Sunday, September 24, 2006

Beyond Redmond Product Groups

Time for a copy-and-paste job looking at one theme of comments: work life at Microsoft beyond the Redmond Product Groups. I'm interested in learning more about parts of Microsoft that I don't have much interaction with and what challenges exist in those parts. Maybe you are, too.

It's no surprise to folks out there: I don't work in the field. I was supe- er - especially excited when MSFT in the Field blog popped up because I was looking forward to learning about the trials and tribulations folks in the field have to go through, mainly because I wanted to know, as someone not in the field, what I can do to help them win. Because when they win, we win.

There's a disconnect, at least in my world, between the groups creating the software and the folks taking on Microsoft's competition (or working within the wonderful world of coopetition) one-on-one. If a deal falls through, why? How does the feedback get to me? The only time I see such feedback is usually a high-exclam email explaining how an entire deal is at risk unless some unimplemented feature can easily be worked around. Usually the response is, "Sorry, you're screwed."

Additionally, if certain shipping features are knock-outs and helping to blow away the competition, please let me know, because I might unknowingly deprecate them in the next version to do something else.

A request in a comment looking for more discussion of Microsoft beyond the Product Group:

Mini - how about spending a post or two getting feedback and exploring other problem areas of Microsoft outside of HQ?

I'm thinking specifically of MCS (Consulting Services) - over 1,200 U.S. and 2,000+ worldwide. I left the group because of extremely dysfunctional management, bullying, sleazy engagement managers, arrogant architects, brutal travel, and a law-firm mentality of billable utilization to the point of fraud.

To prevent a mass exodus former peers say there's an unwritten policy where there's a 3-6 month period when a consultant CAN'T leave for another internal position, effectively locking them into the MCS org.

I was lucky getting out but suffered an ass-whupping of a review. I'd never go back, and the only reason I stayed was the pride associated with working for Microsoft.

Goodness. A follow-up comment from a now Ex-Microsoftie:

I've been in services since my entry into MS, and I more or less agree with this comment, but not all of it. In my former org. at least, EM's are doing basically their jobs, which is selling services. They have quotas to fulfill, and they do what they need to get this done. I must say that my former position was NOT an EM, but you can’t blame salespeople for behaving like salespeople and trying to make their numbers.

I totally agree with sleazy management. In my case, they managed to grow the org by more that 100% in three years. What’s interesting about this is that we went from being around 50 consultants (the ones that actually bill stuff) and 10 managers/pseudo sales guys/admin staff, to being around 60 consultants and a whooping 45-50 non-consulting staff and 2 additional managerial levels. Not to mention filling most of these managerial boxes mostly with cronies from outside who didn’t know their arse from a consulting engagement, not to mention real consulting work. That and turning the workplace from a great place to work and a great team where could discuss any problem openly and respectfully, into a political arena where CYA and sucking up to the higher ups and HHRR is the norm.

After all that, I still think that MS is a great company (otherwise I wouldn’t be reading this blog right?), but I have to put my family and career first. That’s why I took a job elsewhere, and you know what? It wasn’t really hard to find something I liked (MS like company without the bullsh...)

Another proclaimed ex-Microsoftie:

4 years in services, 1 year in sales, now left the company. Services went from dynamic, innovation and customer focused to bureaucratic, utilization driven and internally focused after Mike Sinneck took over and remained so after he left. Thanks Mike for creating a little mini-IBM GS and populating it with your former colleagues.

The hallmarks of my MSO experience were weak management, self promoting behaviour and back-stabbing by "peers." It's such a great feeling to trust someone on your team only to find they have pre-empted all of your work and already claimed credit for it...before you even finished...and management had already rewarded them for it.

I also saw a lot of victories claimed when nothing of value had actually been delivered, pronouncements which were picked up by the sales/marketing management and praised, on at least one occasion, as "role model behaviour."

I'm in a smaller, more dynamic company now, making more money for far less stress.

Another broad follow-up comment from the field that is great to end with because it has some positive thumbs-up for soon-to-be-released (when?) products:

Notes from the field ...

:

General feedback I'm getting on reviews is not bad to good. I'm hearing way fewer "I got screwed" than I did under the old system.

Vista RC1 looks good, but I agree with one of the previous posters that called it a misnamed beta. The Sept EDW should release this week - I don't remember the exact numbers, but the fixed bug count is HUGE, with tons more planned for RTM. This isn't your daddy's RC ...

More less than positive news on the Vista front - the number of machines some of our customers have that can't run Vista is much higher than some people estimated. I'm not sure Vista is compelling enough to drive large upgrades on desktops. I can't imagine a public company not requiring Vista + bitlocker on laptops, particularly given the inability of high-paid consultants to order coffee and not lose their laptops ...

Kudos to the Office 2007 team. Not quite there yet, but Office has some killer new features. The new version of SharePoint and the addition of Excel Services and Forms Services rock the server side too! The new interface has a learning curve, but once you get used to it, it's hard to go back. Nicely done!

Exchange 12 or MSIT's implementation thereof has a ways to go. I'm one of the lucky ones that gets to dogfood E12 - I truly understand the meaning of dogfooding now. Just doing my part for the greater good.

Stock is moving up ... babies need a college education. Steve - if you're reading, please don't say anything to the street. Take a page from Bill's book and pay someone smarter than you to do it. It's not one of your core competencies.

SQL Server rocks! Lots of wins against Orifice. 64 bit, dual-core servers with loads of memory allow SQL Server to do some *amazing* things. With AMD's quad-core just around the corner and ram prices continuing to fall, it only gets better.

.NET 3.0 (aka WinFX, Indigo, Avalon, et al) is generating a lot of buzz. Windows Workflow is getting a lot of attention and I've seen some incredible WPF prototypes. Does anybody get Cardspace (or whatever we're calling it today)? Ruby on Rails is cool and can do some things really well, but it's not even in the same league as .NET 3.0, particularly from a versatility standpoint.

Q1 is almost over - if we meet or exceed our sales target, and Vista and Office don't slip again, we could see $30 for Christmas ... I guarantee morale will increase as the stock crosses $30.

Getting bonus and stock vesting in a two week period didn't suck. With 4 grants maturing next year, it becomes a non-trivial event. In general, morale in the field seems up. Either that or the happy pills really do work ...

Congrats to the Fun in the Sun winners. I hear Hawaii was excellent. Now get back to work and close some Q1 business!

re: some of the MCS comments. It seems that things are better in general, but there are still some practices (or subsets) that suck. MCS lost a *lot* of talent over the last 5 years. Some internal, but a lot left the company. Services is a big business - it's real money now - amatuer hour is over. The days of being a boutique consultancy are gone. Someone needs to step up and drive the business. Sadly, we probably need to go to IBM, EDS, or one of the Big 4 to find that person (that worked so well last time ... NOT).

As for the hiring binge, there aren't many open field positions outside of services and we're stretched really thin. Maybe we could get some of that headcount reallocated?

Mini - thanks for inspiring people to be positive. As bad as Microsoft can be at times, it sucks *WAY* less than most of the rest of the world (that's no reason not to continue to push for improvements, just a dose of reality for the grass is greener crowd).

Just a peek. Are there serious problems out there and are they being addressed? I'd love to know more. For my day job, I'd especially like advice on figuring out how to be in the loop with the field directly and hear from them how things are going and how we could do a better job based on competitive reality vs. our current persona-puppet theater.


60 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great to see some field comments. I spent my entire tenure at MS completely in the field (Services followed by Sales - left within the last year), and these comments (positive and negative) are really dead on. The thing that finally did it for me was the lack of challenge and flexibility in field roles. I would love to have had a role where I used the deep product knowledge I gained at MS and combined it with my sales and management skills as well as my passion for great customer solutions/satisfaction. Unfortunately, no such position in the field exists - and I don't want to move to Redmond, where it would still be very tough to find a role that really exercises you in all these different areas while still allowing you to make a visible impact. Closest thing I could come up with was CXP. They started moving those folks out to the field in some PGs (though I beg to differ that CLT is the "field") but that seemed to tail off about as quickly as it began. At a minimum, they certainly missed the big markets in the northeast.

