Sunday, February 17, 2008

Some Quick Quips - Yahoo, #86, and MSPoll

Just some quick quips:

yahoo... Sorry, I can't get up the enthusiasm to put the exclamation point into Yahoo anymore. So this past week had a number of voluntary and involuntary exits from Yahoo. Mr. Yang calls out, "White Knight? Anyone? Anyone?" and the Yahoo board gets restless.

An interesting bit comes from Joe Rosenberg in Barron's. The summary? Microsoft bid for Yahoo makes no sense. Some interesting snippets:

"It's a bad refection on Ballmer that he's willing to pay a ridiculous price for Yahoo. Microsoft is not going to earn anything like a reasonable rate of return in Yahoo," Rosenberg was quoted as saying.

:

Asked if it wasn't a strategic necessity for Microsoft to buy Yahoo, Rosenberg said: "I don't buy that. Yahoo would significantly dilute Microsoft's returns.

"Ballmer is a great operating man but he lacks financial acumen. He ought to be thinking more of Microsoft employees who own a lot of Microsoft stock and have nothing to show for it in many years. If the stock doesn't start doing better, Microsoft will lose good people."

Thank goodness someone is actually thinking that employees would react to the stock price, because it seems to be a foreign concept to our leadership. I can't make jokes about Golden Handcuffs anymore because most people at Microsoft don't know what the hell I'm talking about. I have not seen Microsofties so loose in their sockets since I joined years upon years ago.

Agent 86: Would you believe... that Microsoft has dropped down to #86 within the Fortune Best Places to Work survey? That's down from #50 in 2007 and #42 in 2006. Like a rock. In a bad way. And who is #1 for two years in a row? Grab that chair and give it a big effen toss in the air to Google! Toot! They get bigger and they're still #1.

(Oh, and Yahoo is attached to our hip at #87. I guess we're more alike than we knew.)

LisaB tackled the #86 issue this past week. Kinda. But I've got to wonder: if you sat down a bunch of hard-working, valued Microsofties in one room, and executive leadership in the other, and put down some simple questions like, "What would make employees value working at Microsoft even more?" I'm pretty sure the answers would have a wide gap between them.

The return of the towels was a symbolic admission to stupidity. The Bread and Circuses of various subsequent benefits doesn't align with what Microsofties need to be obviously valued and to have a great career at Microsoft that is satisfying. What would you want to see Microsoft do about addressing being a great place to work?

My #1 request has got to be to make Microsofties mobile. Intent to interview was a great first step. Now, just let people interview. If they get the job, their management learns they need to start a transition plan. Leaders might actually start managing their teams as if retention matters.

Right now, given Mid-Year Career Discussions, my #2 request is to boot all the friggin' tools and go back to the Microsoft Word form, all a part of streamlining career management at Microsoft. We're about to spend a couple of months in tool hell, have a big CSP codified discussion that may or may not align with the reality of your group, and then in three months do it all over again for the major review cycle. I seem to spend my life in calibration meetings and managing tools and asking HR-IT to fix bungled work-flow and whacked-out permissions. I need a "I'd rather be shipping features that make money" license plate holder. As do many of my team members.

My #3 is too intangible to tackle here, but it's more around gearing Microsoft to be a team-focused company culture, not the lone-rock-star-wolf. Yes, still reward the rock-star contributors, but also reward the teams that produce great results that they've committed to, and punish and don't reward dysfunctional teams that don't deliver.

Oh, and return the old ESPP and up the 401k match to be something stellar. Worried about cost? Headcount reduction works wonders.

MSPoll: Oh, and if you have ideas but don't feel like sharing them here, you can at least achieve some catharsis in writing your thoughts up in the upcoming poll. Maybe when it goes online we can find a few questions to hammer on to make a (useless?) point. I can tell you, with the Yahoo acquisition still in play and the impact that it's had to the stock and the reputation of Microsoft, I've got to say the question addressing "this company is headed in the right direction" should take a nosedive.

P.S. I'm going to mention Steven Sinofsky here (which I've avoided a lot, although I'm a great fan, because every time I think of typing something about him I hear in my mind batteries clattering down a wooden staircase and then imagine his angry, disappointed face appearing out of the shadows at the top of the stairs... scary stuff): so does this mean that Sinofsky is destined to be Mini-ized? Hmm.

P.P.S. Some executives moved around last week. One surprise departure, otherwise everything else seemed to have been whispered about for a while. Mr. Ballmer's email was interesting in that it seemed to imply that there was a whiff of accountability in the air with what was going on. Just a whiff.


166 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, after being at MSFT for a time and season I am leaving. No sour grapes on either side. MSFT is a great company with great potential. I left because I took on a role that I realized after taking it wasn't right for me or my family. Despite expressing this to my manager and patiently working through it for months, I was given no choice but to stick it out for 12 more months, or leave. I had an excellent internal opportunity open up but I couldn't interview; the boss wouldn't approve. Now, it's not that I was a Limited Kim in my past reviews; I have always been a stellar performer having reached the top of the stack (4.0) in a high-powered team. I was stuck and I couldn't go anywhere but out. That may be good or bad depending on your vantage point; from mine, it is bittersweet. I will enjoy the freedom that comes from being on the outside but will dearly miss working with such great people. Being completely frank, I think if Microsoft gets Yahoo I will be glad I left when I did.

Anonymous said...

"P.P.S. Some executives moved around last week."

Talk about promotions. The same day of those announcements I saw a brand-spanking new Mercedes CL65 AMG ( http://www.mbusa.com/models/main.do?modelCode=CL65 ) turn left into Red-West. After I found out the price tag (almost 200 large!), I connected the dots and thought "Hmm ... wonder who that was!"

Anonymous said...

Interesting is that in Europe we seem to do a lot better in the Great Place to Work surveys. Lots of countries are in the top 5 , some even made it to number 1 a couple of times. How come we never hear from this?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, a whiff of accountability, maybe, in everywhere except for Office where every VP got a bump, in the midst of a grueling ship cycle (a.k.a. as "oppress your devs into writing legal docs"). That seemed odd and out of place and honestly, really looked like a massive payola by Steve to try to solidify his base as he declines into risky territory with this acquisition.

You didn't mention pay as being a priority for the company to change. I agree with your list, but still feel (and the comments in response to Lisa's InsideMS post bore this out) that most people are hurting pay-wise. Let's fix that right away.

Anonymous said...

Riddle me this - how does Knook, VP of the Mobile division casually saunter on over to Vodaphone which not only does business with Symbian, but is also a member of the Linux Mobile Foundation? Non-Compete clause anyone?

Anonymous said...

[Completely OT]
Does anyone know if Microsoft has something similar to this?

Anonymous said...

Management has been sniffing a glue called query share. They think a point of query share is worth over a billion dollars and are willing to pay Yahoo that much even though Live Search has never pulled down more than $30 million for each point in query share.

Management would never dream of putting together a pot of money that rewarded a team millions for each point of query share even though it would be more cost effective.

The Messenger folks are feeling very much like chopped liver. Billions for Yahoo Messenger but many of Live Messenger's key people haven't been able to buy a new car in years.

Anonymous said...

I think Rosenberg has it right on the money. Ballmer is making a big mistake, but then he has never been held accountable. Not for the Vista fiasco, or the MSN mess, ... you can go on and on.

Goog luck guys, life is going to be interesting whether or not Yahoo takeover happens.

Anonymous said...

Many senior executives have moved in the past years. People like Jim Alchin and Brian Valentine were key to Microsoft. Now even Jeff Raikes lost his faith in this company. With the departure of many other executives this week and Bill Gates leaving the premises, this seems to sound the bell that the ship is sinking.
Steve Ballmer never did any good to the employees so maybe his departure could save Microsoft in the end?

Anonymous said...

86 isn't a bad number. Remember Maxwell Smart?

Anonymous said...

Many senior executives have moved in the past years. People like Jim Alchin and Brian Valentine were key to Microsoft. Now even Jeff Raikes lost his faith in this company. With the departure of many other executives this week and Bill Gates leaving the premises, this seems to sound the bell that the ship is sinking.
Steve Ballmer never did any good to the employees so maybe his departure could save Microsoft in the end?


People like Jim Alchin and Brian Valentine left the company in disgrace. They were key players in the early days, but they were unable to create an effective organization in the post-XP era and that's why Vista and the entire Windows org is the mess it is today. Jim was totally out of touch with reality -- I mean, the guy was *weird* and barely cogent half the time in the last few years -- and Brian was a dinosaur whose "if you leak this I will seek you out and cut off your head" blundering approach to management stopped being effective somewhere around 1998.

Change is good, and the shake-ups that are happening are long-overdue. We'll lose some good people, but we'll also hopefully lose a bunch of chaff.

I do agree with you about Steve, though -- he's a great salesman but a crummy CEO. Can't we find a CEO who at least gives the appearance of loving technology more than crushing his enemies?

Anonymous said...

This may be a hard message to hear, but the sad fact is that most of the good people have left microsoft a long time ago.

The people still roaming the halls in redmond are basically people who respond to/accept 40-60th percentile comp ratios and a great health plan. Nothing wrong with that but it's not the a list of the industry by any means.

Anonymous said...

There's lies, then there's Microsoft management lies:
http://valleywag.com/357831/did-microsoft-lie-about-top-execs-departure

With this kind of deception, what makes anyone think that we will get anything resembling the truth from MS exec's, much less accountability?

Anonymous said...

Anyone else wondering where the flurry of "Pay is fair - stop whining" comments are coming from?

Seems a bit suspicious.

Anonymous said...

Mini, I think if you read
http://paulbuchheit.blogspot.com/2008/02/most-import-thing-to-understand-about.html
and cogitate on it a bit, you might realize that Microsoft's offer to buy Yahoo demonstrates that Microsoft is thinking like a Valley startup for once. Microsoft has judged the market and determined that Yahoo has what's needed in this market climate. Is Microsoft correct? Is MarcA correct? Regardless, this is a new approach from Microsoft, which has seemed so ponderous in the past.

(Is Microsoft's poor reputation in the Valley entirely the fault of its leaders, or also the fault of its broader employee base?)

Anonymous said...

Anyone else wondering where the flurry of "Pay is fair - stop whining" comments are coming from?

Seems a bit suspicious.


I haven't seen many "pay is fair" comments, but I *have* seen a ton of "If you're so underpaid and you hate your job so much, why the heck are you still working there?" comments... I mean, it's not like tech jobs for skilled workers are hard to come by at the moment, so why are so many grossly under-paid people sticking around at Microsoft working on stuff they literally just next door?

A bit suspicious indeed, but perhaps not in the manner you suggest.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else wondering where the flurry of "Pay is fair - stop whining" comments are coming from?

Yeah, because nobody could possibly have a different opinion on pay from yours, right? All those poll results saying that most people are satisified were completely made up by management, right? Grow up.

I said it in there and I'll say it out here: the pay at MS is fair. If you disagree, hit the streets and go after what you think you really deserve.

EdoRiver said...

My first time here to read your stuff. MM. I used to work for a large aerospace corp in LA. before moving to Japan.

Ummm. Nothing personal but I would definitely support your recommendation on the reward and encourage the small to med-sized team efforts. Listen there is lots of research already done on this.

Second, the comments here give me the impression that "rock star individualist philosophy is running out of control and running down morale. No proof just an impression from reading all the postings here.

further disclosure: One of My religious bond-mate in a house we shared, ran off and joined a 100% dependent outsource for MS projects. I have never liked MS since, until now.

Reading your blog gives me some hope that in some quarters there is hope. Just like China.....
regards from Japan.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else wondering where the flurry of "Pay is fair - stop whining" comments are coming from?

Seems a bit suspicious.


Well, I belong to the pay is fair camp, and no, there is nothing suspicious here.

I'm a Lvl 62 SDE, base salary is $98K, my stock awards this year should be around $7K (would have been closer to $10K, thanks Ballmer). I expect around 8% bonus, and with ESPP and company 401k match added in, my total compensation will be right around $120K.

In addition, we have the health plan, numerous partner and discount programs to take advantage of, 3 weeks paid vacation, 10 sicks days, a bunch more paid holidays, 2 personal days, not to mention a very flexible work schedule, and of course the Pro Club.

I came up with all this after reading all the complaints about people making 6 figures and it not being fair, etc. What world do you live in? I would dare anyone to tell me I can do better elsewhere (total package). Most of us make twice the national average, nearly twice the Puget Sound average, and I won't even mention how most us are in the top 1% (or less) when you factor in the rest of of the world. You can see for yourself at http://globalrichlist.com/ and maybe get some perspective, instead of thinking about why you're entitled to that 50-inch 1080p plasma TV or a new BMW, or whatever you think you deserve, but aren't getting because you're underpaid.

What is it going to take to please some of you morons?

Get a grip on reality, and every once in a while, think for all that you have, thank God, count your blessings, and remember that you're better off right now that 99.5% of the world.

Anonymous said...

anyone else notice amirm has gone from the GAL but is still on the VP web page?

No announcement. Nothing.

Anonymous said...

My #1 request has got to be to make Microsofties mobile. Intent to interview was a great first step. Now, just let people interview.

Yep. And the reason why that would be such a big step in making MSFT a better place to work? It would indicate the company was willing to treat employees like valuable people instead of like chattel serfs "owned" by their fuedal lords, I mean managers.

It's unfortunate that as the management ranks became less and less able to manage the day-to-day business, the company shifted the cultual balance of power more and more towards the managers.

Well, that's politics for you.

Anonymous said...

Get a grip on reality, and every once in a while, think for all that you have, thank God, count your blessings, and remember that you're better off right now that 99.5% of the world.

I actually agree with you, but it's worth pointing out that we are working for an extremely profitable company, and as such, should probably be better compensated. It does seem that a hugely disproportionate amount of the rewards go to those who do not necessarily merit them.

Of course, anyone complaining that they don't make enough money to survive in the Puget Sound area, has some serious financial management issues and should probably be shown the door. Yeah, yeah, piss and moan about property values, but get over yourselves already. We are all blessed working here; it's just that some are undeservedly blessed that gets many of us annoyed.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone else wondering where the flurry of "Pay is fair - stop whining" comments are coming from?


