Monday, November 13, 2006

Not-so-limited Kim

Should Kim just quit?

A bit ago, post review season, the following comment came in about how a mandate came from HR to slap "limited" on anyone who had been in their level too long:

Apparently some groups either didn't get the message or chose to ignore it. I have an email from HR indicating that EVERYONE with more than 30 months at level (regardless of level) MUST get a Limited eval. This is why they added "limited scenario 1" and "limited scenario 2".

Your group may have chosen to ignore the memo, but I know that many divisions didn't.

And I know that many senior 64s who got 0 stock award are sitting looking at Google and Amazon's help wanted ads.

Most folks called FUD on this. And without a smoking gun email from HR, there it died. Recently, I sat in a meeting with managers across the company and they were complaining fiercely about Scenario II for limited. Who-da-whatsa, Scenario II was for real? Okay, time to get off my lazy butt and actually revisit the contribution ranking review pages. Hmm. Sure enough. Outstanding / Strong / Limited was updated in the middle of the review season so that the original Limited, which seemed to match the word pretty well, had an additional branch added for people who had plateaued in their career at their current job salary level and were doing a fine job but were not expected to be promoted any further.

You're doing well. But you're limited. A... special kind of limited.

Whose bright idea was this? Isn't this a trended 3.0 all over again?

My question is: is this just a passive aggressive way to move on people from Microsoft with a vague hope that people in lower levels will fill their spot and perhaps achieve more?

Imagine you're a manager and one of your reports is Kim. Kim is a solid report, doing exactly what you need, very professional, integrated well into Microsoft. Someone you can depend on and an integral part of the infrastructure to your team. Maybe Kim is reached Level 63, 64. You realize that you could probably push to get Kim promoted to the next level, but most likely Kim would get murdered come the next review time. So Kim is going to stay in their current level, probably for the remainder of their long career.

Microsoft has invested a lot in building Kim up to this solid contributor point.

Thing is, come review time, once Kim has been at their level for a while, you're going to have to slap a "limited" on Kim. Does Kim see this coming? Does Kim buy into this "limited" designation with little awarded stock (as in zero)? I can tell you, if I was a 62 or 63 and a solid contributor to the team like Kim and I was slapped with a "limited" I would be heading for the door, patting my right buttock along the way as a firm kissing spot for my boss. If Kim stays with the team, most likely they are not going to be putting in the big effort for the team (why should they - they've been put in a box: unpromotable). Maybe you think this "Limited Scenario II" slap would fire Kim up and get them to prove that they can earn and perform at the next level. I doubt it. I don't see too many people on the internal HR blog happily fired-up about their limited appraisal.

I think it's fine to ensure someone realizes they have, in your leadership's opinion, topped out. But are they limited? Because I can tell you, once you tell them they are, they no doubt will perform like it. Or leave. And I wouldn't want my solid Kim to go in either direction. Shouldn't there be an expectation that if you reach a nice level like 63 and keep performing at that level that you should get reasonable compensation and rewards? Maybe we just need a new designation below Strong: Solid. Or a scale, given that many of these designations are already broken into sub-levels anyway. What do you think?

Another thing about this whole Scenario II thing: my (obviously enlightened) group didn't buy into it. If they did, there would have been a lot more limiteds being handed out. Which brings up another issue with our new review system: now that the training wheels are off, groups roll-up some wildly different ways of spreading out the reviews. Some do in fact bring back their own curve with respect to commitment ratings. Others vigorously pursue Scenario II. I'm pretty sure the goal was to be honest about how a person is doing against their CSP and their commitments, but this is being dampened in some teams.

Other going ons:

  • Microsoft Shareholders Meeting 2006: did you go or listen to the webcast? What did you think?
  • What exactly is MSFT's dividend strategy? from MSFTExtremeMakeover. Again, Microsoft gets advice over and over again that to invigorate the stock for consistent growth, Microsoft needs to increase the dividend to a respectable level.
  • Delegated to the Dustbin of History by Collision Domain talks about management at Microsoft, especially focusing on micromanagement vs. delegation.
  • Generally positive reactions came in around the Microsoft Academy post. What I found interesting are the stories people shared of other companies who did something similar to ensure they had a high quality workforce.
  • With so many releases I keep on thinking of that Thanksgiving cornucopia decoration, with Vista and Office boxes and Zunes and 360 games spilling out, along with a lot bags of cash with "To Novel, love Microsoft" written on them. Looks like in return Watson should be reporting lots of interesting data to the Zune team. Maybe we'll figure out a way, as a company, to dogfood major strategic devices - and their support software - one day.

Administrivia: boy, things (and by "things" I mean "servers") are up and down in Google's Blogger land. I assume this is because the underpinning BlogSpot infrastructure is getting replaced. The good news is that there should be a comment feed for posts one day. The bad news is that there are probably many 500 errors between now and then.

Update: corrected title, almost a year after posting and see it was "No-so-limited Kim" vs my intended title of "Not-so-limited Kim" - oy!


108 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm with you 100% on this. I'm in this category and fortunately my group ignored it (I got Strong) and they also ignored it for many others. You also have to acknowledge the massive discrepancy on the CSP sites on HR that talk about level 64. There is NO timeframe given for advancement to 65 whereas for 63 to 64 seems to be clearly defined. So even HR admits that you could sit at 64 for quite some time...and then to slap this behavior on us. It's all one big bag of wrong. And it doesn't jive well with how things work in the normal job market. If you top out, you top out...but you can still do a kick ass job at that level, year over year.

So if this is truly going on at the company...this is your next crusade...really in truly. Root out the abuse and make it change. This is truly abusive HR policy.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the "Limited" label is terrible and then having two vastly different sub-definitions of "Limited"--well, that's just inexcusable and some "HR "professional(s)" should be demoted--or fired--for approving it.

FWIW, I know for a fact that a "Limited" designation does by no means equate to receiving zero stock...

Anonymous said...

Yep, another Type II Limited here. Level 64 Dev, with 15 years experience, most of it at MSFT.

I was happy and productive in my job. I didn't get promoted because I didn't jump on the glamor jobs. After I got to 64, I took care of the mundane stuff that needed taking care of but never justified a promotion. I made sure shit worked, even when all the planners were using their asses as fedoras. I was greatful for the dough I'd made in stock options, and happy to toil away making Windows better.

I remember BrianV saying you should have five priorities. #1 was the company, #2 was the customer, #3 was the product, #4 was the team, and #5 was your career. In that order. I did it in that order, and my reward is an insult on my review and a shove towards the door.

I think most of us "Limited IIs" were like that. ("Were". Not any more). Wonder who's going to do that job now? Wonder who's going to put the company, customer or product first?

Nobody. Limited II is the culmination of the Culture of the Curve. If you're not selfish enough to put your own career ahead of doing the right thing for your employer, cutomer, or reports, you're not selfish enough to work for MSFT. Hit the road, ya altruistic bum. We don't want your kind here.

Or did you think you were saying something else, Lisa?

Anonymous said...

The problem with the review system at Microsoft is that it's not egalitarian, or even competitive, it's political. The best people simply do not get the best reviews. It's been that way for a long, long time.

Anonymous said...

> [...] EVERYONE with more than 30 months at level (regardless of level) [...]

One wonders whether this applies to those at the top of the echelon. Limited Steve?

Anonymous said...

Kim is the classic "B" performer. Super solid. Good contributer. Not going anywhere -- either by her limitations, or possibly her own choosing.

Kim is also crucial to the stability of the team. It's fantastic to find and keep a couple of strong "Kim's". Kim is the best trainer of young folks coming into the team. Doesn't fight with other promotables over the most visible projects. And provides a long term view.

I think rewarding Kim appropriately to keep him there is a smart move. Selfishly for the manager and the team it's the right move too.

I don't see it as abusive HR policy. Just misguided. You try not to piss-off your current profitable customers because it costs so much to get them in the first place. The same is true for your employees. Maybe we need a lifetime value calculation for employees?

Anonymous said...

Wowsa, this sounds just as terrible from the outside as it did from the inside when I was being victimized by it. My team was led by a not-so-benevolent despot who favored only those he deemed worthy [this usually involved dewey-eyed devotion to him] for promotion. There was never a reasoning for those who got the lift over those who did not. After a while, it did not matter and jobs above, at, or below my level were out of reach. It is almost scarier to know that this is a codified human resources. The consolation I take from leaving a job that I loved and did very well is that this same despot is walled in his own professional ghetto in Redmond having fallen victim to the same treatment. Sadly though, this policy seems slightly dishonest and antithetical to the cored value of "Honest, Open, and Respectful".

Anonymous said...

Thanks for linking the Zune article. I have to laugh every time I see one of those "please make sure... all programs are closed" installers. In this case, I suppose it keeps you from losing data when the Zune PC app crashes and takes down your system.

Clearly Microsoft has a handle on their quality issues and will release no product before its time. Bodes well for Vista, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

The "limited" potential is often that of the group rather than the employee alone. There are plenty of stagnant groups and managers that go from one flailing project to another (WinFS is a great example). If you see peers who are doing good work getting "limited" to make room for the favorites of the patronage network, then RUN! At least find another group on campus that has strong or outstanding potential.

Seriously, they should do and publish reviews of product units or business groups and rank them based on their performance. Then the field is level and competitive.

Anonymous said...

I am Kim.

I am a solid performer. I do my job well and without complaint. I'm just not visible, nor am I in a position that has the possibility for promotion. I enjoy what I do, but, I too am "Limited".

