Thursday, April 21, 2011

Microsoft's New Review and Compensation System - Now With More Cash!

"I am not a number, I am a free man!"

Well, at least we don't have a Six to give out.

Goodbye E/A/U + 20/70/10[I/II] and hello 1 to 5.

Kim, we just don't have a Limited to give to you anymore.

So we have a new review model. And a rework of our compensation. With cash, cash, cash. Forget that Microsoft stock because it's dead in the water and today's Microsoft employee is all about the paycheck. And if you actually work on creating products at Microsoft, you're getting an extra R&D bump.

And with the new 1 to 5 review score we have a new curve, too. 20% of you get a 1 (whoo-hoo!), 20% of you get a 2, 40% of you get a 3, 13% get a 4, and 7% get a 5. And probably fired.

Your review score is now a composite of: your results (where results, not effort, matters), what you did to get your results, and what your proven capability is. With an ideal that teamwork and feedback is now part of the review system, though it's not clear if feedback is mandatory via peer based reviews.

It's too bad that the internal InsideMS blog has been eradicated and wiped out of existence. It could have lived on a little bit longer so that the review system could be discussed there.

So what are your reactions?

Is the InfoPath-based review form dead? Please? Can we go back to a simple little Word form out of respect to our new simplified review score?

The next thing I think of, as a manager, is how is calibration now run. We used to do two stack ranks for the two review scores. Now we either do one or we do three (results, what was done for the results, and proven capability). Three seems crazy.

Next is whether this will indeed help retain employees. We've been losing a lot of good people and the Puget Sound area is ramping up in hiring. Google has always been draining people away. Facebook is now grabbing some great developers and Amazon is hiring like crazy.

So now you have some mystery amount of cash in your future to look forward to. And a simpler review score. But is that what you really want? Is that what you told LisaB during her Listening Tour? Given that Microsoft stock is in the toilet, does the future influx of cash coming in September make you feel better about working at Microsoft and will this make up for having reduced benefits (e.g., a new medical plan with more of that new cash out of your pocket)?

Will you be honestly told during the whole year how well you're doing so that you have frank feedback that helps you be fulfilled with your job? A problem with Stack Ranking is that leadership (once burnt by the review model) holds back praise due to the peer relative Stack Rank pushing a person down and then creating a "surprise" gap between the past praise feedback given and the review result earned. That's not fixed.

Anyway: let's celebrate saying goodbye to the 10% / Limited rating. Since the 10%-ers were not actually fired you ended up keeping people on staff who were designated as now plateaued and limited in there career at Microsoft. They had reached the end of of the ladder. These now demoralized individuals with no hope for future rewards or promotions should have at least been given a Peter Principle plaque or something.

Old school: with respect to the new Scarlet A, I assume that a 4 is the old 3.0 and that a 5 is a 2.5 and that having either a 4 or a 5 now limits other group's interest in your career, which kind of means that we've gone from making 10% of the employees unattractive to making 20% of the employees unattractive. We'll see if that's the case as this plays out of over time.

So, chair-rearranging or just what you were looking for?


-- Comments

649 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Is this Steve's parting gift to employees before earnings are released and suck, estimates for next year get cut dramatically, the stock drops into the teens, and Ballmer decides to spend more time with his family?

Anonymous said...

Do you whiners have any idea how stupid your complaining looks from the outside of The Bubble? No?

Enjoy your limited edition KIN phone.

Anonymous said...

Earlier posting:


@There's been no mention about the discretion managers have in assigning awards --

Depending on the answer to this question, this is either a great change for me or meh. The way that I read the charts is that the manager has discretion at level 1. Levels 2-5 are fixed.


I'm a manger and I'll mention it. Actually the *only* discretion the manager has is in setting the 1-5 number. I asked HR about what I also thought was discretion shown on the charts for "1" and was told that is actually a fixed value for the "top-top" (top 1/4 of the #1 20%, top 5% overall) which technically is a 6th possible value. Budget is also fixed for those so money/stock is not taken from others for that. So your manager gets to pick a number and advocate for it thru calibrations, but has ZERO say in setting actual amount of raises, bonuses, or stock. Those are purely algorithmically determined.

As a manager who has agonized over tweaking the comp values every year... I LOVE THAT CHANGE.

Anonymous said...

Yep, some job roles were excluded from the salary bump. Thanks SO much!

I care deeply about our products and customers, but it's becoming harder to focus with the internal politics crap meter at red alert (or brown alert). The exclusion of some roles, the way this plan was flung out to managers at the last minute, and recent Dilbertian antics in my division have reamed what's left of my morale.

I've poured my heart, brain, and time into this company, but maybe my next "bump" will be the sound of the door as I see what's on the other side. I don't really expect HR to care, though, but maybe I've needed a tipping point like this to bring clarity.

Anonymous said...

@Actually the *only* discretion the manager has is in setting the 1-5 number.

I love this from a transparency perspective.

I wonder how many managers told all their A/70s they were "high 70s" and "almost made E or 20"? Now they have to deliver 3s to many of these people. In a few months you'll know if your manager was feeding you BS or if you really were at the top of the band.

Nice.

Anonymous said...

>> "In school, the 'failing' 10% don't get kicked out of school."

The computer science program at my school had about a 25% attrition rate per term (ie: people getting F and kicked out of the program), until the 3rd year where it declined. Not sure which Microsoft-feeding school graduates computer science grads who get F's?

Anyway, my thoughts about the new system:

1) Good to see more transparency and simplicity. 1 number is good. Eliminating the 4 nonesense combinations (A/20, U/20, U/70, E/10) is good. Being rated explicitly on "how you accomplished the results" - ie: teamwork - is good (as always depends on quality of mgmt). Calibration will still be contentious.

2) Significant raises for R&D below level 66, especially 63+64 who get a 15% bonus target.

3) Percentage of stock compensation that turns into cash goes down as you increase level. ie: Senior and above still get a lot of stock.

4) If the bonus ranges are basically fixed, mgmt should be able to turn around results much more quickly because right now it takes a ton of negotiation and haggling.

5) Top-of-the-top performers may not have as rich rewards: The "max" for 1's is only 125% of the target for 1's, if I understand the slide right. That's much less discretion to differentiate at the very top. Middle of the range performers (2 + 3) get a much richer deal.

Anonymous said...

Overall short-term this seems great. For my Senior level I get ~10% raise with a middling review.

BUT I don't see anyone discussing the elephant in the room: in FY12 if you get an inferior ranking than FY11, you may get a pay CUT. That's going to have an odd -- probably negative -- impact in a largish number of employees that happens to...

Anonymous said...

@Yep, some job roles were excluded from the salary bump.

I thought some jobs were excluded from the extra "engineering" bump, but all jobs got the standard salary bump. Did I misread?

Anonymous said...

One exec got out fast. Stuck around only 9 months before jumping to Facebook.

Microsoft names new ad chief, reorganizes division

With Holland's hiring, Microsoft won't be filling the job Carolyn Everson vacated as corporate vice president of global ad sales and strategy when she left to run sales for Facebook. She'd been on the job at Microsoft for only nine months. Facebook hiring Everson led Microsoft to consider taking legal action to block the move, according to AllThingsD.

Holland has worked for Microsoft for 13 years, most recently as corporate vice president of Microsoft's worldwide operations. That job had little to do with ad sales. Instead, Holland led the company's agreement processing and invoicing, sales operations, and business planning groups, and was also responsible for the incentive compensation and training of the global sales force.

Holland has some heavy lifting ahead of him. Just yesterday, in Yahoo's quarterly earnings call, Chief Executive Carol Bartz blamed Microsoft's adCenter technology, the system for buying and delivering online ads, for failing to generate revenue the company expected for its alliance with Microsoft. "adCenter isn't yet producing the (revenue per search) we hoped for and are confident is possible," Bartz said.

Anonymous said...

@in FY12 if you get an inferior ranking than FY11, you may get a pay CUT

The math on my web page doesn't support this statement.

If I get a 5, my salary increases by the same amount as my stock decreases. That's worse case scenario and it's a zero sum game (unless you include NPV, then it's a small increase).

Did I miss something in the fine print?

Anonymous said...

Do you whiners have any idea how stupid your complaining looks from the outside of The Bubble? No?

Enjoy your limited edition KIN phone.


Thanks but I have no smartphone, KIN or otherwise. Just a cheap Nokia phone without SMS or mail. And you know what? It is a really good PHONE. And I paid for it up front. So jerk off all you want about the 'features' of Phone 7 or Android or iPhone ... I could give a shit, Bubble-Boy.

Theano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thanks but I have no smartphone, KIN or otherwise. Just a cheap Nokia phone without SMS or mail. And you know what? It is a really good PHONE. And I paid for it up front. So jerk off all you want about the 'features' of Phone 7 or Android or iPhone ... I could give a shit, Bubble-Boy.

Haven't you heard?

Microsoft paid Nokia over a $1 billion to use Windows Phone 7 in their new phones.

Enjoy your new mobile ecosystem.

Nokia, Microsoft Form Mobile Ecosystem Partnership

Anonymous said...

Thanks but I have no smartphone, KIN or otherwise. Just a cheap Nokia phone without SMS or mail. And you know what? It is a really good PHONE. And I paid for it up front. So jerk off all you want about the 'features' of Phone 7 or Android or iPhone ... I could give a shit, Bubble-Boy.

I certainly hope you are not in a senior exec position! Not being familiar with the "mobile internet tsunami" certainly makes you less hire-able in this smart-phone and mobile era. You are a dinosaur!

Anonymous said...

Microsoft Sales Exec Slams The Company's Own Software
Microsoft's new sales chief for enterprises and partners in the U.S. has admitted that for every dollar companies spend on its software, they have to spend $6 to get it running right.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Microsoft-Sales-Exec-Slams-siliconalley-2200637087.html?x=0&.v=1

Anonymous said...

"On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog."
...Or an Amazaon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Adobe, etc. HR rep...

Anonymous said...

@Actually the *only* discretion the manager has is in setting the 1-5 number.

I love this from a transparency perspective.


It is more risky for Microsoft too in terms of older workers ending up in progressively lower buckets over time.

Anonymous said...

I'm from Microsoft oversee subsidy. Not sure how much increase the US folks having, however, I calcuated it seems we're having overall 5% increase in total package(base+bonus+stock) on average which barely beats CPI here.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Kin ...

Go to verizonwireless.com and look at what is being advertised: 3 day web sale - get a free KIN TWO! I thought it was an April fool's joke ...

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many managers told all their A/70s they were "high 70s" and "almost made E or 20"? Now they have to deliver 3s to many of these people. In a few months you'll know if your manager was feeding you BS or if you really were at the top of the band.

Don't mean to be harsh here, but...
If you paid attention to your numbers you can tell if you are top/middle/low 70. 70% range was 75%-130% of stock target. If you were 120-130%, you know you are at top. Less, not so much...

Anonymous said...

Microsoft paid Nokia over a $1 billion to use Windows Phone 7 in their new phones.

More like billions

"In recognition of the unique nature of Nokia's agreement with Microsoft and the contributions that Nokia is providing, Nokia will receive payments measured in the billions of dollars,"
http://www.crn.com/news/client-devices/229402003/microsoft-paying-nokia-billions-of-dollars-for-windows-phone-alliance.htm;jsessionid=rBazYSO2vRIsNpkBESqE0Q**.ecappj01

Mahesh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The explicit exclusion of Content Publishing from the R&D salary bump could not have been more ineptly handled.

Although Content Publishers (writers, editors, content project managers, and content engineers) may already be paid at more market competitive rates than coders, so are UX researchers for instance. So why exclude CPub specifically? The CPub exclusion likely has a sexist and ageist basis. I hope someone sues and forces retraction of this discriminatory exclusion. On the other hand, MS could just outsource CPub entirely, and then we'd be sorry. But so will they, because users will become even more alienated from MS products. Humans speak human languages - not code. Apple and Google understand this, but it seems MS never will.

Anonymous said...

New compensation model is betterfor people with rating 2,3 & 4.

It is disaster for people are rock stars. now there is no motivation to be on the top stack. If I am correct, if you have rating 1 for level 62 then you will get stock 180%, irrespective of where you stand in the 20%.