Most of the first level mgmt in both services and sales leaves a lot to be desired as well, but you learn to play the system and get your 4.0+ (er, exceeding expectations I guess it's called now). In the end it's not fun to compete with your team that way if you respect them, so I'm hopeful that this new review system works out well for the people that deserve it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini - your comments on 'outside the pg' are interesting; the quotes from those in MCS are even more so. While I am not in the field I am in CSS and it's amazing how closely some of the comments about explosive org size, politics, cronyism and overall incompetence are virtually mirrored in my org. I think it's the politics and cronyism that really do all the harm. One incompetent leader joins the org and brings in a level of incompetent mid-mgmt and before too long, the smart people figure it out and move on, leaving the lame brains to run the show. More discouraging is the comment that most people did the same or better as a result of the new review model. While I have heard this of most core-tech (read: PG) teams, most did worse in my org. Not sure if that is cronyism getting in the way of fair rewards or generally true outside of core tech. Would love to see others' opinion on that.

While I am on my way out of the org (not sure if that means outside MS or not yet) I have real concerns about our customers. The level of incompetence is big enough that there could be a very real impact to CPE and some of our key corporate bets. While I have exposed all I can to solve the problem, backlash is going to hit hard if I don't move on. I hope our GM or VP figures things out before the customer drain gets worse. I guess I better stay out of MCS as well.

Anonymous said...

Hello to all the Microsofties across the globe.

When we say beyond the Product Groups, do you want to include non US based employees but not necessarily MCS only? I assume so and therefore I will add these comments.

No matter how bad you think it is in the US, it is far worse outside the Redmond / US centric world. Here are some examples (some good / some bad),

When you talk to your GM (probably a partner I might add) about the potential for promotion he asks you your level. I would have expected him to know this seeing as he asked for the 1:1 session. Anyway, when give the level details he replied that levels in Europe are normally 2 below their US counterparts. Shock and Awe, my response was probably why I got a great review, NOT.

Stock allocation / awards for US based staff are way higher than their international counterparts. Believe it I know as I have seen the figures and we are not talking 10% or 20% more.

The “Global Travel Policy” is a joke. Flights under seven hours should be booked in Economy / Coach using the internal Microsoft travel process. This assumes that flights over 7 hours should be booked in Economy +, Business, etc. Not the case in many European countries where local policy applies. In other words, you need to keep the costs but the management team need to travel business class as they will work during the flight and justify the expense. Total BS, I always travel business class as I make sure I book early and get cheap flights. I see many Microsofties on the flights, in both business and economy. I have yet to see one of the senior managers open their laptop on the flight when in business class. Is the Global Travel Policy focussed on the US only?????? Look at the title you dimwits.

Ex-Pat deals. Now check these out as they mostly apply to the US folks moving to the international space. From firsthand experience this basically works like this. You go to an international site for a few years, usually around 3. While you are there, Microsoft will pay for your house and all costs. I know one person that did not touch their salary for 30 months. Everything was expensed to Microsoft. What a job, how do I get one of those? And before anyone complains, most of the examples are not GM or Director level.

Redundancy. Do you know what that means in Europe? It means your job goes away and Microsoft give you a big golden handshake. This ranges from 6.5 weeks to 8.5 weeks wages for every year served. It also allows for your stock vest to be brought forward several months. You do get the option to apply for other jobs in Microsoft but seriously, with several years service under your belt would you bother.

Here’s a real beauty, sad but true. I was in one of the European sites recently and they do not get free cans of soda (Coke, etc. for the European readers). They have those crappy dispensers like you see in MacD’s. I asked about this and I was told that it was brought in maybe 3 – 4 years ago but there were never free cans available. It appears that local management are under the impression that employees will take several cans home every evening. Big deal, kike that doesn’t happen in the US.

I could go on with many more examples but I need to finish work now. My 15 minute “mini” break is over.

All Microsoft has to do it make the rules the same for all employees. After all, we all work for the same company. I’m not saying, pay the same rates across the globe but make sure the levels are the same. It would be easier for HR or my manager / GM to explain to me why a US employee of the same level is paid more / less than me based on economic factors. You never know, based on economic factors many of the international employees should be earning considerably more than their US counterparts on the same levels. It’s economics baby and you just cannot argue against them.

Anonymous said...

Uh-oh. I see a flurry of comments coming in for this one, both good and bad.

The field org differs widely dependant on region. I know for a fact that US is a totally different beast from EMEA.

I suggest that posters mention which org they are referring to - will help make sense as to which are the good parts and which parts need some work...

Anonymous said...

>> In other words, you need
>> to keep the costs but
>> the management team need
>> to travel business class....

This is an over-generalization, sir.

Might be true in your org, but definitely not in ours. In our group, Directors, and mid-level managers lead by example. They travel mostly in coach even for long-haul flights to India, Japan, and China (10+ hours a leg!). We also have teams in Europe, and managers there do the same thing.

Our org has a fixed travel budget, and our entire hierarchy operates conscientiously to make sure that these travel dollars go as far as possible to make the most impact for Microsoft, our customers, and our partners.


>> Mini:
>> Are there serious problems
>> out there and are they
>> being addressed? I'd love
>> to know more.

...No wonder comments here have tended to be more negative than representative...

Yours,

Anonymous said...

I'm really crying for all those EMEA based services resources who don't get stock (or don't get a lot). They can take my measly underwater crap, I'll take their company car instead (last I talked with someone, they were Audi A4's).

I've been a field based services resource (both Support and MCS) for six years now. The fact that the above post is a surprise for most typifies life in the field. Most of the folks running the show don't realize Microsoft exists outside of the Puget Sound area.

Examples?

How about a mandatory training website hosted on a file share (just try browsing a file based website over a network share over VPN)?

I was at the first TechReady a year ago where they rolled out http://community. A huge effort by HQ to create a central place to connect with the rest of services. RickDe opens the mics for questions and folks are stacked 10 deep at each one. The first question, "Hey, I'm a consultant on-site at customers everyday and can't VPN. Will this be available outside of CorpNet?" Blank stare from Rick then, "Uhh. Yeah, I'll give that to the team to work on." Every one in line sat down - they had the same question. [To their credit, they did get the site on the Extranet within a few months.]

And for those non-softies listening in - Those nice individual offices with folks having modern hardware and dual monitors you see in those Channel 9 videos? Think of those like a movie set. In the field we get to try and be "experts" on 3 year old hardware that won't hardly run shipping software, much less anything new that is coming out. HW problem? Open a ticket with the helpless-desk. Since most of the field isn't near an on-site HW tech, they'll send the corporate equivelent of the Geek Squad out to tell you what you already know - the hard drive is dead.

Everytime we are promised a hardware refresh, the budget mysteriously disappears. I don't know what it is about this company and hardware, but I honestly would have an easier time expensing a $230 meal entertaining some random customer than I would for a new laptop battery that actually holds a charge.

Anonymous said...

This may be too far beyond Redmond product groups, and if so I apologise and feel free to leave this screened. But I thought it might be good to see - particularly by any marketing people who read your blog. Scroll to item four here:

Five Things You Need to Know

Minyanville is a contrarian and quirky but fairly well respected financial analysis organisation. 25% of the people who control 75% of financial assets in the US feel insulted by advertising aimed at them. So if they're making fun of you on that very topic, then, well, you might want to consider whether you have some Problems.

Anonymous said...

There's a disconnect>>>

There's been a disconnect from the beginning, and it should start with the conclusions you've drawn as a result of where you sit and how long you've been with the company. I took the weekend to read your blog and as someone who has been with the company (in the field) for about 4 years, I'm shocked that you would actually have the arrogance to write what you do. I do believe your intentions are the best and there's always merit in that. But to actually suggest that MSFT shouldn't hire more people when in fact, those positions are largely allocated to the field and those who support it at Redmond who are working 3 jobs in one.

What is it that you actually *know*, Mini? And why in the world should I believe you?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, no such position in the field exists - and I don't want to move to Redmond, where it would still be very tough to find a role that really exercises you in all these different areas while still allowing you to make a visible impact.>>>

This is the crux of a very common problem. As someone in the field who chooses to make the decision to stay in your region, you also self-select your options for career advancement. There is a perception that people in the field want options that just aren't realistic. They want opportunities to advance in their career, yet they refuse to move to Redmond to take advantage of said opportunities. THe role of people in the field is a vital, critial one. But to suggest that those in Redmond don't have visible impact is simply inaccurate. It is your choice to stay in a place that works for your family and your lifestyle. But Microsoft is not entitled to create opportunities for your advancement because you are unwilling to move to the heart of where said advancement typically lay.

