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...

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?

Probably. If you're not approaching 40 and don't cost the company much in health care, you have a few more years.

Is your manager level 62, or higher?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft's overengineered review system is the Vista of HR. It effectively neuters the ability of managers to make the right decisions. Not enough investment in managers (or hypercritical assessments of all) make it difficult to achieve any level of excellence in this area. Many previously high performing veterans across all job disciplines and levels have left the company in part due to a rating and compensation system that drives the wrong outcome as much as it is about a larger issue of creating artificial barriers to succeed, useless "FRI" training and scorecards that drive the wrong behavior. Time to reboot on many levels.

Anonymous said...

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.

Amen. The new comp package doesnt fix the basic flaws in Microsoft compensation system. The end is beginning.

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" - well that explains why your rational is wrong. You didn't work at Google, Amazon or Facebook or other tech companies. When you compare with dinosaurs then the latest entrant there will always look good, do some research in the tech world and you will find why we are no more one of the desired places to work.

Anonymous said...

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?
Yes, as long as you don't end the contract yourself, meaning, you don't quit.

Anonymous said...

"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.

Friday, April 22, 2011 9:31:00 PM"

Spoken like a true manager. I am glad you are not my manager and you should be glad that you dont have a few reportees like me, who would have given you <20 in manager feedback for this arrogant attitude.

I stiil *love* this company and i am a good performer, E20 all along for last 7 years, but i do feel that this system is not greatly benefecial for E20s who gets 180% of the stock target. This is just moving some money around from one pocket to another for the employee and with stock target lesser, the company saves on all those 150% and 180%. As far as i am concerned, I see MS saving some more by taking it out of my pocket and giving me some that i would ave got anyway.

Anonymous said...

L64
Current base $127k
New Base Pay/Bonus/Stock
1 - $142k/18%/$43k
2 - $140k/13%/$31k
3 - $138k/10%/$24k
4 - $136k/5%/$12k
5 - $129k/0%/$0

Anonymous said...

What is the affect of this on Sales and Marketing folks? And Legal, Admin, HR, etc.?

Are all business functions (product management, planning and finance, etc.) exempt from this raise?

I am trying to understand what is the scope of these changes - and what does "R&D/engineering functions" actually comprise.

Anonymous said...

Content publishers didn't deserve the raise.

I started out at MS as a writer, it got to the point where I was working 25 hours a week and pulling an E/20 with my eyes closed. The job is just not that hard.

And really, who would want to stay in writing if they were talented and had ambition. There is ceiling for IC at level 62, and at that point you are doing more bullshit "special projects" than shipping product. You learn no skills that are transferable to other companies.

The only reason talented and technically competent writers don't jump to product teams is lack of ambition and reluctance to do actual work. I can tell you I work twice as hard on the product team.

After three years on the product team, I see nothing in the work that justifies the team's value. Sure, I may have grammatically correct strings, but since the writer never looked at the UI or thought about the context in which the string appears, the string is just wrong. The docs I get back require developmental edit and I have to write reams of source material to get decent docs out.

And your "help" finding things in the product that dev/test/pm missed - I never once in three years seen a defect filed by a writer fixed in code.

So go ahead, get new jobs writers - and enjoy the $20k pay cut you get working on contract elsewhere. You're all overpaid as it is and the gravy train is over. As some previous poster mentioned, if you can code switch to SDET or SDE position as soon as humanly possible.

Anonymous said...

L60, base pay 81K, new base 94K

View from the new bottom:

No thanks. I will make my 100K somewhere where a house isn't 500K and I don't have to compete for resources with partners that do less yet regularly see bonuses as high as my annual salary.

While I am delighted to hear that I may see partial reimbursement for my overtime and rising costs.. How great will that 10% be in the hospital when I stroke out from the stress of working for these people?

Staying is a suckers deal. Keep your change Steve.

Anonymous said...

The Emporer has no clothes, in this case SteveB has no more options, other than step aside of course.

This felt so much like a head of government whose rock bottom in the polls, trying to buy favour with the electorate in order to save his job. Even his "Minister of Health and Welfare" (aka our Vice President of Human Resources LisaB) was no where to be found - my bet is she ain't coming back. What a sad scene - how low / sad can this go?

A classic politician will take away with one hand and give back (not as much of course with the other). This is no different. For the life of me, I can't understand how this is a raise, given the stock clawback and the upcoming medical dis-benefit plan being rolled out. For my level, the difference on a pay raise between a performance rating 1 and 2 is a paltry 200$ per month - for killing myself? No thanks, I'll stay with focussing on my CSP's and get promoted - slow and steady actually may win the race in this case?