With earlier model, top guy at level 62 generally gets 350% (varies team to team) and least you get 170%. That is (350-170)*18000 = $32,400 stocks difference in 20% bracket. Now that motivation is gone. you just have to make it to top 20% and rest is same.

Anonymous said...

also in the fine print.

Goodbye gold star awards

Anonymous said...

What is it going to take to please some of you morons? It seems that for some of the entitlement princes and princesses, nothing is ever good enough.

Trolls and bitter ex-employees and their wives aside, can the rest of you whiners share some numbers, so we can all see how bad you've got it? I'll go right now:

I'm an SDE II, with a base of $104,500, and non R&D, so no bump there. I'd say that I'm tracking to an easy 3 right now, but with a couple of projects shipping in May, I can easily bump myself to a 2 if I don't screw up in the next 6weeeks.

According to the estimates, a 3 will get me:

Base: ~$114,500
Bonus: 10% (~$11,000)

A 2 will get me:

Base: ~$115,500
Bonus: 13% (~$13,000)

Plus, I have about 450 shares vesting this August, for another $10K or so.

This is a major amount of cash coming my way. Just the new base adjustment alone is about an extra $500 per month, net and after taxes, and this is pretty substantial because I really don't even need that money.

So, I'll go on the record right now and state that I've got it prety damn good, better than 99% of the world population, and way better than the average worker in the US or Puget Sound area.

Stop whining and complaining, fools, and leave if you don't like it here.

Anonymous said...

Helping the curious ones...

Level 61 Base: ~92,000



New pay:
 1 - ~108,000; 
2 - ~106,500
; 3 - ~105,000
; 4 - ~104,000; 
5 - ~ 95,500



Estimated Bonus: 
1 - 18%; 
2 - 13%; 
3 - 10%
; 4 - 5%; 
5 - 0%



Stock:
1 - ~12,000; 
2 - ~ 8,500; 
3 - ~ 6,500; 
4 - ~ 3,000
; 5 - 0



Stock Target (i.e. 100%): 2010 - ~10,000

Stock Target (i.e. 100%): 2011 - ~ 6,500


Level 65 Base: ~145,000



New pay: 
1 - ~163,000; 
2 - ~161,000; 
3 - ~159,000; 
4 - ~157,000; 
5 - ~148,000



Estimated Bonus: 
1 - 36%; 
2 - 26%; 
3 - 20%; 
4 - 10%; 
5 - 0%



Stock: 
1 - ~60,000; 
2 - ~45,000; 
3 - ~35,000; 
4 - ~15,000; 
5 - 0



Stock Target (i.e. 100%): 2010 - ~39,000

Stock Target (i.e. 100%): 2011 - ~36,000

Anonymous said...

Can someone comment on the 15/55 thing mentioned earlier? So if you work 15 years, all your stocks vest at the same time? Do you have to be 55 as well, or is it an "OR"?

Anonymous said...

"That is, when the 15/55 rule kicks in (15 years with MSFT and 55 or over), all stock vests instantly after the award + any non-vested stock from previous awards vests when the 15/55 trigger occurs. No doubt some HiPo Expo MBA scumbag did the math."

I call BS on this 15/55 rule. If it's not BS, then tell me where to find more information.

Anonymous said...

Concerning this being bad for "rock stars”:

I'm all for the new plan. IMHO "rock stars" were mostly that way only due to snoozing and or incestuous partnerships (I've seen mediocre Devs promoted to Lead and Principal by just following the same 'buddy' Lead from group to group).

You could still work hard; make great code and still get an "achieved" if your boss picked fovorites and you missed out.

The whole "rock star" thing is counterproductive to genuine group cooperation.

Anonymous said...

I think an entire discipline (Content Publishing) just got Kim'd. :)

Anonymous said...

>So if you work 15 years, all your stocks vest at the same time? Do you have to be 55 as well, or is it an "OR"?

No. If you leave the company at age 55, and you have 15 years of service, your unvested stock continues to vest. This only counts for stock grants that are over one year old.

The 15 year rule does not apply once you reach age 65.

After age 55, FICA is taken out all at once when the first vesting period occurs. This mean FICA for the entire grant, which includes unvested.

Anonymous said...

April 21, 2011 8:40:00 PM

Please read your proxy statement, "Named Executive Officer Compensation" -> "Compensation Discussion and Analysis" -> Section 4. Other Compensation Topics

Severance, Retirement, and Change-in-Control Arrangements

Our named executive officers do not have employment contracts, and are not entitled to any payments upon termination of their employment or following a change in control of Microsoft, with the following exceptions:

- All employees who retire from Microsoft in the United States after (a) age 65 or (b) age 55 with 15 years of service are eligible for the continuation of vesting of on-hire and annual review stock awards that were granted more than one year before retirement.

- In general, all employees who terminate their employment with Microsoft due to death or total and permanent disability will be fully vested in their outstanding stock awards.

- In addition, pursuant to Mr. Turner’s employment offer letter, he will vest in 160,000 shares of his on-hire stock award upon his retirement at age 60 or older.

Your display of public incompetence to find something like this makes me suspicious that you are a partner at age 54, and I have a good hint for who you are!

Anonymous said...

Earlier comments suggest that the top of the principal band pays competitively. The L67 bonus is 3X the L64 bonus (on top of a larger base, so probably more like 4X or 5X dollars). Nobody above 65 gets the R&D raise. Is this significant? Can a few L65s post their R&D raise amounts?

Anonymous said...

Concerning this being bad for "rock stars”:

I'm all for the new plan. IMHO "rock stars" were mostly that way only due to snoozing and or incestuous partnerships (I've seen mediocre Devs promoted to Lead and Principal by just following the same 'buddy' Lead from group to group).

You could still work hard; make great code and still get an "achieved" if your boss picked fovorites and you missed out.

The whole "rock star" thing is counterproductive to genuine group cooperation.


The truth is there are and always will be rockstars as there will always be mediocre people. Everyone has a story about "they don't belong there" including me. I still think we need a way to pick out rockstars and way to motivate them. I'm sure more information will come out when necessary.

Anonymous said...

No. If you leave the company at age 55, and you have 15 years of service, your unvested stock continues to vest. This only counts for stock grants that are over one year old.

Seriously? That's me next year, but I haven't heard of this before. I'll be darned. I can't find this on hrweb though. Where are the details hiding?

Anonymous said...

also in the fine print.

Goodbye gold star awards


Where does it say that? If that's true it's going to be harder for managers to please people who think they are better than they really are.

Gold stars are usually a way to satisfy the average employee whose manager has been feeding them lies about "You almost made E\20!" Gold stars are also political. Some managers will take credit for putting the employee in the position to get a gold star. Self-interest as usual..... but that's life.

Anonymous said...

The truth is there are and always will be rockstars as there will always be mediocre people. Everyone has a story about "they don't belong there" including me. I still think we need a way to pick out rockstars and way to motivate them. I'm sure more information will come out when necessary.

Agreed, differential is important aspect of any review system and it brings competitive spirit in the teams.

Anonymous said...

Your husband was lying to you, sweetie. Sorry, but if he was *actually* as good as he told you he was, that would not have happened, especially for 21 years. I've had numerous co-workers and even reports who had complained about how their wives/husbands were asking them why they weren't getting promoted or making the big $$$ than their Microsoft friends were

What a turd you are. How many women/men/children have not told a story about their adventures? Shame on you. I hope that your 'reports' and perhaps even your manager, recognizes you as a shallow, shabby dickhead. May your foreskin droop over your eyes in shame.

Anonymous said...

I call BS on this 15/55 rule. If it's not BS, then tell me where to find more information.

I don't work there any more, dickhead, Find it out for your fucking self. Or call LisaB for advice.

Anonymous said...

Do you whiners have any idea how stupid your complaining looks from the outside of The Bubble? No?

Enjoy your limited edition KIN phone.

Not to mention your Windows Ultimate Extras for Vista.

Anonymous said...

I'm an L65, I'll post my numbers once I have a chance to look at the hrweb site.

Anonymous said...

The announcement leaves out enough details that its really hard to say if I'll come out ahead. I'm crossing my fingers. This does seem like copying Google but we're not copying Google's quarterly review numbers and peer review system.

I'd like the quarterly review numbers so managers aren't afraid to give regular feedback (because the numbers are locked in each quarter) and you couldn't get screwed when you leave before the review cycle closes. I don't think peer reviews would work here.

But what I'd really like is less bureaucracy. I heard on KUOW today that Google has the same problem now.

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope you are not in a senior exec position! Not being familiar with the "mobile internet tsunami" certainly makes you less hire-able in this smart-phone and mobile era.

Hello there Einstein. I no longer work there, although I was in a senior exec position. What I was trying to say (follow the bouncing ball now) is that I like having a phone that is a phone. Not like the ADD afflicted, iPhone sucking dickwads like you. I don't need to have my Facebook in my face at lunchtime. I don't need to jerk like a puppet everytime the device goes 'Ding'. As far as the 'mobile Internet tsunami' is concerned I a) don't care b) don't give a flying fuck c) am oblivious and D) have a job where I don't have to suck SteveB's dick for a living.

Good luck in Mumbai.

Anonymous said...

Nothing is going to change with the layer of middle management peanut butter that clogs up the system. Favourites are still going to get the money while the rest of us split the last piece of cake. The problem at Microsoft has never been compensation. The problem is pushing too hard while going too fast with no clear direction.

Anonymous said...

The estimate page for me shows new base salary indicating a bump, however,
hrweb FAQ states that you have be in Engineering, Research, / division which directly contributes to shipping products/services to be eligible and also has a note to lookout for a special phrase on the estimate page.

If the latter, whoever came up with that estimate page should be fired for raising unnecessary expectations. Why communicate broadly if this is applicable to only select group of people and make it hard for people to find out if they are eligible. Ignorance is bliss

Anonymous said...

Hello there Einstein. I no longer work there, although I was in a senior exec position. What I was trying to say (follow the bouncing ball now) is that I like having a phone that is a phone. Not like the ADD afflicted, iPhone sucking dickwads like you. I don't need to have my Facebook in my face at lunchtime. I don't need to jerk like a puppet everytime the device goes 'Ding'. As far as the 'mobile Internet tsunami' is concerned I a) don't care b) don't give a flying **** c) am oblivious and D) have a job where I don't have to suck SteveB's dick for a living.

And what a charming, refined and erudite individual you are, and with such an excellent command of the English language, such faultless reasoning, and such compelling arguments. If only all of Microsoft's senior executives could be cut from cloth as fine as this!

Anonymous said...

Hello there Einstein. I no longer work there, although I was in a senior exec position. What I was trying to say (follow the bouncing ball now) is that I like having a phone that is a phone. Not like the ADD afflicted, iPhone sucking dickwads like you. I don't need to have my Facebook in my face at lunchtime. I don't need to jerk like a puppet everytime the device goes 'Ding'. As far as the 'mobile Internet tsunami' is concerned I a) don't care b) don't give a flying fuck c) am oblivious and D) have a job where I don't have to suck SteveB's dick for a living.

Good luck in Mumbai.



So, an executive position at Microsoft requires sucking SteveB's dick?

No wonder you're so angry.

There's just not enough money to soak up the tears.

Anonymous said...

OMG, this really sucks!

1. Very little effect (read: Google's, Facebook's, Amazon's or Zynga's offers are waaay better, not a measly 10%)
2. Still, it's a cost for the company, one that's actually useless, given point #1.
3. L65+ actually got screwed - Ballmer takes from the "rich" and give to the "poor"

This is all smoke. Does Ballmer think all of his employees are stupid and can't do 3rd grade math?

Anonymous said...

Re: Level 61 Base: ~92,000 ...

Is this for Dev/Test/PM?
Which org?

Anonymous said...

It's a little off topic, but I just saved 3% of my 10%ers at geeko!

Anonymous said...

he he :) "not a measly 10%"... It's not even that much, it's 10% shifted from your stock award. It's not "more money". The actual "more money" is actually very little.

I agree: Ballmer sucks

Anonymous said...

Can someone comment on the 15/55 thing mentioned earlier? So if you work 15 years, all your stocks vest at the same time? Do you have to be 55 as well, or is it an "OR"?