Anonymous said...

Hey EMEA employee. Start driving the amount of revenue that the US does for products, and then talk about being compensated equally with people in the US. The fact of the matter is that the US drives an extraordinary amount of revenue in all of our businesses and the business abroad continues to suffer. In addition, teams like mine are supporting your business as well as making sure execution in the US happens, and we're not getting paid any additional amount of money for it. We know you're understaffed and we're more than happy to help. So consider moving to the US and taking on these jobs if you want to get compensated in the same way. You signed up with a company that pays you according to the results that you deliver. Start delivering results that are expected from the US and get paid that way.

Anonymous said...

Ramblings from a 7-year field veteran of various orgs (Support, Sales)...

Morale in the field isn't terribly high, but it certainly doesn't seem to compete with the abject misery at our mothership (if the posts on this blog are any indication). Most of the folks I know look around and say to each other "Yeah, there are a lot of things that could be improved, but where would we go that would be markedly better?" We interact with our customers, and see how they operate on a daily basis. Few that I know would trade our current role to work in an IT organization at a customer. I see the grass (lots of it!) every day, and very rarely does it look greener.

We don't get towels, and we don't get good cafeteria food, but the one huge perk we have is working from home on occasion. The majority of field offices are more like staging areas...managers and GM's have offices, and some grunts have cubicles they can call home, but the party line is that unless we're out there helping customers and\or selling software, then we're not contributing. So being seen around the office with any degree of regularity is frowned upon!

I've found that collaboration in field positions is of utmost importance, so the option of closing your office door, doing your job, and going home...that's just not an option for us. Some are playing the system and 'hide out', but that can only go on for so long.

Our once world class support organization is suffering from massive losses on the front lines - positions moved over to India, top notch engineers leaving for greener pastures (internal and external, sadly). Customers are noticing.

I wouldn't touch an MCS position with a 10-foot pole, purely because of the travel demands. That being said, I know a lot of extremely competent people who are making a difference with customers in that role. Keep the faith.

Cronyism exists everywhere, inside and outside of Microsoft. Learn to live with it.

While I have encountered my fair share of people in the company who have inspired thoughts of "How in the world did he\she get hired?", that pales in comparison to the number of times I find myself thinking "Damn, he\she is sharp. I'm not worthy!"

Honestly, reading the negativity in the comments of this blog gets me down. I'm still proud to work for Microsoft and can't imagine working anywhere else. Maybe I could be making more cash elsewhere, but I truly believe that I have a pretty good deal here. This is a great time to be in the field...buzz is building for the huge wave of technology we're going to be releasing. There are hordes of salespeople chomping at the bit to have some new technology to push. Enough mediocrity, let's hit a home run with all this in 2007.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini,

Recently found out (for Windows org at least; no clue about others), that if you're looking for feedback from the field abroad you can contact Subsidiary Program Managers; they *are* the direct link (well, as direct as possible) between dev in Redmond and the subsidiaries around the world.

They report directly to corp (i.e. they don't report through multiple levels and regional headquarters like sales & marketing do) and review specs, perform in-country testing, have close relationships with local marketing, sales and numerous other local groups *and* with dev in Redmond, do or collect market research, etc.

Check out internal site wewinpm for an example.

Always thought that would be an interesting job...

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Mini,
When are you going to do a topic on customers/testers? You guy's will soon release a lot of new products and services that the silent army out here has been testing for many, many months. Trying to get stuff WE want in the new version(s). Personally, some of the functions that WE want will apparently be included in the software products/services will be included. All our VOLUNTEER hrs we spent will somewhat payoff. Don't get me wrong here since we appreciate being included in helping OUR software work better for our business. Special thanks to all the teams that we have worked with!!! We REALLY appreciate your time!!!
For the current topic, did you really expect any different responses?
For the previous topic, even way out here in BFE all the "top secret" stuff you mentioned we had already read about from public sites. Amazing what you can find if you know where to look. We're with you "ship it".

Customer

Anonymous said...

"I'm thinking specifically of MCS (Consulting Services) - over 1,200 U.S. and 2,000+ worldwide. I left the group because of extremely dysfunctional management, bullying, sleazy engagement managers, arrogant architects, brutal travel, and a law-firm mentality of billable utilization to the point of fraud."
Oh yes, it looks so real, even in 2006! MCS folks are focused on the delivery, with excellence in mind. How to explain it in a short way: it's all based on the chargeability of a consultant. The more you work, the more MCS earn money, regardless of the job you do. MCS is enterely driven by management that focus only on huge invoice / EM. Now, times has changed and MCS has a lot of difficulties to have a real credibility in the business because MCS teams had never been involved in product group or any shipped product. Compared to prohibitives fees related to others consulting companies, MCS is not an easy business to drive. So, most of the times, delivery means writting Word document, copy/paste MSDN/Technet white papers and tehcnical articles and sometimes, building software for customers but this is an option, because it could hurt the customer in case of bugs.
Most of the times, softwares are delivered and achieved by Partners (eco-system of Partners as Companies, Gold certified Partners)
MCS is a very big and growing business, and every year, manager are swapped to enhance the way of profitability.
MCS do not ships software.
MCS folks are the visible side of Microsoft to customers, so they tend to be salesman, and so the behaviour is sometime insane.
Some folks from products should join the Services and help the consultants ; in this way, they would not behave like they do (so arrogant and ocnfident). They are key people in the way customers are looking at Microsoft. Customers sometime things those folks are part of the software shipping process.. hum... it's all built on this mistakes and little lies.
But we don't care. We have a high rate and it represents/brings the excellence in consulting.
We try to enhance things, day by day, but our managers have no capability or so poor knownledget in writting sofwtare that, they only see the billing hours. We are only reviewed and our first objectives are based on billing hours and not successfull feedback from customers.
We need time to change.
Help us Mini ! We 're in trouble, too :)

Who da'Punk said...

But to actually suggest that MSFT shouldn't hire more people when in fact, those positions are largely allocated to the field and those who support it at Redmond who are working 3 jobs in one.

Oh my, start fanning yourself and get near your fainting couch: Microsoft Should Not Hire More People! We couldn't efficiently handle the load two years ago and we can't handle the load now.

Why is it a good thing that the field has so many open positions?

What is it that we can't do now that more bodies would help with?

Those are not rhetoric questions, I'd like to know. Is it a temporary need or can these new hires continue on, challenged and successful and bring in lots and lots of money?

Anonymous said...

We don't get towels, and we don't get good cafeteria food

Don't you worry about that; we don't get good cafeteria food either.

Anonymous said...

We have WAY too many people in the field. I'm speaking of the "field" in average. We may be understaffed on the front lines, of consultants and field sales reps or TS folks that partner with the sales rep in the sales process...but then there are THE OTHERS. As many have pointed out the massive management overhead in MCS...what about the BMO orgs scattered around. Every field GM has a BMO (business marketing officer....yes, "officer"...LOL) that basically translates the corporate marketing initiatives into local things and each one of these has a whole team of people. How many people do you need to run a local marketing event? Especially when that event planning and content is hand delivered to you by corp. And of course we all know that marketing in Chicago is so very different than New York so of course we NEED these local marketing officers to make those customizations.

And what about the myriads of DPE folks like DEs and AEs in the field who have NO revenue targets and NO billable hours attached to them, but that all suck off the district headcount and revenue per head tit. The fact is that revenue per head in the field has been going down. For two main reasons...because we have TOO MANY of these overhead heads...and because revenue has flatlined as our field sales CAN'T SELL our products, especially to the enterprise, we have NO enterprise sales expertise...to say nothing of our whacked out way that we treat our channel in SMS&P and ignoring we do of the mid-market.

Now before you yell and try to tell me that XYZ district or vertical exceeded their number...yada yada yada. I can point to year over year where May holds mails from the GM about how "we're missing target by 20%" and then magically we exceed by 6% in June. All faked numbers. Some miracle of an EA true up or something to squeek that number out...amazingly fancy book cooking.