In closing, thank you Steve for running this company into the ground. MSPoll must have been a real eye opener for you and your team. No wonder talented people are heading for the exits. If they didn't leave before because of you laying them off, they sure will now.

Now, back to working on a saturday because I LOVE MY JOB AND I LOVE THIS COMPANY!

Anthony said...

People do realize that this is about a year and a half from becoming real for them, right? There is alot that can happen between now and then.

Anonymous said...

The fact that a salary raise across the board generates this level of bitching is a clear indicaction of how f****ed up this company is.
Steve, is too late man, the damage is too large to be fixable. There is nothing you can do that would please your frustrated workforce. You just have to go.

Anonymous said...

"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?"

No -- the end of a contract isn't considered a termination or layoff, so you're on your own.

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."

This has never been the case in any organization I've been in over the last 15 years -- Developers are always, as a group, higher level than their PM and Test peers.

In my current org we have 18 Devs -- 8 are Principals (including 6 non-manager coders). We have 5 PMs covering them and I'm the only Principal (GPM). Although I don't participate in Test's stack because they report to a different org, the only Principal I'm aware of is the TM who manages >30 FTEs.

I don't know what the situation is in the less desirable teams (like the web properties, for example), but in our core product groups we level Developers higher than other disciplines.

Anonymous said...

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

Uh, not sure what Microsoft *you're* talking about, but I work at the Microsoft where the stock hasn't moved much for the last decade.

The last major change to the stock plan was the buyback offer for your unvested shares years ago -- and it certainly didn't skyrocket after that.

Anonymous said...

"People do realize that this is about a year and a half from becoming real for them, right? There is alot that can happen between now and then."

5 months, not 18.

Anonymous said...

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.


I agree. Interviewing with Google was a turn off but the offer was lucarative. I turned it down because I had a good deal going and the dev in me wanted to get his code include in the kernel for the next big thing. (you gotta satisfy your dev egos sometime :) ).

That said, am an L61, base ~92K, hoping for a 2 rating to make ~106K as base pay. I think i am underleveled and am hoping for a L62 this review cycle or next yr mid year. If not, I will finally start taking calls from Facebook's recruiter :)

Anonymous said...

"L60, base pay 81K, new base 94K

View from the new bottom:

No thanks. I will make my 100K somewhere where a house isn't 500K and I don't have to compete for resources with partners that do less yet regularly see bonuses as high as my annual salary."


First of all, Partners often make a whole lot more than your base salary in bonuses.

Second of all -- if you're a level 60, I don't understand why you're bitching about 94k/year... you're either too junior to command any more money, or you've mismanaged your career and that's the best you can do.

If you actually *can* make a boatload more elsewhere, why on earth are you still at Microsoft? Surely it's not for the great environment (we don't have one) or the world-changing products (we don't make them).

Anonymous said...

"The fact that a salary raise across the board generates this level of bitching is a clear indicaction of how f****ed up this company is.
Steve, is too late man, the damage is too large to be fixable. There is nothing you can do that would please your frustrated workforce. You just have to go."


I'm not sure you understand the history -- at Microsoft, when something is rolled-out that sounds amazing in the abstract, it frequently is not so amazing in reality.

Case in point: Lisa Brummel -- our ridiculous and incompetent HR VP -- spent years (literally YEARS) talking about how good for employees the previous review and comp system was that her team designed. In the video she just released last week about the new system, she flat-out said that it was a busted system that wasn't good for employees... and in fact, it's the system that's directly responsible for much of the toxic culture that's developed at Microsoft over the last 5 years.

So Steve Ballmer sends an e-mail to workers saying "Hey look! We have a great new system that's going to be awesome for you and give you more money in your pocket! But, um, it doesn't go into effect for another half a year and we're still working on details."

Nobody in their right mind would trust that this is what it appears to be on the surface given how frequently Steve and Lisa have f*cked over employees on benefits & comp in the past decade. And so, what you're seeing here is a very natural response to something that based on prior history is likely to not be all it's cracked-up to be.

Anonymous said...

This is really cute, like the bell curve administered by HR cheerleaders is going to change one bit in the den of politics. I thank god daily I was laid off two years ago. It's comical to watch now.

Anonymous said...

@April 23, 2011 8:07:00 AM

The stock component is the value of your stock award vesting over the next 5 years?

Anonymous said...