I really hate the fact that management confuses ability and visibility.

Does anyone even look at "Limited" performers for transfers, or am I now a 3.0 that nobody wants?

Anonymous said...

it is worse than it sounds. i was a level 65 at level for 4+ years, took care of things that needed taking care of. getting a limited felt like somebody put my head in a toilet and flushed. you cant imagine what that feels like.

Anonymous said...

I would think that these "limited" developers of level 64 who do not wish move too high, because they like their job and they like to be confident and competent, these guys are creating most of the working code. If they move out, it will be no next Windows. Development is not HR, it is quite different area, where we need something real to do.

Anonymous said...

A perspective on limited II:

I am LVL 61 IC. I put in lots of extra hours per week and demonstrably contribute more than 63s, 64s and 65s on team. Ironically, only 62s are true competition.

I am not just talking about cleaning up after worst decisions by our architects, just plain owning many features and carrying bug load of team because I finish my job early.

I struggle for promotion every 3 years and get bonus at 10% of my salary band. This is small compared to what those above me rake in for contributing less. (Don't get me started about default 4.0 and 40% max bonus for higher levels and showing off new beamer bought from bonus money!)

I am angry.

Seeing limit on amount of undeserved bonus for those above me makes me less angry.

MSFTextrememakeover said...

"Should Kim just quit?"

I would refashion that as "Should MSFT be focused on retaining Kim?". From your description, I would say "Yes, absolutely". With less growth, even current mgt's penchant for executive bloat isn't going to prevent opportunities for advancement from becoming more limited. So MSFT's going to find itself with more people in Kim's position regardless of whether they're capable of moving higher or not. Indeed, the challenge to retain the former is going to be considerable. So maybe MSFT should be happy for all the Kims who are perfectly happy to do a great job in their current role forever, in return for just adequate rewards and respect. Calling them "limited" is ridiculous. Simply do what other companies have done - call it a "career" or "senior" role and allow for sufficent reward flexibility (and respect) to still motivate experienced performers.

Anonymous said...

Mini -- I'm pretty dumbfounded at how much you have drank the kool-aid on the whole "good bye to the curve" baloney.

I was recommended for exceeded/overacheived or whatever the top ranking was by my manager, and then 'curved' down to midlevel rankings in both. Then promoted.

Lisa Brummel is certainly not the savior as you keep trumpeting her to be. The towels and the "no curve" pronouncements were just more bread and circus to mislead and satiate the masses. It's Microsoft as usual.

Btw, where's my damn iCup. ;)

Anonymous said...

"Seriously, they should do and publish reviews of product units or business groups and rank them based on their performance. Then the field is level and competitive."

I wonder if there are any internal reports that look for correlation between MSPoll results and group performance. (ie. lower WHI with more "limited" or lower WHI the higher the average level on the team?)

Who da'Punk said...

Two posts about today's annual shareholders meeting:

MSFTExtremeMakeover:
The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades!

Mr. Todd Bishop at the Seattle P-I:
Microsoft's China policy, and more from annual meeting

Anonymous said...

Limited I and Limited II. Not a bit motivating. Wow, what a slap in the face.

I thrive on my work but at times its difficult to like this company. I despise how this company treats its employees.

If level increases are the issue, why not Achieved I and Achieved II instead? At least Achieved is not a full on slam to the ground.

Limited I & II...sounds like the 2.5 and 3.0 all rolled into one. Lets just go back to the 3.0, 3.5, etc. At least back then (seems like long ago now) the 2.5's were few and far between.

Are we sure we aren't getting all the top hires we want? Seems we must be the way 3-5 year and above employees may be valued. Not valued worth a darn if you are not a superstar with a high promotion trajectory. Should we be setting our employment goal for around 8 years and then out? Seasoned employees not necessarily desired?

Anonymous said...

Oh, so now you get it. Didn't believe us before, but I guess getting "real evidence" made you see the light. Well, as long as you get it now, I guess I'm glad.

I'm one of those who posted in the internal blog about this, and I'll post again here. Whoever said it feels like getting your head flushed in a toilet is spot-on. What kind of self-respecting, strong-contributing professional is going to put up with being treated like this? Some who feel they have no choice will, but they will be seething and suffering inside and trying to find a way out, even as they put in the work to do an "adequate" job.

The whole thing is just totally screwed, for Microsoft and for all these excellent employees. Sure, we aren't superstars. But if Microsoft is only going to cheer for superstars, then they're all yours. The rest of us will go work somewhere that we're actually appreciated for the lowly strong contributers we are.

I used to really care about this company, despite frustration with the 2% raises, etc. Now I know I'm not wanted. So, at least they were pretty darn clear. Just amazes me I can go from a steady string of 3.5's to an Achieved/Limited in 6 months (my mid-year said I was right on target).

Anonymous said...

Mini pls don't hlink to that Engadget Zune review BS. You are just giving props to the haters. I got my Zune (couldn't wait, when it comes to the store, I'll get one for wifey) and I am really proud of the product. It is really smoove. Only thing I didn't like was having to reboot after installing the software. But I am usually against forced reboots.

I skimmed through the comments on the engadget web site and sure enough, the slashdot crowd were at their best MS bashing. These are the same people that reported XBox 360 was exploding into flames and Mini gave them audience, thereby enabling their war against everything MS. But I saw a post that showed that showed that there are some honest folks out there. The poster said:

bandillero @ Nov 14th 2006 9:18PM
Fool, you were supposed to install an update for MCE 2005 at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/upgrade/rollup2.mspx

I got my Zune today - the Best Buy store must have sold 300 pieces. For a true in-depth review of Zune and not MacBoyToy Engadget putrid review, see the listening post reviews:

Round 1: http://blog.wired.com/music/2006/11/handson_with_th_1.html

Round 2: http://blog.wired.com/music/2006/11/hands_on_with_t.html


With the rumored and confirmed plans to add more functionality to the Zune, Apple should really be concerned. We all saw how Sony PS was nudged out by a persistent XBox

Alyosha` said...

I don't know how many of y'all have figured this out yet - I'm sure it's just beginning to dawn on a few HR higher-ups. But this sort of nonsense wouldn't happen were it not for Microsoft's corporate philosophy of differentiated rewards.

Differentiation creates winners and losers. And because it's nigh impossible to distinguish performance from potential, capability from visibility, and perceived performance from real performance -- some of those "losers" ought to have been winners, and some of the "winners" ought to have been losers.

You insist on differentiation, you get exactly this sort of crap.

You get rid of differentiation, you get a totally different set of crap. Some people start coasting, other people get offended because they consider themselves a unique special snowflake that deserves much more compensation than their base pay.

But you know what? Most people just take their COLA and keep chugging on. In the end, I'd be willing to bet that non-differentiation is the lesser of the two evils.

Anonymous said...

A perspective on limited II:

and [I] demonstrably contribute more than 63s, 64s and 65s on team.
...
Ironically, only 62s are true competition.
...
cleaning up after worst decisions by our architects
...
carrying bug load of team
...
This is small compared to what those above me rake in for contributing less.


Re-read what you wrote above. If after reading it, you still can't figure out why you're not on the fast track to seniority, then I think you need to find a new career.

Anonymous said...

For a true in-depth review of Zune and not MacBoyToy Engadget putrid review, see the listening post reviews:

In-depth, yes.

Unbiased, no.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Apple should definitely be worried:

http://www.cnn.com/video/player/player.html?url=/video/business/2006/11/14/sorkin.minding.your.business.cnn&wm=native_mac

:-)

Anonymous said...

Sure, we aren't superstars. But if Microsoft is only going to cheer for superstars...

Thing is, I used to be a superstar. Before I came to Microsoft, and for my first few years at Micrososft, I was a superstar because I took care of business. I did what needed doing, shipped products, made steady incremental improvements, an occasional innovation (I have a good size stack-o-patent-cubes), worked on what was needed and not just what was cool. The usual. The stuff that sells software.

For a few years, Microsoft thought very highly of me for that, as my previous employers always had. But about 2000, that changed. The political hacks suddenly owned the place and guys like me started slipping down the stack ranking. Now this slap in the face.

The old saying is A's hire A's, and B's hire C's. We've promoted a bunch of B's into middle management, and they're busy driving off the A's so they can hire the C's.

Anonymous said...

http://minimsft does not seem to load internally?

Has it been taken down?

Anonymous said...

Notes from the Field

No, *I* am Kim.

Several people I've worked with for a number of years are Kim too. If I were to start my own business tomorrow, these are the people I would want to take with me to Kims Inc. These are the people that close deals and make customers and partners happy. These are the people that have instant credibility and know how to take control of a situation. These are the people that know their stuff, but don't need extra wide doors for their egos. Sure I would want some of the rising stars, but the majority of my company would be the strong performers with business maturity - the Kims.

In the US field, when you hit a certain level, there is no place to go unless you are willing to move. End of story. With this new Limited II crap, a lot of really good people are going to leave the company, or at least check out.

Fortunately, I've talked to several people who have a promotion velocity of zero lately, and none of them got a Limted rating. We all got achieved / strong ratings. No exceededs, but we're all OK with that. We feel like we have a pretty good deal. We're not maxing out, but we're making a good living and we're living where we choose.

If that changes by decree this year, short the stock because there is no way we will hit our Q1 number if we lose all of these senior sales people - absolutely no way. Those that don't leave will phone it in. Kiss any growth plans adios. When you demotivate your top sales performers, the results show up that quarter, and we've all seen what happens when we have a quarter that disappoints the Street.