OP here. Lot's of opinions here on my post. Why not ask HR? Come on now, HR is your friend ... they are here to help you! Just remember they were installed by that dumb douchebag cunt Ballmer, just to help YOU. Remember that.

Anonymous said...

So, an executive position at Microsoft requires sucking SteveB's dick?

Yes. Still wiping the cum off my shirt.

Anonymous said...

Been at Microsoft for 9 months, don't understand anything much about the long term context of this news.

But most annoying part of working here is how obsessed people are with this BS and how few complainers have the balls to quit and do something else.

Go start your own company or get some awesome, validating promotion somewhere else if you are such an unappreciated gift to technology and mankind. Seriously.

And stop blaming google for brain drain, it's not 2005. Google is a deadpool of 4-hour a day working whiners, mediocre mgmt and a plateaued stock price.

Build shit people want, please. And do it quickly. Apple was $8 / share in 2001. I didn't move to this crap climate to listen to whining and not win.

Anonymous said...

And what a charming, refined and erudite individual you are, and with such an excellent command of the English language, such faultless reasoning, and such compelling arguments. If only all of Microsoft's senior executives could be cut from cloth as fine as this!

Erudite, literate, polysyllabic academically qualified, not to mention a cloth ready to be cut to fit the suit.

You obviously have never been to an actual exec meeting where the epiphets fly, and the F bomb is more prevalent than Cesium in Japanese seawater.

Anonymous said...

Any idea how this would impact salaries for people who have accepted offers but not yet joined?

Anonymous said...

l61 here thinking about leaving the company for greener pastures in july. anyone know when the review model locks so i can give notice without looking like a dick and still maximize my bonus payout?

Anonymous said...

b) don't give a flying **** c) am oblivious and D) have a job where I don't have to suck SteveB's dick for a living.

And what a charming, refined and erudite individual you are, and with such an excellent command of the English language, such faultless reasoning, and such compelling arguments. If only all of Microsoft's senior executives could be cut from cloth as fine as this!


Sorry honey, meant to ask: Did you just give me 4 stars? Or just denying my 1st amendment rights to cuss :)

Anonymous said...

Microsoft has moved from valuing the oligarchy to valuing the proletariat. As a member of the masses who keep this company driving forward I'm glad to stop subsidizing the perceived "rock stars".

Anonymous said...

"Cry me a fucking river. I mean seriously if your husband couldn't made it to senior in 21 yeras in multiple gourps ... oh year it was everybody's fault but not his."

Being a successful 62 at Microsoft for decades is an accomplishment and nothing to be ashamed about. I get bonuses that are more than my father made in a year during his lifetime - yet he was a giant in my eyes.

Go take a flying leap at a rolling donut :)

Anonymous said...

as usual a lot of ridiculous comments... I don't believe for a second half of you all who post here actually work at MSFT.
...
+1. I love it Balmer.

Anonymous said...

And stop blaming google for brain drain, it's not 2005. Google is a deadpool of 4-hour a day working whiners, mediocre mgmt and a plateaued stock price.

Google's stock price was flat so you recently chose to work for Microsoft?

MSFT vs GOOG vs AMZN

Anonymous said...

You obviously have never been to an actual exec meeting where the epiphets [sic] fly, and the F bomb is more prevalent than Cesium in Japanese seawater.

We're all very well aware that some managers are singularly lacking in class, but in case it has escaped your attention this is *not* an exec meeting, it is a public forum. For those who lack manners and discretion there's absolutely no point in being "academically qualified".

Anonymous said...

Sorry honey, meant to ask: Did you just give me 4 stars? Or just denying my 1st amendment rights to cuss :)

Oh no, sweetheart - I would never deny you any of your constitutional rights! They have, after all, allowed the U.S. to become a wonderful beacon of light to the rest of the world, a wealthy nation with such unimpeachable and honest corporations as Microsoft being steered by exceptional standouts of your ilk.

Anonymous said...

14 years and I am still proud to call Microsoft my home away from home. Glad the review will be simpler, and I will take the additions to my base salary without hesitation. I hope that politcs slow and we are recognized for all the great products we have. BTW - I heard InfoPath is still around but will get less and less a required piece of the puzzle.

Anonymous said...

The one good thing that did come out of this is that the increases, meager or not are not wasted on the content teams. I heard that many if the managers in those teams got up levelled...first of all wtf do those teams need managers. With the exception of office online, and even that is questionable, the quality of content produced is mediocre at best. Outsource the content teams. This is good recinition finally on the part of upper management. Kudos to them on that.

Anonymous said...

To all those whining about how the announcement was made today, but the changes don't kick in for 5 months:

Please think for just a moment about how you would feel if this was announced the week before reviews came out, just before it took effect. You would all be saying WTF??? Where was the notice that this was coming? How am I supposed to shoot for these new goals or understand the review results without time to comprehend the changes?

I think the timing is perfect. Just after mid-year reviews. Just enough time to maybe do some actual work and hit those commitments.

Anonymous said...

I am soooooo glad not to be an FTE anymore. I still deal with MS on a daily basis working as a consultant through a vendor company. And I can see that the culture is so toxic and perhaps feels like it is getting worse than when I was an FTE. 

I have been with large and small companies prior to MS. Nowhere else was the review system so horrendous causing employees to constantly be competing with each other. Sitting in meetings (before as an FTE and now as a vendor) I think to myself what a f***ing waste of time most meetings at MS are. That culture is also stifling any possible real innovation. 

And just watching the absolutely moronic statements from Execs about the iPhone, iPad makes go, there is literally not much hope left for the company. Just earlier in the week MS UK head made a statement "we are not making a dedicated tablet OS till the time is ready". Really, I wonder when the time will be actually ready. Five years from now after Apple has sold a billion iPads? Very sad state of affairs. And there are Director levels and above and many "kool-aid" employees who think this is a cool innovative company. Bubble living I guess. 

If one objectively looks, MS has been a disaster for quite a few years now and the stock price just proves it.

Anonymous said...

Stop whining you bunch of greedy fucking pigs. If you don't like this change fuck off, get the FUCK OUT of the company. The L 61 fucker fuck off. Microsoft doesn't own us. Stay if you like what you do. Fuck off if you don't. If making 100k or there about is not making you happy then maybe you've forgotten how many unemployed people there are. That said, we dint need more money, that's not the problem, what we need is clear direction. MICROSOFT IS GOING TO KICK BUTT

Anonymous said...

L62 Numbers here. And yes I know my numbers are high for a L62, I think my comp ratio is in the 1.07 to 1.09 range.

Current Base Pay: ~118,000

FY11 New pay:
1 - ~137,000
2 - ~135,000
3 - ~134,000
4 - ~132,000
5 - ~125,000

FY11 Estimated Bonus:
1 - 18%
2 - 13%
3 - 10%
4 - 5%
5 - 0%

FY11 Stock:
1 - 19,800
2 - 14,300
3 - 11,000
4 - 5,500
5 - 0

Stock Target (i.e. 100%) 2010 - 18,000
Stock Target (i.e. 100%) 2011 - 11,000

Now looking at FY12
Estimated Cash Compensation (includes bonus and salary):
1 - ~158,000
2 - ~150,000
3 - ~144,000
4 - ~136,000
5 - ~124,000

Now add in Stock, and with a Perf Ranking of 1, I could end up being compensated over $175K for a year, at L62. That's a nice bump. Even at Perf Rating 3 I'd end up around $155K counting stock, that's still a good 11% more than I got last year. I feel real good about this.

Anonymous said...

Build shit people want, please. And do it quickly. Apple was $8 / share in 2001. I didn't move to this crap climate to listen to whining and not win.

Thanks for the laugh. MS is simply not capable of that. We have seen that with the billions poured into the online space over the last 15 years and no real change in it until finally Bing came along; the useless non-existent mobile phone strategy and now trying to catch up 5 years late after iphone and the non-existent tablet strategy and so on. XBox/Kinect are about the only exceptions. And people who helped make that happen Robbie Bach and J Allard are no longer here. So if you are expecting innovation, you are in the wrong place.

Anonymous said...

So if you are expecting innovation, you are in the wrong place.

If I am sitting next to you, obviously. Maybe you should put a red letter "L" on your door so people with ambition know to steer clear.

Anonymous said...

That said, we dint need more money, that's not the problem, what we need is clear direction. MICROSOFT IS GOING TO KICK BUTT

Microsoft's Courier tablet will be an iPad app before Microsoft finds a direction.

Taposé: Bringing the Courier to the iPad

Anonymous said...

@Thursday, April 21, 2011 8:30:00 PM

I'm in the same boat as you. Almost exact same pay and same position and level. I wasn't even looking for the extra cash, so to me this is truly a bonus.

I don't get these whiners who'll find one specific scenario that is worse now and spin that as if to show that the whole thing is a failure. You people have it great and if it's not good enough, then go elsewhere! I just don't get it.

That said, I agree with the people who are whining about litebulbers. Don't these people have work to do? What makes them qualified to question how another team is doing their job? So many people there asking "Why is X division doing Y? Explain to me how that benefits us as a company?!"

Anonymous said...

"I call BS on this 15/55 rule. If it's not BS, then tell me where to find more information.

I don't work there any more, dickhead, Find it out for your fucking self. Or call LisaB for advice."


It's a lie, doesn't exist. E-mailed benefits this afternoon and they've never heard of it.


This is the danger of an unmoderated Mini.

Anonymous said...

Fuck off if you don't. If making 100k or there about is not making you happy then maybe you've forgotten how many unemployed people there are. That said, we dint need more money, that's not the problem, what we need is clear direction. MICROSOFT IS GOING TO KICK BUTT

There is a Kickstarter project called "Taposé: Bringing the Courier to the iPad".

Microsoft's tablet will be an iPad app before Microsoft finds a direction.

Anonymous said...

"I think an entire discipline (Content Publishing) just got Kim'd. :)"

Thank god and about freaking time... those people have always been over-paid and barely conscious.

Seriously, the entire content publishing operation should be vendorized to another company. They contribute exactly nothing to Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if some people here have much idea of what's going on...

During past couple of months Google had been plucking employees like how we used pluck from everybody else in olden days. Myself and several of people I know have been contacted by Google HR (FTE HR, not their contract workers) through old resumes, LinkedIn and couple of guys even through their Facebook profile! This is unprecedented hiring drive from Google and lot of people are getting swayed like bees toward honey.

On the top of this, Amazon has became 2nd most active predator, specifically targeting MS employees. Apparently they are developing a new product that I wouldn't divulge here but suffice it to say they are offering 10% instant raise if you get through their loop plus they would compensate for any stock that you are leaving behind at MS plus signing bonus!

On the top of these (ahm!) Boing is a new player about to start its own hiring engines after it has won a really big defense contract in history of the company.

During past few months I've witnessed 5 people leaving my own team (yes, my immediate team!), all of them leaving MS. I've seen several others in my CVP level-org leave MS. It has become a routin to see at least one farewell email drop in my inbox every week. It's very demotivating, actually. I've never seen such a wipe out and quickest brain drain here at MS *EVER*. I won't be surprised to learn that our current attrition rate is hovering 15-20% and it's sure going up day by day.

From what I've seen I believe Google and Amazon are actually targeting SDE IIs & Senior levels who have been at MS > 4 years. These group of people are underpaid, unsatisfied and they can obviously command much higher pay at other companies based on their "Microsoft experience". This would explain SteveB's emphasis on extra bump for these groups.

People who keep analyzing new rules and bickering about it should keep in mind that review system at GOOG and AMZN is much more worse. Especially at GOOG, your first year is basically "trial year" like a virtual intern at the end of which you can be gotten rid of. In my view, Netflix probably has the best review system of any companies but that requires whole different culture.

I think LisaB had to report attrition numbers month by month to SLT and they had to stop this bleeding. I'm not at all surprised by this announcement but I'm actually pleased that SLT reacted so fast (compared to their usual standards). However the execution of this announcement was pathetic. SteveB's email was hard to parse full of executive gibberish sprinkled with fine prints and hidden clauses all over and the wrapped in to usual noise of "great this" and "great that". People spend lot of time trying to read between the lines. I'd to read it thrice and dig in HRWeb to learn that ah, I *might* get 8% raise this year. It would have been a glorious moment for SLT if they had simplified the whole thing like how Google executed with their "Here's 8% raise for everyone, enjoy!".