So the cry to have more heads in the field is wrongly placed. It should be a cry to reallocate the overhead heads, kills some layers of management and take all that HC savings, give these people a bag and make them hit the street to sell sell sell.

Anonymous said...

Hey EMEA employee. Start driving the amount of revenue that the US does for products, and then talk about being compensated equally with people in the US. The fact of the matter is that the US drives an extraordinary amount of revenue in all of our businesses and the business abroad continues to suffer. In addition, teams like mine are supporting your business as well as making sure execution in the US happens, and we're not getting paid any additional amount of money for it. We know you're understaffed and we're more than happy to help. So consider moving to the US and taking on these jobs if you want to get compensated in the same way. You signed up with a company that pays you according to the results that you deliver. Start delivering results that are expected from the US and get paid that way.

Good thing you mentioned "revenue" and not "profits" or I'd have had to wonder why you were giving US-based efforts like MSN and Xbox a free pass.

*Whew*. Close one.

Anonymous said...

Redmond person here with vast experience traveling to the subs and districts to meet with customers...

I'll gladly trade you my towels for your company car (you EMEA folks). I'll gladly trade my Acapulco Fresh overpriced food for the TVP fare served on real dinnerware. I'll gladly give you my free Talking Rain for the Ribeena Black Current juice boxes from London city office. I'll trade my shared window office for a cube in Neuss where I can see the turtles and koi in the lobby atrium. And you can have my poor parking spot in trade for that gorgeous view of the Bosphorus from the Istanbul MENA HQ.

Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, but please stop whining about your amenities field, you don't have it that bad.

Anonymous said...

In direct response to "Hey EMEA employee".

Check the stats for MSFT, look at the growth markets, look at the tax to revenue payments for the international sites and then come back with another comment.

BTW: I am not aware of any employees in EMEA that get company cars. Many get a car allowance which brings their base salary close to some of the competitors. Would they give this up to have the money added to their salaries, I believe that would get anonymous YES response. For this reason, allowances rarely increase and therefore are not included in the review process. Microsoft will not remove them as it would mean having to increase 8 - 10% of each employee’s salary by the increase allocated during the review + the bonus amount. A simple car allowance is a very shrewd way to keep costs down and employees stupidly happy.


Although I think I prefer stupidly happy to stupidly ignorant!

Anonymous said...

Lol - Mini, it's almost like the management can't not hire more people now. Just to prove that you're wrong and that they don't listen to you (which is funny, since they seem to be the ones that are most sensitive to you and care about what is said here more than anyone else).

Perhaps you should change your rant to, "Triple the employees! Make all current and new employees lifetime positions!" Then sit back and watch those stubborn, egomaniacal mules in senior management do your bidding to satisfy your devilishly "secret" wishes ;-)

Anonymous said...

As a customer I would like to take advantage of this field product groups forum to find out what the field people are seeing from their customers in terms of complaints about WGA.

I just read ZdNet's Ed Bott summary of his own survey here:

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=142&tag=nl.e539

Where Ed said:
"According to our analysis, 42% of the people who experienced problems with WGA and reported those problems to Microsoft's public forums during that period were actually running Genuine Microsoft Windows. That's not just our opinion, either. Those statistics were reported by the Redmond-approved Microsoft Genuine Advantage Diagnostic utility."

Quite frankly, these results parallel my own experiences, and I really am curious as to why the managers and developers of this shameful exercise in Microsoft customer abuse have not all been sacked.

Anonymous said...

To the writer of "Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, but please stop whining about your amenities field, you don't have it that bad."

Try 85% travel, 4 or 5 days a week, every week for months on end and then a 2% raise. That's why people are fleeing MCS.

Anonymous said...

BTW: I am not aware of any employees in EMEA that get company cars.

Dude, you must be stupidly ignorant.

EVERYONE over and above L57 (that's L59 for a corp employee) in the 3 EMEA subs I've worked in gets company cars - or a decent allowance, whichever you prefer. Going to corp is to take a level drop and package cut, for the benefit of less vacation and more politics. As you would say, go figure...

Dan said...

Mini wrote: Oh my, start fanning yourself and get near your fainting couch: Microsoft Should Not Hire More People! We couldn't efficiently handle the load two years ago and we can't handle the load now.

Why is it a good thing that the field has so many open positions?

What is it that we can't do now that more bodies would help with?


Someone pointed me to your thread, and I thought I'd respond since I already addressed this issue when you first called for our field to be downsized in January, 2005.

In summary, a dedicated sales force is required to win in the enterprise.

All of our big customer wins, like Dell, NASDAQ, USA Today, and countless others are driven through our field, not through building a better product.

Our primary competition in the enterprise is IBM and they outnumber us 10-to-1 (if not more) and already have a long lasting relationship with customers that we want to have "switch" to Microsoft servers. When we do actually get in front of a customer and tell our story we have a high success rate. When we don't even talk to the customer we have, unsurprisingly, a very high failure rate.

If increasing our field size meant more profit as a result of touching more customers, I would hope you would agree that larger size isn't necessarily evil.

You can read my full response on why I don't think we should cut our field at: http://blogs.msdn.com/danielfe/archive/2005/01/12/351676.aspx

As for the product team, I've personally found programs like RAP (Rapid Adoption Program) where the product team provides direct support for unreleased products to be useful for customers.


-Dan

Anonymous said...

The reason some people in EMEA have a company car (yes, it does exist), is because in many EMEA countries it is cheaper (for the company) to provide some of the remuneration in benefit-in-kind like company cars, as the employers contribution on that is much lower than it is on base salary, so it's actually a benefit to MS.

Many would trade their car for hard salary though; in the long term, and in many countries, that's more valuable to the employee.

For those in the U.S. looking at company cars here with envy, I invite you to come over and have look at our income tax: I pay 55% of my gross every month to income tax and 66% of my annual bonus.

On top of that, health insurance here is not fully covered by the company; a part gets deducted from my salary *and* I have to pay a part on the spot for every treatment or doctor's visit (this also differs per country though).

What is good here is being able to work from home reasonably often; I like working from home, but I usually end up making 12 hour days anyway, even at home (right now, it's more like 16 hours; Vista... sigh).

Anonymous said...

I also hear alot of MCS whining on here about travel. I'm sorry, you signed up for that, if you don't like it, leave the job...that's the life of a consultant, in and out of Microsoft. The upside to that is that you get lots of mileage points and hotel points tax free. Having been in a corp role with heavy travel, I can tell you that's addictive. I took my family on more than one, fully funded through points, vacations to Hawaii...even able to stay at places like Hyatts and Westins. So again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you don't like it then get out...it's not the companies fault they make you travel, that's consulting for the most part.

Anonymous said...

Try 85% travel, 4 or 5 days a week, every week for months on end and then a 2% raise. That's why people are fleeing MCS.

Only 85% travel? Try being in Premier Field Engineering, not only do you seldom see your home, but you get calls at 2AM in broken english asking, "I dispatch you now? I already sent you e-mail, you can be in San Diego at 9AM, right? New York is close to San Diego on the map." as soon as you answer the phone. Only to find out later that the needed resource is nowhere near your skill set.

The other great part of getting these calls in PFE is that since they're overseas, you can say with confidence that "The NSA is listening." :)

PFE has gone through the same middle-management bloat and fiefdom building that others have posted about in their orgs. With much the same results as others see elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Good thing you mentioned "revenue" and not "profits" or I'd have had to wonder why you were giving US-based efforts like MSN and Xbox a free pass.>>>

You are aware that Xbox has launched globally and is in EMEA - right?

I'm so amazed at the bitterness and negativity I see on this blog. I'm so glad that none of the commenters here (or you Mini) represent "my" Microsoft. The people I work with are too busy to find time to complain at such length and just enjoy their jobs. Do we all have a fair and equitable salary and level for what we do? Nope. But we also are committed to changing our own corner of the company where we can. I guess we're more about action rather than blaming it on everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Mini, totally OT: can you comment on the recent announcement about VS2003 being not supported on Vista?

http://blogs.msdn.com/somasegar/archive/2006/09/26/772250.aspx

Anonymous said...