I wrote one of those comments on //insidems and no I don't work for HR, I'm a low level Eng. that thinks Microsoft pays OK when you consider total compensation & benefits + the stability of being employed at a company with 2 huge cash-cows (recession coming anyone?)

on the other hand I'm leaving the company in a few weeks out of total boredom with my job and low expectations of a career improvements at MS...
so there you have it, pay is good but the day to day job sucks big time

Anonymous said...

I agree with the posters wondering why so many unhappy, underpaid MS employees are still working at MS.

Lets try this...all those who fit the above criteria should start their next post as follows

"I'm underpaid and unhappy at MS but I haven't left because..."

That should at least give us some context.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Lvl 62 SDE, base salary is $98K, my stock awards this year should be around $7K (would have been closer to $10K, thanks Ballmer). I expect around 8% bonus, and with ESPP and company 401k match added in, my total compensation will be right around $120K.

Sure, I see how you're happy. Umm...I don't make anything close to $120k, total package or otherwise.

I get so tired of all these "You make twice the national average" type arguments. I sure don't make twice the national average for people in my field. Can't we compare apples to apples without being called whiners?

And the big points are always avoided in these comebacks, which is that the reason it feels unfair is that Joe down the hall is level two levels up and has half the responsibility. Oh, and was hired ten years later than you were, straight out of college. Getting pay equity within the company would go a long way toward easing people's pain at not getting even cost of living raises.

Clearly you're getting COLA and more, so of course you're happy. Does that mean that everyone else should be, who isn't in the same circumstance?

Anonymous said...

the sad fact is that most of the good people have left microsoft a long time ago.

The mediocre people who happened to finagle great stock options and write lousy code and design lousy UI retired. They were not great by any stretch of the imagination.

There are plenty of talented people held back by mediocre management.

Anonymous said...

"I actually agree with you, but it's worth pointing out that we are working for an extremely profitable company, and as such, should probably be better compensated."

Capitalism 101: That money does not belong to the employees, even if they're the ones who brought it in, it belongs to the shareholders.

There are plenty of valid arguments that MS employees should be paid more but that sure as hell isn't one of them.

Anonymous said...

>> Microsoft pays OK

For a family with two earners and a kid, decent life starts roughly at L61

>> leaving the company in a few weeks out of total boredom

Once the recession is (somewhat) over, that's exactly what I'm going to do. I just don't see the point of working here anymore.

Anonymous said...

Proxy vote rumored to have started.

Hold on...this will be ugly for all involved...except the lawyers and investment bankers/advisors who are once again laughing themselves to the bank.

Anonymous said...

"I'm underpaid and unhappy at MS but I haven't left because..."

I still have a few months of alimony left to pay, and the stability is important until that's done. All that said, I'm actively looking and if I can get someone to buy out this year's stock grant (and a portion of the next four years) then I'd be gone tomorrow.

As a 10 year veteran of MSFT who also came in as an industry hire, I get NO props. I have good reviews but been in level too long fighting against stupid process and politics. Getting things done and doing what's right for the customer don't count anymore and haven't for a long time. And for those of us who have experience and still believe that is the right thing to do...well, we're suffering.

So you can tell me I'm a whiner and thousands of others like me, but the fact of the matter is that our benefits just don't cover that gap in gross income that we're now starting to see in the industry. Add in the shitty stock (thanks Monkey Boy) and you have a situation in which I'm not sure why we're all still here.

For those that think that the pay is sufficient...you are in one of a few camps...

1. Just out of college, very few financial encumbrances (just wait until you do)
2. Blissfully happy with your group/role/manager (you can count on that changing)
3. In management or partner level (you trolls should just stop posting here)
4. In HR (which doesn't mean you're happy about your pay, just that it's your job to defend)
5. Recently hired after a period of unemployment (and yes, I guess you would be grateful)
6. SteveB (resign already, please)

Anonymous said...

liked the idea of writing comments that begin with "I'm underpaid and unhappy at MS but I haven't left because..."

so here goes

because...

a. stuck in immigration process and dont want to bungle it with a job change

b. health benefits are fantastic

c. want to reduce / limit travel that typically comes with higher paying jobs in consulting etc

d. lethargy.. I am not ticked off enough

so the upshot is: people are unhappy but not so unhappy as to pack the bags and leave.. looks like decision-makers understand it and are using it to the max..

from leaders perspective I can understand how such actions can help bottomline.. still, such actions are pretty short-sighted and will hurt the company in the long run..

e.g. just imagine immigration process getting fixed one fine day and I can bet that there will be an exodus

Anonymous said...

"on the other hand I'm leaving the company in a few weeks out of total boredom with my job and low expectations of a career improvements at MS..."

Agreed. This is the main reason I see great people leaving. I am coming up on 10 years here. I remember when I was straight out of college and excited every morning to drive into Redmond. Those days are gone. I find it hard to care about shipping another meadiocre product. I don't take satisfaction in writing high quality code. And why should I? It isn't in my commitments!

The comments in the last mini post were spot on. Mangement only appreciates you if you create sharepoints and email wide aliases about "process". Actually doing work will get you Kimed.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Microsoftie, but I've worked in some big companies and have seen that they almost never increase pay in line with the economy's inflation rate. The result is that for most staff, their pay slowly devalues as the cost of living rises faster.

The solution is either to be a star at work, or to get another job. Even jobs inside the same company can pay better, although you're always going to get more money joining an entirely new company.

Pay rises lower than the inflation rate can be seen as a message to move on.

Anonymous said...

Check this generous severance plan for Yahoo! folks. http://www.salon.com/wires/ap/scitech/2008/02/19/D8UTLPSO0_yahoo_severance/index.html

I doubt displaced MSN/Live people would see anything near as generous.

Anonymous said...

"Steve Ballmer never did any good to the employees"

Far be it from me to defend Ballmer, but that's false. Ballmer approved the doubled option hit when the stock first tanked, the first pay increase after the Y2K bust aimed at making up somewhat for the former options benefit, several subsequent broad-based pay increases, the underwater options trade-in program, the move to grants (which given the stock's sorry performance have been more lucrative than options would likely have been), etc.. He also oversaw more than half of them getting their job (as counterproductive as they may have been) and has never approved wide scale layoffs (despite market calls for greater cost efficiencies). You can blame him for many things, but never doing any good for employees isn't one of them.

Anonymous said...

Mini -- may I humbly suggest that you outlaw the use of the term "moron" on your blog? No other word so captures the lack-of-disrespect factor, and so lowers the level of discourse. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear about some creative ideas on how employees could get their feelings about this acquisition heard by senior leadership. What options do we have? I don't know anyone who's willing to speak up for fear of retribution. And what about non-employee shareholders?

Yahoo shareholders will likely get a chance to be heard. What about Msft shareholders? Is someone finally going to stand up, say enough is enough, and organize a structured approach to ending this insane and disrespectful acquisition?

Isn't a hostile takeover a direct reflection of the behavior that got us into trouble in the first place? If so many of us are truly against the direction and behavior of our senior leadership then why don't we do something about it instead of whining and complaining?

Anonymous said...

If MSFT stock keeps dropping, Yahoo will be offering to buy MSFT in June.

Thanks for the pay cut.

Anonymous said...

Pay rises lower than the inflation rate can be seen as a message to move on.

If you think that applies to MSFT raises, then you think that about half the workforce is being told to move on. Getting an Achieved (that's 70% of everyone reviewed, for those of you just joining us) is practically synonymous with getting a < COLA raise. A few proud, brave souls will get at the higher end of the band, and yes, that *might* be above COLA. But don't count on it. Oh, unless you get a promotion. See multiple posts on the Kim phenomenon.

As someone else posted, management does it because they can get away with it. Period. They really don't care if it's fair, if people are unhappy, blah, blah, blah. They will only care if people start deciding to leave in droves. And that isn't going to happen, with the big R word lurking around every corner now.

So there you go: lots of bitter folks losing ground every single year they stick it out at the Big M. Hope that makes the partners, VPs, Senior VPs, and all the other bigwigs sleep well at night - folks who, oh, don't have to worry about COLA because they're so far above the rest of us, the money worries down here are just (barely) noise to them.

Anyone seen "Corporation"? Explains exactly why this is happening. We're just another big corporation now, which means that the company's responsibility is ONLY to increase its own profits. That's it, folks.

Anonymous said...

A question to the people here who are raving about our "fantastic" health benefits: How old are you??? I find it difficult to believe that the average 20- to 30-something year old who goes to 1 doctor visit and 2 dentist visits per year thinks the 90% coverage is "fantastic". What do other companies cover, 80% instead of 90%? Gotta love that $600 you are saving per year I guess!

Anonymous said...

...the underwater options trade-in program...

I find it truly entertaining that anyone would walk away with the belief that the underwater options trade-in program was done purposely to benefit employees. If you did then you clearly didn't do your homework.

Anonymous said...

1. Just out of college, very few financial encumbrances (just wait until you do)
2. Blissfully happy with your group/role/manager (you can count on that changing)
3. In management or partner level (you trolls should just stop posting here)
4. In HR (which doesn't mean you're happy about your pay, just that it's your job to defend)
5. Recently hired after a period of unemployment (and yes, I guess you would be grateful)
6. SteveB (resign already, please)


7. Non-management, high-performing level 64. base + bonus + stock averages out to about 175/yr. Highly portable, frequent external offers, few of which can match the combination of interesting work + total compensation.

Also of note:

I don't spend every waking hour at work.

I have no desire to ever become a partner.

I work on really, really cool stuff, and I've been able to move around the company at will.

I've had truly evil managers, bad managers and good managers and yet have managed to survive with my optimism and sanity. Luck of the draw, folks -- happens everywhere. How you respond to adversity is more important than avoiding adversity. Just a hint.

It's fine if you want to call me a fanboy, and I understand Microsoft does some truly bonehead things and it's certainly not perfect. I do wish a few more of us who actually liked working here -- and who are also quite popular recruiting targets externally -- would post a bit more to balance things out for the general public.

Not everyone at Microsoft is angry, resentful, lazy, underpaid and constantly taken advantage of. Some of us even think we make stuff that's pretty neat.

Hard to believe, but true.

Anonymous said...

Pay at MSFT is totally not fair. Since the great re-leveling back in the 90s, I was getting barely cost of living raises for years with a consistent 4.0 and good reviews. With the stock not moving significantly and the switch from options to RSUs, the total compensation package was ridiculous. I left around 4 years ago and now make double what I did when I was at MSFT and consistently get significant raises and bonuses for putting in the kind of effort that MS couldn't have been bothered to reward me for.

Oh, and the myth of MS being stable in a recession is ridiculous. There are plenty of other large companies in the Seattle area that pay software people what they are worth and will weather a recession as well as an over-extended over-expanded MSFT.

Anonymous said...

"Ballmer ... has never approved wide scale layoffs (despite market calls for greater cost efficiencies). You can blame him for many things, but never doing any good for employees isn't one of them."

Exactly. I wish Microsoft would lay off 10% of its work force like Yahoo! recently did. That would get rid of most of the lackluster employees complaining here. (Anyone so unhappy is almost never doing good work, and is certainly a pain to work with.)

Compared to most other big companies out there, Microsoft's senior leadership is actually much better than average. SteveB isn't a Gil Amelio or a Terry Semel. Fine, he isn't a Steve Jobs either, but you wouldn't like working for Steve Jobs. Apple engineers have no say over product direction and design. But most of the people complaining here have never worked anywhere other than Microsoft, and have limited exposure to the senior leadership anyway, so they don't realize how bad it is everywhere else.

I've heard anecdotally that Microsoft's retention rate has dropped significantly in recent years, but that at the same time the return rate of former employees wanting to come back has skyrocketed. People are getting out there and discovering it wasn't so bad here afterall.

Personally, I think this is great and strongly encourage all you unhappy employees to try it. If you leave and never come back, yay, You're happier and Microsoft just got smaller. If you leave and come back a year or two later, then you just significantly increased your salary and and are much happier to be at Microsoft. It's win-win either way.

Sticking around when you're miserable and bored and disagree with the company's direction -- even when there are exigent personal circumstances like visas and bills -- it's just dumb. You only get one trip through this world, make yours an excellent one.

Anonymous said...

Mini -- may I humbly suggest that you outlaw the use of the term "moron" on your blog? No other word so captures the lack-of-disrespect factor, and so lowers the level of discourse. Thanks.

If it's a lack of disrespect, what's the problem?

Anonymous said...

Check this generous severance plan for Yahoo! folks. http://www.salon.com/wires/ap/scitech/2008/02/19/D8UTLPSO0_yahoo_severance/index.html

I doubt displaced MSN/Live people would see anything near as generous.


Yahoo folks deserve that. MSN people don't even deserve two weeks notice.

Anonymous said...

http://msdn.microsoft.com/events/hero/

Uh, wtf?

Anonymous said...

Not everyone at Microsoft is angry, resentful, lazy, underpaid and constantly taken advantage of. Some of us even think we make stuff that's pretty neat.

+1 - I used to think I was a victim of Microsoft since I was busting my hump for the product and customers, and getting mediocre reviews with no end in sight. The worst is when my team lost 60% of our staff in my discipline and I stepped up to pick up the slack to keep the trains running on time, and again mediocre review. Then I told myself to stop whining, picked myself up, moved to a new group, and am kicking ass in a new job. I realized that my attitude permeated everything I did and made me hard to work with. Why would management want to give me a good review/promotion when they could tell I was negative and cynical under the surface. If I want a better than cost of living raise this year then I have to earn it, doing your job makes you your base pay, going above and beyond is what brings rewards. Take a look in the mirror.

Anonymous said...

A question to the people here who are raving about our "fantastic" health benefits: How old are you???

Old enough to be married with kids. As a single guy in my early 30's, I couldn't even remember my doctors name (had to look it up on the benefits site). But when I got married, my wife, well, women have more complicated plumbing I guess. Then we had kids.

MSFTs benefits package is okay but not that inspiring for single kids straight out of college. It's a huge selling point for married guys with families (though it's not priceless, you can buy equivalent for about $1400 a month).