THERE ARE CTO'S AT IN MSFT WHO DON'T HAVE EVEN HAVE A BASIC BACHELOR'S DEGREE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE OR ENGINEERING.


But I'm also aware of Computer Science PHDs at MSFT who write test scripts and have no responsibility outside of that duty.

Anonymous said...

0-1.5% cost-of-living for the last four years, now 10% down the road..

Wooptie do! I'll try to not spend it all in one place..

Once again all the money goes to the few with Phd's in office politics.

Anonymous said...

To make the review system clear, I'd have preferred ratings 0-4 rather than 1-5. If you get 0, then it is clear that you'll get 0 bonus, raise, stock. Make sense?

Anonymous said...

If I stay through June 29th I get moving money? Awesome! I thought I was going to have to pay out of pocket.

Anonymous said...

+$238 per check after tax after 5 years of getting rammed in the behind during the recession by management?

Steven's generosity knows no bounds..

Anonymous said...

This is like the Windows ME of compensation plans?

Buggy, doesn't solve customer's problems, etc..

Glad to hear upper & middle management is getting another raise...

Anonymous said...

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.

Thank you for adding a human perspective into a sometimes mindless race to nowhere!

Anonymous said...

Anybody who sees this as a net positive isn’t thinking very clearly. For the first time ever, Ballmer has acknowledged that MS is the Titanic and sinking is inevitable. He’s just offering the crew an extra incentive to go down with the ship rather than race for the lifeboats.

Funny the difference twelve months makes. A year ago he was denying that MS was being disrupted, even though most could see it was true. A year later, with iPad already eating into Windows and Office revenues and the rate of that cannibalization only escalating, he’s effectively acknowledged that MS has peaked.

The two previous “special” employee investments since 2000 were accompanied by justifications about how it would help the stock or increase growth. This time nothing at all. Not even a pretense to shareholders that this is true. And Koefeld has even switched gears. The most recent quote from him doesn’t mention continued growth or potential for stock appreciation. He’s now talking about finding "new investors" who will be attracted by a dividend that is .5% more than the S&P average. MS is -8 ytd. The S&P is +6. What attraction does a .5% better dividend have in that scenario? It doesn't. MS is too weak and too volatile to be widely attractive as a dividend play no matter how much the yield gets bumped up. The only way the stock was going to go up was with growth and higher profits, and now Ballmer has signaled in clear terms that isn't going to happen.

Anonymous said...

Does CSS have any "R&D special raise"? I work in CSS, but i do not see any R&D-related raise on the estimate page.

Anonymous said...

"Lean mean MSFT is finally coming asap to compete with Apple, Google, and others."

So we've been hearing for a decade. Meanwhile Apple and Google handed you your ass. Apple stole your future markets right out from under your nose (along with your market cap title) and is now circling back to cut off your air supply by collapsing your monopolies via iPad. Google is also taking a chunk while laughing their ass off as Bing loses billions.

You're dead and don't even know it yet. But the market figured it out years ago.

If you're waiting for the lean mean MS to reappear, you're waiting for Godot.

Anonymous said...

HR: 5s won't be able to move, and on the second 5, you're out. No restrictions on 4s. 20% 20% 40% 13% 7% curve will be forced within the band of ~50 employees.

Anonymous said...

I worked at Microsoft from 2000 to 2010.

In my new company there is no curve. When I asked my (then future) manager about how they do performance reviews, he really didn't understand the idea of curve or buckets.

My performance review was a non-issue. My manager just wrote what is going on, I knew what was about to be written (the good and the bad).

This is so simple.

When I explained my manager about the curve at MS, he said "that's weird, if I took so long to hire the best of the best, why should I burn X% of my people every review period"?

Seems like you changed six for half-dozen.

Anonymous said...

April 21, 2011 7:23pm

Nice generalization on all the employees who have idiot spouses. You may not be aware of this crazy trend, but highly educated people often marry the same type, sometimes even people from the same technology fields (as is the case at our house), and because they know of what they speak, they may be able to value the work of the employee spouse, with some degree of accuracy. So sorry that you don't know anyone who has an intelligent spouse; how incredibly odd. If you intend to acquire a spouse yourself along the way, perhaps when the time comes you could look for a smart one, it's really so much nicer for everyone. Or you could just go for your same intellect level or lower, so you can keep on thinking well of yourself. If you do acquire a really smart spouse, beware of breeding because it may be your gene pool that is dominant in the offspring.

Anonymous said...