I agree with a growing number of posters that comments, and dare I say Mini, have been negatively biased recently. It gets quickly very obvious when constructive criticism gets perverted by whining and complaining.

Geos: Fact is that the geographies are different no matter what multinational company you work for. It's a useless exercise to whine about another country having car plans where most comparable companies there provide a similar benefit. For the most part, it is a waste of time to complain by comparing benefits, because social and economic standards are different for each country.

MCS#1: If you hate travel, and got a 2% merit (almost an underperformed) last year, it's probably best for you to find another position where you can best contribute and have a better Work-life balance.

MCS#2: Unlike IBM, MCS' key purpose is to help sell software. Service revenue is secondary. Once you lose sight of this, you lose sight of your role in Team-Microsoft.

Dan Fernandez: Way to go, sir. Your remarks prove that it can be a mistake to blindly apply an ideology like mini-sizing to every group within a complex multinational company like Microsoft. Moreso, I admire how you have spoken out with your true identity. I (and others here) can only wish to be as courageous.

Anonymous said...

Why is it a good thing that the field has so many open positions?

What is it that we can't do now that more bodies would help with?


The extra bodies can do lots of things! To name a few:

- they could create new processes and policies without vetting with those that would actually use them
- they could hold meetings to determine need for new websites and tools to communicate and enforce new processes and policies
- they could program manage the development of these new websites and tools
- they could release to the "target" audience with limited testing and no training
- they could realize 2 months after release there are 17 other websites and 9 other tools that currently do the same things as the ones they just released
- they could meet endlessly to determine best way to kill the other 17 sites and 9 tools
- they could watch as their sites and tools slowly gain adoption
- they could determine, even though adoption is starting to pick up, it is time to abandon their new sites and tools
- then they could start all over again
- after about 6-8 years of this, they could rise to a level where they could:
- apply their vast learnings to make the right decisions and then use their authority to execute - so the same mistakes are not repeated over and over again
-OR-
- play politics and manage up so they ensure they make partner before they reach an age where all those million dollar payouts cannot be spent on fast cars or fast (mail-order brides) women

Tell me field readers... what do you think about the level of process, policy, tooling, and training given to you? Do you have any idea the headcount at Corp that goes into what is there today or planned for tomorrow?

Anonymous said...

I am a fairly new employee in MCS (just over a year) and I don't have near the complaints as some of the other posters. My experience has been mostly positive. Let's face it, there is BS in every job out there. It's just a matter of how much can you put up with? MCS has the problem of every consulting organization. We are largely self-managed. Most MCS practices have one manager per 30+ employees which makes managing extremely difficult. Your career is largely in your own hands and you do have to do a good job of promoting yourself to your manager and his managers. I have worked for several other consulting orgs and it was largely the same in that regard.

I had a great year last year and managed to get a rare first year Exceeds/Outstanding review. It's really not that difficult to do. Just please your customers, keep yourself billable, and provide any and all valuable information you find to your peers. I really don't like to hear belly aching about being billable not being in your control. You are a customer facing employee and there is no one better than yourself to recognize your customers' needs and chances for extensions or other projects.

Some things in the field are a lot better than at corporate. For example, promotions tend to be quicker in the field. I know several people that have gone from level 61 to 65 or 66 within 6 years. That's just unheard of at corporate from what I've heard.

We do have our challenges keeping good consultants because the amount of travel required. We were told when we got hired that our position required at least 80% travel. I guess most people don't really believe that until they've been traveling non-stop for a year.

We also have our challenges with hardware. We don't have dual monitors or even monitors at all in many cases. We have a laptop and you better hope it's a good one because you won't get another for several years.

Do I think I could be paid more? Definitely but who doesn't think that. I was an independent consultant before coming to MS and I made a great living. I took the job with MS so I could be a part of something larger. That move definitely cost me some short term loss of money but I believe that this will be made up in the future with continued stock grants and bonuses.

To answer your question about how you can have better interaction. Make yourself available by participating on http://campus or in the DL's. If someone in the field emails you, actually answer their question in a decent timeframe. I am currently working on Vista TAP engagements and have worked with some great PM's in the PG. They were extremely responsive and actually took the time to sit down with me and my customers to answer questions to specific problems. I've also worked with PG people who are arrogant enough to think that they don't have time to deal with customers or the field. You only get one shot generally to prove yourself to a field person. If you are a jerk or take three weeks to respond to a question, don't expect to be asked any more questions. Once a field person finds a good contact in a PG, that information spreads like wildfire and that person will become the go to person for most of MCS.

We have our share of arrogant people as well but I think any organization with as many bright and talented people will suffer from that.

Thanks for keeping us in mind.

Anonymous said...

Re: And you can have my poor parking spot in trade for that gorgeous view of the Bosphorus from the Istanbul MENA HQ.

Well, yes I used to sit directly to that view for about 2 years or so and wouldn't trade it for any other cubicle post-it board. But hang-on a second, anybody having any idea why almost 1/3 of the people in Turkey office sharing the very same building decided to have different view and left the company in the lasy two years? And probably the other 1/3 changed positions internally. Man, I thought somebody at Corp was looking at the attrition rates. I remember long time ago anything above 3% (good or bad attrition) considered as a "bad thing".

Maybe they were not happy with the company car allowance - oh yes if you're in touch with customers you got one. But "getting in touch" meaning face to face; it doesn't count if you're 10 hours per day on the phone serving customers. Maybe it's the ADSL allowance - yes they are still getting charged 50 bucks for a crappy 256Mbit/sec line per month! in 2006. Or is it because some of floor's seating maps looks like a Tata Device Driver Development Factory? (i.e. less then 4 sqmeters per person) Or is it the learning curve effect that any equivalent job level in US=EMEA+2=Turkey+2, after having a look into the internal career site?

I'm sure it's not. Those who left were all over 7-8+ years of tenure with Microsoft. Just assume only 20 guys left the subsidiary with an average of 5 years in MS, it costs Microsoft a grant total of 100 manyears of experience. Do you really think that can be replaced easily? I don't think so.

It's a very very sad story. You may say it's Corporate life, it's everywhere, work at will etc. It's biggest f...up, I've ever seen driven by a single person in expense of what?

Just sell baby, do whatever to make your targets. Erm, meaning revenue (only). If you can double the revenue every year, nobody will ask you about any other metric. Costs? Go fu.k costs. CM/RM? who cares, just show me the money. If the escalators are not working you can still step up the dead bodies to go up. And if you feel something wrong in the cockpit, don't forget to jump off the plane with proper apparatus. Doesn't have to be a parashute, just show the cooked WHI numbers...

Anonymous said...

"especially to the enterprise, we have NO enterprise sales expertise..."

As an ex-MSFT rep selling to large enterprises, I'd say this is way overboard. In fact, I'd say it's simply untrue. I agree that there's no comparison in general between the sales force of MSFT vs IBM, ORCL, HPQ, SAP. However, there are numerous individuals account managers and sales/District managers with that equivalent skill set @ MSFT (most of them ex one of the above companies). The challenge is that a) it doesn't exist at the highest levels of the company (although they think it does), b) it's not highly valued as a result and c) there's too much turf protection by those who feel embarassed that they lack that skill set and too little opportunity for mentoring less-experienced people.

Anonymous said...

Notes from the field …

What a can of worms Mini opened! Here we go, one worm at a time …

The Field
As many have said, there is no such beast as the “field”. There are multiple subs, with multiple countries, with multiple regions, with multiple districts. There is the large customer business, the medium customer business, the small customer business, the consumer business, and the partner business. There are traditional products, incubation products, and MBS products. There is sales, technical sales, consulting, and premier. I left some groups off the list, but my point is that there is a huge cross section of businesses in the “field”, just like there is in “Redmond”. For the record, I’m in the US, have been here a long time, and am focused primarily on large customers. I have friends within MS in a lot of different groups and know people in many different groups around the world. I admit to a US bias in knowledge and thinking.

The two-year olds speak
When my kids were 2ish, they always wanted whatever someone else had and never appreciated what they had. *Lots* of posts sound the same way. Wahhh, I want a company car. Wahhh, their level is higher. Wahhh, there aren’t as many opportunities in the field as there are in Redmond (that’s the one I whine about most frequently – more on this later).