But MSFTs review and promotion policies are highly discouraging to people with families. MSFT prefers people with no life outside Campus. They want rock-stars, and families make for distractions. Families tend to turn rock stars into Kims.

So, one of the biggest selling points the company has is largely irrelevant to the type of person the company really wants. Hot-Shot college grads don't need gold-plated health plans, they want the chance at a fast-track to millionaireville - in other words, stock options. Along with stock price appreciation. MSFT doesn't offer either of those any more, so the real Rock-Stars don't find the company attractive any longer.

The people who might find it attractive - Kim's with Kids - aren't wanted.

It's a reflection of how incompetent LisaB is that this basic disconnect continues.

Anonymous said...

"I find it truly entertaining that anyone would walk away with the belief that the underwater options trade-in program was done purposely to benefit employees. If you did then you clearly didn't do your homework."

I find it truly entertaining that you read so poorly. The topic was things Ballmer did that were good for employees. The options trade-in program was one - at least for those who voluntary chose to take advantage of it at the time.

Anonymous said...

>If it's a lack of disrespect, what's the problem?

Mini, may I suggest you ban morons from your site for lack of respect for the English language.

Anonymous said...

Mini, I think if you read
http://paulbuchheit.blogspot.com/2008/02/most-import-thing-to-understand-about.html
and cogitate on it a bit, you might realize that Microsoft's offer to buy Yahoo demonstrates that Microsoft is thinking like a Valley startup for once.


Granting this proposition for the sake of the argument, you might want to take a close look at how many Valley startups end up as dismal failures.

Me, I'm on my third "Valley startup" now; I'm one of the lucky ones. Both of the previous two were successful, in the sense of a profitable exit by being sold to big-name companies.

And both were failures, in the sense that neither of those big-name companies seemed to have the foggiest clue why they had dumped megabucks into the acquisition, and in both cases, within a very few years the startup components had been completely destroyed internally.

Caveat emptor ... and emptee [sic].

Anonymous said...

Patronizer here,
couple of comments
1) on the whole topic of flurry of "Pay is fair - stop whining" comments are coming from? Seems a bit suspicious. What's the latest theory, that an alien sect is posting on this blog to ipnotize you into believing your compensation is fair? Grow up: you have an opinion, I (as the author of one of those comments) have a different one. Specifically that if your pay was so unfair you'd have found something better out there.

2) thanks to the smart guy that asked the "because" ... my 0.02 on the reasons

a. stuck in immigration process and dont want to bungle it with a job change It's a good reason and one I can't do anything about. You run the numbers it's cheaper to let the market do the adjustment once you get your green card.

b. health benefits are fantastic But their value depends on your family size so I get it if you're married with 8 kids not if you're single and 25...

c. want to reduce / limit travel that typically comes with higher paying jobs in consulting etc Also known as having my cake and eating it too. Dude there's a reason those jobs are paid MORE: if they weren't those people would be idiots not to come over ... right? So if you feel underpaid because I-Bankers (working 105 hours/week as I did) get more I'd recommend a mirror and a "but I get to sleep".

d. lethargy.. I am not ticked off enough LEAVE NOW, leeeeave nooooow, you REALLY want to leeeaave now ...! Seriously, the problem in that case is ... and I would mind losing you because ... ? I hired you when you were giving 100%, now you're wasting your life giving 2% ... get out PLEASE and take your lousy pay as the best incentive I can give you without getting sued.

robilad said...

Source Fource to the rescue!

Anonymous said...

A question to the people here who are raving about our "fantastic" health benefits: How old are you??? I find it difficult to believe that the average 20- to 30-something year old who goes to 1 doctor visit and 2 dentist visits per year thinks the 90% coverage is "fantastic". What do other companies cover, 80% instead of 90%? Gotta love that $600 you are saving per year I guess!

Where are you working!? My family is covered 100% for medical coverage and I didn't pay a cent for this 7 years in MS for medicine, doctor's visits, emergency room, hospital...

My wife was given the most expensive drug for her condition because nothing else worked -- guess what, MS was covering that 100%.

Neither Google or Amazon or any startup will give me that level of coverage for my family.

Anonymous said...

I've heard anecdotally that Microsoft's retention rate has dropped significantly in recent years, but that at the same time the return rate of former employees wanting to come back has skyrocketed. People are getting out there and discovering it wasn't so bad here afterall.

Well, that's one way to interpret the data. Another would be that Microsoft is willing to give someone who's now an "external" candidate a significant bump up in pay to a level they still wouldn't have reached if they'd stayed "internal" the entire time.

Anonymous said...

"I've heard anecdotally that Microsoft's retention rate has dropped significantly in recent years, but that at the same time the return rate of former employees wanting to come back has skyrocketed."

Maybe because that's one of the quickest ways to go from Level [n] to Level [n+2>]

Yeah - I have also heard of a few level 63's leaving for a year or two and coming back as a 65.

Anonymous said...

A question to the people here who are raving about our "fantastic" health benefits: How old are you??? I find it difficult to believe that the average 20- to 30-something year old who goes to 1 doctor visit and 2 dentist visits per year thinks the 90% coverage is "fantastic".

Clearly you don't have any great need for health insurance except catastrophic coverage, if you only have one dr visit and two dental visits per year.

If you have a spouse or kids, nevermind special needs (for yourself or any of them), need for counseling, OT, PT, maternity care - the list goes on. And MSFT's one real benefit these days is that the health care coverage is the best being offered by a corporation.

If you don't need it and you don't anticipate getting married, having children, or developing any kind of physical or mental illness that requires more than a well-person checkup once/year, then you don't have that golden handcuff to worry about.

So this doesn't apply to you, but DOES apply to the vast majority of MSFT folks. So what was your point, exactly?

Anonymous said...

A peek at how the top guys live. Can you say > COLA?

Departing Microsoft exec has big house, warm pants
Steve Berkowitz's House
More pictures

Anonymous said...

I have seen alot HR data, I think on average, people are paid fairly.

The problem is that you have a lot of younger dev and test (hired 3-5 years ago)and some mid level hires who are underpaid and the sale force that is vastly overpaid.

This isn't any much different if you compare it to Oracle or IBM. But do we want to be like IBM? I say no.

If you are one of those underpaid person, I can understand your feeling.

Anonymous said...

I find it truly entertaining that anyone would walk away with the belief that the underwater options trade-in program was done purposely to benefit employees. If you did then you clearly didn't do your homework.

And yet, benefit us it did. Those of us who took advantage of the program were able to convert options that never made it above water before they expired into some handy cash.

Not fantastic, but certainly better than the big fat zero it would have been otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I agree with many people here that MS pay is low. I won't say if it's fair or unfair as that's purely subjective but compared to other companies it is low.

I left almost exclusively because I could get 25% more money right away by doing so. I understand for people with large families, health care might be a big benefit but I'm single. MS does give 3 weeks of vacation as mentioned which I liked but my new employer gives 4.

If you want to be anything more than a training program for your competitors, you do need to offer top notch compensation to keep your top people.

Anonymous said...

"A question to the people here who are raving about our "fantastic" health benefits: How old are you??? I find it difficult to believe that the average 20- to 30-something year old who goes to 1 doctor visit and 2 dentist visits per year thinks the 90% coverage is "fantastic". What do other companies cover, 80% instead of 90%? Gotta love that $600 you are saving per year I guess!"

If you have kids, especially young kids, it is totally worth it (the healthcare benefits, that is). If you are pregnant, it is totally worth it. If you have bad eyesight, it is awfully nice not to have to make a copay when you get new glasses.

Anonymous said...

MSFT shares are down 20% year-to-date. It's clear to everyone except senior management that the Yahoo! deal makes no sense financially, technologically, strategically or otherwise. My holdings of MSFT are insignificant to a guy like Ballmer, but they are quite significant to me! Ballmer, Gates, Liddell and the rest of the drunken sailors don't care about shareholders (Why should they? They're so rich they can afford the luxury of 'investing' for the 'long term'.), but perhaps they care about their own employees? How do we get through to these guys and, for once, stop them from careening headlong into another huge mistake? Seriously, isn't it time for some sort of organized protest or something?

Anonymous said...

But most of the people complaining here have never worked anywhere other than Microsoft, and have limited exposure to the senior leadership anyway, so they don't realize how bad it is everywhere else.

I was under the impression it was the exact opposite. The satisfied people I find around Msft are the ones who have worked here for years or have never worked at another hi-tech company. I've been in the business for over 20 years (8 at Msft). Most of the other 12 years were spent at a few very well-known hi-tech companies in SV and Mass. Without a doubt, the culture at Msft is unique. From my experience, those who embrace it are the ones who haven't discovered things like:

1. The characteristics of a "good" manager.
2. The difference between thought leadership and people leadership (management).
3. Arrogance isn't required in order to get things done.
4. The difference between architecture and engineering.
5. Some companies are actually interested in helping you pursue your passion as opposed to just pursuing your manager's passion (which is typically just climbing the corporate ladder for entirely selfish reasons).
6. The value of leveraging a structured thought process as opposed to the value of fire fighting (proactive vs reactive).
7. A successful well-rounded team contains individuals with complimentary characteristics as opposed to a bunch of individuals who are clones of their boss.

The list is much longer but you get my point. If I had to rank Msft based on maturity level it would be last or 2nd to last on my list of past employers but this is just my opinion based on my past experience. But as someone else mentioned earlier, our approach to acquiring Yahoo is a reflection of the culture. We seem to have no issues with going hostile. My suspicion is that a lot of people at Msft aren't blinking an eye about our approach. I think that's very sad. I truly wish we could do something about it. At this point I suspect leaving the company is really our only option.

Ron said...

Wow. I am surprised at the comments here. Just when I was thinking of trying for a job at MS.

If y'all are so unhappy, why can't you do something about it as a group? Isn't there a dept in HR that can listen to your complaints? Internal anonymous forums? Is management really that screwed up?

I have talked to a couple of MS employees who work under Scott Gu and they seem very happy there. They are very happy to be under Scott Guthrie's leadership (he is now a VP)

Anonymous said...

Some guy writes:
>What about Msft shareholders?
Some other guy writes:
>the rest of the drunken sailors don't care about shareholders

Astonishingly clueless. Do you guys think that this acquisition is happening without tacit approval from the big Microsoft shareholders? If they actually were against the deal, SteveB and the board of directors would be out on the street right now.

It also doesn't look as Yahoo has many options to fend off the takeover; their shareholders actually want the company to be acquired. There's a nice analysis at the NY Times here.

MSFTextrememakeover said...

"Do you guys think that this acquisition is happening without tacit approval from the big Microsoft shareholders?"

Acquiescence might be more accurate than approval. And of course many who were against the deal simply voted with their feet and sold, which is why the stock is down significantly and on much higher than average volume.

"If they actually were against the deal, SteveB and the board of directors would be out on the street right now."

Disagree. As above, many simply sold. Of those who remain, several appear to have reservations about the deal but are unwilling to take it further than meeting with Ballmer and making those known. Getting rid of Ballmer and the BOD is another matter altogether, and would require a major proxy challenge that no one has had the courage to lead so far, despite a 50% reduction in the stock price during Ballmer's tenure as CEO.

Anonymous said...

What I find amazing is the complete lack of management accountability. True, a few people moved out. But its like roaches. If there are a one or two you see, there are really many more that need to go.

Who in our leadership even gives a whiff of technical vision? Ray Ozzie?! Oh please. We need people more like Johnny Lee (of Carnegie Mellon Human-Computer Interaction Institute), as Chief Architects. Ray Ozzie *was* a pioneer. But Lotus Notes is so 1980's. And his latest, Groove, is just useless...not to mention there are already 2 other MS technologies to do what it does.

Hiring Ray Ozzie was again Microsoft leadership jumping on a trend 5-10 years too late.

So the message to MS employees is that Microsoft is a great place to end your career. When you have innovated someplace else we will hire you. But don't try to be passionate at Microsoft. In my group passionate people are seen as rude by management. And being critical is also rude. Again Microsoft is a great place to kick-back and get along. But never be critical of anything. Certainly not Vista.

Anonymous said...

About Yahoo's compensation package, I am not M&A expert, but I think they are doing this to mess with MSFT. They give people a huge encouragement not to remain and work for the borg, and deplete huge amount of capital. They know they can't stop the takeover so they will destroy their value in every way possible - it's Microsoft's problem now! This is actually pretty cool if you're a Yahoo, and I would be livid if I were a Yahoo shareholder (oh if only I were a YHOO shareholder).

Another thing, I am not blinking at the thought of going hostile. What are you people new to the business world? When have our competitors EVER been anything but hostile to us? I guess all those court cases and dirty class action lawyers are part of the warm friendly business landscape we should be basing our business model on?

Anonymous said...

Hey Ballmer, I'll fail at leading the online division for 1/10th of what you gave Berkowitz.

Anonymous said...

Mini, noting your quick quips and summarizing the topics of most of your blogs, which start with and end on internal topics like towels, reviews, pay, and anything having to do with anything but your customers, I feel a little obligated to bounce some light off of the mind-altering ozone bending the dim bulbs illuminating Redmond.

Seeing the latest executive announcement that seems to keep Microsoft in the news on a daily basis, today's touchy feely love fest with the open source community seems to be hitting on a skeptical note with those affected. It sure sounds good, as if Microsoft has a choice, but many of the press reviews tout a long legacy of deceptive statements from executive at Microsoft.
http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/2008/02/smoke-and-mirro.html
http://www.news.com/8301-13580_3-9876187-39.html
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9876132-7.html

But the really telling article was one that had nothing to do with the open source issues from the street.com:
http://www.thestreet.com/s/blu-ray-victory-wont-budge-microsoft/newsanalysis/techsoftware/10404412.html?puc=googlefi
about Microsoft's quiet probable plan to exercise more proprietary formats for the XBox, using the same formula that made Microsoft the shining example of ethical corporate behavior it is today. Is it more of the same old domination by format manipulation?

Reading the four Balmer-Ozzie Principles of open cooperation with the world:
1. Ensuring open connections
2. Promoting data portability
3. Enhancing support for industry standards, and
4. fostering more open engagement with customers and the industry, including open source communities,
I was looking for something tangible that was not smoke and mirrors but straight clear concise statements of opening formats. They are not there. Very much like Clinton's parsing of words during his 8 year presidency. I guess it depends on what you mean by "open source."

