whether to take an internal L65 job or an external opportunity

>>Pure Troll. Stop wasting people's time. Every job change in Microsoft is a lateral move. You can move into a job advertised as a L65 but you are still a L64 and will have to prove your mettle for a few years before being considered for a promo like any other position. There are no guarantees.
>>

whatever, dude. It does happen, albeit rarely. The question is, is there anything to it other than slightly better money?

It sounds like not.

Anonymous said...

Question to Anonymous@4:40:

Double level increase? I've never heard of this. Can you (or someone) please explain under what conditions someone might receive a double level increase?


first, i work in the field, but i also know this has happened at corp. basically if you are underleveled - meaning someone at the corp vp level thinks you are - then you can get it done. from second-hand understanding, ballmer needs to approve new partners.

net, if they think you are the best person for a job, they will do what's right.

Stara Novalja said...

Microsoft is good but they have to be better.

Anonymous said...

I'll put it simply: because that's what you are being paid for.
No, it isn't. I am being paid to design, write and ship software.

It isn't for nothing that the National Society of Professional Engineers' code of ethics lists "Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees" as one of its fundamental canons. You have accepted the terms of employment at Microsoft and you are now legally and ethicaly obligated to act for the benefit of its owners[1], the shareholders, in the course of your duties.
---
I think you're confusing apathy with malice. I love Microsoft. I'm a 4.0 performer. I bust my hump to get my (and other's) stuff done. But I don't do this for the benefit of the shareholders, I do this so that I can continue to get good reviews.

Anonymous said...

Jesus! Where to start. If everyone was a near perfect employee as you have defined here, no one at the company would care about shareholders...
I agree. I contend that no one at the company cares about shareholders. I present the stock price as Exhibit A.

...who by the way own the company. The shareholders care about making a profit themselves, getting a raise themselves...
The fact that SteveB is still employed at Microsoft directly contradicts your statement.

...and unlike the 80,000 softies these days, they collectively know better how to do this... by caring about the customer, by innovating, staying ahead of the competition, etc.
Hogwash. Shareholders care about one thing: money. This is not a bad thing in my opinion. I care about money too.

"Nope. Hahahaha! Why would you want to do that! No. I just reported to work each day and somehow money came to me."
I said it earlier, but I'll repeat it: I love Microsoft. I love my work. I bust my hump. I'm a 4.0 performer. And I don't care about the shareholders. My goals and shareholder's goals are not aligned.

Anonymous said...

"Beyond some vague economic theories, and in all seriousness, why should I care about the shareholders?"

We're you asleep the day they taught Finance 101?

---
I guess so. Why don't you explain it to me?

Anonymous said...

The comments made by Mini on internal transfer are very valid, especially “throwing away permission to interview" part. Not necessarily for optimizing internal recruiting but also to protect the individuals.

One should be allowed to pursue his career to get a better job without jeopardizing the current job. The moment they ask permission to interview for another job they will be labeled as a traitor and the future in the current team is doomed. They won’t be getting new project to work on and obviously they won’t be getting good reviews. This will force them to leave the team whether they have a good job offer or not. If they didn’t get the desired job they should be able to continue in the current job until the next one is available. Now, they have only one shot in getting another job and leave the team or else go to the bottom of the stack in the current team. Eliminating the permission to interview will allow the individuals seek for better job whenever the opportunity arises.

Anonymous said...

If you agreed, then suck it up this year, and make sure you blow those criteria out of the water next year to remove an easy excuse for not giving you "exceeds" next year.

Waste of time. The guy's manager has flipped the '3.0' bit on him. This guy could write up an air-tight set of goals and meet with his manager every week and get a piece of mail from his manager stating he's exceeding those goals BUT his manager will still f**k him over come review time. The manager knows a year's worth of email doesn't bind the manager to anythng and the manager will just pull some lame justification, an "easy excuse" out of thin air.

Here's the guy's comments in his review: "As per our discussion at the beginning of this review period, I have exceeded expectations. I resolved x# of bugs over my expected number of resolved bugs."

Here's the guy's manager's comments: "You did well meeting your bug count, but I expected to see you have a greater impact on the team. Visibility is an issue."

Once your manager has decided you're 3.0 material, you will always be 3.0 material to them no matter what you do. The guy's manager has favorites and those favorites will be the ones that consistently get the lion's share of compensation on that team. I've been at MS for 12 years and that's how reviews have always worked in the past and how they will always work in the future.