Get over it. The businesses are different in enterprise sales in London than they are in Windows development in Redmond. Naturally, the “deal” is going to be different. The question you should ask is “how is my deal compared to the deal I could get elsewhere (inside Microsoft or outside)”? When the answer becomes significantly worse, you should leave – you owe it to yourself and your family. Just make sure you are objective in your comparison or you’ll end up with a really bad case of buyer’s remorse.

I continue to have plenty of opportunities to move to the Mother Ship. I continue to *choose* not to. As a result of *my* choice, I don’t have the career opportunities that I would if I moved to Redmond. I may someday choose to move to Redmond. The point is – it’s *my choice*. It’s your choice too – evaluate your options, make your choice, then step up and deliver – for Microsoft or otherwise.

Ex Pats
I have several friends who have ex-patted (is that a verb?). I almost did once and may choose to somewhere down the road (Australia!!!). You get what you negotiate, so negotiate a sweet deal for moving your family to a new country, culture, and perhaps language. Don’t begrudge the ex-pats because they got a good deal. Rather, welcome them, be-friend them, teach them, and learn from them. Someone, somewhere was impressed enough with their potential to invest a lot in them. Don’t be so arrogant to write them off as suck-ups without getting to know their skills.

Cronyism
Joe and I started MS at about the same time. I met Joe late one night as we were both staying late to fix customer issues. A couple of weeks later, Joe and I ran into each other at midnight – in the office – and chatted. One Saturday afternoon, it was just Joe and I – working away. Joe and I worked on a customer together and totally knocked it out of the park. Joe and I had a couple of beers together and became friends – then we had way more than a couple of beers together 

After blowing his numbers away 3 years in a row, Joe got a much-deserved promotion and a great new job. Joe had an opening on his team that fit my skill set. Joe called me and said “you have a great work ethic. We work together really well. I know I can trust you. This is a great opportunity – will you come work with me?”.

If that’s cronyism, then long-live cronyism. BTW – Joe made VP before retiring. I still talk to Joe and he still gives me good advice.

In the real world, people choose to work with people they know, people they trust and people they get along with. Maybe it’s not fair. You can choose to tilt at that windmill or you can get out and meet people and make “business contacts”.

When I identify peers or bosses who are “going places”, I always ask them to consider me. Am I kissing up or am I managing my career? Net result is a long Microsoft career with great results to the company and our customers and lots of friends around the world. I’ve known others who were so arrogant that they pissed everyone off. Ten years later, those that they pissed off are partners and VPs. Oops, you’re screwed. (I managed to piss a handful of people off before I figured the whole “goes around, comes around” thing out).

Are there some actual cases of nepotism? Sure. However, if you dig a little, I think you’ll find that on most of them there is a positive professional history that forms the basis. My advice, go make some positive professional history.

Redmond really is the center of the universe
My turn to whine … Part of what makes corporate so bad is the fact that the decisions of this company are so centralized. News Flash …. There are smart people in this world who do not want to move to Redmond. News flash … having 90% of the company in Redmond promotes the behaviors that the DOJ and EU slapped us for and results in products that are out of touch with our customers’ reality.

I have seen a *lot* of really talented people leave the company because they wanted a career and they didn’t want to move to Redmond. It’s a travesty that the bozos in charge make you choose.

Please don’t throw up any weak-@$$ arguments about how being in Redmond promotes sharing - we make the world’s best collaboration tools. If we can’t figure this out and make it work, then I guess our collaboration tools need some freakin work!

Partners
Most of the GMs in the US field are not partners. Most are in the 65-67 range.

I met a GM from corporate last week that I hope is a partner. This guy was really, really sharp. He gets it and he’s working for change. He wasn’t condescending. He wasn’t suck uppish. He was customer focused and wanted to do the right thing for Microsoft and our customers. He was polished, but not “slimy”. He asked hard questions. He made us verify our “facts”. He’s proof that not all partners suck! I hope he stays and becomes a VP.

Quit blaming the partners for taking their SPSA grant – they would be crazy not to. Instead, blame the idiots who set the metrics and forgot to include a “shareholder value” metric.

Metrics
One big differentiator between the “field” and “corporate” is the frequency of our metrics. Services gets customer satisfaction surveys and utilization numbers monthly. Sales has quarterly numbers. Some of the product groups have 5+ year release cycles. That allows a lot of people to hide for a very long time and gives execs plenty of time to plan their excuses. Not saying that you can’t hide in the field, but it’s not nearly as easy with quarterly metrics, particularly at senior levels.

BMO
An event in [insert city] is not the same as an event in [insert different city]. The cultures are often very different. You can’t build a “one size fits all” event, program, or strategy and expect it to be successful around the world. That’s the role of the field marketing org – to take the Redmond content and make it most effective in the local area – localization if you will. I’m sure some districts have bad field marketing orgs. I would give our’s a B+. Your mileage may vary.

Hooking up
There are a lot of people in the field with a lot of passion. Many of us know the customers intimately. Many of us spend more time at our customers than we do at Microsoft. We love to talk to people in the product groups who want to make a difference. If you’re that person, go to the GAL and search for aliases that contain “technology specialist” or “community” or “xx discussion”. Verify that there are a lot of field based resources in your target area, and send an e-mail introduction asking for feedback or a dialog. I promise you will get a good response. There are other official channels you can use, but 1:1 business relationships work best – and you never know when one of those relationships will have the perfect opportunity for you …

Vista and Office
For the record, I’m writing this using Vista and Office 2007. We are *finally* starting to get solid field adoption of these bet the company products. How can you sell what you don’t use? Please install Vista and Office today. If your experience sucks, file bugs. Everyone – install it on your home machines, your kids’ machines, your parents’ machines. We need feedback from the “we don’t do this for a living” crowd.

$30 by EOY
Ship, don’t slip. Deal with the EU. Hit our Q1 numbers. Give slightly bullish guidance. I’m doing my part for #3.

-nff

Anonymous said...

"But we also are committed to changing our own corner of the company where we can. I guess we're more about action rather than blaming it on everyone else."

There's no shortage of action in "your MSFT". The issue is whether it's effective. Externally observable results including constant delays and misjudgements say no.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see the 3 Helicopters fly in on the soccer fields yesterday? Who were these big wigs and why wasn't there any news about this?

Who da'Punk said...

I agree with a growing number of posters that comments, and dare I say Mini, have been negatively biased recently. It gets quickly very obvious when constructive criticism gets perverted by whining and complaining.

Dude, color me defensive to your broad statement, but my last two full posts have either been focusing on positive developments or a Company Meeting that I was either positive or neutral on. As for complaining about the SPSA: damn straight. Sure, have a reward program, but reward performance not mediocrity.

Anonymous said...


$30 by EOY
Ship, don’t slip. Deal with the EU. Hit our Q1 numbers. Give slightly bullish guidance. I’m doing my part for #3.


This is very close even for now - after hours quote today - $27.62. If a firm Vista release date is announced, which is really near now, the stock can get more traction moving towards $29+ when that happens.

I usually sell my ESPP after vest but not the coming 2 rounds of ESPP - there's too much upside from here. Just last week, Bull&Bear investment show was recommending MSFT (they normally don't do that) because MSFT is not a speculative play.

Anonymous said...

Mini - you might be having *some* effect (again). Check out this site about making internal transfers a *little* easer:
http://hrweb/us/transfers/folder/eefaq.htm

e.g. you don't need permission to interview if you've been in position for more than 18 months.