Anonymous said...

The 15/55 is real, I don't recall the details but got an email from HR when I turned 55. It had something to do with continued vesting of stock awards after leaving.

Anonymous said...

"The 15/55 is real, I don't recall the details but got an email from HR when I turned 55. It had something to do with continued vesting of stock awards after leaving."

Per the OP's claim, I asked benefits if it was true that all of your unvested stock automatically vested once you were with the company for 15 years or turned 55, and the answer was "No, there's never been such a policy."

So indeed it's not true that once you hit either of those magic number you're all of a sudden showered with all of your unvested cash, as the OP claimed.

Anonymous said...

@Thursday, April 21, 2011 11:29:00 PM

Finally, a voice of reason! We've been experiencing the same problem in my team. At first, I figured it was normal attrition, but most of these people were leaving for another companies, and not just other teams at MS, like I've seen in other years. At the same time, we can't hire people fast enough to fill out our team and we have a shitload of work to do. Thank god the SLT are doing something now, but is it going to be enough? We desperately need good people to compete and to complete our projects.

Anonymous said...

People who keep analyzing new rules and bickering about it should keep in mind that review system at GOOG and AMZN is much more worse. Especially at GOOG, your first year is basically "trial year" like a virtual intern at the end of which you can be gotten rid of.

A probationary period up front is normal. Playing games to get rid of someone like Microsoft does is not.

Google is experiencing some of the same problems found in Microsoft's performance management system. Microsoft employees moving to Google brought their toxic environment with them.

Tips for Noogler Engineers

The big picture: Google rewards hard work, but much more importantly, high profile projects. Never sacrifice a chance to work on those high profile projects versus equally important but unsexy maintenance tasks that will get no respect from promotion committees. Google does not reward the maintenance work, no matter how important it is (Exception: War-room firefighting. Google loves those, and loves heroic performances from people in war-rooms). In particular, if you're stuck doing SRE work but you're a SWE, you need to negotiate your way out of that. In any organization, there are work horses, show horses, and horses' asses. Most people have no trouble figuring out how not to be the 3rd. But it's far better to be a show horse than a work horse. You get all the rewards with less effort.

Anonymous said...

People who keep analyzing new rules and bickering about it should keep in mind that review system at GOOG and AMZN is much more worse. Especially at GOOG, your first year is basically "trial year" like a virtual intern at the end of which you can be gotten rid of.

A probationary period up front is normal. Playing games to get rid of someone like Microsoft does is not.

Google is experiencing some of the same problems found in Microsoft's performance management system. Microsoft employees moving to Google brought their toxic environment with them.

htttp://piaw.blogspot.com/2010/08/tips-for-noogler-engineers.html

The big picture: Google rewards hard work, but much more importantly, high profile projects. Never sacrifice a chance to work on those high profile projects versus equally important but unsexy maintenance tasks that will get no respect from promotion committees. Google does not reward the maintenance work, no matter how important it is (Exception: War-room firefighting. Google loves those, and loves heroic performances from people in war-rooms). In particular, if you're stuck doing SRE work but you're a SWE, you need to negotiate your way out of that. In any organization, there are work horses, show horses, and horses' asses. Most people have no trouble figuring out how not to be the 3rd. But it's far better to be a show horse than a work horse. You get all the rewards with less effort.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God. Minis description of the new system (1-5) sounds so eerily familiar. At my company, we have a compatible system, with marks being ++, +, =, - and --.

And there are persistent rumors about a potential merger between Microsoft and us. Looks a bit as if the HR departments are in contact with each other, smoothening a merger by making HR compatible.

That is a horrible, horrible thought! No disrespect, but hardly anyone on our side of the fence fancies a merger with a toxic culture led by the likes of Steve B. Not now, when after a difficult time things look so much better and brighter. Please, founders: don't waste the good work our CEOs did by merging us with Microsoft!

Anonymous said...

Base pay going up about 20%. Happy.

Anonymous said...

Poster @6:21pm, excellent comeback. Extremely funny, as the best comebacks tend to be, and applicable.

Anonymous said...

Question: I see several posts about content team and content publishing. What is this function, and where (I mean in which MS product or service) can I see their work/ouput?

Anonymous said...

Few issues with this.
1 the wait till september choice is clearly a missed oppty to boost morale immediately at the same exact net cost.
2 this really looks like a desperate attempt from Ballmer to regain some popularity
3 the new review model is not really new, its simply a roll back to the previous one. Only difference is 1 is the best score now.
4 this really looks like a simplification targetted to expand the bottom and facilitate a large rif, which is exactky what is going to happen the moment Ballmer gets fired and a new CEO takes over.


if scores are determined based on results delivered i guess that mean that Ballmer gets a 5.

Anonymous said...

The 15/55 email came from the Global Stock Services Team:
"Sd you my be aware, our Stock Plan provides for ontinued vesting of certain Stock Awards held fro at least 1 year from trmintion date if you meet the retirement eligibilty criteria - 55 years of age with 15 years of continuous service or 65 years of age. You sill reach retirement in 2011. This means if you leave Microsoft after your retirement eligible date, any eligible outstanding (unvested) Stock Awards that have been held for at least one year will continue to vest given the attaiment of 'retirement eligible' status"

Anonymous said...

My sweet god, we're all getting enormous raises out of nowhere and these comments are approximately 90% bitching.

Shit's still messed (forced curve, a- and v- getting screwed, etc.), BUT WE'RE GETTING ENORMOUS RAISES OUT OF NOWHERE.

Thanks Steve for trying, even if the mark was kinda missed. I appreciate the money just the same.

Anonymous said...

With earlier model, top guy at level 62 generally gets 350% (varies team to team)

Whoa. Yes, it must vary from team to team, says someone who once got almost nearly twice the percentage cited above.

Anonymous said...

correct typos.

The 15/55 email came from the Global Stock Services Team:
"As you my be aware, our Stock Plan provides for continued vesting of certain Stock Awards held for at least 1 year from termintion date if you meet the retirement eligibilty criteria - 55 years of age with 15 years of continuous service or 65 years of age. You will reach retirement in 2011. This means if you leave Microsoft after your retirement eligible date, any eligible outstanding (unvested) Stock Awards that have been held for at least one year will continue to vest given the attaiment of 'retirement eligible' status"

Also, you will have FICA taxes withheld on next vest date since awards are guarranteed not dependent on further employment.

Anonymous said...

I think an entire discipline (Content Publishing) just got Kim'd. :)

CPUB has been Kim'd for a while. It happened years ago when MS couldn't find enough people to do the work and hired the fiction writers and editors who'd taken one programming course to produce docs. Someone then noticed these new guys couldn't create accurate technical content from scratch. They subsequently reformulated many CPUB roles to involve formatting and ESL-speaker-language-correction, with primary content furnished by the dev teams. From that point forward, it was maybe 5 years ago, tech skills were less valued in CPUB, and CPUB was Kim'd.

There is one upside to this, though. Now that it's formalized that dev skills are worth less in CPUB than in product development, good devs in CPUB may even be willing to take Test roles to get into a situation in which they're paid better for using their skills.

Anonymous said...

Working in microsoft is comparable to prison life. You either become a bitch to some one or get beaten down to some extend depending on how far you can defend your self.

In microsoft, 1 is the bitch(well, not all) to manager 2 is a seasonal bitch and the remaining all will get beaten down by the bitches.

Anonymous said...

How come there is a 30% pay hike from Level 3 61 (105k) to Level 3 62 (135 k)?

Anonymous said...

Is it just me ... or do most of the posters taking a pro-Company stance come across as judgmental, abusive and/or foul-mouthed? Some of the intolerant and patronizing posts I've seen here today are quite disturbing.
Personally, I put it down to the stresses of the job.

Anonymous said...

Mini: do you really think allowing all those trolls saying a lot of BS is helping us?
Whiners: be actors of your lives, not victims. If you are so unhappy leave or become leaders and change agents.
Mini, let's think on a solution for these problem: I agree it is healthy having an anonymous blog, complete disagreement on having external people introducing "noise" in the discussions. These trolls have no interest in the company or the individuals. It is like having a family discussion in the street, and neighbors jumping into the discussion; they don't care.
Mini, think…so many years and what did you achieve? Is it really positive for the rest of us (the majority)? MS is my company as much as yours, I had been here 16+ years and started very low (what today would be a 57 now 65), the colleagues of this company has contributed a lot to make me be a better person. They all deserve respect.
Mini, you are a manager now, you have a duty: you represent the company to your employees and your employees to the upper management, fulfill your duty and figure it out how to organize something to get a positive change.
Whiners WAKE UP: always the green pasture on the other side looks greener, cross the border and you’ll see there also shit; therefore whining is not going to solve your misery, but doing something to change where you are. This compensation change is positive, and yes everything always can be better.

Anonymous said...

People complaining about whiners, what do you expect?

The company appears to be giving most employees more money. It's only natural to suspect that we are losing something. Everyone is a natural skeptic to a degree. No one can quite put their finger on it yet since we are months away from any tangible money. In the meantime we let our imaginations run wild.

For all the "vets" telling us to shut up you should have enough "experience" by now to understand how people act when presented with new information. I guess some of you still lack intra-personal communication skills.

To quote Nasir Jones: "People fear what they don't understand and hate what they can't conquer"

Anonymous said...

Mini, you are a manager now, you have a duty: you represent the company to your employees and your employees to the upper management, fulfill your duty and figure it out how to organize something to get a positive change.

Whiners WAKE UP: always the green pasture on the other side looks greener, cross the border and you’ll see there also shit; therefore whining is not going to solve your misery, but doing something to change where you are.


You're saying we live in a world of shit so we should stop complaining?

Thanks Mr. Positive.

Anonymous said...

My sweet god, we're all getting enormous raises out of nowhere and these comments are approximately 90% bitching.

No, the raises won't come from "nowhere", they'll come out of Microsoft's bottom line. Microsoft has been forced into this to try and placate the workers, but it's no good increasing costs in a company that is demonstrably incapable of producing compelling products or competing in the market place.

In retrospect it will be seen as just another step on the long road to the death spiral.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me ... or do most of the posters taking a pro-Company stance come across as judgmental, abusive and/or foul-mouthed? Some of the intolerant and patronizing posts I've seen here today are quite disturbing.
Personally, I put it down to the stresses of the job.


It's true; the rudeness and crassness in some of the posts is beyond belief. Perhaps HR drones are in here on a mission to kick a few heads.

sitfo said...

Dear Mr Ballmer

First you have to create an environment where employees have a shared vision of the way forward, THEN you have to pay them a competitive rate.

Unfortunately, a large part of the talent has already left, leaving the corporate clones and lawyers that Microsoft took onboard as it moved to the critical mass of a self-replicating bureaucracy. Focusing employees on short-term results is not going to reinvigorate Microsoft's moribund culture.

My advice? Fight the war on your terms, not those of the opposition. Stop chasing point solutions in the Cloud and start leveraging the integration capability of your product stack. Do that properly and you can and will annihilate the opposition.

David Gale
CEO
SITFO.org

Anonymous said...

I am a MACH...

5 years ago, joined msft level 56, now level 60. Sales then Product Marketing.

Based on the new compensation system, if I get a 1, I will have 4,5% Base salary increase, if I get a 5, I will get 1,3% salary increase.

2 questions:

Does Microsoft really think I will still work 14 hours a day to get 4,5 salary base increase?

Does really Microsoft want MACH leave the company?

Anonymous said...

Ex-microsoftie who works for a company using a 20/70/10 system here.

Some people don't understand the problem with the curve so let me spell it out.

If a great manager builds a rockstar team, then in an honest stack ranking across whatever the unit that stack ranking occurs their team might get a 50/50/0 split. But that's never going to happen, because each manager knows they have to fight for their own people to prevent their team looking like a failure.

So the compensation system actively discourages being part of a strong team.

I've been in the 70 bracket for the last 2 years, and when I've asked my manager what I can do better he's basically looked shifty and been unspecific.

Also someone said something about minimising your actual job responsibilities so you can spend your time on high visibility projects that don't actually add much value - so true.