I've had a great career at Microsoft, and am generally upbeat. I have finally come to terms with the fact that I won't be promoted again until my kids are out of school and I consider moving with Microsoft. It took me a really long time to deal with that, but I finally decided that it was OK for a few more years. The day I get a Limited rating because I'm not willing to pull my kids out of their comfort zone for my career is the day I figure out what is next and move on. Lisa, I hope you're listening. Limited II is bad for Microsoft, our customers, and our shareholders. Rethink it while you can. PLEASE!

$30 by year end?
We keep hitting 52 week highs and the drawbacks are small. We seem to have broken through the mountain of resistance around $29, but the resistance at $30 is even bigger. If the general market remains bullish, I still think we will make it. If we do, look for a pullback to $29.50ish, or a bust out to $32+. Let's all hope for the latter.

MOSS is on a roll
We're seing considerable early adoption of MOSS now that it has released. It's a very good upgrade and addresses some key deficiencies of previous versions (there are still some pains, but it's a huge step forward). Kudos to the Office team - well done! The demand for MOSS expertise is exceeding supply by a considerable margin. If you're a consultant looking for work ...

Office 12 and Vista
We're seeing stronger than expected pilots of Vista and especially Office 2007. It's a *long* way from pilot to rolling out to thousands of desktops, but you gotta start somewhere. If you have laptops, you need bitlocker - end of story - bite the bullet and upgrade.

SQL still ROCKS
SQL had a blowout quarter, and everything we're seeing is more of the same! It's a very competitive product and with Excel 2007, BI will never be the same - BI is finally going mainstream - cha ching! Add to that the positive results we're hearing on the quad-core samples, and the next couple of quarters look very rosy.

Novell?
I understand the concept of the Novell deal, and it sounds good in theory. What I don't get is the financials? Do we write the bigger check because we have the bigger bank account? Somebody has a secret ... the numbers just don't add up.

Now hiring ...
Part of the Novell deal is some type of joint sales effort? What idiot would choose to sell that? Talk about a no-win situation - please go sell this, but don't be successful. To hit your multiplier, you have to exceed your quota, but please don't exceed your quota. Guaranteed that no Kims will apply for that job ...

Giving Campaign
Not to open up this can of worms again, but ... Nobody I talked to in the field saw the kind of unbelievable whoring reported on this blog (not saying it didn't happen, just not everywhere). Yes, we got e-mails from a couple of our execs, but they were the "get off your butt and do the good that you know you want to do you're just too busy to make time to do" e-mails. I actually appreciate those e-mails because sometimes, I get busy and forget.

Once again, the results are amazing. The Softies came through and delivered above and beyond per capita yet again. Let's remember all the people we are helping and forget the stupidity of the few ultra-competitive, it's all about me bozos. It's not about them. That's not why we give. Feel good and be proud.

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt
I'm going to have an "I am Kim" t-shirt made, and I'm going to wear it to work :-) Please don't bust me.

Speaking for the Kims ...
We love this company. Please don't label us a Limited and send us to a competitor.

nff

Anonymous said...

I'm Kim and I'm leaving MS because I don't want to be Kim anymore.
I got a very nice offer with 30% raise.
No more above and beyond! No levels!
Good luck to all Kims out there.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you 100% on this.
The best people simply do not get the best reviews. It's been that way for a long, long time.
Or did you think you were saying something else...
Azazelo Blog

Adam Barr said...

Mini, I'm not going to explain it here in public, but you've managed to conflate two things and misunderstand how the two kinds of Limited are designed to be used. The second one was added for a good reason, not a bad reason.

- adam

Anonymous said...

getting a limited felt like somebody put my head in a toilet and flushed. you cant imagine what that feels like.

Rather damp?

Sorry, I couldn't resist the line, but I really don't mean to mock your pain. The fact is, no, I don't know what it feels like. In 21 years as a programmer, I've never felt that.

Have I been lucky? Probably, or (depending on your point of view) I've had God's grace. But I think there's something else, too.

Good technical people have to be good in a truth-based world. The reality is what it is, and it doesn't respect your job title, your seniority, or the size of your paycheck or ego.

Politics doesn't work that way. Politics is a whole different world. And there's only two things you can do about it. You can learn to play in that world, or you can run away from it.

Running away means finding an environment where you don't have to play politics to protect yourself while you do your technical job. There are places like that. There may even be some inside Microsoft. In my opinion, they are worth finding. Life's too short to have to put up with political garbage in order to do the kind of job that you love.

MSS

Anonymous said...

I got Kim'ed years ago, and left to work elsewhere.

It's nice being at a place where you can be a strong IC for 10-15 years (as some of my coworkers are), and no-one's giving you bullshit about how you're "limited". There's a wealth of domain experience here I wouldn't get at Microsoft, because people aren't having to leave the company/internal transfer at the end of every project in order to avoid being Kim.

The fact is not everyone GETS to be a general in the Army, and good armies know their senior NCOs are worth their weight in gold, even if they are far down on the org chart. Organizations that push out strong contributors because they aren't trying to build empires or invent new programming languages are asking for a fall.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised anyone is surprised about the Limited II ranking; it was inevitable.

The contribution ranking was explicitly designed to rank future potential: if you have a solid performer, who does their job wel but is unlikely to grow into higher levels, "Limited" is the only correct ranking (going by the definitions of the ranks).

"Limited II" was introduced after complaints from managers that they did not want to assign the "Limited" ranking as it was to solid performers as the description didn't match (i.e. would be an insult) but had to assign it because of the definitions of "Strong" and "Outstanding". This is why this fragmented ranking didn't show up until well into review process.

The only way to prevent this is to change the definition of the Contribution Ranking from "measure of future potential" to "measure of present and future contribution" or somesuch, so that a ranking like "Solid" could be introduced, and IMHO, this should be done.

Anonymous said...

I am not Kim but am someone who was brought into the company at a comparatively low level. The upside I suppose is that I am moving up on a regular basis and it will probably be several years before I “peak” and am a candidate for the “Limited II” rating. The downside is that I feel significantly underpaid compared to some people 3 or 4 levels above me who do less meaningful work.

For people who are the Kims as described by Mini and who are excellent individual contributors, I think it is terrible that Microsoft slaps the “Limited II” label on these people. If Microsoft instead was really about paying people for performance, here is how I think it should work: Instead of using the Strong, Outstanding, and Limited classifications, use “Above Level”, “At Level”, and “Below Level”. For the Kims of the company, “At Level” would not be a bad thing. For people who are ridiculously overpaid for their level of contributions, the “Below Level” would identify problem employees and deadwood.

Anonymous said...

To: Adam Barr

You may be right that there was an immediate necessity for Limited scenario II given the drastic change and repurcussions of the new review model. But that doesn't mean that it's right. And it CERTAINLY doesn't mean that the "Kim" types in an org should be mistreated thusly. These are the staples in an organization and everyone knows it. And they MUST be compensated so as to retain them. "Future Potential" has been innacurately interpreted to mean "able to move up in level in the future". Isn't producing great code/work/deliverables as a dependable "staple" employee realizing a whole lot of "future potential"? I think so.

Methinks Adam...a little too smug and myopic.

Anonymous said...

So Kim is being punished because s/he doesn't want to try to foul up the company via the Peter Principle.

Who da'Punk said...

Methinks Adam...a little too smug and myopic.

Oooch, I almost CRF'd this because of the swipe at Adam (uncool!). Maybe if this comes up on the internal blog folks can feel free to have more revealing discussions. Meanwhile.

A follow-up comment after Adam's comment revealed a bit more of the reason why Limited II might have popped up. Off-hand, I see it as smart, well-meaning people trying to do something good but I really don't know off hand if anyone out there agrees with the results... so, good intentions gets us where? Into a land of pissed-off solid contributors to whom we can only say, "Oy! It could have been worse for you!"

To a degree, I wonder if we were limited (ba-dump-tshh) by database schema and tools and had to work with one of the pre-ordained buckets and thus backed into Limited II.

There needs to be change - what should we do for the midpoint as we prepare for the next major review?

Anonymous said...

There's more involved in the L2 issue.

First off, not only did the rules of the game get changed, but the way it's scored changed too.

HR only told people about the rules changing, not the scoring changes.

It turns out that stock awards were ALWAYS measured by your future potential, not by your contribution. You never knew it, because the factors that generated the stock award were always hidden, now they're exposed.

The other thing that changed is that review models are now finalized at a much lower level - instead of the review numbers being passed up the tree to the top and then back down, the numbers stick at the lower level. It turns out that the pass up the tree and back down process had the effect of smoothing out numbers.

The new model doesn't include this smoothing out function.

As a result, every L2 got dramatically worse rewards this review period than ever before, for the same level of work ("The worst review I've ever gotten" was one comment I heard).

Another factor is that there were something like 6 levels (A-F, I believe) in the old stock grade system, there are only 3 in the current system. That means that numbers got shoehorned together - someone who got a "C" before is now lumped with people who got "F"s before.

The bottom line is: With the newsystem, you can't be content to remain at 64 for your career any more (at least not if you want to continue to get decent raises and stock awards). You MUST work to get yourself promoted.

This is why it sucks to be Kim.

Kim

Anonymous said...

Well...I too thought that Adam's comment was a bit smug...myopic, that's a stretch, but definitely smug.

Anonymous said...