Anonymous said...

spent three years in redmond in the bg's, now in a subsidiary outside the US. Most people are more or less completely unaware of how the field works - as was I for the most part until i came out here a year ago. if you want to learn what the field does - visit a sub or two, attend their ROB. go visit some customers, help sell the product.

as to why we have so many people in the field now it is a pretty simple explanation. the oem business (windows plus some office) is incredibly inexpensive to run as a % of sales. this is where we made hay throughout the 90's - when the dell's of the world were growing 30%+, we were probably growing our business faster than that because pc pricing was coming down. if you look at those businesses over the past 12 months, they are growing slower than the company.

the majority of the new products coming out of redmond these days are much, much more expensive to sell than windows or office. think about what it takes to sell LCS, Visual Studio Team System, sharepoint, etc. etc. you don't have a choice but to add specialist sales on these. server and tools has great growth, but it takes more time and effort to sell security, management and database than office.

the vast majority of the people in the field are quota bearing. there is always bloat here and there for sure.

just my .02 on redmond. first, i think the product pipeline is great. i love vista rc1, i love o12 and communicator 2007. i agree with the comment that most customer machines won't run vista - hopefully that will drive a big hardware refresh but that is the risk.

there are hundreds of people in redmond who are "field facing" that are pretty worthless though. we could dramatically shrink the bg marketing and segment hq teams. there are just a lot of people doing busy work.

Anonymous said...

Why Microsoft should be well under $30 come January:

- Much lower than expected Vista upgrade numbers -> leap in hardware requirements are MUCH steeper than from any OS jump since 3.1 -> 95. This usually accounts for hundreds of millions in profits.

- Zune as a loss leader. Priced at $250 (not making a profit) and the same price as an iPod, Microsoft again embarks on a multi-year money chugging journey to nowhere. Zune holiday sales will disappoint and be a drain on the company.
- Xbox. The only ray of light in the company and is posed for good holiday season if Microsoft makes the right price cut at the right time. Sony's failure is already priced into the market, so if the actually do decently this holiday season (with possibly impressive launch titles), the stock will get hammered.

Anonymous said...

For internal transfers, most people feel like 6 months is enough to decide whether it is a good fit. Vote for 6 months, not 18 months.

Anonymous said...

Mini - you might be having *some* effect (again). Check out this site about making internal transfers a *little* easer:
http://hrweb/us/transfers/folder/eefaq.htm

e.g. you don't need permission to interview if you've been in position for more than 18 months.


This falls under "nothing to see here, please move along." If you've been in your position for 18+ months then you don't need to ask for permission to interview. Instead you have to inform your manager of your intent to interview. Your manager determines how long you've been in your position. Your manager decides your transition period. Your manager... ah, what's the use.

The curve is gone. You no longer have to seek permission to interview. Unicorns have been spotted around the fountain. (sigh)

MSEurope1 said...

Notes from the field …
by nff above

Excellent post

Anonymous said...

DISCLAIMER #1: This comment is somewhat off-topic (although Xbox isn't a main-campus group at least). If you want to "cutting room floor" it or move it to another thread or return it to the digital ether from whence it came, I understand Mini.

DISCLAIMER #2: I'm the commenter who opened up the can of worms about Shane Kim a month or so ago and asked how such an empty suit could get promoted to Corporate VP, even in the madhouse that is Xbox.

DISCLAIMER #3: This is the end of the disclaimers.

From today's Seattle Times:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2003279066_microsoftxbox28.html

Microsoft said Wednesday that it is teaming with "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson to create content for its Xbox 360, in part to get more mainstream users interested in the company's video-game console.

Just don't call these products "games."

"I don't want to classify it as a game. I'm hoping to stretch the definition of interactive entertainment to go beyond the game," said Shane Kim, a corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft Game Studios.

Kim conceded he's not sure what exactly these new "entertainments" might be. "I feel like we haven't figured it out, to be honest," he said.

(end cite)

Now do you guys understand why I see Shane Kim as an embarrassment and a waste of a good paycheck? Bad enough Microsoft is pissing away more money into the Xbox sinkhole, but for a VP to admit - publicly - that they have no idea what exactly they're even spending the money on? Pure Shane Kim gold - this from the same guy who announced "the console race isn't about hardware any more" (it never was) and "I'm following the development of our camera add-on for Xbox very closely" (yet when pressed he couldn't name the developer or even what country they were in).

"I feel like we haven't figured it out, to be honest" should be the title of Shane Kim's memoirs.

It would be the most boring two pages anyone could ever ask for.

Anonymous said...

Check out the HR section of MicroNews. There's some good news and some bad news. The good news is that internal transfers just got a lot less political. The bad news is that there is an increased bounty for referring new hires. Oh well...

Anonymous said...

Check out the HR section of MicroNews. There's some good news and some bad news. The good news is that internal transfers just got a lot less political. The bad news is that there is an increased bounty for referring new hires. Oh well...
The whole transfer thing now hinges on the definition of "role". To me this sounds as political as ever. 18 months and over it is no permission and permission otherwise. We'll just see how it goes...

Anonymous said...

e.g. you don't need permission to interview if you've been in position for more than 18 months.

While, as another poster pointed out, there are some manager-dependent gotchas in the new policy, it looks from here like an improvement.

To me, the really big news here is that levels can be re-evaluated on transfer, based on what you bring to the position to which you will be transferring. This is exciting news for those of us with industry experience who joined low and have since received exceeded/outstanding reviews but no promotion because our current group has an unofficial 2-years-between-promos policy. Additionally, it could make it easier for someone to move if they expect a promo in the next 6-12 months in their current position, which serves as a disincentive to go anywhere until it happens (lest one be put back a year in waiting for the promo in another group). Of course, time will tell how this plays out in the real world. For all we know, we'll see VP's and GM's mandating that all incoming transfers must keep their old levels.

My early reaction to this is optimism that someone's trying to do the right thing for the top tier people who feel stuck in a group/level that isn't working for them and who feel that the only way out of that non-optimal situation is to turn in their badge and go elsewhere. If an FTE who's been on a team for only a year can convince another group that they're not just a greener-pastures type and/or are worth employing at a higher level, more power to them; the company should not put artificial boundaries in place to prevent that from happening.

I've been on a team with SDETs who were denied permission to interview for several months. For the amount of work they actually performed between the "no" and the expiration of the 90-day waiting period, really, we'd have been better off letting them leave earlier.

My one ask: Let's see some more clarity from the top around the definition of "role" so that managers have less leeway to define that in a way that is most convenient for them, and to the employee's disadvantage.

Anonymous said...

>> Mini:
>> Dude, color me defensive
>> to your broad statement...

Sir, can you possibly be in denial? The reason I ask is that your Company Meeting post was what compelled my first comment to show some small representation for the overwhelmingly passionate people I work with daily.

Coconut pie: Started off positive but was more neutral and only served to fan negativity. These comments (#1 and #2) characterize it best.

Anonymous said...

"Kim conceded he's not sure what exactly these new "entertainments" might be. "I feel like we haven't figured it out, to be honest," he said."

I shook my head when I read this too. Let's hope he was quoted out of context. If Ballmer was doing his job, Kim would be in his office this morning explaining wtf he meant - and gone if the answer wasn't any more compelling.

Anonymous said...

Good thing you mentioned "revenue" and not "profits" or I'd have had to wonder why you were giving US-based efforts like MSN and Xbox a free pass.


Don't forget the new cash suck, "Zune". You have to wonder what Ballmer and Bach are smoking. I guess they'll make it up on volume.

Guys, if you want to make a real difference, leave msft and make your mark on the world. Things move quite fast out here, and there are no unaccountable partners to suck up the fruits of your work.

An ex-Microsoftie. Happily so.

BizDog said...

Great to see comments from some field folks as well. I'm technically in the field, but in a corporate role in one of the subs. Strange combination of being corporate and field - but generally lumped into sales and marketing. It amazes me that as a company we forget our partners so often. They are our sales force - they're the ones dealing with customers day in and day out and they're the first to take the arrows on product issues. The slips in office and vista are mostly patched up but I hope to God and anyone else I can find that we ship on time and it's good stuff. People forget that while this is MSFT's H1 this is many of our partners' H2 and vista and office will hit in their Q4. Q4 - go time, run for the home plate of quota payout, do our die time - pick your favorite phrase. With so many of our partners at the end of their fiscal year with revenue targets to hit and a short time to get there - how much will they bet on office and vista? or will they wait until MSFT's Q3 / Q4 which is our partners' H1? No one knows for sure, but the arrows, bullets, and full-body-armor-required conversations I've had with many a partner following the product slips indicates they're skeptical but professing positive exuberance lest they bring on the rath of MSFT which surely isn't a good thing. So how fast will the revenue come? We'll see. The general lack of coordination around launch really worries me though. This has been classic MSFT - tons and tons of uncoordinated activity - some great stuff and lots of noise. I know a few key field people actively sifting through the noise and teeing up their partners to win and that is fantastic. I just wish we didn't make it so difficult for them to accomplish this and that is was simple and easy for our partners to engage with us. Because when our partners engage, amazing things happen including an upwardly mobile stock price.