Anonymous said...

One might argue that managers and leads are the ones to determine what's best for the shareholders and translate that into marching orders for the ICs. The performance review model is, in theory, a way to get ICs to what their managers want which should be what their managers what which should be what SteveB which should serve to increase shareholder value.

If I find out someone is cooking the books, yeah, I probably have a duty to the shareholders to do something. However, I don't know how to personally deliver shareholder value. I know very little about the whims of the stock market. I do now how to improve my product and since that's what my performance is tied to, I'll focus on that and let higher ups worry about whether making the next version a better product actually increases shareholder value.

Anonymous said...

Hey! Welcome to the club. Pull up a chair and let me explain how this all works to you...

...Well, that's it for me for now. I'll see you at work tomorrow. Or actually, I won't, because I'll be in my office doing work.


WELL SAID!!

Anonymous said...

Seems certain that I'll be leaving the group, but is there any way for me to get this stuff changed? Who do I tell that I've been wronged?


Actually your review numbers are very close to mine. We might have been screwed by the same guy! Anyway, whatever you do dont escalate! And getting HR involved will result in more trouble than help for you. I am telling this based on the experience of my friend who did the same.

Anonymous said...

There are a couple misconceptions on this board regarding (1) changing review scores, and (2) getting promoted on internal transfers on this board that are wrong.

1) You can get your review score changed. Last review, I received a 3.5 review. I had transferred in to the position 7 months in to the new review period. Based on conversations with current and former managers about my performance, I thought I clearly deserved a 4.0. I escalated to the General Manager level in HR and got the score changed. I also communicated the willingness to escalate to the VP level, if necessary.

The score was changed to a 4.0. Review scores can - and in many cases should - be contested and changed. If you are being treated unfairly, escalate in both your management chain and within HR.

2) You can move up levels in internal transfers. If your choices are leaving the company or going only for jobs that are 1 level higher than your current job, why not try to get a higher level? The worst that can happen is the hiring manager says "no" and you find a different job elsewhere, anyway. The best case is you can get the promo on an internal transfer. I did exactly that.

To emphasize, there is no written policy against giving someone a promo on an internal transfer.

Anonymous said...

Re: the two-level out-of-cycle promotion.

True story. When I was a UE manager, I had a L58 report who hard burned out on the writing gig and wanted to do something different. The guy was brilliant with customers, and I encouraged him to look around, anywhere he wanted to, just to get the lay of the land. Well, ballsy fellow that he was, he wandered into the office of someone hiring for L62 in a sales org vertical solutions. They loved him, interviewed, hired him, and then worked with me extensively to figure out his level. They went to their VP to promote him to L60 upon discipline change, and changed his compensation accordingly. So, it does happen. It takes luck, charm, chutzpah, and supportive managers.

There's so much fear on this blog. People aren't taking risks. They're kissing ass and working 60+ hours and expecting to get rewarded for thinking that "Look at me" is impressive.

The real rewards will always go to the people who come up with new ways to solve problems--not simply because it's rewarded, but because the new way is genuinely novel. And the hard part is that novel solutions just come naturally to people--it's their talent. They don't think, "Geez, if I invent a new process, my GM will be impressed with me, and give me stock, just like my teachers have given me warm fuzzies from day one in kindergarten when I avoided crapping my pants for a whole day to distinguish me from the other kids."

I don't think that people shouldn't be rewarded for just working hard and writing fine routines. But real genius, real creativity, and real talent is almost invisible to the people who have it. I should think that most of the gold star bonuses surprised the people who got them. They thought they were just doing their job, and it turned out they were doing something brilliant. I've never gotten one myself, since brilliance sadly eludes me, but I know quite well people who've gotten them multiple times, and they didn't have a clue.

Rock on, kids! When you do something genuinely brilliant, you won't need the affirmation to know it.

Anonymous said...

Level: 64
Position Name: PM
Org: Office
Months in Position: over 3 years
Years at MS: 6
Last Promo Date: a while
Rating: Exceeds
Merit %: 7
Promotion %: I wish
Bonus %: 12
Stock Count: 960
Contribution Ranking: Strong
Assessment: Worse than Expected

So I pretty much knew I would get an Exceeds this time. But even after the merit increase I am still down at about the low 20% of the compa ratio for my level. A month before submitting my review I had specifically asked my manager to fix that discrepancy and got a "I'll see what I can do". And now, NOTHING. No plan to raise me in level and I've been hovering at this level for over 3 years, hit some great years...and nothing, no plan. I got the typical, "we'll look for some more responsibility..." line and not like I've heard that before. How long do I chase a carrot that I will never be allowed to touch. Looks like it's time for me to supplement my income with something on the side.