A follow-up comment after Adam's comment revealed a bit more of the reason why Limited II might have popped up. Off-hand, I see it as smart, well-meaning people trying to do something good but I really don't know off hand if anyone out there agrees with the results... so, good intentions gets us where? Into a land of pissed-off solid contributors to whom we can only say, "Oy! It could have been worse for you!"

...

There needs to be change - what should we do for the midpoint as we prepare for the next major review?


Maybe some VPs get off their asses, get a list together of all the Limited IIs they royally pissed off, and start a private mea culpa tour. Sit down in each office, hand the person a big, fat check, a revised review removing the work "Limited" and say "I'm sorry - I was an idiot. Please stay."

Prolly shouldn't wait until mid-terms either.

Anonymous said...

I think that a lot of people here confuse the commitment rating with contribution rating. While the first allows you to get merit increases and bonus, the later allows you to get more stock. The fact that you have a steady contribution to the team is expressed in how well you do on your commitments. But did you bring something new to the table, do you have vision and leadership qualities? These are maybe some of the things that matter when the contribution ratings are done. The fact that you do your job well does not entitle you to any special rewards besides maybe the ones that result from commitments rating. So please stop complaining. If you don't have a lot of influence in how a product is shaped, in how an org is performing, you didn't earned any right to ask for strong or outstanding rating. Take a look at your area of influence, your role in the group, number of feature owned, etc - that is your contribution rating.
Please search contribution rating definition on the hr site before posting here. Limited II: "Consistent performer who has met expectations".

vinayaka said...

"But are they limited? Because I can tell you, once you tell them they are, they no doubt will perform like it. "

I agree to this. There are a lot of things that are basically wrong with the rating system used in employee appraisal in large companies.

- A mere HR assumption that in a group of 100 people 10% will be in the 'need improvement' category, 55% will be in the 'effective' category etc like that. And the farce is that at the end of the year people are forced to fill in these percentages as is. WHAT MORONS. An employee who performed excellently if gets a 'effective' rating because of some stupid assumption, he is sure to quit or perform 'effective' for the next year too no matter what consolation you give him.

- Another thing is the classification into classes in the first place. where exactly you draw the line between each of these classifications ?

- Even if you want to have the class system, when someone is in the border zone, i feel it is better to push him to the upper class - it gives a moral boost for him to work better. if pushed down it equally drags the morale down.

Anonymous said...

A poster above said:

>> I really hate the fact that management confuses ability and visibility.

Sadly, I have to agree with this. In my manager's view, accomplishments that are not visible to other people are not recognizable. With people like this at controls at Microsoft, things are not going to get better anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

But did you bring something new to the table, do you have vision and leadership qualities?

I don't do that nonsense because I have real work to do, work that does, in fact, influence the shape of the product and how the org is performing. I deliver solid, quality work as silently and seamlessly as any public utility, and like a public utility, my excellence will never be noticed until it's suddenly not there anymore and everybody is wondering what happened. Is that good enough for you?

If you want the self-aggrandizing weasels with their smarmy vision statements, random initiatives and monthly re-orgs, then tell me the name of your group and I'll be happy to send ours your way.

Me, I'll take the Kims any day.

Love,

Kim

Anonymous said...

I have never understood why Microsoft is so obsessed with differentiation. Why can't you have an HR policy that allows for extra rewards to people who had an outstanding year, boot out underperfromers, and then leave evryone else the heck alone. And no curves -- if there is no underperformer on a team, then none should be booted. If everyone had a great year, then reward accordingly. The current system leads to the kind of cesspool politics that MS is know for (jealousy, backstabbing, grandstanding, non-cooperation, tacky HR org). I came to MS with 10 yrs experience in the corporate world (law firm with mature professionals) -- I'd never heard the expression "manage up" until I got here. I know a decently-performing level 65 who got the dreaded "limited" and barely got any stock, while much more junior (in terms of contributions) levels 63 and 64 got a ton of stock b/c they were at the top of THEIR stack (but still not at the level of the 65). very screwy. I've always felt that HR is the no. 1 cause of this company's DYSFUNCTION. Anyone who's ever dealt with HR in this company know exactly what I'm talking about -- no wonder we have so many of them, to constantly tinker with one stupid policy after another. What idiot thinks that telling someone they are "limited" will motivate them to stronger performance? As someone else pointed out, there is absolutely no difference b/w this and the old 5.0-2.5 model. Frankly, I'd rather get a 3.0 (which I viewed as a C) than a limited I or II (which I view as a D or F). Left to those Einsteins in HR, we'd call the Home edition "Vista Limited" instead.

Anonymous said...

"The bottom line is: With the newsystem, you can't be content to remain at 64 for your career any more (at least not if you want to continue to get decent raises and stock awards). You MUST work to get yourself promoted."

Wait - this isn't the real problem at all. For the 90+% of us who are not 64 and above (or 65 and above - pick your Rather Large Level Number), we're getting stuck with an L2 when it's NOT that we actually don't have the "potential" to move up. It's just that we haven't, for a particular set of review periods, moved up. That's not at all the same thing!

My manager gave me an L2, despite a string of 3.5's (leading me to think, combined with all the extra work I'd done, that I'd actually finally get a promotion this time around - W-R-O-N-G). Then told me earnestly in my review that she was SURE we could work together so I could get that promotion in the next year. WTF?? If that isn't the epitome of a mixed message, I don't know what is.

Is that the "true purpose" of an L2, Adam (or anyone else who thinks it's a swell idea)?

And even if it is: explain to me how demoralizing masses of good workers is "a good thing." I just don't get that.

I'd like someone who knows to explain that in a public forum (like here would be good) so that we can all be enlightened. Do you think then we won't be so depressed and tuck our resumes back into the file cabinet? If not, then is there perhaps the possibility that, despite "good intentions," this was a really bad move and needs a public mea culpa and prompt correction?

Anonymous said...

'"Limited II" was introduced after complaints from managers that they did not want to assign the "Limited" ranking as it was to solid performers as the description didn't match (i.e. would be an insult) but had to assign it because of the definitions of "Strong" and "Outstanding".'

So the problem happened because HR didn't know that the organization has a lot of Kims, and that furthermore they are greatly valued by at least some managers. In other words, HR is really out of touch with what is actually going on. But then we already knew that.

Anonymous said...

> If you want the self-aggrandizing weasels with their smarmy vision statements, random initiatives and monthly re-orgs, then tell me the name of your group and I'll be happy to send ours your way.

Awesome - I fell off my chair :-)

The issue is that frequently, the capable people are not adept at selling themselves, and although this should NOT be necessary, the truth is that we have a large number of eloquent, articulate airheads who drift from group to group where the common feature is managers that don't have the capability of sorting the wheat from the chaff; the window-dressing from the real innovation, or important concerns.

Anonymous said...

I read references about the internal blog - can someone please post a link for that?

Anonymous said...

I'm a Kim as well. I've been at my level for 28 months, and I work in a dysfunctional team, with a boss who isn't really engaged in terms of managing the team, mentoring me, etc. I also just recently learned that a newhire on my team fresh out of college is making more than me, and I have many years of experience in my profession. I'm going to ask for a promo before Christmas...if I don't get it...what do I do? Look at another team at MS?

I'm a solid contributor, I've been told by others (who are MS veterans) that I've been working above my level for some time.

Anonymous said...

So if Microsoft recruiting has been refined to an art form where the best and the brightest use the ubiquitous sort algorithm or some other clever trick whiteboard question to filter out the wheat from the chaff and only hire the best and the brightest shouldn't there be 0 "Limiteds" 2.5's or whatever they are called on any given day?

Saying there has to be 10% "Limited", 70% "Strong" and 20% "Exceptional" (or 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, or whatever) in any given review says that the best and the brightest are only right 20% of the time, just pretty close 70% of the time and completely off the mark 10% of the time in their hiring process.

Surely, the best and the brightest could do better than that.

Who da'Punk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Externally 20% of all software companies succeed, and 80% fail. Internally, the theory is 20% of the people do 80% of work. Therefore if a team keeps the 20% of top talent, the team should do fine. Keep other 80% of people moving until they find their sweet spots or leave the company.

If you get a limited, your manager is telling you to leave in order to make the space for the new talent who can drive the competition to a new level.

This is good for the company but not necessary good to the individuals who want decent jobs with work/life balance.

Adam Barr said...

I'll be the first (or one of the first) to admit when Microsoft does something I don't agree with. BUT in this case I felt that Mini was possibly alarming a bunch of employees unnecessarily (not out of malice, just due to not understanding the situation). I suppose I could have posted anonymously and gone into great detail, but would people care about one more anonymous post? I would rather post under my real name and just say "it's not what you think". If someone at Microsoft wants to email me at work, I'll explain more.

I have seen what I am pretty sure is the "email from HR" and it does not say what it has been interpreted to say. The email is consistent with Microsoft's stated policies on career development, which are discussed in our Engineering Excellence classes and elsewhere.

- adam

Anonymous said...

"If you get a limited, your manager is telling you to leave in order to make the space for the new talent who can drive the competition to a new level.
"

There are better ways to convey this message outside of the yearly review without all of this confusion.

If this is really what the Limited II means, then each one of us has to second guess our managers and VPs all the time.

Anonymous said...

"I'll be the first (or one of the first) to admit when Microsoft does something I don't agree with. BUT in this case I felt that Mini was possibly alarming a bunch of employees unnecessarily (not out of malice, just due to not understanding the situation). I suppose I could have posted anonymously and gone into great detail, but would people care about one more anonymous post? I would rather post under my real name and just say "it's not what you think". If someone at Microsoft wants to email me at work, I'll explain more.