Meanwhile, I wonder if I will ever be able to read and write to my old legacy data files from years ago, all on Microsoft formats like .doc, .ppt, .xls without having to buy a Microsoft product. With the promise of 'we won't sue' I am sure DVD Jon will probably offer something for that. Or better yet, Jon Torvalds. Not.

Anonymous said...

The beauty of a free market

We are blessed with a fairly liquid IT job market, and one with high demand and short supply. That means pay and benefits are optimized to the extent that employees can make apples-to-apples comparisons. Certainly, there's friction related to moving locations or disciplines, but there's enough similar companies with similar positions around Microsoft that if you wanted to move, you would.

Yes, a programmer at a boutique wall street firm might make a lot more, but that's a very narrow market and moving to a job like that involves much higher friction.

I'm confident, based on numbers I've seen as a lead/manager and the job market situation, that Microsoft offers a fair deal, definitely at the 50th %ile, and perhaps at the targeted 65th.

toby said...

Apple engineers have no say over product direction and design

... Whoever does have say (you imply Jobs) seems to be doing just fine.

Anonymous said...

Long time reader, first time poster.

I think sometimes this blog suffers from the 'pile on' syndrome, in that one negative post spurs others to pile on their negative experiences. Unfortunately, picking on something is always much easier than making suggestions for improvement, specially in an anonymous post on the internet.

I guess my point is: I don't believe the comments are representative of Microsoft employees at large. There are bad spots in all companies, and bad periods even in the brightest of careers. I would urge readers to take these comments with a grain of salt and posters to reflect back and really post a balanced view of their experience, negative or positive.

Finally, just as we go read yahoo's boards to get a bead on their internal freak-outs, I'm sure many yahoo's are reading this blog to gauge MS. My balanced view: it will be tough, more than culture clash, I'm worried about who will be determining the product/team roadmap for both Microsoft and Yahoo code... Will it be the market, customers or some sort of ninja exec team? (I hope its the customers). But at the same time, I can't help but feel energized. I guess I'm willing to put in some skin to try and make it work---this could be the biggest turning point in the tech industry for years to come and I for one would not like to sit on the sidelines.

Go Giants!

Anonymous said...

Apple engineers have no say over product direction and design

Engineers don't particularly care if they have any say over product direction and design as long as the people who do have a say get it right, and then allow the engineers to have their say over the engineering of the product.

Anonymous said...

from: http://blogs.reuters.com/mediafile/2008/02/21/yahoo-open-your-golden-parachutes/
Silicon Alley Insider’s Henry Blodget thinks Yahoo’s new severance plan could cost Microsoft between $1 billion to $3 billion if they seal a deal. There are a lot of assumptions baked into how he gets to this figure, but it’s an interesting figure nonetheless. If the former Wall Street analyst’s math is correct, then Microsoft’s estimated $1 billion in “synergies” it expects to wring out of Yahoo from cost cutting and revenue benefits doesn’t look so hot anymore– at least not in the first year.

So, now it appears more attractive that the 1Billion in synergies (translattion=layoffs) will now result in layoffs of MS Folks only... hmmm. Well Played Yahoo, I don't like it! But, Well Played. Ouch!

Anonymous said...

#86. Yes. I see people get promoted by sticking/... to his/her manager (the right way?) and others not even though they are working hard, producing great work and innovative ideas. It is becoming more a marketing job here for oneself to get promoted, and thus (contribute more?) to the company. I see exodus from some good people... It is just sad, we are on the way to... not to innovation and create true value

Anonymous said...

"But the really telling article ... about Microsoft's quiet probable plan to exercise more proprietary formats for the XBox, using the same formula that made Microsoft the shining example of ethical corporate behavior it is today."

This has to be one of the dumbest comments I've read here in awhile, and that's really saying something.

Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, Comcast, ... they all believe digital downloads are going to displace physical media and have invested heavily in that. It's what consumers seem to want. Xbox Live Marketplace doesn't use formats any more "proprietary" than those used by iTunes Marketplace. And anyway, proprietary file formats are ubiquitous ad have nothing to do with Microsoft's ethics problems, which were all about improper business tactics (like using Windows pricing against OEMs to force them into certain decisions).

You obviously don't work at Microsoft, but for those Mini-Commenters who do, stop relying on the mass media for your information. Instead, make friends with people in the Microsoft divisions that interest you, and find out the truth from the source.

99.999% of all press articles (except for the rare article that reveals a secret or is written well enough for a Pulitzer) are so buggy, inaccurate, and rehashing what other reporters wrote that they just aren't worth your time. It's the writing equivalent of crapware, except there's even more of it.

Anonymous said...

>"they all believe digital downloads are going to displace physical media and have invested heavily in that. It's what consumers seem to want. Xbox Live Marketplace doesn't use formats any more "proprietary" than those used by iTunes Marketplace."

Wrong. Some of those with broadband prefer digital downloads. The rest (which is probably many times larger than your online market) look at games as just games. They want it on a disk to load or play direct from the disk and they don't necessarily have broadband. And they have no plans to jump onto the online bandwangon. Most who have used it either through XBox or Valve or others know it is really just a disguised means of a)mining data, b)forcing DRM via an automatic checking service and c)sticking it to your customers for all the crapware that follows. A generally very uncomfortable experience.

In regards to proprietary formats, the reason I have never purchased and iTune online and never will (or an XBox game or hardware) is because it is proprietary and hardware specific An exception is DRM free stuff available from iTunes.

I guess that is why the PC Gaming Association was formed last week to counter the BS people such as yourself tend to spout. Great piles of piles of it forming a neverending story out of Microsoft. Or Sony, or Wii for that matter. All in it for the binding relationship to proprietary formats and hardware that forces false loyalty to one vendor.

So you have a market in online gaming. Whoopie. Given the variety and reliability of your vast hardware selection (one device that works like crap anyway) wisdom and intelligence seems to be missing at edd. Heck, your customers might even go so far as to call you morons. It is by far not all of the market as you would try to force us to believe. If you believe you are not forcing market share by using proprietary formats, prove it by showing me a pc version of Halo3 that I can get at Best Buy. Not. At least an iTunes customer can buy a song or movie that is on a DRM free format, i.e., will play on alternative devices.

Lin said...

Quit about 2 years ago, but still have tons of friends on the inside. This is what I would change:

1.Focus on results and not talk. It used to be people got ahead by helping to ship a product with great features; results mattered. Talking a good game and playing politics matter more than results now. I can't believe that some of the most useless people I knew when I left have achieved the heights they have. But man, were they good at BS and playing the 'game'. ICs who are vital to a project are pushed to follow the 'career path' or get out, regardless of their value. I never understood this; some people want to be GMs or PUMs and are good at that stuff, some people are good at managing small technical teams, getting results from them and writing tight code. Everyone has different strengths; it used to be MSFT was good at leveraging them.

2. Move back to test/PM/dev reporting to the same manager for a project. I couldn't believe what a difference that made when it changed. Suddenly, everyone closed ranks with everyone from their discipline and God forbid you hit a roadblock on trying to get a bug fixed. There's no one to act as intermediary to resolve the issue and make the right decision. I hear some teams approach this differently, so perhaps this is better now; it was painful in most teams I knew. It just polarises people and makes things feel adversarial when you're trying to ship a product.

3)Stop buying damn companies unless you really need the technology or it is really strategic. Some of the acquires are great and so are the people, some of them are terrible, and you know those brought on board would never have gotten to the as-ap in an interview cycle. When this happens it just makes it harder on everyone and MSFT's expenses go up.

4)Stop forcing teams to try and incorporate other MS technologies in order to push them. As a result of this pressure, sometimes you end up building a Rube Goldberg device instead of the simple thing you need.

5)After you've done that, clean management house. People like BrianV were terrific at one point, but then Windows became process heavy/eye candy/bloated and he didn't stop it; so many people saw it but were told to just shut up, better heads had a plan. Outsourcing to save some money brought quality down, too. Hint guys- it's not the level 60 tester that is costing you so much dough. It's the career pontificators who have politcked their way to Partner Architect (for example) without contributing to MSFT's bottom line that are costing you money. Some of those guys make products better and contribute, many just are useless and should either put out or get out.

6)Clean non-mgmt house too. Don't worry if someone is in a protected class or pawn a bad performer onto another team; just try to do the right thing and keep the right people and give lower performers a chance to improve or manage them out. Cut useless headcount, run a tight ship again.

7)When this is done, re-institute stock options; give people a chance to see the fruits of their hard work and something to work towards and realise. This is what made MSFT so successful before; people felt what they did personally contributed to the bottom line.

Anonymous said...

#86. Yes. I see people get promoted by sticking/... to his/her manager (the right way?) and others not even though they are working hard, producing great work and innovative ideas. It is becoming more a marketing job here for oneself to get promoted, and thus (contribute more?) to the company. I see exodus from some good people... It is just sad, we are on the way to... not to innovation and create true value

This kind of pontificating about Microsoft's special kind of suck is really just human nature and true for any large corporation -- even most small companies. In any group of 100 people, a number of them are destined to be political players and skanks, it's just the law of averages. Microsoft has over 80,000 people, so you do the math. The baddies are more concentrated in some parts of the business and less concentrated in others.

These same people exist at Google, believe it or not. There's quite a bit of political infighting and corporate strife at the Big G -- although it currently fits more of an academic political model than a strictly corporate political model. For those of you unfamiliar with political maneuvering in the academic space, it's every bit as soul-sucking as corporate politics.

So, reconcile yourself to the fact that as long as you're at Microsoft -- or any large company -- you will be confronted with political beasts or one stripe or another. The trick is learning how to work effectively with these kinds of people without selling your soul down the river, and steering yourself toward areas of the business where they don't cluster like flies on shit.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, because nobody could possibly have a different opinion on pay from yours, right? All those poll results saying that most people are satisified were completely made up by management, right? Grow up.

Not the original poster, but I can say that I'm A Big Boy, and I wholeheartedly disagree with you. (And I think your post was unnecessarily caustic. The guy's post didn't deserve the acidic response.)

My opinions on pay are simple - I'm in Redmond for family reasons, I've been offered positions elsewhere, I know what I'm worth. It sure ain't double or anything close, but if not for personal reasons, I'd probably head elsewhere.

I said it in there and I'll say it out here: the pay at MS is fair. If you disagree, hit the streets and go after what you think you really deserve.

Just when you're gearing up to despise me: I agree with you. If someone doesn't like their pay, LEAVE. You'll find a great big world full of opportunities. No, I don't believe in a conspiracy. Anyone is free to check out their at-will employment at any time. If they're so totally influenced by anything said here that it would prevent them from doing so, they deserve what they get.

I do think that an area for discussion of Microsoft compensation is valid if you're debating the topic of talent/competitiveness. If someone wants to discuss that, I'd be frustrated to hear people complain "leave then!!", as they'd then be discussing something valid and in context.

Anonymous said...

Get a grip on reality, and every once in a while, think for all that you have, thank God, count your blessings, and remember that you're better off right now that 99.5% of the world.

These blanket rebuffs have always rubbed me the wrong way. They distill into "Be Thankful for What You Have".

That's tenet of some religions, and certainly of some schools of thought. However, capitalistic societies don't work that way. People engrossed in them compare themselves to those financially closest to them. 'Keeping up with the Joneses.'

Many people also preach not to covet physical things.

As far as I'm concerned, these people have every right in the world to be thankful for not starving in some wretched, war-torn part of the world. They can live spartanly, deriving their sense of value and worth from something other than money.

However, they don't have the right to force their beliefs on others. Doing so is proselytizing.

If they feel mistreated, lecturing to them will only generate animosity, not convince them to share your belief system.

Anonymous said...

I was under the impression it was the exact opposite. The satisfied people I find around Msft are the ones who have worked here for years or have never worked at another hi-tech company.

No kiddin'?

Weird. I swear I've seen exactly the opposite situation that you describe. It's like a Star Trek mirror dimension.

Joking aside, divisions and groups make ALL the different in Microsoft. I've worked in a fair number of them, and can tell you that there are some that are straight out of 'The Inferno'. Others are staffed with capable, focused, smart people who deliver on realistic products.

I have always assumed that this is the reason we see so many people with exactly opposite views of the company.

Anonymous said...

Re: "reward the teams that produce great results that they've committed to, and punish and don't reward dysfunctional teams that don't deliver."

I can't agree more! I just don't get it why MSN/Live/Search sucks so much yet their pay is still great.

Anonymous said...

I left months ago and am so glad I did. MSFT has a bunch of great achievers drowning amongst a gaggle of whiners who want top pay and work-life balance but don't want to work hard to achieve anything. Until you get rid of the latter, you wont' get top performance out of the former. The people who want challenges in life and to achieve something will just continue to get fed up and leave. It's sad. If you are there and frustrated there are many alternative lives you could be leading happily elsewhere. Go, it ain't that scary and you'll never regret it. Stay and you'll wake up at 45 yrs old (how many 45+ people do you see around you, eh?) sad and feeling empty. Go, leave, it's okay and you'll stop feeling so angry and abused.

Anonymous said...

To the person who wrote "Riddle me this - how does Knook, VP of the Mobile division casually saunter on over to Vodaphone ,,,Non-Compete clause anyone?" , I ask you what makes you think he wasn't asked to leave? Windows Mobile has growth but compared to the market it has shrinking share. Knook was inept and failed to drive innovation and leading products. Apple shipped a V1 product that out-shipped Win Mobile 6 at a ratio of 200:1. He left an SVP position in the world's largest SW company to be a director of services reporting to the CMO of a holding company that tries to influence it's affiliates to adopt some stnd offerings? Dude, he was sunsetted and went back home to Europe. Good riddence!

Anonymous said...

Not the original poster, but I can say that I'm A Big Boy, and I wholeheartedly disagree with you.

Which part? The ability to have different opinions or made up poll results?

As for the caustic part, I can only assume you haven't been to the internal blog lately where the OP and I came from.

Anonymous said...

Joking aside, divisions and groups make ALL the different in Microsoft. I've worked in a fair number of them, and can tell you that there are some that are straight out of 'The Inferno'. Others are staffed with capable, focused, smart people who deliver on realistic products.