Anonymous said...

My first 3.0...

I've been at Microsoft over 10 years. I used to love Microsoft, I mean _love_ Microsoft. I used to be an extremely hard worker with a lifetime average close to 4.0 until one review several years ago when I got my first 3.0. It upset me horribly.

I was always very good at predicting what I was going to receive for my review and this one absolutely blew me out of the water. I was shell-shocked listening to my manager go through all of the petty things I "did wrong" and then glossed over (or even disregarded the huge things I did right). I am a high-level IC+Lead and my manager’s comments were, “well you could have done more". Of course none of this had come up during our one-on-ones.

Reviews are subjective and maybe I deserved it and maybe I didn’t. I can say that during that period I personally designed and delivered Industry-wide marquee features you would all know "by name".

At the end of the review I told him, "thank you and I'll be leaving this group, goodbye". I left and found a great job which allowed me to (mentally) recover from that review: it took me about 3 years. As an aside, my direct manager has done quite well for himself at Microsoft but most of the management above him has left the company to “pursue other interests”.

Now, every morning I come into work I think about that 3.0 and it doesn't inspire me to "work harder" -- it makes me resent Microsoft. I am still a good employee, but I felt betrayed. Will I ever regain the same passion I once had for Microsoft? Who knows. I no longer pay attention to what I get during my reviews... I’m numb.

Before my first 3.0, I would have told the people on this thread that they should “learn from it and put it behind them” -- easier said than done. To the people who have received a 3.0 and are upset and want to leave. I feel your pain, you are not alone.

Signed,
FeelYourPain

Anonymous said...

Regarding -
Don't get me wrong. If you look solely at the amount that MS pays, it looks good. But if you compare it to the cost of living here, it's bad.

I think our compensation package looks good whichever way you look at it. If you include the 100% medical, average (in 59-65 levels) salary + stock awards + bonus + raise + job security, the overall package is very attractive year on year as compared to any other software company including Amazon, IBM and Google [in the case of Google without flaming, please consider that they do pay better entry level, but also do have a much higher bar of entry in terms of requiring PHDs, industry experts for IC roles which Microsoft cannot dictate given their comparative employee numbers to market cap ratio].

I am speaking as an L62 Dev with a wife [housewife] and a (1 year old)child. I can comfortably make do with $2500 takehome per month including rent under $1000 in an apt right next to Microsoft Campus. I invest the remainder of my net pay after tax which is roughly 50% of my net takehome in an index fund and an online savings account and a college savings plan for my child.

Also my personal "cost of living" is low by not caring 2 hoots about Keeping Up with the Joneses who are stupid enough to get deep into credit card and mortgage related debt to finance the cheap dumbed down TV Soap Opera version of the American Dream as their definition of a bare minimum standard of living.

Cost of living is all a matter of choice. It is about the standard of living one decides to get accustomed to and lifestyle & investment choices of not wanting a mortgage, 2 cars, lots of furniture, etc.

It is about living a simple healthy happy & fulfilling life.

Security & settling down is not about signing up for a gargantuan mortgage in the midst of a housing bubble, but about making intelligent investments & lifestyle decisions and living well within my means.

Believe me it can be done at much much lesser than what Microsoft is paying you, it just takes discipline and prioritizing what is really valuable to you

Anonymous said...

So this "should you be able to buy a house" theme is interesting and probably a post for some other blog. But I'll tell you what would fix this AND effectively raise everyone's compensation. We need a mobile employee package that allows more people to live wherever they want AND work in a corp (Redmond based) group. If we truly believe in our collaborative software, enterprise dev tools and unified communications, we would be able to do this. I know many companies who do remote dev or distributed dev. I guarantee you that morale would go up AND you'd have a TON of people shove off from WA if we did that.

Anonymous said...

There will be people reading this who will be bitter. For some of you (you know who you are), I say, there's the door. Don't let it hit you on the way out.

My. Spoken like a true team-player.

For others, I say, get out of your group.

I agree with you here. It's likely the only place you and I see eye to eye, but I still agree. Your management chain is a key to reward. There are a few excellent managers. The staggering majority are poor. There are a few that are awful. If you work for a unappreciative manager, this poster is correct: Find a different one.