I have seen what I am pretty sure is the "email from HR" and it does not say what it has been interpreted to say. The email is consistent with Microsoft's stated policies on career development, which are discussed in our Engineering Excellence classes and elsewhere.

- adam

By Adam Barr, at Friday, November 17, 2006 8:13:05 AM"


Hmmmm. Don't know who Adam is, but this particular outsider-writer smells a rat. What I picture is, "Hey, Adam, can you help me out here? HR's goin' through some tough times. Yours truly, LisaB"

Adam plays the "trust me" card with no SADTIE (statistics, analogy, demo, testimonial, incident or example). My astroturfing-shill antennae are justa' vibratin' like mad, here. "Smells like team spirit" to me. I be talkin' 'bout, of course, the facade-managing team.

How can any Mini contributor, anonymous or Adam, possibly justify an HR plan that even ALLUDES to the word "Limited" to describe employee performance?

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Anonymous said...

Adam, I don't see how you can think that Mini is "unnecessarily alarming" a bunch of people who would otherwise be happy campers. He's merely pointing out what is actually happening. That Kims are not only not valued, but that now they (we) are being openly slammed.

Ok, some will probably argue this is better than being secretly slammed (and given the same lack of rewards). Maybe so. But being told to our faces that yes, you're a solid contributor and so here's your zero contribution amount, thanks a lot - is not an encouraging or morale-boosting experience. Maybe HR doesn't intend it to be. In which case they must WANT a whole bunch of people to slouch along feeling pretty crummy every single day at work OR they want a bunch of people to get busy finding work OUTSIDE the company. Because naturally, everyone is going to "know" what an L2 means: you're a bottom-feeder who isn't likely to get up and do any dancing on the tables any time soon (or ever).

I still have to ask: why would my manager tell me "Most likely to remain at current career stage; minimal opportunity to broaden one's role or to advance" and then go into a big pitch about how she's SURE I can get promoted by getting on the bandwagon with everyone else. Was she just covering up the fact that I was supposed to realize she wanted me to leave? I guess so. She had spent most of the review period literally raking me over the coals, so why so nice all of a sudden?

Guess I'll never know. But I'm not going to stick around to see if she means it or not. ESPECIALLY after reading your clarification that yes, that's what HR means and it was supposed to be obvious from EE and other sources before the L2 label brought it front and center. Maybe if I wasn't such a Kim, I would've figured it out sooner.

Anonymous said...

Please folks - I used to work for those that current Microsoft employees are considering getting a job from - have no illusions, it is the same everywhere else. Google is just better at managing perceptions. Amazon is not. Bezos likes to play rocket man while his sweatshop is cranking away (unless you are an expert dickhead, don't join AMZN - if you feel like you can rub shoulders with extreme dickheads, then by all means join AMZN and try your luck there). But make no mistake about any large company - there's a lot of fingers and a not big enough pie.

The more you expect of your career, the more likely you are to be disappointed. Unless you are prepared to 1) deliver, 2) play politics, 3) stop bitching and 4) bite bullets all the time, you best pipe it over at MSFT, or else look for another job.

Working for large companies isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Find some people who have money but are in the startup phase - go and bust your ass for them - they will be more appreciative of your efforts than MSFT in terms of options/stock. Even there you should not expect to be getting rich quick, but as far as appreciation goes, you're more likely to find it there than in a large company with a lot of inbreds.

Don't like MSFT? Vote with your feet. Just dont expect greener grass on the other side in a similar competitor either.

Anonymous said...

Me, I'll take the Kims any day.

Love,

Kim



I want to know who you are - I'm not at MSFT, but I have had many opportunities to interview with MSFT. I worked at another very large Seattle based online retailer company (guess who...) and am now working in a midsize company where everyone gets to see the effects of my work, so there can not be any confusion anymore as to how much or what I brought to the table.

I can be eloquent and self-aggrandizing, but I've chosen not to do that. I'd rather shift companies when I see the self-aggrandizing assholes rise up.

If I work for MSFT, I want to be in your group - the one who treats the software engineering process in a utility-like manner. 'Cause if I hear one more time that something "new or visionary" has been brought by anyone at MSFT (no offense), I'll vommit right then and there.

Anonymous said...

Why all the passive/agressive stuff? 'Softies are all rough and ready when it comes to taking the "whiteboard challenge" but when it comes to talking to people the get all jello-y? What's up with that?

If you do good work, fine!

If you do average work, then that may or may not be fine, too. After all. you'll need that 80% to implement what the 20% thought of. If average is fine, say so, if not, show them what's missing and how they can achieve it. If they, i.e. the managers or at least those in management positions, don't know what that amounts to, then it's the manager that has a problem, not the employee (or at least we won't know that for sure until his/her manager get his stuff together).

Now, if someone is not working out, and they can't get their stuff together, then it's time to face facts and say, "you're not working out." (repeat after me: "You are not working out." See, that wasn't so hard now, was it?) But don't just wipe your ass with this person, help them find where they can work out, it may be in the company, it may not, but the point is, EVERYONE will be happier once you (the manager) find a place where this person fits.

But just labeling them and then looking the other way hoping they'll just disappear seems like the lamest of the lame.

Microsoft isn't for everyone so if they want to bump you out to make room for some fresh blood then why don't they say that? (Age discrimination law suits, maybe?)

In anycase, whether someone is "limited" or not (or rather if their career growth potential is limited), then there should be a plan to improve that, admit that it's not a problem, or help reassign them to some place where they can succeed, again. Otherwise, whatever problem there was (or is now that they have been labled) will just fester and provide fodder for blog posts.

Anonymous said...

This isn't a new idea. At the 2000 company meeting, Balmer gave the usual statistics including % of people leaving. He said that we actually needed more people to leave, and should agressively force what are now labelled as "limited" people to leave. During the next year, my group got rid of several "Kim" type contributors. They were replaced with lower level people with lesser skills who still haven't reached the contribution ability of those who were thrown out. The result has been a net loss for Microsoft.

Stupid idea. It has never helped, and never will.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure if there are too many people at Microsoft or too many of the wrong people.

Politics are part of this business and any business. No different anywhere. Deal with it.

An individual gets paid a salary to do a job. They can continue to get a nice salary for a long time if all they want to do is there job. Stock rewards are for making a exceptional difference in the company. Quit peanut buttering the stock, place more emphasis on contribution and get people off their cry baby attitudes - sit in my cubicle - I want a towel and a take home dinner ass and we might get some software out the door.

Things are awesome and Google and Oracle, too bad you wouldn't qualify for a position because you are worried about being "solid".

I hear this type of attitude in the auto industry. Really worked for them. Great idea, unionize for mediocrity.

Waa Waa Waa

Anonymous said...

"why would my manager tell me "Most likely to remain at current career stage; minimal opportunity to broaden one's role or to advance" and then go into a big pitch about how she's SURE I can get promoted by getting on the bandwagon with everyone else. Was she just covering up the fact that I was supposed to realize she wanted me to leave?"

Yes. Otherwise its work for her to hire and bring up a new employee up to speed.

Anonymous said...

The more you expect of your career, the more likely you are to be disappointed. Unless you are prepared to 1) deliver, 2) play politics, 3) stop bitching and 4) bite bullets all the time, you best pipe it over at MSFT, or else look for another job.

Those are so well said. 1) + 3) are good engineer quality everyone should have. However these incompetent and hypocritical politics player are sometime so disgusting to work with and they are rampant in Microsoft than ever now. My suggestion: love and focus on the technical work you do; stay away from political people or environment.

Life is short and precious. If you are smart and get things done, join a promising startup or Google. Google may or may not grow into Microsoft like 5~10 years later but for now vast majority of your co-worker are hard working smart people that really love computer and software. In principle engineer decides what to work on and whom to work with, no harassment from managers (very few of them anyway).

Anonymous said...

I think the whole "Potential" category should be eliminated. Rely upon the performance category (Exceed, Met, etc). You are only as good as what you've done lately anyway. If you kicked-ass, then laddle on the stock & bonus. If you didn't, why should you be rewarded for unfulfilled "potential"?

And I agree with the person who noted undeserved distribution of rewards is not by a long shot limited to MS. If anything, MS does a slightly better job - but only slightly.

Anonymous said...

L65 did not get his stocks and looking elsewhere? Good. This means I as an underleveled 61 might in fact see some upward mobility. Come on, some folks around here fart dust already. It's about time they in fact looked elsewhere. If they're such geniuses (as each and every one of them seems to believe), they shouldn't have any problems finding jobs.

Be Paid said...

How about a nice conspiration theory, it's always fun:
You start your MSFT career somewhere around level 60, you learn nuts and bolts, you start kicking butt. You get nice review, some bonus, not much, but you feel nice. Next year passes, you still kick butt, possibly get promoted. So far so good. The cycle repeats, now you're 62 after few years, great. MyMicrosoft comes - now you know that if you kick butt even more, you're bound for HUGE stock award next review time, as the top gun amongst 62s, so you're happy already. But, here's the surprise - you got promoted again. Bonus is nice, sure, but now you're curved in the middle of 63s, so the stock award is not quite what you expected. But fine. Next few years go. You get promoted again, so again, your stock awards are from the middle, not the promised top 5000 stocks for the best. Finally, you reach your 66 where you probably will stay. There, you get your big awards finally (or not, remember, competition is VERY tough now between 66s). So you get your rewards onceor twice. Then, Limited II rule kicks in. And you're done for life, no more rewards.