I have always assumed that this is the reason we see so many people with exactly opposite views of the company.


I can't speak for others but I'm not one to make a comment based on some myopic view of the company. I've also worked for and with several different groups/divisions within this company. The Msft culture is unique and it doesn't vary that greatly throughout the company because it starts at the top. All you have to do is talk with the vendors who call on Msft in case you've lost your perspective.

I think your assumption is incorrect. The issue is that some people just love the culture. Personally, I feel sorry for them. Maybe they feel sorry for me. I just look at the facts: There's a reason why so many people hate us and it's because we treat our vendors and so-called partners like shit. And there's a reason why the DOJ and the EU have been all over our butts -- our approach in acquiring Yahoo is just a reflection of all of the above.

Honestly, I can't believe after all of these years we still haven't learned. This company will clearly live or die only doing it the Msft (old) Way. My bet: It eventually dies because what goes around comes around.

The best thing that could happen at this point would be complete change at the top. I'd bet the stock would rally at least $5/share based on such a positive response.

Anonymous said...

Hey, don't lump MSN in with the search guys. If it weren't for them, we'd have been profitable years ago.

Anonymous said...

This kind of pontificating about Microsoft's special kind of suck is really just human nature and true for any large corporation -- even most small companies.

Yes and no. Human nature being what it is, it's easy to explain the situation at Microsoft. But that doesn't mean it's inevitable. Some corporations are organized better than others--more talented or honest leadership at the top, better hiring practices, emphasis on better culture, etc.

Human nature gives us major suckfests like Enron and WorldCom, and it also gives us companies that are quite good, at least for a time, like Toyota and pre-Carly HP.

Just as people in a democratic society strive to create the best government possible, it's natural for Microsoft employees to 'work' to create the best company possible. And that means bringing up and discussing things that are wrong and need to be addressed. Difference being that Microsoft is more like a fascist regime and there's unfortunately no incentive for the executive class to listen to the plebians.

Anonymous said...

Yes and no. Human nature being what it is, it's easy to explain the situation at Microsoft. But that doesn't mean it's inevitable. Some corporations are organized better than others--more talented or honest leadership at the top, better hiring practices, emphasis on better culture, etc.

Human nature gives us major suckfests like Enron and WorldCom, and it also gives us companies that are quite good, at least for a time, like Toyota and pre-Carly HP.


You've said something key here that kind of got lost in your larger comment: namely, that good times are generally fleeting since everything changes.

And I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that even in the glory days of Toyota and pre-Carly HP there were plenty of bad apples doing their best to screw things up. And of course... the good times at those companies didn't last.

We have some *really* awesome leaders at Microsoft, and we have some real doozies. Ballmer is a doozie, but he doesn't really impact my life at all other than the constant knowledge that our CEO only cares about money and power, not technology. I think my current VP is fantastic and inspiring, and our division does highly rated work. That's good enough for me, and when things inevitably change at some point in the future I'll be prepared to go where the good times take me.

And with all of that said, I'm not arguing that Microsoft doesn't have serious problems baked into the current culture: because we do. I really wish Ballmer would be replaced by someone whose obvious passion for technology inspired us all to go after the brass ring and do things that have never been done before -- I want the CEO of Microsoft to be a giant throbbing brain of technical inspiration like Bill was in the old days; someone who lives in the world of crazy future potential. I want our culture to be rabidly committed to pushing the human race into the glorious future of amazing science-fiction technology. I have never had the impression that Ballmer cares at all about what we do -- he would be equally happy selling copy machines if we made a zillion dollars and dominated the world. THAT is what I see as the heart of our problem.

Anonymous said...

Move back to test/PM/dev reporting to the same manager for a project.

Until Sinofsky's eventual ouster, that is not going to happen. Steven likes things a certain way, and Steven will not tolerate them any other way. Read his internal blog - this is a man who absolutely, positively, will not listen to anyone about anything. It will be his, and Windows 7's undoing.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft may be globally ranked as the #86 best employer but in India, we are the #1 ranked MNC. Having said that, it was all because of the R&D group run by Srini Koppulu. Ravi Venkatesan may be the Chairman of MS India and he does appear in all the press stories, but if the people who did the survey spoke to the SMSG team, we would be last. Nobody trusts Ravi and he is avoided like the bubonic plague...when he dains to walk the corridors and actually tries to talk to people (which is NEVER). Besides being completely untrustworthy, he is utterly despised by his directs and all employees. When does someone take note of this? There was a minimsftindia blog but that has stopped.

The revenue pressure in the field is huge. We will at best make on target RBI which is so little. What is the point?

Does anyone care?

Alyosha` said...

> Apple shipped a V1 product that out-shipped Win Mobile 6 at a ratio of 200:1.

200 to 1? Pass me whatever it is you are smoking, man.

Granted, Apple has shipped a great product. Not a day goes by where I don't ask myself 'how did it take Apple 18 months to get right what it took us a decade to get wrong?'. The answer is actually complex. Knook's strategy was never to make one slick consumer phone. It was to cast a broad net and to go after business users on a variety of OEM hardware and form factors. I don't think it's a fantastic strategy, but neither is it an obviously bad strategy either. Sure it's not as sexy, doesn't get us the headlines that Apple does, but if you run the numbers our market is every bit as lucrative as theirs.

I think Apple has done a fantastic job of simplifying the problem and focussing on one hardware, one software stack, and (to begin with) one mobile operator in each market. WM has to run on all kinds of different hardware. Touch screen, non touch screen, QWERTY keyboard, 12 key phonepad, no keyboard at all, no GPRS connection at all, all you can eat plans, pay per bandwidth plans. To be honest we have to write to a least-common denominator experience.

Not to mention we've put a whole lot more effort into making our device a platform for third party developers than has Apple, who regards ISVs as sort of nuisance, or an afterthought at best.

If Knook was really "asked to leave" as you speculate, wouldn't you expect a major shift in direction with this reorg? Well, it's possible there's something in the works that I don't know about, but I don't see it, haven't even heard rumors of a major strategy shift.

Honestly the armchair quarterbacking on this blog is getting out of hand. Have some humility, folks. It's not easy running a half a billion dollar business. If you think you got it all figured out then be my guest, send in your resume, go apply for Pieter's job. Or at least give some concrete guidance as to what Microsoft needs to do starting today to improve the WM business. Don't just bitch and moan in engage in 20/20-hindsight assisted shoulda coulda wouldaism.

Anonymous said...

It was fun while it lasted. After many years at Microsoft India, I've moved on. I'm happy for what it gave me and think it was a great company to work for. Then the HP brigade arrived. From a software company, we've become a hardware company where it is all about revenue. We have a management team that does not have a clue and people don't count. We have managers using foul language at the AMs. Friends are being hired despite them being the wrong people for the job.

Goodbye Microsoft India. It was fun while it lasted.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I was wondering where the two guys are now, who declared they and their wives were having sweaty happy monkey sex?

I've decided to change career, from project manager to zookeeper, and even if the orangutans are turd-hurlers, I'm still getting less shit than I was before.

But the zoo seems quiet, now that Monkey Boy is no longer having sweaty happy monkey sex - the vervets, the red colobuses, the capuchin and spider monkeys seem almost bemused. The baboons are overjoyed! The crane driver's no longer getting such a big tip, though, and he feels hard done by.

Has Monkey Boy finally found a job? A real job?

Anonymous said...

Not the original poster, but I can say that I'm A Big Boy, and I wholeheartedly disagree with you.

Which part? The ability to have different opinions or made up poll results?

As for the caustic part, I can only assume you haven't been to the internal blog lately where the OP and I came from.


Why do I have a feeling that I've walked into an existing grudge match between two individuals that has turned a bit mean?

No, I don't frequent InsideMS. I looked once or twice, found it uninteresting (too many people frightened to give their real opinions, platitudes from authority), and when check-ins for milestones end and I have an instant of peace, I take a gander here.

My comment about disagreeing with you was knee-jerk after seeing what I interpreted as, repeating my own words, 'caustic' and 'acidic'. I -do- believe MS pays uncompetititvely low, and therefore disagree with you (We could argue whether that's 'fair' or not). No, I don't believe poll results are manufactured; they fit the 'terrified of the outside world' mentality that pervades any Puget Sound MSFT building perfectly.

(Admittedly, not having context about some insidems discussion) Your comments to the original poster seemed (and seem) unnecessarily nasty, and that's what I was replying to.

Anonymous said...

I can't speak for others but I'm not one to make a comment based on some myopic view of the company. I've also worked for and with several different groups/divisions within this company. The Msft culture is unique and it doesn't vary that greatly throughout the company because it starts at the top. All you have to do is talk with the vendors who call on Msft in case you've lost your perspective.

I think your assumption is incorrect. The issue is that some people just love the culture. Personally, I feel sorry for them. Maybe they feel sorry for me.


I'm hoping I'm not the myopic individual you speak of. Reading the first post, my reply, and your reply, I couldn't quite figure out if you were referring to an individual or a grouping.

Funny - you and I agree on some points very closely, but have come to different conclusions entirely on others.

You are on the money when it comes to "culture from the top". I believe exactly that, but possibly for different reasons than you. I believe that there is a Microsoft 'attitude problem'; an in-your-face/f-you attitude is espoused by our executives and when they see it in others, interpreted by those same execs as an indication that someone is a true up-and-comer/go-getter that should get promoted. (Or, as I've said before, 'being an a-hole here seems like it's interpreted above as an indication of genius when most of these people are merely a-holes, and not even close to geniuses.'

The worst parts of the company I've seen are places where attitude, arrogance, and cronyism are rewarded, while leadership, direction, and regognition of merit are absent.

The best parts of the company I've seen are where that attitude isn't encouraged (I've seen VPs play the game to their superiors while squelching it below them - kudos to them), where there's clear direction, long-term planning, clear roles, delivery, and incentive (both from mere excitement about the work and from actual reward due to merit) to put in the extra time to try to do the best job possible.

The attitude that I describe displayed to another company is something I've only seen intensely once (I'm sure it happens daily; I only had to endure it once). Seeing someone nearly spit on a potential partner like they were dirt left me feeling disgusted with my own employer.

Anonymous said...

Reading posts from the most recent Mini blog and so many others wants to make me comment on something:

I'm not a young man any longer; I've worked for lots of companies, and in my younger days, several were BIG. (10,000-100,000)

The people who say that some of the problems Microsoft has aren't 'Microsoft' but really just 'Big Company' are correct, but only partially. They're right that every Big Company has similar problems. The larger the company, the more politics and scum invade the place.

The area where I disagree is in a previous reply to another poster: Microsoft executives encourage behavior similar to their own. Perhaps they believe that their attitudes and behaviors were key to their successes, and the only way to be successful is to emulate them.

In other big companies, the board of directors had real power and would shake up management from time to time and this kind of nonsense didn't get deeply entrenched as part of the corporate culture. It was there, just not part of the culture.

Microsoft's BOD is only an entity, and is not something that Steve, et al, are concerned about in the slightest.

Maybe time has fuzzed my memory. These problems seem much more intense at MS than they ever did at _____, ___, and _____.

Anonymous said...

There is an interesting post on why MSFT might really need YHOO on
Greg Sterling's Blog.

Anonymous said...

Stay and you'll wake up at 45 yrs old (how many 45+ people do you see around you, eh?) sad and feeling empty.

Why are there so few 45+-year-olds in the company? Does Microsoft play a sneaky game of age discrimination?

Anonymous said...

Apparently we're not the only ones to go "whoops, there went a billion dollars."

http://news.theage.com.au/b2-stealth-bomber-crashes-in-guam-report/20080223-1u89.html

More seriously, though...

Until Sinofsky's eventual ouster, that is not going to happen. Steven likes things a certain way, and Steven will not tolerate them any other way. Read his internal blog - this is a man who absolutely, positively, will not listen to anyone about anything. It will be his, and Windows 7's undoing.

Question for the OP: are you in his org? Just curious because I don't hear people in my team complaining about him, and although I don't really understand everything going on at those high levels, what I do grok I like.

The delegation of authority and flatter reporting structures are great. The disclosure policies seem like they result in more interesting releases that don't disappoint when compared to some impossible-to-live-up-to hype. Making a detailed plan up-front and then committing to execute on it results in an orderly release; however, the plan isn't coming from the top-down so we're the ones figuring out what great stuff we can get done in that timeframe. Am I missing something here? What is so terrible about him? Sinofsky for president!

Anonymous said...

Why are there so few 45+-year-olds in the company? Does Microsoft play a sneaky game of age discrimination?

Its a young company that's been a large company for an even shorter amount of time. Plus people who started in the 80s and early 90s didn't need to stick around until they were older - they just retired early after they made a ton of money.

Anonymous said...

Can you say "IBM" 1985

Anonymous said...

Best way to improve the company - cut out all the bureaucracy please!! Seriously as a senior level manager (i'm a 67) this is the most annoying and time consuming part of my job. Every movement, every decision, every market action is like pushing water up hill. For goodness sake do we HAVE to always optimize for personal political gain in everything we do??? What happened to making things for our customers, optimizing our sales models so our partners make more money with our stack than our competitors' and building biz models for MSFT that are super profitable?? All this seems horribly lost anymore at MSFT.

I think this all came home to roost for me after attending a party for my husband's company that was a dinner party of people he works with - generally in the L68+ equivalent crowd at MSFT. Wow, what a great time we had. Very interesting conversations about business and other items that weren't filled with "look how cool I am" and "here's how I sqashed so and so..." and "I've made so much money that I just don't really care if people agree with my direction at work because I really don't have to care...".

While I've gained some serious political maneuvering skills at MSFT in the last several years, I'm worried I'm losing my market edge. Sure, I have great reviews, pay is ok, benefits are great but there is more to life. I agree with Mini that I seem to spend endless hours on political blood sports (oops I mean calibration meetings and budget meetings) and using tools that don't work and no one seems able to fix.

Maybe it's time to go.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini,

Thoughts on an software engineers union?

Just curious ;^)
Anonymous fan

Anonymous said...