A 20/20/40/13/7 system would be better for me, but it doesn't change the disincentive to be in a strong team.

Anonymous said...

I'm a new hire joining this summer. Will I get the raise as well?

Anonymous said...

Any updates on how this is looking in the subs, outside of Redmond/US?

Anonymous said...

As someone who has not been in MSFT, but have been at other companies that do a similar forced ranking (i.e., IBM), I'm curious. How big of a unit is the curve applied against?

At IBM, it was something like at the 400-500 people department level. At that level, it's pretty much guaranteed that there will be a bottom X% of that could probably find a better fit for their skills either in another part of IBM, or another job --- and that was considered a good thing.

So you could build a team of 8-12 "rock stars", and so long as the team was demonstrating rocking results, you wouldn't have to designate one of them to be the sacrificial 10% "goat". But as you went up the org chart, it became harder and harder to have a skewed distribution of grades. And that's fair I think.

Now, if MSFT is applying the forced curve at the 10 person small team level, then yeah, something's f'ed up. But at the large department level, are you really sure you can say that there isn't any deadwood which as accumulated somewhere at that level?

Anonymous said...

For those who rip CPub and bask in our exclusion, I'd like to point out that many of us are talented, hard-working people who wear about a zillion different hats now that roles like editors and release managers have fallen by the wayside. We're the ones who clean up your crappy code comments, deal with product team members who need to be babied to get tech reviews or answers about crappy (and unintuitive design), answer to customers, promote everything through social media channels, and so on. And all the while we have some of the worst tools I've ever seen for content development and publishing, fighting against us to even get a decent draft written, let alone published in your precious product box or in online documentation. If it weren't for CPub, all your hard work would never be explained to the customers who want to know how to do things and why. If you think the documentation is that bad, start leaving constructive feedback on the topics for which you can provide feedback. To say that an entire discipline is useless just shows your own ignorance. I've put in 70-80 hour work weeks for much of my 10-year career, just like the devs and testers I've worked with and who have respected me for doing an amazing job. We're every bit as deserving of the increase as other disciplined, because we are all vital to our product development and success.

Anonymous said...

Anyone care to share data for L64?

Anonymous said...

Now, if MSFT is applying the forced curve at the 10 person small team level, then yeah, something's f'ed up. But at the large department level, are you really sure you can say that there isn't any deadwood which as accumulated somewhere at that level?

Nope, can't say that. Can say, however, that forced ranking the way MS does it doesn't necessarily eliminate that deadwood. Sometimes it even helps perpetuate it. It happens more often than you think.

Consider a manager A who took a job and inherited a crew of reports. And another manager B who hired his whole team. Manager A and manager B are poker buddies from way back, and B helped A get the job A now has.

Manager A's and Manager B's reports are all in the same calibration. Manager A MAY have more at stake in keeping Manager B happy, than in keeping their reports happy, given the way the MS internal ecosystem works. Maybe manager B doesn't want to take the blame for a bad hire that year, and thereby wants to hide that they have a 10% in their org on which they were the As-App. In this case, manager A might agree to take a 10% that B might otherwise have had to give to his guy, even if the person who would have gotten it on B's team really is a lower performer than manager A's report that was stuck with it.

If you let the STAFF vote on rankings, and tossed out the manager's ranking if 90% of the staff saw things differently from the manager, that might help eliminate the political bias. That change would never happen because it would put a manager in the position of possibly being identified as making an incorrect evaluation, and that is a sacred cow in most large orgs including Microsoft. But when I've seen 10%'s unfairly granted, it has uniformly been the case that staff would have unanimously or near unanimously chosen another individual for that and rated the manager's 10% choice in the upper half of the team.

The rank and file check/balance could also be used to identify managers that need to be dumped either out of the company or at least out of a people management role, if it happens repeatedly. But again, this would never happen because the people who make the decisions to put policies like this in place are the same managers who might be negatively affected by them.

Anonymous said...

Thursday, April 21, 2011 8:33:00 PM

Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Screwed over cpub person here. I actually went to school to be a technical writer. I'm not just some "warm body" that was repurposed to fill a role.

That said, I add a lot of value to the company and the products by: testing the product and finding bugs as I try to explain the kludgy code you Devs and PMs call a product. Honestly some of the user experiences are so bad it's a wonder we have customers at all. You folks sit heads down focusing on your little areas and don't have the big picture. Because I document how to use the fucked up code you call a product, I often point out inconsistencies in menus, ui, functionality that you and test have missed.

Go ahead and make fun at cpub if you must, but without us, you'd have a much harder job selling your half-baked code to anyone.

Anonymous said...

Re:Goodbye gold star awards

Where does it say that? If that's true it's going to be harder for managers to please people who think they are better than they really are.

Read the FAQ on the hrweb site

Anonymous said...

From an interview with Steve Jobs:

Q: What can we learn from Apple's struggle to innovate during the decade before you returned in 1997?
A: You need a very product-oriented culture, even in a technology company. Lots of companies have tons of great engineers and smart people. But ultimately, there needs to be some gravitational force that pulls it all together. Otherwise, you can get great pieces of technology all floating around the universe. But it doesn't add up to much. That's what was missing at Apple for a while. There were bits and pieces of interesting things floating around, but not that gravitational pull.

A. People always ask me why did Apple really fail for those years, and it's easy to blame it on certain people or personalities. Certainly, there was some of that. But there's a far more insightful way to think about it. Apple had a monopoly on the graphical user interface for almost 10 years. That's a long time. And how are monopolies lost? Think about it. Some very good product people invent some very good products, and the company achieves a monopoly.

But after that, the product people aren't the ones that drive the company forward anymore. It's the marketing guys or the ones who expand the business into Latin America or whatever. Because what's the point of focusing on making the product even better when the only company you can take business from is yourself?

So a different group of people start to move up. And who usually ends up running the show? The sales guy. John Akers at IBM is the consummate example. Then one day, the monopoly expires for whatever reason. But by then the best product people have left, or they're no longer listened to. And so the company goes through this tumultuous time, and it either survives or it doesn't.

Q: Is this common in the industry?
A: Look at Microsoft -- who's running Microsoft?

Q: Steve Ballmer.
A: Right, the sales guy. Case closed. And that's what happened at Apple, as well.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone care to share data for L64?"

From what I saw on the "see how this effects you" page, rating 1 will only give me about $10k more than the L62 numbers posted abvove.

Considering all the whining that the L60-62 I know make, and how they are oh so brilliant - yet do actually very little work in a milestone - I really have to wonder if this raise will help to keep the genuine senior folk. $10k more for 400% output? I'm still considering leaving.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, sweetheart - I would never deny you any of your constitutional rights! They have, after all, allowed the U.S. to become a wonderful beacon of light to the rest of the world, a wealthy nation with such unimpeachable and honest corporations as Microsoft being steered by exceptional standouts of your ilk.

Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit :D. Luckily I was not born in the US so I can recognize it, whereas 99.9% of the population does not. But you do make excellent points, especially about my ilk.

Anonymous said...

"Any updates on how this is looking in the subs, outside of Redmond/US?"

These are my numbers.
org & Level - Services, India. 1 level below 'Senior'.

Basepay Increase - 1 => 20%, 2 => 15%, 3 => 10%, 4 => 4% & 5 => 0

The above % excludes the adjustment from stock.

Bonus - 1 => 15%, 2 => 12.5%, 3 => 10%, 4 => 2.5% & 5 => 0

Second Hand data : A colleague 1 level lesser in a similar role said he's getting a 27% hike if rated '1'.

Anonymous said...

Is it really true that Content Publishers are excluded from pay raises? It wouldn't surprise me, but I don't know where the poster got that idea.

It's clearly stated on HRWeb that the Content Publishing discipline is the only discipline in R&D that is not receiving the one-time lift in base pay.

These are the folks that write and edit strings in products and web services, and covers the vast majority of people who manage websites at the content layer.

If you think Microsoft's documentation and websites are less than world-class now, you ain't seen nothing yet, as the vast majority of these people feel totally screwed and pissed off, and morale just went further down the hole for them.

Don't be surprised when you see that Microsoft is all in on klowd in the future. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I am being given offer as SDEII(L62) to join MS, I have 9 yrs of exp. and currently work at AMZN and make 115,000 base. Believe me culture at AMZN stinks with average benefits.

Can somebody tell me a ballpark figure how much should I ask as base pay. Does MS pays sign on bonus (or stocks) to take care of the my unvested stock at AMZN.

Anonymous said...

this change and the discussion motivating me more to go out. overall this represents the company culture.

sitfo said...

Ref the post containing the interview with Steve Jobs:

It's apposite that you reference John Akers. As an IBMer many years ago, I saw the weakness in IBM's top-down marketing strategy for OS/2. I tried to 'open-door' Akers in 1989 with my strong belief that OS/2 should be marketed bottom-up through consumers. IBM didn't, Microsoft did. The rest is PC history.

Now, I find, as an ex-retained consultant to Microsoft Corp, that Microsoft won't listen to me about the strength of their integrated product stack. Instead they fight a losing battle on Google & Co's terms, pitching cloud-based point solutions, when everyone knows the major transformational savings in most complex organisations come from integration with the back office. Remember, Mr Ballmer, Richard Branson had to buy back Virgin Group because he said he couldn't run the company strategically for as long as shareholders curtailed the vision.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

David Gale
CEO
SITFO.org

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, both the cut in stock target and the bump in base pay (by definition) are permanent. There is a slight advantage to you in that a) the bump in pay is guaranteed - you'll get that even if you get a low stock rating and b) you get the increased money right now (this year) v/s getting it over 5 years.

Anonymous said...

I call BS on this 15/55 rule. If it's not BS, then tell me where to find more information.


You won't find this on the HR site. This is the same category as the paid sabbatical. Not everyone get them. I was given both benefits (the sabbatical a couple of years before the 15/55) and they both came as a surprise and were approved at the SVP level. I'm neither a manager nor a partner, just a hard-core windows kernel dev, so not sure what the actual qualifications are. HR did not want to say other than "the VP think you deserved it."

Anonymous said...

@Any idea how this would impact salaries for people who have accepted offers but not yet joined?

think twice before joining.

if you are here, you must have read most of the comments.

Anonymous said...

Improvement in compensation is welcome. However, I do not think that paycheck is the real cause of the talent drain. At least for the highest achievers. It is
- Manager problems.
- The journey and the work itself not being satisfing.

I am not a whiner. I have been at MS for 9 years, 4 leads, all time exceeded, outstanding. I love this company, and can retire from MS, but the two factors above make it very hard to stick around.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm glad I moved all of my 401k money out of the Microsoft stock plan a while ago because the message that's being sent to the public is that we don't believe in our own stock, thus we're giving our employees more upfront cash.

Now I can't disagree with that because as we've all known for quite some time the good old stock days are in the rear view mirror...so I'll take the up front cash and invest it in other companies so I can get a good ROI.

All in all this is pretty much the old system we had (I've been here since 1998), just the numbers are reversed...

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else show as 0% stock regardless of 1-5?

Stock Award Target for 2011 0


:(

Anonymous said...

In case people care:
Bonus budget (FY10 is from memory, the other two are from hard data)

FY10 FY11 FY12
50-62 10.00 10.85 10.85
63-64 10.00 10.85 16.28
65-66 18.60 21.70 21.70
67 27.50 32.55 32.55
68+ 40.00 48.83 48.83

Enjoy...

Anonymous said...

I definitely welcome the change to move the stock awards into the base salary. But I was disappointed with the bonus structure...the top bonus being capped at 18% seems low since I got a bonus higher than that last year.

All in all, it doesn't seem to change anything for me personally.

Anonymous said...

... and you could still be paid 20% more at Google if you kick ass. If you're a genius, you could get paid twice as much (google has this "multiplier", which, naturally, multiplies the base salary for employees with outstanding results), and then get a fat bonus on top of that as well. That's what I call "pay for performance". You do have to work hard, though, and write lots of great code.

Anonymous said...

- Manager problems.


You hit the problem on the head. The real problem is with incompetent managers who do not want to be managers othern than to get a level up.

This will not solve the real problem.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little surprised at the hostility around getting a pay bump. While a forced curve system still sucks at least one part of the deal has improved.