Now, the question is, who in HR got HUGE for inventing ingenious system like this? Huge savings for company, it virtually guarantees that very small percent of superstars actually sees their rewards more than twice. Freaking smart, Lisa.

Anonymous said...

It's been amusing to read the comments from some of the lower level devs. Personally, one of the things I always disliked about most of the code that I saw was that it had all of the obvious signs of being written by rookies.

Over-designed, overly complex, and poorly implemented is no way to go through life son. It's fun to see code that uses inheritance as the only code sharing mechanism - deep levels of inheritance with every variable declared protected is the classic mold in which most MS code is cast. Rookie code. Of course MS is so youth oriented that many of the, "senior," devs won't have a clue what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

I haven't a clue what these levels mean - could someone translate level 60-66 ot 67 to something that has meaning outside of redmond?

Anonymous said...

"Now, the question is, who in HR got HUGE for inventing ingenious system like this? Huge savings for company, it virtually guarantees that very small percent of superstars actually sees their rewards more than twice. Freaking smart, Lisa."

This behavior is endemic to Microsoft and is part of a corporate behavior borne out of an attitude resulting from having corpulent corporate coffers - bottomless pockets. It goes like this:

1. Have a mediocre idea for the solution to an ill-defined problem.
2. Invoke the idea with little forethought.
3. Let the ________________ DISCOVER HOW F#*KING STUPID WE ARE. (fill in BLANK with employee, customer, vendor, stock holder, competitor, EU)
4. Admit to NO wrong.
5. Pour tons of money and spin towards adjusting the idea behind the scenes so that it miraculously appears fixed and yet, somehow, perpetually...MEDIOCRE!
6. Repeat steps 1 - 5.

Adam Barr said...

To Anonymous at 2:38:54 PM: I don't see how what I wrote "confirmed" that the way you were treated is the way HR meant you to be treated. I don't know why your manager did what she did or said what she said. My only point is that it was NOT because of an official HR policy.

The Kims are valued at Microsoft. To me adding the second kind of "Limited" is precisely about reinforcing that point. I'm not sure why it is being interpreted exactly the opposite.

Last post here about this. If someone wants to discuss further, email me.

- adam

Anonymous said...

>> Rookie code.

No dude. "Rookies" are too busy doing the actual work. They can be promoted for much less than be-all end-all architecture that will drive everyone but upper management insane due to its complexity. It's the "senior" devs and "architects" that are most guilty of this. They have fewer checks and balances on them, too. They don't need to negotiate with anyone except maybe one or two "senior" dust farting devs, so when (and if) they deliver everyone bangs their heads against the wall. You can't really tell an L65 that he's an idiot, in public or in private, even if he is.

I've run into a situation like this once and now I know better. Senior dev was suggesting an architectural solution that was unreliable and retarded. I've put up what I thought was a good argument but my argument got ignored because ya see, I was perceived as a rookie. Once we released the product it became clear to everyone that L65 was wrong and I was right. For the next release we're implementing my suggestions.

Moral of the story - seniority doesn't mean shit in this company. There are lots of underleveled people at 62, and lots of overleveled people at 65. In fact I'd say most of L64-65 are overleveled, because they've most likely joined the company in mid-90's when promotions were given out like candy. Had they joined in 2000-2001, they'd never reach the level they have reached.

Anonymous said...

L65 did not get his stocks and looking elsewhere? Good. This means I as an underleveled 61 might in fact see some upward mobility

I can understand your frustration as an "underleveled 61". But dont for a moment believe that you will get upward mobility because people above you might be clearing out.
If you want to get to 65 act like a 65 (hint: go look at the CSP for levels above you) and you have a chance, otherwise they will hire a 65 if they really need a 65, and you might still be where you are.

I am sorry if this sounds mean, but that is not what I am trying to be. It is upto you to get where you want to go, no body will give it it you just because you think you deserve it, they have to think that too.

My 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

> could someone translate level 60-66 ot 67 to something that has meaning outside of redmond?

Out of college hire usually gets level 59 to 61. Actually, SDE jobs start with level 60, but SDE/T can be 59. You can stay as individual contributor (IC) and grow to level ~65, it is very hard to grow higher without becoming manager.

Dev Lead position starts typically with level 63-64, although I've seen couple with level 62.

Anonymous said...

"The Kims are valued at Microsoft. To me adding the second kind of "Limited" is precisely about reinforcing that point. I'm not sure why it is being interpreted exactly the opposite."

If anyone understands what Adam means by this, please post (since he's done posting here, I won't ask him to explain). How does it reinforce that Kims "are valued" to punish them by labeling them exactly the same as people who are underperforming and barely holding onto their jobs and giving them little/no stock?

It's the label that's the worst part. I don't give a fig about the stock; not worth thinking about one way or the other, these days. But the lack of differentiation between Kims and people who need to find a different job is baffling. Basically you're giving both groups of people the same message by labeling them "Limited." Adding various fancy verbiage under that to say "I don't really mean it *this* way, I mean it *this* way" is just noise to the recipients. It's like saying "This kind of 3.0 is actually really good!" Yeah. Right.

And saying that "Well, HR didn't *mean* it that way" isn't very helpful either. If it can be and is being *used* that way by managers, it's broken. Is it so hard to admit that HR screwed up on this one and that it'll be fixed for the next round?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft: 'Linux owes us'
MS CEO Ballmer claims IP infringement
http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/index.cfm?newsid=7629

OK, the headline might be stretching his statements a little bit, but is anyone else getting more than a bit tired with SteveB opening his mouth and making us look bad? How much is this little misstep of his going to affect the stock price? And we were on such a roll, I actually had hopes that we'd break $30 again; then Steve has to go and shoot his mouth off again.

Why can't Bill wake up and smell the coffee, it is WELL PAST time for Steve to go!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Though I'd feel bad getting an F on an exam or as the final grade, there was always hope I could do better the next time around.

A Limited feels different. No matter how hard I try will I always be Limited? I feel a cap has been put on me, growth isn't something I can do. And, what good manager would waste training budget or coaching or mentoring on me anyway? I'm limited. Put me in the corner, give me the dirty work nobody else wants. Heck, the others need to focus on growth anyway so don't waste your and their time doing the mundane. Heck, give it to the Limited.

Microsoft, I gave you my heart and soul, have done much for you, moved your forward when times were rough, talked you up when others talked you down. Believed in what you could be when the going was tough. Never ever performed below a 3.5 ever, in 10 years. Exceeded committments this year.

But you slapped me in the face with a Limited and I drink the Kool Aid no more.

Anonymous said...

interesting read on what things are like at yahoo: http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB116379821933826657-0mbjXoHnQwDMFH_PVeb_jqe3Chk_20061125.html?mod=blogs

Anonymous said...

If anyone understands what Adam means by this, please post (since he's done posting here, I won't ask him to explain). How does it reinforce that Kims "are valued" to punish them by labeling them exactly the same as people who are underperforming and barely holding onto their jobs and giving them little/no stock?

It means Adam aspires to a senior position at the Ministry of Truth.

Anonymous said...

I am Kim. Level 63 for 30+ months... Got slammed with a limited and 0 stock. Absolutely ridiculous considering the BS year I had on a thankless account and on airplanes half the year (field sales). Performance side of the review was fine.

I moved off that team at the beginning of FY07 and immediately engaged my new manager on a CDP. When asked my reason for seeking advancement, I gave the full party-line BS about new challenges, blah blah, blah.

The reality is that if you're not endlessly moving upward, you're in a position to be screwed. This type of policy is exactly what lead us to the disastrous bloat we have today.

So now I am doing whatever it takes to make sure I get 64 this year. It wasnt the type of thing I typically focused on, but now I see I have no choice.

Anonymous said...

About the Microsoft: 'Linux owes us' post.

This doesn't need to hit the shareholders baldy. It's a warning for those planning to go with a Linux solution, other than Novell, instead of a MSFT solution.

This might even raise the stock, if the market think companies is to afraid for infringements and go for MSFT solutions instead of Linux. Especially RedHat.

You can almost hear SteveB talking to the customers with a Don Corleone voice:

"You come running for protection now, eh? When you turned your back on the family for Linux? I feel sad at heart. We always loved you like a brother, but you threw it all away for your so called 'freedom'.

Well, these are hard times my friend, and i can't guarantee anything. The choise is all up to you, and i'm confident, considering current circumstances, that you will make the right decision."

Anonymous said...

Mini says:

"Another thing about this whole Scenario II thing: my (obviously enlightened) group didn't buy into it. If they did, there would have been a lot more limiteds being handed out."

I thought that *every* group had to hand out a certain number of Limiteds (10%, right?). Are you saying that your group got around this? Or that there were plenty of folks who deserved Limited I designations without having to go the Limited II route?

If the former, why did you get to be so special? If the latter, that's a LOT of underperforming folks, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Mini - I'm surprised no one has pointed out the obvious regarding the "Kim" policy. Not only is it bad management, it's also ILLEGAL! It's a violation of both state and federal law to have management policies that favor younger workers over older ones. This is age discrimination, plain and simple. The higher level you are at, the more difficult it is to earn a level increase. Therefore, it's much easier for 30 year old employee to move from a level 58 to 59 than it is for a more senior 40 year employee to be promoted from a level 63 to 64. In fact, the vast majority of highly productive and valued employees at Microsoft who we count on to do the grunt work required to ship products plateau at this level. Only a select few who fall into the right demographic (male, white, type-A, ...) and have excelled in kissing butt to their managers instead of doing their work get promoted at this stage.