WM has to run on all kinds of different hardware. Touch screen, non touch screen, QWERTY keyboard, 12 key phonepad, no keyboard at all, no GPRS connection at all, all you can eat plans, pay per bandwidth plans. To be honest we have to write to a least-common denominator experience.

True, it's not an apples-to-apples comparison (sorry), but people like the iPhone mainly because its UI is attractive and easy to use. Nothing about WM's hardware and service compatibility requirements forces it to be ugly, slow, and complicated.

Anonymous said...

"Stay and you'll wake up at 45 yrs old (how many 45+ people do you see around you, eh?) sad and feeling empty.

Why are there so few 45+-year-olds in the company? Does Microsoft play a sneaky game of age discrimination?"


With some comments you really need to just call BS because they're so silly.

1. First of all, waking up at 45 and feeling empty isn't the result of working at Microsoft -- it's called a mid-life crisis and it happens to everyone who gets on a path early and doesn't spend sufficient time examining their choices along the way. Lawyers. Accountants. Sales people. Suburban parents.

2. There aren't a whole lot of people over 45 working at Microsoft because it's a tech company, duh. I'm 40, and that's actually close to the average age of people I work with on my current team: we were among the first generation of the PC tech workforce explosion, so the majority of workers you see in this field will be our age or younger.

Anonymous said...

To fix it:
1/ Have SteveB's performance reviews match stock performance

2/ Compensate employees for the stock tanking to 28

3/ Increase the pay of top performers and reduce that of useless people (ex: 80K to write test code is wrong; some PMs don't even have a CS degree; some devs don't know C++;)

Anonymous said...

Long time reader and first poster. Working in the field and not in the US, I sometimes cannot relate to the comments that are heavily oriented at the minority of peopele working in MS which is dev. And maybe this is part of the MS problem? SMSG is swarming with people and due to the "Keep your scorecard green" culture that came with Kevin "thank you for all that you do" Turner, managers are not managing and coaching people anymore. Every day I see people that should be empowered to do business staring into their spreadsheets in order manipulate Siebel (yes we use that utter crap CRM system still) to keep the scorecard green instead of going out to meet the customers. Many MS people in (i think especially in services) miss the "techy" culture where we doing good things for customers, making them successful. Now all we get "Why is your scorecard yellow, just fix it". Also, we have tons of people that thinks that strategy spells "sell more". For me, thats not a strategy. Maybe we instead should focus on making a great platform that everyone loves to develop super application on top of, instead of investing in yet more BMO idiots that thinks that everything can be sold with enough advertising and commercial buzzwording. And maybe we should stop lying to our managers and our managers managers about how good everything is, and manipulate numbers in order to make the score card green. Let the damn thing be red and come up with a correction of error plan that is imaginative and does not contain the words "sell more"!.

Anonymous said...

Why are there so few 45+-year-olds in the company? Does Microsoft play a sneaky game of age discrimination?

It's indirect. As you climb levels/orgs, the ability to move upward gets real sparse real quick. If you're stuck in the just under partner range, it's often easier to leave MSFT and take on a leadership/sr mgmt role elsewhere.

paulsc@exmsft.com said...

Why are there so few 45+-year-olds in the company? Does Microsoft play a sneaky game of age discrimination?

I certainly don't think so, at least in the technical disciplines. I was hired as an SDE in Windows at age 49, left the company at age 51 to pursue a business opportunity, and was told I was welcome back anytime I care to return.

I don't anticipate returning anytime soon, but the last thing I would worry about is age discrimination.

In my experience, Microsoft only discriminates on the basis of intelligence and ability to communicate ideas to others through language, mathematics, and ultimately code.

Anonymous said...

Does Microsoft play a sneaky game of age discrimination?

Yes....yes they do. I have seen it first hand and it makes me sick. I would love someone to do an investigation, open a class action case, or even a discrimination case. They would win big.

Anonymous said...

Yes....yes they do. I have seen it first hand and it makes me sick. I would love someone to do an investigation, open a class action case, or even a discrimination case. They would win big.
Care to explain why others should do this rather than you? If you were an employee and if any of this was actually true ....

Long time reader, getting a bit fed-up with the postings lately: lots of whining for the sake of whining.

Mini,
I respect your decision not to have bad VP/GMs called out, how about having GOOD ones called out? It'll at least reward good behavior giving those guys more talent to chose from (and something to brag about with their peers). Happy to volunteer 1-2 names, we can easily prevent trolling shooting down bad examples ...

Anonymous said...

I want to debate the assertion that the aQuantive integration was successful, I don't feel this blog is the appropriate place, and InsideMS doesn't appear to be that place either. So where is one?

Is there a place that is safe to discuss? Its definitly not safe to debate internally with your manager or higher up the chain. I'm no longer with aQuantive, I now work for a great team in MS. I was threatened not to talk, but my story needs to be told, to some people higher up who believe that they can integrate Yahoo, I believe that they can, but they have to hear what is happening to Microsoft's ad serving business, which will save the company years to find out, it will be too late once they realize. The engineers at aQuantive are great, some of the best, but the central nervous system doesn't exist, this is Microsoft's managements responsibility, and it could cost us the leadership in the ad business. Remember business at the speed of thought? BG talked a lot about central nervous systems as the benefit of technology in a corporation. We needs one.

Talking to management a couple levels up won't work, I emailed a manager a couple levels up that I'd like to interview at Microsoft, that's all I said!, and then all hell broke loose, I almost got fired, I was threatened to keep my mouth shut about some serious issues our business has, our business is in jeapordy.

This is sad because then we have to air our dirty laundry in public places like this! Because its not safe to tell upper management when serious things happen that affect our customers enormously, it can cost us everything. ... the integration's success is debatable, but only if you are willing to risk your job. I am.

And its amazing how afraid everyone is to tell the people who should know what's going on! We Have to win in Advertising, and I care enough to be the whistle blower.

should I
a) keep my mouth shut and move on
b) post on an internal forum the details (where?)
c) send KJ an email?

Microsoft really needs to have a central nervous system going up to the top, management should know instantly when major upsets to the customer happen down below. There is no way we can compete with Google in the Ad space the way things are, it will be impossible, if management at the top and all the way down do not have instant knowledge of what they need to know. There is no central nervous system from Steve all the way down the ranks to the customers at aQuantive, hence there has been blind integration, and incredibly ineffective in light of what has happened to our customers and employees, and will continue. Yahoo integration would require a simple to implement nervous system that would have extraordinary payout, improve moral, remove roadblocks, etc., if we had one at aQuantive...

I want to debate the need for such a system, how it would have saved employee and customer moral, drastically improved product quality and scalability, as well as give management at all levels a clear and consise view, a dashboard, of what is really going on, at all times and improve the decision making. I don’t believe that the management at MS is bad, just that they don’t know, in the case of aQuantive at any rate. In fact I believe that management is good, but if you don’t have good information, if all you have is some books that are cooked in the form of a power point deck… if you don’t know what is happening to your customers… will loose… miserably, and I want to see us win, I want to see happy customers, happy employees, happy shareholders, and it could be possible, but now it is not possible unless management has good, accurate, and real data.

Maybe I care about the customer too much, but I saw tears in our customers eyes, literally, I never ever want to see a customer go home crying every again, or almost loose 1/4 of the business over an internal power struggle (we almost lost MSN, of all clients), what if that happens at Yahoo? The guys upstairs will be oblivious to what is going on, and they would think things were rosy for years until it was too late, trusting powerpoint decks instead of actually talking to real people. For this reason, I do not see the Yahoo merger potential success. I highly recommend ‘Business at the speed of thought’.

It’s a choice between extraordinary failure and misery, and amazing success and prosperity, and after all, we are in the information business.

Anonymous said...

Care to explain why others should do this rather than you? If you were an employee and if any of this was actually true ....

Because I've only witnessed the discrimination not actually been on the receiving end...but give me a few more years at the company and I'm sure they'll come for me too.

You want good VPs called out? I've had the pleasure of working with a few...Ralph Young, Gerri Elliot, great VPs that really care about their people. But honestly, good VPs are the exception and not the rule. Or haven't you figured that out by now?

Carnage4Life said...

Long time reader, getting a bit fed-up with the postings lately: lots of whining for the sake of whining.

Why are you recently fed up? The comments section on Mini has always been a place for the whiners who are too incompetent to find a job elsewhere in the industry or at least elsewhere in the company.

I only started reading it again to see if folks posted anything interesting about the Yahoo! acquisition but for the most part it has been the typical myopic micro-perspectives on display.



Question for the OP: are you in his org? Just curious because I don't hear people in my team complaining about him, and although I don't really understand everything going on at those high levels, what I do grok I like.


As much as I've disagreed with SteveSi's opinions and policies on several topics this comment is spot on. The company would be in a whole lot better position if there were more execs like him not less.

Anonymous said...

Care to explain why others should do this rather than you? If you were an employee and if any of this was actually true ....

I sure as heck wouldn't. Why would any sane employee want his management and, even worse, HR, to see him as a troublemaker?

Anonymous said...

I would love someone to do an investigation, open a class action case, or even a discrimination case. They would win big.

Care to explain why others should do this rather than you? If you were an employee and if any of this was actually true ....


Different poster, but I can say yes, it's true, though there are exceptions such as the 51yo exmsft above. Worse for MSFT from a legal perspective, it's also systematic in the review process now. Kim says hi. Do the math on the time-in-level = automatic limited guidelines, and promotion budgets. It works out to driving the bulk of people out around 40.

I left 1.5 years ago in large part because of it. As a manager, I did not want to participate in that type of process, and as an employee in my mid 30's, I saw the writing on the wall.

I would never sue, because that's not who I am (besides, I left voluntarily before my 40th birthday, so I wouldn't qualify anyhow). Frankly, I don't much like employment law and think employers ought to be able to hire and fire for whatever reasons, even stupid, counterproductive, disreputable ones. But the law says otherwise and MSFT is vulnerable to this. I'm sure HR and LCA think they have their defense lined up, but their track record doesn't inspire confidence.

But legal issues aside, this is also hurting MSFTs ability to produce. It's both a relection and a cause of MSFT failing to mature as an organization. It's never grown beyond youthful exuberance and bravado. That allowed it to achieve a lot in the early days of the software industry. But as that industry matured, MSFT continued to act like a brash 19-year old, and now finds itself older and slower, caught betwee mature, experienced competitors who can out-organize, out-strategize, and out-Machiavelli, it, and younger, leaner competitors who can out hustle it.

So the OP better get that class-action suit going soon, while there's still some meat left on the carcase for the lawyers to scavange.

Anonymous said...

Does MSFT practice age discrimination?
I don't think they do so explicitly.

I think the lack of 45+ yo workers can be explained by a combination of (a) all the natural old-timers retiring rich, (b) a ranking system that rewards working crazy hours, (c) older workers not being willing to put in crazy hours, and (d) other non-MSFT opportunities that pay about as well and don't require crazy hours.

Anonymous said...

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/123/the-worlds-most-innovative-companies.html?page=0%2C0

Look who tops the list and where msft is. In spite of all the top management shouting INNOVATION in every meeting.

Anonymous said...

There goes another billion $$$
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23322174/

Anonymous said...

Long time reader, getting a bit fed-up with the postings lately: lots of whining for the sake of whining.

Long time reader, getting a bit tired of the attacks on posters, each time using variants of the word 'whine'.

(You do realize that them not agreeing with you doesn't necessarily make them 'whiners', right?) The people complaining about 'whining' seem to post little more than ad-hominem attacks.

Anonymous said...

how about having GOOD ones (referring to VPs) called out?

That'd be nice, but seems impractical to me. It would be difficult to find a name in the executive ranks that someone won't fault. It doesn't matter who you are, there's always someone who has a problem with you. :(

Anonymous said...

Long time reader, getting a bit tired of the attacks on posters, each time using variants of the word 'whine'.

(You do realize that them not agreeing with you doesn't necessarily make them 'whiners', right?) The people complaining about 'whining' seem to post little more than ad-hominem attacks.


The problem with the "whiners" -- and a problem I share, although I've never called them out as such -- is that they generall make sweeping, universal statements with only a tiny window of personal experience to draw from... thereby tarring everyone with their brush.

I think most of the people calling BS on "whiners" would be more supportive if these folks would stop making these sweeping claims based on individual situations. Talk about what's happening with you, but don't claim to speak for the entire culture.

Also, when those of us who actually claim to have fulfilling jobs at Microsoft ever attempt to present an alternative view, the "whiners" hit us with a blast-furnace of "stupid loser partner STFU and crawl back under your suck-up hole". So let's make sure the pot isn't calling the kettle black. ;-)

Finally, as other people have mentioned only a tiny fraction of Microsoft employees post here... and where's the first place you're likely to go if you're pissed off about your job? Mini, of course -- an easy platform for the world to hear about how badly you've been screwed and how the Evil Empire has ground you down to a nubbin.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know what divisions people think ARE innovating? I've been interviewing in different groups and I have to tell you, it feels like slow also-rans in almost every category.

Windows? Awful rep and SP1 appears to be making it worse.
WinMobile? Outsold. Outclassed. Generally outdone.
Zune? V2 is not bad after an impression-killing v1, too bad no one on the outside has heard of it.
Live everything? Bleh. That doesn't even need a response.
Xbox? Bleeding money and now getting outsold too.

And so on, and so on. Yeah, I hear that "innovation" word too. Where is it? I mean, really?

We copy. It's what we do. We used to do it faster, and better, and that's how we made our money. We found good ideas from others and stole or bought them. We try to do that still, but we fail now because we're so scared of making a mistake. And in trying to hedge all of our bets, all of the time, all we product is lackluster products.

So who should I talk to? Seriously, I want to know. Where should I go in this company to feel inspired?

Anonymous said...

The pay is fair at Microsoft.

I am a Level 64 and made $184,533 w/Bonus according to my recently received W2. I brought a strong work ethic to Microsoft like I did at previous companies for less pay. I have nothing more than a High School education. Once I hit Level 65 I should break $200,000.

I love this company.

Anonymous said...

I can't complain about the pay, the same level at Microsoft is 20% greater than at aQuantive, I highly recommend working there if you think your not making enough.