My guess is that a lot of this hostility has come as a result of the layoffs. People don't trust the company any more. The social contract of not having large scale layoffs was broken. Not sure how the company can restore trust with its employees following layoffs.

Anonymous said...

Folks,

I have never seen so many gripe and complain about so many things. Stop it...for those on this blog not working at MS it makes us look terrible...for those of us on this blog that work at MS, it makes me wonder why so many of my co-workers think and behave this way.

If you don't like it - get out of MS and get a better deal elsewhere. It is a free market people. Currently MANY companies are hiring - several (GOOG, AMZN) are specifically hiring away good MS talent, and the hiring flood gates have opened up all across the tech sector at many companies.

Before I got to MS, I was well aware that this is not the place to earn top dollar - it is well known other companies pay more...if you want to earn more go earn a position at one of these other companies.

For god sakes - stop the whining bitching, and complaining...It is making it hard for me to read a blog i usually enjoy...

Anonymous said...

How come there is a 30% pay hike from Level 3 61 (105k) to Level 3 62 (135 k)?

Remember that Comp Ratios are a huge factor. Each level has a salary range that varies from 84% to 116% of the midrange value. Where you sit on that scale is your comp ratio. Normally, people are hired into a level at a comp ratio below the midpoint, so that they have room to grow in level for a few years.

It is quite possible under this system for a junior person with a high comp ratio (meaning having been in level for a long time) to get paid more than a senior person with a low comp ratio).

For example, the range for a L62 is about $91K on the bottom (.84 comp ratio) with a $109K midpoint (1.0 comp ratio) to a top end of about $127K (1.16 comp ratio). The L62 salary posted above mentioned being in a higher comp ratio. The L64 poster who said there was only about a $10K difference is likely below 1.0 comp ratio. Contact your HR rep or your manager to inquire about your comp ratio.

Anonymous said...

FRANK HOLLAND is the new head of Advertizing and Online? WTF!!!

Anonymous said...

@"All of you who think you are makiing more money - think of this:
Say your stock target is 10K, and with the new rules, 4K moved to base salary, and 6K is your new target. What happens if you get 150% of stock? Earlier, you would've got 15K (10K * 1.5) , but now you will only get 9K (6K * 1.5). After adding the base pay hike(4K), you still lose 2K?

Thursday, April 21, 2011 10:24:00 AM"

Let me try to clarify that:

The hike of 4K you got, though one time, is permanent, doesn't vest yearly, and is guaranteed every year.

Anonymous said...

"Well I'm glad I moved all of my 401k money out of the Microsoft stock plan ..."

When I saw the option to put my 401(k) into MSFT stock, my reaction was literally "are you kidding? who is stupid enough to do that?"

I don't think I'd do that even if the stock were doing well. You want your retirement money in a stable place. You also want it to be diverse, and not to put it all in one basket.

Even if you're working at a place where the stock is doing very well... Holding onto that stock too long can turn out to be a bad move. If I were a Facebook employee, for example, I would sell a big chunk of it after IPO and put it in a more stable investment. Sell while you're ahead.

Anonymous said...

To "offer as SDEII(L62)," I am a SDEII(L62) and my base pay is just a hair under $115,000. I have been told on more than one occasion and by more than one manager that my base pay is approximately 102% of the target pay for L62. This means that your base pay of $115,000 at Amazon is already higher than what you should be offered at Microsoft.

Yes, Microsoft does sometimes offer signing bonuses and retention bonuses in the form of cash and stock, but not all of the time.

If Microsoft makes you an offer that is the same or less than your current base you might want to consider pushing hard for some kind of signing bonus to compensate for your untested Amazon stock.

Anonymous said...

I'm still not clear on CP. Do they get no bump? Or just not the added engineering bump?

Anonymous said...

Giving us candy so they can eat steak

Anonymous said...

"And people who helped make that happen Robbie Bach and J Allard are no longer here."

Yeah, Robbie was a God. He only lost about $8 billion buying Xbox a position in the market. I think we’ve managed to whittle that down to just $6 billion after a decade. So now we have a sub 20% margin business that cost us $20 billion of investment and has lost $6 billion. I think that’s great. I mean, who wants another 60% margin software business when you can have that? And of course once a new console is required, we could easily be back to losses again. Won’t that be fun?

And then there's the great job he did with WinMo. Focusing on OEM signings regardless of how poor the customer experience got was genius, wasn't it? And then having provided the competitive opportunity, remember how iPhone wasn't going to affect WinMo's business "at all", according to Robbie? How'd that work out? And how did his WinMo 6.5 and 7 response go? Fast and effective, right?

Didn't he also have responsibility for retail during the decade in which Apple built out the biggest retail empire in technology? The one we're now desperately trying to emulate and failing at? Just checking. What about our IPTV initiatives? He did great there, didn't he? No again, huh?

Well, there are always tablets, which also fell within his responsibility. Let's see, what did he and J manage there? Oh yes, a semi-cool concept that with two screens would have been too difficult to source, too expensive at retail, and would have had poor battery life. What was Ballmer thinking when he shitcanned that?

Robbie is about the only senior MS executive who actually makes Ballmer look competent. And J, for all his cool talk, didn’t deliver much either. That’s the problem with MS. Lionizing people because of reputation or personal likability instead of actually reviewing their results.

Anonymous said...

"Well I'm glad I moved all of my 401k money out of the Microsoft stock plan a while ago because the message that's being sent to the public is that we don't believe in our own stock, thus we're giving our employees more upfront cash."

Bingo

Anonymous said...

Yew rite abut cuntnt pbulshng thy unconsis we rit cud wee smrt to hll w rest of tha wurld.

Anonymous said...

So how big is this "R&D bump?"

Everyone crowing about the enormous raises must be in Engineering, because my numbers are pretty low: for a L63, a "3" rating would get me a 2.4% base salary increase and a "2" would net 3.6%, after subtracting out what they took away from the stock award. Even a "1", on the off change I should be admitted entry into the E/20 golden boys club, isn't much more.

Of course it's nice to have more money up-front rather than waiting for stock awards to vest and inevitably lose value.

But after getting a total 2% bump in the last 2 years, I'd say this isn't even catch-up, let alone some fantastic new gift from Ballmer.

Anonymous said...

Typical. Investors have been disgruntled with this stagnant stock for a decade. Now even employees have had enough. So does the company address the reasons the stock is unattractive? Is there a long overdue CEO change, for example? A plan to end what has become a lethal pattern of failing to anticipate a competitor and then exceptionally slow responses? Is the business being restructured to shed slow growing or low potential units in favor of those with higher growth or more potential? Is there any discussion of spinning off Xbox into its own IPO or the massively unprofitable Search business? Is a significant M&A transaction being considered that might improve the company’s overall growth profile? Are R&D changes being made to get a better return, or any return at all, on the $9 billion being spent annually (6x Apple's)? Is the dividend being doubled or tripled to provide a yield that would make holding the stock atttractive?

Nope. Instead SLT has given up and admits that employees, and by extension investors, would be better off holding today’s equivalent in cash rather than the stock. In fact, they’re even going to implement a costly workaround which effectively institutionalizes their continued failure.

MS shareholders have got to be the biggest asshats on the planet. While even companies like IBM and Oracle have managed to increase their share price over the decade, MS's has been cut in half. The stock is down 14% relative to the market just this year so far, and management now admits that even at that level you're better off in cash. And STILL shareholders aren't calling for Ballmer and the board's removal.

Anonymous said...

for the person working at AMZN and get an offer for SDE2 - L62,

I can tell you that I am SDE2 @ 62 and my base is 104K, if i get 1 rating this year, i would see my base 119.

Anonymous said...

>Re: Level 61 Base: ~92,000 ...

>Is this for Dev/Test/PM?
>Which org?

>Thursday, April 21, 2011 9:47:00 PM

Very new 61 (~1 year) dev in osd.

Anonymous said...

So Lisa gets an automatic 5 for the failure that was the review process for the past several years. Here's hoping she doesn't return from her little break.

Anonymous said...

You might like this comment which is related to the GFS world.

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2011/04/14/microsoft-data-center-gm-timmons-heads-to-apple/?utm-source=feedburner&utm-medium=feed&utm-campaign=Feed:+DataCenterKnowledge+(Data+Center+Knowledge)

Anonymous said...

For all the whiners here: are you whining about how 4/5's are going to be fired and how unfair it all is because YOU fear getting that score? In which case, I am getting a good feel for the crowd that creates the low perception of MSFT on this blog.

Mini: if you truly love MSFT and want it to come back roaring, you really have to do some soul searching about the kind of people you let create the public perception of MSFT.

Anonymous said...

it's a good step - the stock grants are more like income than long-term equity unless you've been here over 4 years. but real innovation would have been flipping the bonus structure on it's head to make all the unpaid overtime worth it to people working payroll jobs:

L50-64: 54% of base, 67.5% max
L65-66: 36%, 45% max
L67: 18%, 22.5% max

Anonymous said...

@I'm a new hire joining this summer. Will I get the raise as well?

The best person to answer this would be the recruiter or future manager. Do post if you get any concrete answer since there are quite a few people in the same boat as you, including me. I intend to do the same.

As far as my personal opinion goes, YES you should be eligible just so that your salary is normalized against your peers at the same level and performance.

Fingers crossed...

Anonymous said...

L65 current pay (rounded): $140K
1 - $157K
2 - $155K
3 - $153K
4 - $151K
5 - $142K

I know my current pay is "low", but it's enough that I'll be able to send my kids to college, and I love the stuff I do, I love the ppl I manage, I like the ppl I work with, I'm pretty good at it, and that's what matters to me (year-over-year L63->L64->L65 followed by "Comp2009" :-)

Anonymous said...

This one-time salary bump is tied to a single year's review.

Not exactly good for the environment...

Anonymous said...

OK, money promised vs. stock is not a bad deal, given where MSFT is at.

But I feel bad on the new review process:
- so now we do have 3 different criteria that make up one single rating - eg we're adding total discretionality to how managers rate you, no hard facts - BAD #1
- bottom 20% in a team will now be screwed: better if they start looking for new jobs, even better if they do it before the review period (leave what you're doing unfinished!) - BAD #2
- do not look at your team for support - in the world of the curve they'e competing with you, it's 1 out of 5 - BAD #3 (and do NOT join strong teams - your chanches get even slimmer)

The previous review process was a forcing function pushing managers to apply multiple dimensions to your evaluation, now they made it faster and more arbitrary.
What will be dominating the process is the curve, again and again, with all its dire implications. This is WORSE

Anonymous said...

"I am a MACH...

5 years ago, joined msft level 56, now level 60. Sales then Product Marketing."


I have no idea what a MACH is or why it would be difficult to replace you.

If you came into the company at a L56, that's a good indicator that your position isn't difficult to replace.

Anonymous said...

Can a few L63s and L64s post their R&D raise amounts?

Anonymous said...

Old wine in new bottle.

As much I understand company culture, MS will be more insecure going forward. more people will get surprises now in September.

Anonymous said...

Thursday, April 21, 2011 11:29:00 PM said:


I'm not sure if some people here have much idea of what's going on...

During past couple of months Google had been plucking employees like how we used pluck from everybody else in olden days...


Yep, in the past 6 months, my group lost 2 people to Google (one a recent new hire) and 1 to Amazon. Another person made it through the Amazon loop, but their recruiters screwed up the offer and he got cold feet. Meanwhile. LinkedIn and Facebook monthly tell me of former colleagues moving to Facebook, Google and Amazon. Amazon recruiters have even cold-contacted me several times.

Although a little cross pollination between companies might not be a bad thing, it was getting out of hand. I agree with other posters that the new system might not address the underlying issue of people feeling like they are competing with their peers, but I'm willing to give it a chance.

BTW - I also spoke to Amazon, and if you think our new benefits suck, you should find out how much other people are currently paying for theirs - we'll still have it pretty good. Although their recruiter mentioned how happy they were when the benefits changes were announced, so that could be a factor in the hemorrhaging.

It doesn't matter though, because nobody's irreplaceble.

Anonymous said...