Not only is it totally stupid to penalize the hard working and loyal employees by placing a "limited" tag on them, it is blatant age discrimination since a highly disproportiate number of these employees will be over age 40 and be protected under the ADEA (Age Discrimination Employment Act).

I must stress that this is a very serious violation of employee civil rights and should be immediately investigated by LisaB. I urge you Mini to muster your faithful readers to not let go of this issue and force HR to come clean and drop this short sighted, draconian, and illegal policy once and for all.

Anonymous said...

The Kims are valued at Microsoft. To me adding the second kind of "Limited" is precisely about reinforcing that point. I'm not sure why it is being interpreted exactly the opposite.

Well now, Adam, that would place you in the "Clueless II" category, which was added by HR to describe people who have reached the limit of their potential cluefulness but are not, in fact, totally without a clue. It does, unfortunately, only have the same rewards as the regular Clueless category, a dunce cap made of blue paper, but rest assured that you are still a valued member of MS.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous poster that noted that policies that seem designed (or have the effect) of pushing out older workers are very troubling and most likely ILLEGAL. As a 10-year MS veteran, I continue to be amazed and saddened at the HR policies and practices of this company (in more ways than I can go into here). Our first wave of legal issues came from antitrust. Then patents. I predict the third wave will be HR class actions (women, URM, older workers). I thought LisaB would try to do the right thing. Now I'm not so sure.

Anonymous said...

From a prior comment:
"I thrive on my work but at times its difficult to like this company. I despise how this company treats its employees"

This comment is indicative of a number of comments made in this thread (and others). I'm definitely on the same page as a lot of people on this site with my desire to make more money and be better rewarded, but let's take a minute and get a little perspective:

Microsoft isn't running a sweatshop. It doesn't have 100s of employess making $2/day. People aren't forced to work here.

It would shock me if the average salary for a PM/DEV/SDET at MS wasn't in the $100k+ range (especially including bonuses, benefits, etc). That's not exactly chump change folks.

Does Microsoft pay competitively? Meh - depends on the company.

Could the money & benefits be better?
Of course! More money and more benefits are, by nature, better.

Could the review model be improved?
Certainly. There are a lot of crappy situations at MS. However, I haven't seen a thread on how this is at other companies. Are we better, worse, or the same? It doesn't excuse it, but it would add some perspective.

Anyway, the point of my mini-rant is to see if I can get people to focus on how we can improve as managers and as a company, rather than complaining about the amount of cash in your paycheck and the "bad" conditions you have to endure as a Microsoft employee...

That said, if you do in fact work in a Microsoft-run sweatshop in Redmond, by all means get the heck out! There are a lot of jobs, both inside and outside Microsoft, that will make you happier.

Anonymous said...

It would shock me if the average salary for a PM/DEV/SDET at MS wasn't in the $100k+ range (especially including bonuses, benefits, etc). That's not exactly chump change folks.

Holy #*&$!, what division do you work in? I'm tens of thousands away from that, even after significant bonuses, and I've been here a while.

Anonymous said...

"I've been here a while"

That likely explains it. Company wide, hires made after 2004 have received sweet offers that comfortably put them over the 100k mark after including bonus and stock.

Anonymous said...

My use of the word "salary" was incorrect in my previous comment. It should have been "compensation".

Maybe $100k is too high of an average. I guess it depends on when you started at MS, your stock awards and how they've built over the last couple of years, and whether or not you are a strong performer. I'm by no means trying to insinuate the previous commentor isn't a strong performer, but this definitely plays a major role in my group.

I've been around since the days when a promo meant a 13-20% raise (the golden years). I've been around during the lean times (last few years), and I can tell you that if you're at the top of your game, and you're making a strong contribution, you will get strong rewards in the division I'm in.

If this isn't happening for someone else out there, either:
a. You aren't as good as you think you are. FIND OUT WHY! Grab the competency worksheet for the level above you from the HR site, fill it out, and then review it with your manager. You'll find it very enlightening, and will help you focus on the key areas for growth.
b. You are a rockstar, but group is either full of politicos, your manager stinks, or the team as a whole is mediocre (it's shocking to me how often a strong performer is under-rewarded on a mediocre team - you'd think it would be the opposite).

If B, get out! Find a new job. Rekindle your excitement. At the end of the day, if you don't love your job, you'll never be more than average at it. If you need new technology, go find it. If you need a new perspective, switch roles.

Whew. I'm done now...

Anonymous said...

"It would shock me if the average salary for a PM/DEV/SDET at MS wasn't in the $100k+ range (especially including bonuses, benefits, etc). That's not exactly chump change folks."

And need we remind you that PM/DEV/SDET does not comprise the entire set of employees at MSFT?

Anonymous said...

And need we remind you that PM/DEV/SDET does not comprise the entire set of employees at MSFT?

Well, they're the only ones that really *matter*, right? The rest of us are just overpaid admins, who do jobs ANYONE could do.

/sarcasm

Got a ways to go myself towards that 100k+ figure. Options got me very little, stock is giving me even less. And I'm not a PM/DEV/SDET. And I'm a Kim.

Seems I'm "fit to contract," though, even though I'm not MS full-time material, and never should have been hired in the first place. Except that I was. Almost 7 years ago.

Whatever. I've decided I am going back to contracting, so I can get the hell away from stupid curves, demoralizing review systems, and unpaid overtime. They want me to work more than 40 hours, they're going to pay dearly for it. ('Course, as a contractor, I'll make more money, and then tack on the agency fee and they're already paying dearly. But I'm not vindictive. Mostly.)

Anonymous said...

What the HELL does HR have to do with promotions?
Their function is to collect resumes and do the payroll. When they presume to act as a policy-setting organization, then it's time to fire the lot of them, and outsource their legitimate functions to PayChex and a bunch of free-lance headhunters.

You want to get the deadwood out of Microsoft? What's the headcount in the HR department?

Anonymous said...

Hey guys,
I'm a founder of a company that has very good prospects for rapid growth, and I read mini's blog on a regular basis for examples of pitfalls to avoid.

One impression I've gotten loud and clear, is that we should NEVER hire a middle-manager from Microsoft, and that if we hire a Microsoft VP, then we might as well just detonate a tac nuke in our lobby and save ourselves the agony.

If I meet any candidate who I REALLY hate, I'll suggest that he or she go work for Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

HR is literally getting Microsoft down. They are conducting experiments with very talented and qualified people, and that is simply something unacceptable. The thing is far worse than “take away the towels” and then “bring back the towels”.

Mini-Microsoft brought up the idea of a “Microsoft Academy”. But the fact is that for such idea to succeed we need to first review: Is every current employee a “Microsoft hire”? Have you ever heard of “recruiter friends” or “someone indicated by a high-level employee” interviewing over and over until they get a position? Have you ever seen people appearing from nowhere in your project near shipping time in “key positions”, and then leaving when problems start to appear.

The reason people like Kim cannot get promoted is far away from the person’s performance. As a Dev Lead for several years, I can tell you how many times I had to literally shout to people that we cannot make “adjustments during the calibration” just to please people that would be upset with their reviews. It must be, as much as possible, an objective evaluation of performance, considering the levels. But then you can only fight so much if you have an outstanding employee at level 60, and someone else has this really more than limited employee at level 62 and that person has been there stuck without a good review for 3 years. Most leads at Microsoft simply refuse to admit that it is better to lose that person and have an open position than to continue having such person in the team. So, their point-of-view is: we should promote an already limited person at level 62 to the next level, just to keep them happy. And obviously, that promotion is done at the cost of someone that deserves it not getting it.

What should really be done: not only get rid of that IC but also of the lead than wants to reward incompetence. But how many managers you know that will really dig into the facts and do that? What is HR doing? They have all the data, and could easily identify such situations. But what to expect from the people wasting their time thinking about towels?

Anonymous said...

>One impression I've gotten loud and clear, is that we should NEVER hire a middle-manager from Microsoft

Dude, since you're obviously kind of dim, I'll be nice and spell it out for you: you shouldn't hire a middle manager or VP from any megacorp. Once the professional bean counters take over from the techies and then start bringing in their other bean counter friends, it's game over, man.

Lots of luck with your company.

Anonymous said...

I work for a very large corporation that's famous for the quality of the leaders it produces. What outsiders don't realize is that this corp spends so much effort "finding and cultivating the A's" that the B's realize they shouldn't invest too much of themselves in their jobs. Even if they put in a Herculean effort, their boss, a much younger recent graduate of a Leadership training program, will get the credit and rewards. And in 18-24 months, they'll have a new boss, and it will happen again. True, you get a steady supply of leaders, with a varied background, and long list of successes, but you alienate the people who hold the company together. MS sounds like it's well on the path we blazed - you too can be known as a great company to be from.

Anonymous said...

This is frickin' ridiculous. I left MS right after being told by my Director that I was performing way above level, that I absolutely should be promoted but that he couldn't because there was a long line of people that were due before me and he could only promote a couple people a year...

Anonymous said...