But be warned, they may not discriminate based on age, but they do discriminate against anyone who stands up for the customer.

If you want truly crappy pay and benefits, and you think customers suck, give aQuantive a shot, you'll love it.

Anonymous said...

I am a Level 64 and made $184,533 w/Bonus according to my recently received W2. I brought a strong work ethic to Microsoft like I did at previous companies for less pay. I have nothing more than a High School education. Once I hit Level 65 I should break $200,000.

Mini, you might want to caution people against posting exact compensation numbers that could be traced to individuals. Unlikely, but still a risk.

Anonymous said...

I had a dream last night. Steve Ballmer made a major announcement that the Microsoft Basketball Team was selected to play at a national tournament in Seattle. Upon reflection of the varsity schedule, however, he noticed that there was a league game that same night in a place that was too far away to participate in both. All of us were at the company meeting or some other very large event when these announcements were made. The general consensus was that the league game meant very little, as the varsity team had already been doing quite well. However, Steve felt it was imperative that the varsity team stick with their commitments and fly out to the league game.

However, he wasn't willing to forfeit the national tournament, because it was too important to our reputation. In a second announcement, he announced that the Microsoft B-team would be assembled and play among a few of the varsity substitutes. The varsity players were livid, as they were required to play in an inconsequential league game while a bunch of randomly chosen individuals would be representing Microsoft in this league game. Many of the players in the B-team had never played basketball before.

As is typical with any dream, I woke up before either game was played. Perhaps I've been reading too much mini-msft. Or perhaps I have deeper rooted concerns....

Anonymous said...

"The pay is fair at Microsoft. I am a Level 64 and made $184,533. I have nothing more than a High School education."

Another 64 here - I make about the same. It's sure fair for people like you without an education. It's less compelling for someone you graduated from a top CS department + has access to a lot more offers (ex: finance in NY city would not take you, same for Google, since they love academics).

Anonymous said...

You mean blanket statements like this one?

"The pay is fair at Microsoft."

I somehow think this guy means "I am paid fairly at Microsoft." It's possible, just possible, that there's another L64 somewhere that is not paid this well. Or there's an L63 or even L62 doing comparable work who is, clearly, not paid as well.

But jolly good for him that he feels well paid and is satisfied. I don't *think* anyone was arguing that NO ONE at Microsoft feels fairly paid. But hey, nice to have a data point there.

jon said...

I just posted Yahoo!!!! (was Yahoo!?!?!): Why, after further reflection, I think Microsoft's offer for Yahoo! is a brilliant strategic move on Liminal States. A brief excerpt:

Plunking down $44.6 billion, or whatever the number turns out to be, for "change" and "social software" sends a huge message -- although bizarrely enough a lot of Microsoft employees, on MiniMSFT and internal email discussion lists like Litebulb, have managed not to hear it.

I also discuss the implication in terms of search/advertising duopolies, including why Microsoft is likely to win big-time even if the deal doesn't go through. Enjoy!

jon

Anonymous said...

So who should I talk to? Seriously, I want to know. Where should I go in this company to feel inspired?

Join Apple or Google...duh. I mean you already know the answer so why are you even here?

Anonymous said...

Because I've only witnessed the discrimination not actually been on the receiving end...but give me a few more years at the company and I'm sure they'll come for me too.
Patronizer here. Personal question: why would you want to continue working "a few more years" for such a company? I guess what I'm not following is why on one hand I hear you complain about what is clearly inacceptable (ILLEGAL!) behavior, on the other you apparently intend to continue working where you are ... ?

Over the years I found mini a source of interesting information and opinions, not always in line with mine and therefore thought provoking. Like many others I am noticing a trend to replace this with general company bashing / whining about people's personal fortunes. Neither of which I'm particularly interested in (but then, I'm not one of the VPs you mentioned).

BTW I vote for Andy Lee and Rick Thompson

Vikas Agarwal said...

From my blog post.
Lets take an example that has bothered me a lot lately- Microsoft
After refusing to pay 3B to acquire double click, Microsoft thought it was a great idea to buy Aquantive for 6B. Then paying 2B for Norwegian search company Fast was also hailed by both Microsoft executives and analysts alike. The same microsoft that implied youtube acquisition for 1.6B was not a long term investment, somehow discovered that valuing facebook for 15B is a very smart move. And now their bid to buy Yahoo for 45B which could well cost them around 55B(considering the price raise, Yahoo employee severance package poison pill, Yahoo employee retention bonuses, Investment banks and legal fee) makes me wonder how are they going to get a reasonable rate of return.
Imagine Microsoft succeeds in buying Yahoo for 50B, to get 10% ROI Yahoo will have to generate 5B in profit, Aquantive will have to generate about 600M and Fast will have to chip in 200M. Thats almost 6B in profit per year. Currently they are creating less than 1B in profit. So unless Aquantive, Fast and Yahoo are just pieces of a jigsaw puzzle when combined create a very rosy picture, I cant help but wish good luck to Ballmer, Ozzie et al.
http://valueinvestmentblog.com/

Anonymous said...

Talking to management a couple levels up won't work, I emailed a manager a couple levels up that I'd like to interview at Microsoft, that's all I said!, and then all hell broke loose, I almost got fired, I was threatened to keep my mouth shut about some serious issues our business has, our business is in jeapordy.

This is sad because then we have to air our dirty laundry in public places like this! Because its not safe to tell upper management when serious things happen that affect our customers enormously, it can cost us everything. ... the integration's success is debatable, but only if you are willing to risk your job. I am.


You didn't have to inform your managers that you wanted to interview. Lisab made the process of changing jobs within MS a lot more simple - primarily because it was easier to quit MS and get back in a year or so later (often with a nice bump in pay) than to transfer internally under the old process.

Unless you are in the rare situation that your immediate manager is a good person and you care to give him/her enough heads up so he/she can plan ahead and the transition won't be so painful. Not sure why you needed to go a couple of levels above regarding this.

In any case, you should first look outside and get a few of external offers, preferably atleast one from the competition. This is good for two reasons: 1. It tells you how much more the market values you. 2. If/when you decide to check out internal options, if your current management tries to get cute on you and puts up any process hurdles, you can respond with a hard slap of bye-bye bombshell.

Regarding airing dirty laundry here, I agree that's not the best thing to do ... not while working here or with any other company. But I don't see a better alternative when there's no way you can trust anyone in your management chain for many levels up.

Sometimes, the concerns that sound valid would get investigated. We had a person called Jon Pincus who would pick up on these and see if there needs a change in approach to identifying problems, if any. I never interacted with him even remotely but certainly appreciated what he did. He left the company, so I'm not sure if this would get anywhere.

Anonymous said...

"The pay is fair at Microsoft. I am a Level 64 and made $184,533. I have nothing more than a High School education."

Another 64 here - I make about the same. It's sure fair for people like you without an education. It's less compelling for someone you graduated from a top CS department + has access to a lot more offers (ex: finance in NY city would not take you, same for Google, since they love academics).


Another L64 here with a degree from a top CS department who makes in that range, and I'd suggest that 180+ at the L64 career stage is quite competitive based on the work you're doing.

I've had total comp offers from large companies that have ranged from a low of 150k to a high of about 250 (based largely on performance bonus and theoretical stock upside), and a number of offers come with quite nice signing bonuses. Startups and smaller companies, of course, generally won't ever be able to match this range

In almost every case, the lower figures are attached to more glamorous and higher-risk work in the consumer space. Higher numbers are usually attached to less glamorous roles that don't target consumers, or Director roles that have a bunch of performance incentives and bonuses attached to them.

I think the point is that when your salary is anywhere near the 200k mark, the notion of am I getting what I'm worth really starts to become a matter of what each individual values. If you're playing in this range, it's expected that you're capable of making tradeoff decisions about the factors you find most important -- if you want the Giant Dollars then go into niche corporate or consulting (or single-mindedly pursue the executive road), and if you want to do Really Cool Stuff then take a more modest (lol) compensation package.

jon said...

The excellent question from an anonymous fan earlier ...

> Hey Mini,
>
> Thoughts on an software engineers union?
>
> Just curious ;^)

reminds me: remember when Mini got shut down on Facebook last year? It turns out that Facebook's got a pattern of behavior along these lines -- including deactivating (and then reinstanting) Derek Blackadder for doing union organizing.

For more, please check out How to respond when you're censored by Facebook.

Shai Sach's essay on MyDD gives some additional context, and his Organizing online workers through a new consumer movement is interesting reading on this subject as well.

jon

PS: Mini, I hope it's okay that I referred to you as a 'labor activist' on the Wired page :-)

Anonymous said...

We found good ideas from others and stole or bought them. We try to do that still, but we fail now because we're so scared of making a mistake. And in trying to hedge all of our bets, all of the time, all we product is lackluster products.

Good comment.

A lot of people are dismissing comments on here as whining, thinking "oh, this person is a sub-par employee and deserves his low pay/review scores" or "this person is in a crappy group and most groups are just fine."

This may be true for many comments, but on the other hand, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that many of MSFT's recent efforts are falling flat. And it's not unjustified Microsoft bashing when you slowly realize that all of your friends hate their Windows Mobile phones, or that all of their XBox 360s have broken, or that your friends and family from all over the country keep asking you for copies of Windows XP so they don't have to use Vista on the new computers they just bought.

Anonymous said...

I am L65 HR manager. Per my W-2, my total compensation is 202K. This is lower than the industry average for my experience.

HardwareJunkie said...

re: Age discrimination at MS?

Please. I can't imagine anyone over the age of 40 who's done an internal job search having any doubt about that question. Certainly it won't usually be overt, but if you're over 45 and have ever gotten an offer from someone significantly younger (say 10+ years) I'd say your experience is unusual. And I say it "usually" won't be overt because I've known folks who didn't get past the informational because the hiring manager said flat out they were looking for "younger talent more anxious to make their mark."

If you're not willing to pretend to be a wide-eyed hyperventilating campus hire, your chances are dim, even at pretty senior levels (66+). As an older internal candidate you'll certainly learn some code words for things associated with your age, including (a lack of) energy, passion, drive, &c. 45+ people may (hopefully!) not exhibit these traits in the same way a campus hire, or even a 10+ year person, will.

Anonymous said...

I also discuss the implication in terms of search/advertising duopolies.

No offense, Jon, but my opinion is that your post is largely wishful thinking. I see no convincing reasoning other than the same old economy of scale argument and you fail to address the issue of the technological hurdle or the ability of us to keep MSN+Yahoo attractive to internet users. (Let's face it, MS has flopped miserably in nearly every attempt to be cool.)

I will agree with one thing: I don't understand or accept advertising. Why should I? It's a sleazy, filthy business that decent people should have nothing to do with.

Anonymous said...

I also discuss the implication in terms of search/advertising duopolies, including why Microsoft is likely to win big-time even if the deal doesn't go through. Enjoy!

Jon,

Maybe you should read:

http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/2/
avenue_a_svp__microsoft_yahoo_irrelevant

and

http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/2/
avenue_a_razorfish__microsoft_ownership__feels_natural__

Is it possible that it's you who's managed not hear it? I think there are very good reasons why so many Msft employees don't like this acquisition.

Anonymous said...

I've known folks who didn't get past the informational because the hiring manager said flat out they were looking for "younger talent more anxious to make their mark."

OK, I'm calling flat-out lie on this. There is no way our HR department wouldn't find this clueless manager and ream them for saying this, and if they said it twice they'd be fired.

MS is absolutely phobic about these kinds of lawsuits.

If any hiring managers ever actually DID say something about preferring someone younger during an interview, it would be a very, very rare exception due to the intense scrutiny and warnings we all receive about never saying such things.

Good grief. Tell the truth or go home, Marty McLiar.

Anonymous said...

Just another vote for fair pay here, from my vantage point.

Level 61, a little south of 110K, which is right about 75th percentile according to salary.com (and viewing what other people I know make.) There are some companies around here that pay more, of course, but the pay-to-coolness ratio (YMMV) isn't as good as Microsoft. Plus, unlike a number of other companies around here, this one (or at least my group) is respectful of work/life balance; 60-70 hour weeks are basically required elsewhere.

Before anyone calls me a liar, I'll note that the 110 that I mentioned above is tied to SVC. I'd gladly take the numbers some other people have mentioned for my level here if you could get rid of our 10% state income tax and 800K median home price. (This is close to work; if I want my kids to have good schools, this goes up to 1.4M.) You guys have it good... maybe they should raise SVC pay more. ;) We do see the sun during the winter, though. But yes, fair pay [from my POV.]

Anonymous said...

reminds me: remember when Mini got shut down on Facebook last year? It turns out that Facebook's got a pattern of behavior along these lines

Interesting you mention that. With all the Yahoo-baloo, I decided to try out their current web stuff to see how it compared to MSN and Google. I hadn't really used Yahoo for years.

So, I signed up for a Yahoo! mail account, poked around for a while, searched for Groups that might be interesting, signed up to join a couple, and then went to bed. I didn't try to send any email, post any messages, or communicate with anyone. I just looked around.

Next day, I tried to sign in to my new Yahoo account, and I couldn't. Did some fumbling around for "lost password" (I wasn't lost, I defintely was typing the correct password), and finally found a page that said my account had been suspended for violating ToS.

WTF? As best I can tell, signing up for Yahoo! appears to be a violation of Yahoo!s ToS.

Oh well. I'm sure MSFT will do wonders with it.

Anonymous said...

>WTF? As best I can tell, signing up for Yahoo! appears to be a violation of Yahoo!s ToS.

You have to be a troll. I have been using Yahoo for many years now--ever since I dumped MSN for failing to meet its TOS to me (back in the days when it was primarily an AOL knock-off.

Anyway, I don't really want MS to succeed in the purchase, will go elsewhere if it does, but I do like Yahoo--the my Yahoo customizations including interface and hotlinks, the email service is great, as I do a lot of large emails and having unlimited email is great as is the spam filter.

The reason I use Yahoo over my website email is that it does a really good job at getting rid of spam, almost none these days, and personally, I like their search a little better than others.

Honestly, Microsoft has no clue. I hope it fails in its proxy bid--Yahoo is a great company and Microsoft does not deserve it at any price.