Ex-MSFT employee here. The new policy seems to have good intentions but overall I think it more depends on who gets to place the people on the 1-5 scale. I left before reviews last year because my manager threatened to place me in the bottom 10% if I did not do exactly as he told me to. Although there was no good reason for me being in the bottom 10%, he used it against me. I was constantly threatened! I reported the harrasment to HR twice and they did nothing. Their advice was to try and move teams. This is how AWESOME (sarcasm) HR at Microsoft is! I don't think it's fair that the Manager has so much say on your score since most folks work cross many teams and with many folks in the organization. My manager had a WHI of below 50, two years in a row, many HR complaints were filed against him, but nothing ever happened. All 10+ people on the team had to quit since there was nothing HR was doing. Microsoft HR = FAIL! Microsoft's compensation system = FAILURE.

Anonymous said...

I left Microsoft 5 years ago after 10 years of service. I still have many friends there but their numbers are dwindling... Not because they're not my friends anymore but because they are leaving MS in droves. This trend has accelerated in the past year. People who were dedicated softees, for who MSFT could do no wrong are now interviewing with other companies and accepting offers.

There were 2 triggers IMHO.

1 The layoffs.
The first wave in early 2009 was full of talented experienced ICs. Let me assure you that this fact was not lost on the competition who moved quickly to hire your "rejects". It wasn't lost on the spared senior ICs either. They figured out that unless they got into management and started playing politics their future might not be as bright as they once thought.


2 - The health benefits.
After stock lost its luster MSFT's health plan became the golden handcuffs. I heard of more than one person who got offered a higher salary elsewhere but stayed at MS just for the benefits. Of course even with the planned changes they remain quite competitive but eyes are opening. Plus just like layoffs, nobody believes that there aren't more bad surprises in the future.


MSFT is not _the_ place to be anymore. I don't even believe that the hiring bar is that high anymore. A friend of mine with 10 years of industry experience interviewed last week and the technical questions were college level at best (implementing strstr) Even worse, when he gave a slightly creative answer to one of the questions the hiring manager became extremely confused. We're talking about a level 64 failing to grasp a mildly complex algorithm.

Microsoft's got to get its shit together, and fast!

Anonymous said...

MCS with 120K base. Raise bracket seems to be [4500 (3) - 7000 (5)].

Very disappointing, I'm out as soon as possible!

Anonymous said...

To those who say they're joining or considering joining Microsoft, PLEASE don't build any expectations based on the comments here. 90% of the posters don't actually work here and have no clue what they're talking about, and of the few who are, about half are probably underperformers who can't leave their teams because of their performance (which is usually a GOOD thing) and will probably be gone before long.

There are a lot of fantastic teams at Microsoft. I love the team I work on and the project I've been pumping most of my waking life into for over a year (which I do *because* I love it and can't wait for customers to see it because I know they will too).

I'm very happy about the compensation news. I regularly decline overtures from competing companies (though oddly Amazon hasn't come a knocking yet, guess it's only a matter of time). Anyway, being paid a little more isn't going to win me over. When I interviewed at Google (Kirkland) the culture was a huge turn off. And the projects usually just don't excite me like what I'm doing now. But some of the offers competitors are making nowadays go beyond "paid a little more" so I'm really happy to see MS making this gesture if only because it helps remove the burden of wondering whether my wallet might be missing out.

Oh, and something else nobody has mentioned:
If you look at the bonus tables for FY12, it looks like 63-64 are getting a nice bump next year, as the bonus target percentage is going up. I think this is very cool as a lot of the bread and butter of our org is in (or quickly approaching) this band. While it may seem to some like the changes for top performers (E20s) aren't that major, I think this particular change (even if it won't take effect until next year) is really great for us.

Anonymous said...

Why were business folks (product managers, marketers, planners, analysts, finance) excluded from the bump?

I am senior product manager and when I see the numbers it seems like the bonus money is money to cash bump (at level 5). On top of that increments are pretty modest 1-2% which I would get with a raise at final review anyways (i guess merit increase for this year is baked in the new numbers).

Bottom line net zero for me :(

Seems like next would be mass exodus of business folks for Microsoft..why discrimate or lie that "everyone" is getting higher compensation..

Anonymous said...

I understand MSFT will probably reduce its actual workforce and outsource some of its unprofitable and unnecessary work segments immediately. That sounds reasonable outcome of this change. Lean mean MSFT is finally coming asap to compete with Apple, Google, and others. That will be nice IMHO. There is too much overhead in the company.

Anonymous said...

I'm a CPUBer who just checked a cartload of scrubbed UI strings into a product. Please explain to me how that fails to qualify as "Create or build the products and services that we sell to external customers." But hey, I get it, if Great-Googly-Moogly's not poaching us, we're feeder fish.

Anonymous said...

PART I:

I'm astounded by the FUD and the vitriole. I assume this forum is like product support, all the happy and competent folks don't bother to post...

Either way, some thoughts on the changes. For context, I'm an L64 perennial E/20, knocking on the principal door (not a crazy rockstar E/20, but consistently E/20). I work in Office. All of the below is fact, not speculation. All data is for R&D folks.

The changes 65-68 are minimal. Minor reduction in stock shifted towards base pay. But as a percentage, it's almost noise at those levels. This makes sense, Principal and up are very well compensated at MS.

59-61 are going to reap quite a bit of benefit percentage wise. Stock never really meant anything in those bands, so having some of that shifted to Base Pay, plus a nice 1-time salary increase will mean close to a 15% raise for decent folks in those levels.

I feel like 62 is getting screwed a bit, it definitely feels like a stepping stone, or hurdle level to get to the Senior band (which is maybe what it should be). They're getting about the same percentage raise as the lower levels, but they're taking a much bigger stock hit (~40% reduction in target).

Changes for 63-64 are big and good, especially starting in FY12. They're losing basically no stock (about $1k), but getting a big salary bump (~$15k), and most importantly starting in FY12, the bonus budget is doubling (which you used to have to get to L65 for).

Take my situation:

I'm consistently somewhere in the 1 bucket for the Senior Band. Let's assume I stay there for the FY12 annual review:

Current Comp: Salary ~$124k. Misc Stock (awards/gold stars): ~$60K. Bonus: ~$17K. 401k match: ~$6K. ESPP (10% of 15%): $3k.

So not counting other benefits, my comp package looks like about $210K.

FY12 Comp: Salary ~$143K. Misc Stock: ~$68K. Bonus: ~38K. 401k match: ~$7k. ESPP: ~$4k.

So, not counting other benefits, my FY12 comp package looks like about ~$260K. That's a.) a big bump assuming similar performance. b.) A quarter million dollars. A QUARTER MILLION DOLLARS.

And you know what's even more crazy? Let's assume you can be competitive in the shark tank (principal band), then there's still a ton of upside to growing and succeeding. We work for a big corporation with flex time, great benefits, and generally good options for work:life balance. What more do you want?

Yes, peer review can suck, but there's a limited pool of resources that need to be distributed in what is onstensibly (and sometimes actually is) a meritocracy. How would you do it differently?

Yes, there is a lot of deadwood at the company, particularly in the principal band in some orgs. Probably the most frustrating thing for me is the level disparity across orgs. If you make it to principal in Office, you are most likely an amazing asset for the company. But many of my principal counterparts from other orgs are a joke. It baffles me.

Yes, headroom is a real issue. Strong people are incented to go to shitty orgs with lots of churn to find opportunity, rather than staying in great, mature orgs that they'll never get a triad promotion in because someone has to die for the spot to open up.

Anonymous said...

PART II
Anyhow. Now I'm rambling. To sum up (my opinion):

MS is incented to give more basepay to 59-62 because their offers are not competing well in the market place. This change addresses that. Remember that 59-62 are growth levels. The company expects you to grow out of them. If you can't or won't, they need a model that supports culling those people from the ranks. Sorry, I know it sucks, but not every hire is a good one.

63-64 are getting a big bump in comp. I think there will be renewed focus on vetting employees before promoting them to those levels, but that the new review model will support letting people plateau there and not feel like they're getting Kim'd.

65+ is where it's at if you can compete. But the company needs to look at the distribution and quality of individuals in those levels across organizational boundaries.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or do we enter into 'strategic partnerships' with the ugly/desperate?

First Yahoo. Dying lame duck into which billions were poured, and yet to have any significant impact on search share. No impact on advertising , just Huston getting in the neck and Holland elevated.

Next Nokia, a company which has never been successful in the US, not necessarily due to product deficiencies, but rather the retarded US wireless market that allows carriers way too much control. So Ballmer rushes to the altar with Elop, all gushing enthusiasm and with money burning a hole in his pocket ... by the time that partnership produces anything cell phones will have been replaced by telepathy.

Most of the young'uns don't know or remember, but there were strategic partnerships with Qwest (few hundred million), AT&T Broadband ($5billion), Korea Telecom ($500million). Not to mention buying Danger, forays into countless online advertising partnerships like aQuantive ($6billion). If all that money had been put into actual investments imagine the size of that mutual fund! Plenty of revenues from that to ride out the rough times without laying off people or whatever.

The latest comp changes are just a staggering example of the inability to sstay focused. Not necessarily bad changes but abysmally communicated. But what can you expect from a rogue billionaire without his dorm-buddy wrangler to yank the leash now and then.

Anonymous said...

Ballmer wants to apply his usual solution to Yahoo ... fire the messenger.

http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/2011/04/22/might-microsoft-be-interested-again-in-buying-yahoo/

"Sources are telling ATD’s Kara Swisher that several key Yahoo board members are “willing to entertain any legitimate offers or ideas to improve the Silicon Valley search giant’s prospects,” she wrote today. These “ideas” could include getting rid of CEO Carol Bartz, an offer from acquisition-crazy AOL, or an all-out sale involving investors, News Corp. President Peter Chernin and – yep – Microsoft.

From Swisher’s report:

The most likely possible scenarios have (Chernin) joining with deep-pocketed partners, including Providence Capital and, yes, Microsoft, as well as an investment banks or advisory firms, such as Morgan Stanley and Code Advisors. …

If Microsoft was involved – and Chernin has strong ties there – such a scenario might include folding all its online properties into Yahoo and renegotiating its rocky search partnership too.

This is an idea that intrigues a lot of people, including current Yahoo board chairman Roy Bostock and Co-founder Jerry Yang and other board members, who have indicated recently to several investors and dealmakers a willingness to listen to credible player such as Chernin."

Anonymous said...

"It's a lie, doesn't exist. E-mailed benefits this afternoon and they've never heard of it."

Those are very strong words...

Full details at http://hrweb/US/PayBenefits/Pay/Stock/StockAwards/Pages/retirementFAQ.aspx

Anonymous said...

Remember when Steve would tell us internally that the stock price doesn’t matter? I guess it did matter after all, huh? Am I the only one putting aside the initial glee here and wondering what the long term plan is?

If due to superior leadership, strategy, execution, and growth, Apple (and others) can more easily recruit and retain employees while relying on the market to pick up much of the associated compensation cost, they can continue to win and crush results while preserving their capital for more strategic uses.

Meanwhile, we have to convince people to join (or even stay at) a company that keeps failing consistently. And since those failures and associated end of real growth mean we can’t rely on the market to fund any of it anymore, we have to dedicate increasing amounts of capital to propping up the stock through buybacks or now even replacing stock with cash because demand for the former, due to eroding confidence in our future, is falling faster than we can reduce supply. That leaves us with less capital to invest strategically, not that we're good at that anyway.

Is there any doubt regarding which path is sustainable and who ultimately wins? Apple who keeps getting stronger and richer, or MS which keeps getting weaker and poorer?

Anonymous said...

There may be a positive, which may be even deliberate intention on the part of HR, in the new scheme.

It looks like it will harder for managers to give a 5, maybe even 4, to someone they want to get rid of for political or personal-to-the-manager reasons, if that person is performing above the curve. One number represents both the E/A/U and 20/70/10 now. The high-A or even low-E / 10 may now be able to avoid the cellar of the ratings scheme.

What happened before, with E/A/U, is that often commitments were so general(*) that it was legally difficult to judge someone to be a "U". As a result, many people ended up in "A", who weren't cutting it. These people were then mixed with the politically out of favor and the Kims, in A/10.

The company COULD be trying to find the true U/10's that have been hiding.

* General = on at least one team, even when a senior wanted commitments reflecting unusual projects he was involved in by virtue of being one of two senior staff on the team, both senior staff were assigned the same commitments as a college hire, making it easier for the manager to fudge the system.