Some people who would have gotten some small amount of stock, got 0 stock in order to pay for my 500%.

I could feel guilty about that, but I don't.


Considering the tone of your entire post, that doesn't surprise me in the slightest.

At the end of the day, I'm a rabid believer in a meritocracy, and I love the fact that Microsoft -- when it's well run -- is a meritocracy.

You appear to consider yourself rewarded due to merit. I don't know you. You might be excellent. All I know is a combination of all the people I've met, and of those, the people who've rocketed up in the company have almost always been capable. I know few total incompentants that are sent up the corporate ladder with a cannon. However, circumstances had often been kind to these people, whether they realized it or not.

That is, in fact, the key. How many people highly rewarded consider it "good fortune"? It happens to be so close to zero that you can consider it zero. How many people poorly rewarded consider success "total luck"? A huge number. Not 100%, but a lot of them. It seems to be human nature to tend to presume that if you succeed at something, it must be due to skill, and if you fail, it was entirely luck. It's also a foolish trap that all should avoid.

I'm leveled above you. I gained that level by the graciousness of managers I once had. Of course, I worked very hard but in retrospect, I now realize that had I reported to different people, my rewards could very well have been very different. Since working for those managers, I've worked just as hard, with peers of the same caliber, but have since reported to a couple people who felt differently about the value of my contributions. They both valued different things than my previous managers (those things primarily being my contributions (or insufficient contributions in their eyes) to their political escapades).

Be careful. Even incredibly small changes above you can turn you from being seen as a top-flight employee to someone who is seen as not even worthy of being a Microsoft employee.

Anonymous said...

Hey! Welcome to the club. Pull up a chair and let me explain how this all works to you.

Best. Post. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to the 900 execs that recieived the 37 million shares of stock http://msnbc.msn.com/id/14608573/

While the joke of MyMicrosoft hits the rest of us employees we should be thankful that we have jobs, while Jeff Raikes rakes in 21 million dollars for delivering Office 12 late!!

I wonder if they execs are laughing about everyone's 4% raise!

Anyone else think it is time to form a union?

Anonymous said...

Bloomberg story on MS stock bonuses here:

Aug. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. paid out performance bonuses totaling almost $1 billion in restricted stock to 900 of its top executives.

One-third of the 37 million shares vest immediately, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, the world's biggest software company, said in a regulatory filing today. Chairman Bill Gates and Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer were excluded.

The company revamped its compensation plan in 2003 to hold onto key executives because many of the stock options granted previously were worthless. Doing so gave the company a way to reward executives and remain competitive with rival employers such as Google Inc. after the stock fell 56 percent in 2001 and 2002.

[...]


Must be nice for those folks. I'm sure the big institutional shareholders will be pleased as punch at the rationale. Not.

Cheers,
Scott.

Anonymous said...

Level: 63
Position Name: not dev
Org: (PG, Ops, SG)
Months in Position: 5, 24 in group
Years at MS: 2
Last Promo Date: early this year
Rating: Exceeds
Merit %: 5
Bonus %: 11
Stock Count: 900
Assessment: Worse than Expected

all but told i would have fared better in the old compensation system. thanks, lisa, you took money out of my pocket to feed the mediocre. that's exactly why im a short-timer here.

Anonymous said...

L59
4%
4%
:(

Anonymous said...

The score was changed to a 4.0. Review scores can - and in many cases should - be contested and changed. If you are being treated unfairly, escalate in both your management chain and within HR.

---------

yes as long as you have support otherwise you are screwed.

Anonymous said...

Now, every morning I come into work I think about that 3.0 and it doesn't inspire me to "work harder" -- it makes me resent Microsoft. I am still a good employee, but I felt betrayed. Will I ever regain the same passion I once had for Microsoft? Who knows. I no longer pay attention to what I get during my reviews... I’m numb.

Very well said. Some people never recover from an underserved 3.0. It is not about the monetary benefits as much as it is about being told that you are in the bottom 25% of the team(after working hard all year).

And from this point on the employee will not do anything that won't give him "visibility". Any little piece of work that will help the company, but not give him visibility, won't be done. A manager cannot and does not know each and every little piece of work his directs do.

In the end this sort of attitude will be reflected in the quality of products shipped by Microsoft.

The curve has done a lot of damage!!

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