Anonymous said...

I, an IC, speak from within Services & IT HQs and I can say, having come from the MSFT field and from previous sales and consulting roles outside of Microsoft, HQs management is the worst I've seen in my 20 years of experience. And like every 2 years, it is about to get flipped again... only to have the same events repeat themselves again in two years.

It is manage up by most directors.
It is look out for #1, and #1 is not the customer.
It is avoid decision making at all costs.
It is when avoidance fails, hire some company like Bain to do a half-ass job for double-ass pay. (Just a note here, never have I seen directors rely as much on outside consult as I do here in MSFT Services & IT... they definitely don't trust themselves nor their people)

Basically what is failing MSFT these days is a focus on People and not Process. I should really care less in most of this business if a Person left. But if a Process "left the company" I would be very worried. Problem is, we have few to no Processes here at MSFT. All we have are People. Personalities. And those manage up, play games, etc. Processes don't. Which is worst... our current set of Personalities or starting to formalize the business more with Processes to circumvent the Personalities.

Anonymous said...

>It amazes me that as a company we forget our partners so often.

Erm... Like how? I work with the SMS&P, DPE, and field sales teams and know that we are making a lot of investments in our partners specially around Vista and Office2007. Respectfully, sir, you are misguided.

Anonymous said...

Having lived in the field for 6 years (first MCS, now sales), I can say that, from my experience, the more negative comments on this thread are the more accurate.

MCS is the biggest travesty. The comment above from the person who said that "MCS is about selling software and not generating revenue" is just completely out of touch with MCS management. Eespecially the new regime. MCS has strict marching orders under the current regime to be profitable, focus on growing the business (again - UGH!), and stick to big ($500k+) deals. They've gone so far that <2 week deals now require high level sign-off.

To keep the parter ecosystem from rebelling once again (like they did a few years back under Sineck), the message is to "work with partners". Great leadership. So once again, MCS is *not* about "selling software" but rather about competing with IGS. And once again this is *wrong* and *will* fail spectacularly and excellent ICs will be caught in the firestorm again.

On the sales side, the poster who said we know nothing about selling to the enterprise was DEAD ON. It has nothing to do with the skill of individual AEs and TSs. It has to do with the MSFT culture and short attention span driven by the incredible myopia in Redmond that still seems to think this is 1995.

I see it reflected in a lot of the corp posts on these feedback threads. There is just a complete disconnect between the ivory tower and reality. Our corporate culture prevents the cultivation of an effective enterprise sales force. We are all about very short term and putting up the numbers quarter over quarter within our fiscal years.

The process and mechanisms to take a long term account view and cultivate real penetration into the customers environment simply don't exist. Quite the opposite actually.

Account teams that have long tenure and are putting up great results year over year are the exception. And even in these accounts, I would ask what fractional percentage of the total customer IT software spend are we? Most of the time, we are 10% while Oracle, IBM and Sun get the lions share.

Anonymous said...

".NET 3.0 (aka WinFX, Indigo, Avalon, et al) is generating a lot of buzz."


That's the problem with Microsoft today: Buzz. All buzz no productivity. If I hear one more time how "cool" a half-baked, buggy, undocumented feature is going to be I swear I'm leaving the industry.

The newly named .NET 3.0 library is one of the most incomplete libraries ever. The documentation is full of "insert text here". We are on Release Candidate 1. "RELEASE", not Alpha, yet, just try to connect a WorkflowView to a Workflow object. No one needs that kind of brain damage. It is nearly impossible. So much so that search the Internet, there isn't much talk about it, just people wondering how the Hell is works.

(Hint, Microsoft: WorkflowView.Workflow = MyWorkflow; would be a good thing to produce instead of the undocumented 100 lines of code and 6 classes that it takes.)

Again, Microsoft is people building empires of "cool" features, not building products the industry can use.

Anonymous said...

MCS#2: Unlike IBM, MCS' key purpose is to help sell software. Service revenue is secondary. Once you lose sight of this, you lose sight of your role in Team-Microsoft.

Clearly not posted by someone who has just been given a 120% revenue growth target or bothered to listen to Rick Devenuti before he announced his retirement. Those days are over - Services is absolutely a revenue source for the company now.

And it's being driven in a way that we care less about selling emerging products (i.e. Vista and Office 2007) and more about just getting anything we can going with the customers with any ol' junk we've got lying about. This short-term 'make the numbers or else' mentality scares the sh!t out of me, to be totally honest.

I'm a Services Programme Manager in the UK; I've got a 41% billable utilization target and a 120% revenue growth target from last year. Don't tell me I don't contribute. And I know for a fact people in the exact same role as me in other subs in the US make FAR more money than I do even after the exchange rates and car allowance, doing the same job with much smaller targets. Not only that, but people hired AFTER me are likewise making more money than I am out of the box. Any chance of me getting re-levelled or promoted? Hollow laugh - that's for the self-promoting "superstars" and darlings of management, which I ain't.

Before you PG-types all start bitching about how the outside-US subs have it all because we've got good views in far-away lands that you'd like to visit some day and company cars, realize that our salaries are taxed like you wouldn't believe (especially the car allowance or company car, which is a 'benefit in kind' and taxed to the hilt) and there seems to be no effort anywhere in HR to even make a passing attempt to keep up with cost of living increases which rises much higher much faster in Europe than in the US. I'm effectively making 10% LESS than I was last year, with a merit increase of only 3.5%. Combine that with the already mentioned cronyism, incompetence, and leftover mid-level management idiots from Mr. Sinneck's attempt to turn MCS into IBM Global Services Lite (TM) with fat positions for all his former co-workers, and it's not all that pleasant to stick around here anymore.

That said, I'm agressively looking elsewhere (both internally and externally), and one way or another I plan to run screaming out of MCS just as soon as I possibly can and never look back.

Anonymous said...

Cronyism does exist in PSS as it does in any other part of the company. I was taken back in a few posts on how some of the other MSFT people from Redmond perceive those in the support. Some of the Support Engineers, Support Escalation Engineers and especially the Escalation Engineers do make well over 100 grand a year with levels 65 and higher. As an example I had an ACPI issue which I used KD>AMLI to resolve which took several days, Spent two days tracking down a SQL database corruption, turned out to be a third party multipath I\O problem. By end of my week I worked on several User Mode problems. How many developers or testers are so flexible? I’m talking about the entire process from narrowing down the customer’s problem. Fielding through the sea of tams and secretaries turned enterprise admin because they could type well. To trying out potential workarounds that might work based on their unique environment and needs. Then to start debugging from scratch with no knowledge other than it looks to be in a certain component. Once I’ve narrowed it down and find out the affected code crosses in and out of a couple of dev's boundaries, this means outside their own code, my requests for assistance is generally greeted with blank stares and I don't know it’s not my code. Even though they called a function outside from their stack? Maybe they assume it’ll always comeback with a valid pointer and not null or assume no one steps onto their turf. Maybe they should learn the Windows architecture before taking on writing drivers. Many times, we learn how the entire component works in order to effectively debug and identify a fix which can take days to resolve. What I'm trying to convey is PSS or our new name CSS is filled with bright and talented people. We eagerly work with our biggest partners to keep PC production lines rolling so we all enjoy that royalty income to supporting your grandmother or relative in how to properly connect their mobile phone to their wireless provider’s service because you were too busy at your weekly campus kegger to take the call. PSS is truly a 24x7 shop with people talented enough to fill development seats but many of us see that life as less rewarding. I could never see myself caveman coding on one component no matter how large and complex. Solving an enterprise level issue involving several operating systems, third party apps and accompanying corral of clueless people lead by the daunting “I hate Microsoft” groupie leading the charge is much more challenging and rewarding. CSS is a great place to work but is fraught with many of the perils this website exposes. Let’s not segregate based on where a blue badge works but on the intellectual horsepower and creativity they bring to the company. Reward those people and no one can argue that wisdom.