Anonymous said...

Yes... the latest GOLD STAR awards will hgappen in FY11-Q4. Gold Star is dead.

And, in the meanwhile, Managers have one less tool to recognize the employees before the Performance Cycle.

Anonymous said...

Consistently our Corp Executive leadership talk abouit the importance of the people, and in private, they also say to the managers, that it is with the managers (16K managers) that this company still moving on.... but there is no respect on the employee nor the manager when they annoubnce this huge change without ansuring first that managers underdstand it so managers would be able to have open dialog with its emploiyees about the change.

In this change, we, the managers, are as blind as the employees, we were informed 10 hours before everyone else...

GREAT way to communicate SteveB and LisaB... awesome way of leading by example.

Anonymous said...

We must see the bright side...

at least some of the big chunk of many The Execs are saving by cutting our Health Plan, will not end on Kevin Turner's pocket with YET another impresive compensation increase YOY as has happen in the recent years... (during the same period in which the other 60+K employees receive no mertit increase).

Anonymous said...

This is great news. Now we will have some more cash to pay for the co-payment we will need to deal with ... very soon

Anonymous said...

- The higher cash compensation will get eaten up by inflation. See "gas prices."

- Usually, when they change the stock incentives, the stock price skyrockets. No cause and effect, it's just a big "screw you."

- Those who have stated that the problem at MS is not compensation but management and lack of vision are 100% correct.

Still, I've always been near the top of the stack rank, so it looks like I'll get rewarded nicely in this system. So, no complaints from me.

Anonymous said...

Here is the info on HRWeb that discusses the 15/55 plan.

http://hrweb/US/PayBenefits/Pay/Stock/StockAwards/Pages/retirementFAQ.aspx

Anonymous said...

This is how the curve works. Lets say you are ranked 4 out of 5 employees or 8 out of 10 i.e. you have a percentile score of 0.8. Employees with a score of 0.9 and lesser are managed out every year.

Year 1 : 10% bottom eliminated, new folks hired. Your new percentile.

0.8/0.9 - (1 - 0.8)*0.1 = 0.866

Year 2 : 10% bottom eliminated, new folks hired. Your new percentile.

0.866/0.9 - (1-0.866)*0.1 = 0.952320987654321

i.e you are definitely going to end up in the bottom 10% next year i.e. you will last 2 years.


Lets say you ranked 7/10 this year
You will rank 0.74 next year and 0.8 the next and followed by 0.95 the next year.

So you will last 4 years.

Just some analytics.

Anonymous said...

Lots of misinformation and incorrect assumptions here. My President had a QA session today answering some of these questions.

1. Newhire future starts will get an email with an updated offer (assuming in R&D)
2. The curve is only enforced with >= 50 people in a band. So that small team of 10 won't need to fit the curve, but when rolled up to the bigger group will have to within the band.
3. 59-60 is a new band, 61-62 is seperate

Anonymous said...

To the anon at 04:16 asking about where the curve is applied, the answer is very much "it depends on the group".

Good groups will not force the curve when dealing with less than 100-200 people and will merge that group one level up where the curve will then be applied. Depending on your group configuration, that could be at the group manager level or at the director level.

That doesn't mean it always happens that way, just that it's supposed to. The curve makes sense once you get over 100-200 people. It doesn't make sense when dealing with 10 people.

Anonymous said...

New review system - ok, whatever. Simpler to administer as a manager, easier to understand as an employee so that's all fine and good. As a manager, I will tow the HR story up the hill once again.

Payout associated with the new review system is so very Microsoft in that it is a tweak, but not a fix of the root problems.

First, the base pay realignment should have been effective July 1. I understand they couldn't do it immediately as we've already given projections to Wall Street for Q4, but they could have "tweaked" the outlook and done it July 1 with far better morale and retention impact.

Second shift to the new system gives teams an opportunity to "recalibrate" or "politically nuke" some people as part of the transition so beware. After that, it is what it is - some good, some opportunity to be better.

My other concern is that while we're paying more for technical R&D roles (this is a good thing) we don't invest in business model innovation, new go to market strategies, etc. And THAT is where we will lose. KT's perpetual "cut 10-20%" of the budget and often teh people each year has left SMSG with far too many unfunded or underfunded priorities. And we completely suck at any service-based business too because it requires more frequent innovation and people who actually understand business.

This all makes it IMPOSSIBLE to monetize the great work done by the R&D teams which is also why the stock price is stuck now and will stay in the dumps.

We need serious exec change of a different type than the recent shuffling. Chriscap to CCG - could have upside. Holland to run the Ad biz - OMG we can kiss that whole biz and market goodbye. We need to break up the SteveB's boys club and get some actual talent in the c-level of the company.

Have a few highly marketable things in my current team. Will see them through then I'm on the market to the highest bidder.

Anonymous said...

I also don't understand a lot of negativity in the comments here.

I've been in the company for almost 3 years now. I'm a level 61 SDE II. I get slightly over $100K base pay now, and this new change will give me a pretty decent increase on top of that that is most certainly welcome. I've been getting A/70s all the way so far, and that in a largely relaxed work environment, and without any overworking (i.e. the honest to God 9-5) on almost all days.

My manager respects me, and so do my colleagues. If there is some politicking around with curve and buckets and all that, I'm not aware of it - I certainly don't do anything to trip other people to get graded higher, nor I am aware of something like that done to myself. People on the team cooperate, quite efficiently at that. There are no issues with recognizing others' achievements - certainly nothing that I did went unrecognized.

It's not all rainbows and unicorns - sure, the work is mostly fun but sometime can be daunting (but that's true everywhere), I do feel that we make some silly decisions, and as far as overall company strategy - don't even get me started on that. But within my personal "work bubble", I really have little to complain about.

Yet, reading this blog, it's all doom and gloom and idiot managers and getting kimmed at Microsoft. So, what am I doing wrong? Or did I just find that lucky safe haven where money is good and troubles are few, and should stick to it for as long as I can?

Anonymous said...



My advice? Fight the war on your terms, not those of the opposition. Stop chasing point solutions in the Cloud and start leveraging the integration capability of your product stack. Do that properly and you can and will annihilate the opposition.



No.

Just no.

In my corporation, I and an my staff do NOT want an integrated "product stack".

We want choices of multiple products that interoperate with each other via common standard interfaces, so we can choose the best amongst each of the competing products in the herds, for each level, to meet our corporate needs in that particular level of the "stack".

We go out of our way to avoid vertical "integrated stacks", that limit choice of products and product competition.

Are you COMPLETELY out of your fricking mind?

Anonymous said...

The smell here is: "We realize we have failed to give our employees great value in our stock, and with the competitive hiring wars going on we must do something to put the ka-ching back in their eyes". This will last for 2-3 years and then we'll do something else because we'll need another distraction about that time. The realities of the new medical plan will be kicking in and we'll need another ka-ching moment.

Anonymous said...

"My advice? Fight the war on your terms, not those of the opposition. Stop chasing point solutions in the Cloud and start leveraging the integration capability of your product stack."

Your advice is wasted on Ballmer. He has zero strategic aptitude. It's one of the main reasons MS has been outflanked and ultimately beaten in virtually every new area, including several that it pioneered like smartphones and tablets.

Anonymous said...

I've been in the industry for 20 years. I've worked at Boeing, GE, and now Microsoft. Hands down, this has been the best place to work; I've been at Microsoft as a manager for 4 years and I love going to work day after day.

I'm not going to try analyze all the reasons behind the numbers, but I just look at them and say, "yeah. I'll get more cash each year than I did before and I'll still get stock". I like that!

I listened to TedK explain all this today. For folks who have been here a long time, it sounds like a rehash of some other system; but go to any company and they do the same thing! In my experience the compensation plans and how one was rated changed every few years at the places I've been.

There's way too much complaining going on. Really, if all you gripers don't like these changes, get another job. If you are such a hot shot, Google must know it and they'll have a limo waiting for you when you walk out the Microsoft door. I won't miss you.

Anonymous said...

"this really looks like a desperate attempt from Ballmer to regain some popularity"

Or a swan song announced early enough so that a new CEO in the fall won't be able to cancel it.

Anonymous said...

Well at an average 10K/head we're talking less than a billion.

That's only double what got wasted on the failed WP7 launch, less than half what Danger/Kin cost, and about what Bing loses every quarter.

So fairly cheap really.

Anonymous said...

... and you could still be paid 20% more at Google if you kick ass. If you're a genius, you could get paid twice as much

If you're a genius, you'd start your own company and be paid 100x more.

If you kick ass, you'd still start your own company and have the time of your life.

If you *think* you kick ass/are a genius, but don't have any original thoughts you'd go to Google.

If you *can* kick ass, but don't want because life is too short to dedicate it to some lifeless corporation, you'd go to Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

People - go to hrweb, and search for the string "55". Read all about it.

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain, on the 'My Rewards Estimate' in that last section: "Rewards Potential in FY2012". How is the "Estimated Total Cash Increase" column derived?

Anonymous said...


Remember that Comp Ratios are a huge factor. Each level has a salary range that varies from 84% to 116% of the midrange value. Where you sit on that scale is your comp ratio. Normally, people are hired into a level at a comp ratio below the midpoint, so that they have room to grow in level for a few years.

It is quite possible under this system for a junior person with a high comp ratio (meaning having been in level for a long time) to get paid more than a senior person with a low comp ratio).

For example, the range for a L62 is about $91K on the bottom (.84 comp ratio) with a $109K midpoint (1.0 comp ratio) to a top end of about $127K (1.16 comp ratio). The L62 salary posted above mentioned being in a higher comp ratio. The L64 poster who said there was only about a $10K difference is likely below 1.0 comp ratio. Contact your HR rep or your manager to inquire about your comp ratio.

Thanks for the explanation, appreciate it

Anonymous said...

Based on my experience the SDEs( who actually do the work) are not at all valued more compared to PM or Test orgs. The salary, time for promotions, career growth etc are worst than test or pm orgs. In my opinion all devs should look outside microosft where they will be more respected and will have faster career growth. Except for work satisfaction there is nothing microsoft offers more for spending nights and weekends in designing developing and fixing world class products

The test managers/leads ( who actually dont test, dont code, dont come up with new future requirements, no patents, some dont even know techincal aspects of products) growth is like crazy at microsoft where most of the leads are below 30 years where as dev/pm its more like 40

Anonymous said...

The problem of the old system was absolute lack of transparency and the new system only addresses that issue indirectly by giving more compensation to the mid-level performers. Thus the risk of overlooking good performers due to politics is reduced, but continues to exist. There is no accountability in the stack ranking system, heck, I don't even know how people were ranked in my team in the past years and what it takes to get more stocks or a higher bonus. There isn't any clear link between performance and pay unless you miss work a lot of times which will get you a bad review. No wonder people are leaving for other companies. If you work hard, you want to be rewarded. At Microsoft, you work hard you may be rewarded, but surely somebody up the chain will always be rewarded and you have no clue what for. Microsoft has the problem that those actually doing the work are left out, while a lot of managers who stopped doing any useful work and haven't coded for years get well paid. Guess what: those managers don't matter, the guy who is designing, coding, testing and making things happen is the one that matters. And those are leaving for Facebook, Google, etc. So the new compensation is realizing that but is missing the dead weight problem which is an excess of bad managers that the company is dragging along.

Anonymous said...

@"Let me try to clarify that:

The hike of 4K you got, though one time, is permanent, doesn't vest yearly, and is guaranteed every year."

Also, that 4K moved to base salary. Your 15% bonus is now $600 larger (4K * .15), and your 5% merit increase is $200 larger. And merit increases compound over time.

Anonymous said...

Deep, deep down, this is all about many hoping that the good old days of vest and rest and MS Millionaires will return. It won't.
So do your best to look after your personal situation and if that means staying (and for me competing hard against Google and Apple everyday which I love doing) then do that. If your personal situation means that somewhere else serves you better then maybe that's the best path for you.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Blue Badges on the pay increases.

After a long career as a Blue, I'm soon to start a 9 month contract. Quick Question: After the contract ends, am I able to go on Unemployment while I'm looking for a new one?

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