Anonymous said...

my total compensation is 202K. This is lower than the industry average for my experience.

Look at you. Why dont just simply you go find a different job elsewhere!

Anonymous said...

Also a first time poster - with regards the comments "Keep your scorecard green" from Anon.

I work for a Microsoft Partner SI, and have, in various roles, been working with Microsoft for MANY years.

Can be frustrating sometimes, but Microsoft has always had a good number of bright, motivated people who just want to do good stuff - and with a general (reading MCS?) focus on partnering.

However, I can say that I have never seen Microsoft so internally focussed and losing focus on the customer and real world outcomes - yes, the scorecard mentality is being felt in Partnerland and it's disturbing...

If you're asking people to update scorecards in Microsoft - ask yourself "Am I really driving good outcomes?"

Anonymous said...

You didn't have to inform your managers that you wanted to interview. Lisab made the process of changing jobs within MS a lot more simple - primarily because it was easier to quit MS and get back in a year or so later (often with a nice bump in pay) than to transfer internally under the old process.

Not entirely accurate.

If you've been in your position for < 12 months, you're not eligible to transfer w/o a significant authorization (was it VP?)

12 <= months < 18 means that you have to ask permission of your immediate manager. They can grant or deny.

>= 18 months, you don't have to ask, but you DO need to notify. Interviews cannot be scheduled without evidence of notification.

If offered a job, transition time must be negotiated. Poor managers, upset at losing control in limiting interviewing, have moved to demanding absurd transition times. (When they merely could have treated the employee better and never had a problem. How ironic.)

Regardless, LisaB didn't streamline it to the level of equivilence with internal interviewing == another company interviewing.

jon said...

In reverse chronological order:

Anonymous@7:36: Excellent clarification on the interviewing policies, thanks very much for posting. The difference in policies between internal and external interviews magnifies the damage done by bad and/or malicious managers -- it drives their employees out of the company, rather than to another group.

Anonymous@10:02PM, dunno what to tell you ... weird.

Anonymous@8:59PM: Most of my response will be in the new thread, but one thing in particular I wanted to cover here.

I don't understand or accept advertising. Why should I? It's a sleazy, filthy business that decent people should have nothing to do with.

Whether to work at a company engaging in business practices you feel are problematic is something everybody needs to wrestle with for themselves.

If you're going to stay there, even if you never decide to accept advertising personally, I strongly recommend that you at least understand it -- and start learning to view your colleagues as decent people who just happen to disagree with you about this subject.

Anonymous@8:56AM: Thanks!

jon said...

Anonymous@9:38PM: Thanks for the links, although I couldn't follow (or find) the second one. Henry Blodget's Jeff Lanctot interview is great -- pulls no punches indeed!

As I read it, Blodget distorted things in his headline: Lanctot didn't say the deal as a whole was irrelevant, he just highlighted that spend is moving away from portals to the networks. I agree, and "the networks" (media, communication, social) are all Yahoo!'s strengths along with portal.

No idea whether Blodget simply missed this or whether he's spinning things this way for some reason....

jon

Anonymous said...

You have to be a troll. I have been using Yahoo for many years now--...

Not a troll, and I'm sure that most people have a different experience with Yahoo!. Just relating that mine was less than expected, and definitely means I would never want to trust Yahoo with anything important. The arbitrary nature of the account being shut down and the lack of any obvious means to appeal the decision leaves me cold.

Is MSN any better? I've had an MSN account for over a decade and never had account problems. I've had the email client get progressively worse and figure in another year or two it will be completely unusable. Honestly, MSN seems to have been stuck in reverse for an entire decade. But at least I can log in.

former winbuilder said...

"OK, I'm calling flat-out lie on this. There is no way our HR department wouldn't find this clueless manager and ream them for saying this, and if they said it twice they'd be fired."

What is that SMELL??? Oh, yeah, that's it, bullshit! If you're a golden boy far enough up the foodchain, you REALLY have to FU before HR will even look your way.

Heard it straight from the current VP of LPS when he ran the .NET platform team, a certain member of the COM+ team was too "parochial" (i.e. old) to be considered and would be detrimental to agility of the discussed team. That was his exact choice of wording, pausing to think of a PC way to state it too.

If you aren't seeing it, it's because you're not looking. If you are hearing it, it's because you're not listening. And if you're not being affected by it, it's because your still under 40 or you've already made partner and are part of the untouchable club.

Don't tell me age discrimination isn't alive and well. I won't drink that Koolaid!

Anonymous said...

If offered a job, transition time must be negotiated. Poor managers, upset at losing control in limiting interviewing, have moved to demanding absurd transition times. (When they merely could have treated the employee better and never had a problem. How ironic.)

Poor managers do even worse than that: Claiming that the employee is a performance problem as an excuse to hold someone on a team who'd otherwise qualify to get out. The team is overworked to the tune of 65 hour weeks being the average commitment for nearly 2 years straight, we do uninteresting scut work, and management can't find sane (or even insane) people to fill its current openings let alone the opening that would be created by another staff departure, at the salaries they're willing to pay.

Before LisaB's rule change, the org took refuge in the "that employee is essential" excuse (over and over again, for a half dozen employees, holding each one for 3-6 months and soaking them with the bad scores at review time in return before they let them leave). With LisaB's new transfer policy in place, unscrupulous leads have had to get far more devious and now use the "underperform" excuse on people who've given 60+ hours of their lives for two years to ship a key product and who were until indicating a desire to leave, highly visible and successful group members.

If those people are so great, how can an underperform be justified? Suppose your manager gives you 110 hours of work a week to do, and you work 70. One or more tasks will likely remain incomplete. Each week, cite those incomplete tasks (albeit based on an impossible schedule) as "proof" of incompetence, regardless of the amount of work that was completed. Instant underperform.

Yes: overworked for 2 years straight, based on claims of "we can't get budget to hire more staff." No one will take responsibility for the lack of budget and its affect on the team. They just state it as some amorphous assumption like the law of gravity. It's like standing around and observing, "my house is burning down," and your wife saying, "I guess the fire department is busy tonight, oh well," and no one doing a thing to change the situation.

As a result of the permanent state of resource crunch and the well-earned reputation of this being a use-em-up-and-chuck-em-out team making hiring difficult, managers fight like dogs cornered by a lion, when someone tries to get out.

Anonymous said...

>Not a troll, and I'm sure that most people have a different experience with Yahoo!

I don't work for Yahoo, but am perplexed by your issue. They have a support email that responds within a few hours and keeps responding until your issue is resolved.

Also, for the only time I can remember in ten years or so use, their mail server crashed a day or so ago. Might have burned your account. Let them know about the issue and it will be fixed in short order. You can send an email with a response or just chat online.
There is also a way blog online with other users about problems. Your situation unheard of, so don't assume it is the norm--it is not. Also, you will find that Yahoo customers are quite loyal, at least until the purchase goes through, as that same loyalty was forged out of distrust and distaste for MS products and MS business practices.

Good luck. Here is the help link.

http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/mail/original/forms_index.htmls

Anonymous said...

If you're asking people to update scorecards in Microsoft - ask yourself "Am I really driving good outcomes?"

Can we please put that question in an e-mail and send it to 'All IT Managers.' IT is dominated by the perception of what appears on a scorecard. It's the only thing that an IT Director cares about.

Btw, you might need to include an explanation in the e-mail as to why a stupid green light on a scorecard is not necessarily indicative of a good customer experience.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be big gap between L63 and L64 pay. I thought L63 base was 110K and if you top it off with standard 8% bonus + 10K of benefits then it still gets stuck at around 130K (ofcourse I'm not counting stock because that varies a lot). What is L64 base pay?

I can attest to the fact that MS *really* pays for your work *if* your team as a whole over delievers. To do this, you will be definitely be putting 60-80 hours. But MS will compensate you if final outcome as a whole is better than general expectations (in this case, for L62, I think, you will get paid equivalent of about $75/hr at best, not accounting stock, if you imagine yourself as consultant and putting paid extra hours). However, if you worked same 60-80 Hrs a week but your product as a whole was loathed about (regardless of goodness of your feature) then you won't get compensated for even inflation and your equivalent pay for the number of hours you put in would come out to less than $55/hr (for L62). Note that the quality and quantity of your work is exactly same in both scenarios.

This is a big hole in our reward scheme that somehow no one is noticing strongly enough. The reaon for this policy seems to be that GMs are not allowed to grant any one "Exceeded" rating if the team's release was seen as under-delievered by VPs. This is probaby even intentional but it's very bad for people in IC roles because they don't get paid for their work and sacrifies but rather get punished because of other bozos in the team or bad management chain.

This type of policy also forces good people to leave the team degrading product even further. On the other hand if a release is successfull due to hardwork of handful of smart people in IC role, ALL the managers in the chain gets lion's share of credit and even bozos in IC roles gets better rewards. This might be tis the reason why you see so many rather incompetent managers climbing ladder fast - it's just because of their pure luck having handful of smart guys doing all the hard work and working around the road blocks that managers puts in their way. Once those lucky managers gets pass skip level and becomes GM they can live there for ever. Anyway, if you think you are over delievering in your IC roles but not getting rewarded then think about how did your team do as a whole? If team didn't do that great then it's time for soul searching. Either you are stuck with bunch of bozos who will never exceed expectations as a team or your management chain doesn't have that charisma. In either case, switch the team and get in to the right place, you will suddently find yourself on the way to prosperity.

About MS as a whole, given all the bad and ugly, I think I still love this company. I'm huge critic of almost everything that's going on in MS and it just boils my blood when I see scumbegs displaying no regards to customers and blowing away billions. I'm right now reading The Soul of New Machine and I can totally see that I can replace Data General with Microsoft in that book. Given the history and evolution of other companies, I'm pretty sure Microsoft's "end" - as in coolness, superiority and prowess - is not too far (if not already occured). But on the otherhand I've also worked in other big and small companies for 10+ years before coming to MS. It was a horror to work at those stupid companies (mostly financial, insurence, real estate) even if they paid higher than my initial offer at MS. When working there, we used to see MS as our "god" and our heated debates used to end with a quote "look, this is a Microsoft standard" or "this is what MSDN says". We used to boast about getting early previews and installing Visual Studio betas and playing and telling each other. Tons of blogger even these days mention "I played with first .Net beta" in their resumes to impress people. How cool is to work at company who actually makes them? I can tell you that at most of those financial/insurence/real estate companies you will find your coworkers worse in technical "quality" compared to almost anyone at MS. These companies themselves have very short technological vision (limited to something like make my insurence app should use SOA) and very narrow class of products (mostly data-in data-out with some stupid UIs) and processes that no one has given enough thought. The politics at these places will bring you to tears. Don't believe me? Go watch Office Space for a genetal reminder of how these places in cubicals actually like. Ofcourse I'm not talking about SV start ups, GOOG, Apples and likes - I'm talking about other 90% companies/consulting work that you might be eyeing as an option. Microsoft still outdoes those 90% of software jobs in market. No question. But compared to rest of the 10%, yes, we SUCK!

Anonymous said...

I can attest to the fact that MS *really* pays for your work *if* your team as a whole over delievers.

Not always so. We overdelivered for two years in a row and didn't see the rewards the second year. Maybe our VP has a rule against bestowing extra $ on a product team two years in a row?

My hourly wage in FY07 for a conservatively-estimated average of ~70 hrs/wk, not counting stock: $33/hr. Really a great reward [not] for giving up my life not just for one year, but for the second year in a row. This compensation was about the mid-point from what I heard; many engineers who contributed greatly to product success did even worse.

Microsoft hear this: we're bored with you telling us that you don't have budget. La-la-la-la-la, not listening any more. Our team is not no longer willing to compensate for management's bad decision to under-staff our team if you're not going to reward us for covering for your asses. If this attitude annoys or puzzles you, ask yourself if you'd give up over 1000 hours of your life for an extra $10,000 of reward. *Waiters* do better than that. Our team motto this year: "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me once, shame on me."

Sorry, Mini, for going anti-lean on you with this comment. I've heard similar accounts from 4-5 people around the company (not in XBox or MSN before anyone asks), so I think it's more than an isolated problem. TAANSTAFL, Microsoft. You can't get a team of 25 to do the work of 45 for the same cost as a non-overworked team of 25 for years on end.

the office said...

To the eloquent L63-L64 poster above. As you might imagine, the picture at home is less rosy at levels not too far below yours. I smiled when you mentioned Office Space. I remember that around the time I started looking around, I found "The Office" (both the UK and US versions - UK version being way funnier once you get past the accent) to be annoying because it was close enough to my work situation :)

It wasn't the tipping point, of course - just another data point. Note that you don't have to compare your work situation to that of an insurance company to feel better. Reality exists closer.

Anonymous said...

R.e. 'age discrimination' discussion. I'm 50+ and just changed jobs. Mostly I wanted to get away from the 20 something whiners who think the world owes them everything despite having zero experience. Granted, I look 10 years younger than my age, but I had no trouble transitioning to a new job with a 'mature' group of people who, to my continuing amazement, actually value life experience. So - is there age discrimination? Maybe. Maybe it just depends on where you work. I certainly felt 'aged out' in my last group. Happy to have found some folks who have voted before. The conversations are much better. So's the job.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft hear this: we're bored with you telling us that you don't have budget. La-la-la-la-la, not listening any more. Our team is not no longer willing to compensate for management's bad decision to under-staff our team if you're not going to reward us for covering for your asses. If this attitude annoys or puzzles you, ask yourself if you'd give up over 1000 hours of your life for an extra $10,000 of reward. *Waiters* do better than that. Our team motto this year: "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me once, shame on me."

You're correct. This attitude has become increasingly common across the company. Poor managers who are incapable of recognizing and rewarding performance or who promote cronies cuz they hate being challenged by smart people under them are destroying this company at an amazing pace. And with a few good exceptions, most executives seem blissfully oblivious to what's going on in the trenches. I think it's time to give up on Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

Best way to improve the company - cut out all the bureaucracy please!! Seriously as a senior level manager (i'm a 67) this is the most annoying and time consuming part of my job...What happened to making things for our customers, optimizing our sales models so our partners make more money with our stack than our competitors' and building biz models for MSFT that are super profitable??

Amen.