I find myself in the Limited 2 category also, but what is weird/passive-aggressive is how that happened. I am a 7+ year MS veteran who has contributed solidly over the years and steadily moved from L60 to L65. I got promoted to L65 in August last year (FY06) and when review time came up was fully expecting the rewards for bonus and stock to come in. (For those who don't know L65 and up get 2x bonus and a considerably higher stock award pool.) Imagine my surprise when my boss tells me that despite exceeding my commitments and getting a nice bonus(30%) and merit increase (6%) that my stock award was in the 400 range, fully 1K less than I received in each of the last two cycles. Shocked, I enquired further and was told that despite being promoted to L65 and exceeding all my goals and commitments HIS BOSS felt that I wasn't expected to be promoted beyond my current level and hence the Limited 2. (As a Manager it sure smacked of a forced curve to me.)

When I asked how for 7 plus years I could have been either a 4.0/A or 3.5/B and then suddenly be a Limited 2 he punted and told me to go ask HR. (Like that would happen/do any good.)

So, for me the situation is pretty clear. Despite kickin' ass and bringing in results year after year, and getting rewarded via 5 promotions, I am now consigned to the Limited 2 realm of no future and no desire to push for one here any longer.

Funny thing though, now that I no longer give a f!@# about Microsoft and realize that my future lies elsewhere, I am relaxed. I still come in and do my job most days, take lots of long lunches and usually leave the office early. My contribution matches Microsoft's expectation of my ability now, and I can honestly say for the first time that I have achieved a real work-life balance.

Stranger still, despite sharing everyone's opinion of HR and their ineptness and culpability in making Microsoft a truly mediocre company, I feel somehow indebted to LisaB and her minions for finally letting me see the light.

Today I will be solidly compensated for doing basically nothing, and together with a bunch of other employees that LisaB and HR alienated will be lounging around having yet another latte while we explore outside opportunities, brush up our resumes and build out our network of job contacts.


- Limited 2 and Lovin' it!!

(PS - heck, I could maybe stretch this out for two or three years like so many of our Leadership Team does - but alas I have too much integrity to do that.)

James said...

One thing you guys have to keep in mind is that there once was an environment that was so bad because it was unstructured that HR had to some up with these harebrained schemes in the first place. If there wasn't curve ranking and all this you would still all be complaining about how all the suck-ups got all the bonuses and promotion. This system just makes the managers work harder to conceal the suck-ups.

I've never worked at a company nearly as big as MSFT, but the $6 billion one that was my last employer had a crappy review system also. I once got a $78 bonus and my boss kept the rest of the bonus allocation for himself. There were no peer or upward review channels. I had to fight them to remove that bad review from the record even after he got fired for being incompetent. I got a single COLA raise in 2 years even though I got a title improvement. Meanwhile my options were $6-10 underwater the entire time they were vested.

I understand it sucks everywhere but there's 2 takeaways you should learn:

1. Negotiate a salary that you'll be comfortable with for a few years. This is surprisingly easy.

2. Pretend that that your salary is your sole income source and plan accordingly. Yeah, someone else might get a bunch of stock but who cares? Relative deprivation is a false problem. If you're happy with what you're earning [see #1] you won't be all stressed out come review season.

I'm a proud Kim and I've spent the bulk of my career finding better and better Kim-friendly positions. Yeah, I know people who make more money than I do but I deliver on my promises and I get to go home at 5 and live a comfortable lifestyle.

Not being tweaked out about office politics frees up bandwidth to do better work as well. No matter what the "political climate" in your office if you do truly great work no one will care that you're only in the office for 7 hours a day or that you didn't suck up to your skip-level.

Relax! You'll live longer.

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't the system, the problem is the system is being applied seemingly without much thought.

The problem with using a cookie-cutter HR approach and applying it to Microsoft is that our gene pool is very different. Most of the people I work with are far smarter, far more dedicated, and far more skilled than people I see at other similar companies, and since I work in customer-facing Services I see a lot of the industry outside our ivory tower. Yet our HR management still attempts to apply the standard corporate HR metrics to us - like the 10% 'fire', 55% 'achieving', 30% 'overachieving', 5% 'superstars' - that's perhaps normal for most organizations, but from our hiring practices alone, we don't fit that particular bell curve; from our pace and expectations, we certainly don't. Most of the 'performers' I work with at MS would be 'superstars' in most of the customer and partner organizations I work with.

I've always equated a technical organization's inherent health conversely with the strength of the HR department - if the HR department can override technical lead's decisions in hiring and firing and promotion, then the company is going down the tubes. Couple that with seemingly rewarded cronyism from mid-management (may my old manager, more concerned in covering himself with glory than the team achieving targets and all his crony mates rot in hell) and we are where we are.

...looking hard at the door

Anonymous said...

Wow! Being rated a 4.5 for 6 years in a row. Being well respected inside my team and with my customers for the job I was doing. And my reward this year was you are "Limited". Why? Because you do not want to be a manager. Therefore, for your reward, we are not going to give you a bonus, no stock and forget about any training. But you did "Exceed" on your objectives for a seventh year, but we are only interested in "Managers want to be". However, thank you Microsoft for telling me I am limited because it made me get off the hamster wheel and realize there is life after Microsoft and that life is good. I guess Microsoft must be getting out the software industry and moving into a management consultant company since solid technical people are no longer wanted. After seven years I now have a better work/life balance, getting paid more, and doing what I love to do with no pressure to become a manager. Oh yeah that is because I no longer work for the "Only managers want to be" company. You know the company I am talking about, the one that use to be the biggest software maker in the world. Now it is the known as the biggest makers of poor managers. One day, Microsoft will realize not everyone should be a manager and they will still need strong technical people to write code.

Pete said...

I joined Microsoft in 1982. I retired in 2000. In between, it was a hell of a ride. Microsoft, when I started, was better than I ever could hav imagined a job could be. Microsoft, when I left, was hard to distinguish from the IBM we made fun of when I was working on OS/2. It sounds like things have continued downhill. If you're interested, you can read a letter I sent to Bill and Steve the day before I retired: http://peteandcarol.com/msft.htm. By the way, Windows Me was the product that cinched my decision to retire: I waqs intensely proud of every other product I worked on--but not Windows Me.

Anonymous said...

I joined MS in 1993, just after the big curve and worked for a solid 12 years of contribution. Throughout my career, choosing the right manager and the right peers made all the difference.

As part of a solid customer focused group (mid-career) I had glowing reviews, glowing salary increases and wonderful bonuses and options. They truly knew the value of the customer and the customer advocate.

As soon as I moved back into a development focused team, that all changed. Unless you released code (regardless of the product improvements you were driving) the results were abysmal and you were leveled at a 3.0.

This was all prior to the Limited labels and as a solid Level 63 contributor at 3.5 and 3.0 reviews, the compensation was nothing more than a thank you, you're lucky to have a job these days...don't drink that Kool-Aid...there's plenty of work out here and MS has always been a great place to learn and grow...not blossom, in your career.
This was in spite of retaining a patent as a PM in my last two years and also making great changes in process improvements for our division. It was time to leave.

Well, victory is sweet, with experience of the caliber of a long career at MS, leaving was an immediate reward in compensation, at the end of my first year for my new company, I received a Christmas bonus of significance and the review cycle is due in March...what companies are giving Christmas bonuses?

All said, I appreciate the opportunities I had at MS, but the overall mindset that has enveloped management for the last 6 years has destroyed some great contributors that now work for the competition...

Anonymous said...

I was just digging around for some info on HeadTrax when I ran across this "Kim" thread. I may have missed it but has no one read or heard of "the Peter Principle"? From Wiki: "It states that members of a hierarchical organization are eventually promoted to their highest level of competence, after which further promotion raises them to a level at which they may become incompetent. Such a level is called the employee's "level of incompetence", at which the employee has a dismal or no chance at all of being promoted any farther, thus achieving the ceiling of his career growth within a given organization."

Anonymous said...

"The Kims are valued at Microsoft. To me adding the second kind of "Limited" is precisely about reinforcing that point. I'm not sure why it is being interpreted exactly the opposite."

Duh. So "limited" is a good word? Once again, complete lack of backbone and leadership results in inept solutions to problems.
Yes this is age discrimination. Does MS think it will become the young and vibrant Google simply by slapping demeaning and demotivating labels on its knowledgeable employees. I think it's going to take more than that.
Employees and potential employees are not stupid. If this new limited too category doesn't speak volumes about microsoft commitment to loyal, delivering employees, nothing does!

Anonymous said...

limited! just one more tool in the incompetent manager's toolbox. it's about politics man!

I got a limited 2. I'm not leaving. Haha. Spite you back. But I do want to live down to expectations now. Seems only right.
Oh, and guess what. Now they try to prevent you from accessing education benefits that could help you shake the limited label. So, what is it all about then? Leaves just one answer. Age discrimination.
If only you could wager on future court cases.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft review system is malignant and it clearly indicates that Microsoft is in Cancer ward. Microsoft review system purely promotes mediocrity by giving huge emphasis on 'how' the political element.
Innovation requires sme risk taking ability and who would take risk with such a rotten review system...no wonder Microsft is least innovative. If the political review system continues I give another 5 years to Microsft, after that it will become history and a case study for academic institution.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that I exceeded all of my commitments, grew the business this past year and yet received the worse review possible. When I asked my manager about it he gave me all the subjective mumbo jumbo, but when pressed he admitted that he had to give some of us who made our commitments low ratings so that he could then give his friends who did not meet their commitments the higest ratings. Since this is a year when stock is being reduced and salaries increased, it has an extra devistating effect. Ity is time for another solid employee to move on.