What I see in the numbers is that the overall compensation (add up your base, maximum bonus, maximum stock) is not changing much. The #1 option is actually a little less, although it will increase in the overall 2012 model for #1. You need to think of total compensation as two parts: your cash compensation (base and bonus) and stock. In the new version, one goes up, the other goes down, and it is somewhat of a wash. Just easier to get a mortgage or a car loan, with higher base and bonus. If the stock price stays level, or you quit early into a stock grant, then you are better off with more cash compensation. If the stock value increases and you stay, then the new comp plan is not as valuable as you may first think. If your base is upgraded beyond the decrease in stock, then you are in a win situation, as is the case for some currently underpriced salaries.

The whole curve thing: I have given grades in a college classroom. You had to be admitted in order to be present. In any university, but particularly if it is is a highly competitive place regarding admission, then you had to be in the top level of candidates to win a seat in the class, think of it as all people who earn 3.5-4.0 grades. Each level of education you move upward (high school to college, college to grad school) it becomes more clear that the bottom of the curve is not present. As in they were not admitted, and aren't there to receive their deserved D or F grades. So now you are grading a group made up of high performers. Is it so unreasonable to imagine that if you only allowed "A" students to show up, that a lot of them might remain closely grouped at the top scores? This is why my grad school didn't have C/D/F grades handed out often - because the students who deserve these grades are not present. As a matter of fact, a "C" at my school was "not graduate level work" and I think if you got more than two, you were disinvited. But it was a rare occasion, because of the truly high caliber of people present. Plenty of competition, and the grades scattered across a range, just not much in the lower levels, because they came in good, and learned more as they progressed. Just a thought to consider for all managers as they look at where their people should fall in the categories - how exactly would we have hired in 20% of the people who are worth no bonus and no stock? What is that? A complete breakdown of HR in bringing in the talent? Or of the vendors posing as HR?

+1 to the notion that a 5-7% increase across the board now, plus any change to the compensation system at review time. Not truly opposed to the decrease in stock award amounts, but at my level the stock is set to decline more than the cash is going up.

Anonymous said...

If it happened 5 years ago when I joined, I would have been happy. I took a level 60 job at Microsoft, with the same salary (and less 401k match, bonus) I previously earned from another fortune 20 company. Adjusted for living cost, my total package was cut by 25%. I worked for 4 years prior to joining Microsoft and had been admiring it for a while. Although I enjoyed the work I I do here, the 25% cut drove me into a pretty stressful financial situation. First year, I made ends meet using the signup bonus, 2nd year, I made it work by selling my 2nd car. 3rd year, I cut my moderate annual vacation budget and 401(K) contributions to a mere 6%. I scrambled for an exit in year 4 and was happy ever after, working less number of hours, not having to worry about how to balance a budget or spending hours banking.

Anonymous said...

Well, does anybody think MSFT after betraying 100's of hard working and productive employees is ever going to live with it's head held high.

I mean look at the way they have laidoff these people, it is nothing short of CRUEL.

We also know very well that HR STAFF is TOUTING for having reduced the headcount ON THEIR RESUME'S. THAT IS SO SHAMEFUL.

Anonymous said...

The pay increase is welcome - I find it truly remarkable how people on this blog can find ways to make it sound so negative.

The review system change sucks. It really is a step backwards – back to the system we had before, with all its faults. The difference back in those days (when we had the 2.5 – 5 bell curve) was that there really weren’t any losers. Stock kept climbing and splitting and money was flowing in. People used to say that everyone gets a 3.0 every once in a while, and if you did, it really wasn’t a big deal. A lot of times it was the new hires who ended up with a 3.0. Sure, there were 2.5s as well, but only people who really underperformed got them. The way it should be.

No-one thought about layoffs in those days and there were enough jobs going around that if things didn’t work out in one place, you moved on to another. I remember recruiting a double 3.0 into my team (change of discipline) and she turned out great.

Today’s climate is very different. If you are towards the bottom of the stack – 10% or even the bottom of the 70% bucket, you are in trouble.

Someone wrote earlier that the calibration model isn’t so bad, because the curve gets applied only across 100+ people or so. I call BS. I’ve been in enough calibration meetings to know that this is not how things work. If you have ~ 10 people or so you are asked to come in calibrated. And those 10 may not even all sit in the same level band, so you might have to try and meet the curve with 7 people in one band and 3 in another. It’s ridiculous but that’s how it works. If it wasn’t this way, then where else would the 10%ers come from? Everyone would come in with 20s and 70s and what the heck would the GM do with that? He or she oftentimes doesn’t even know everyone in the model. So the GM pushes the model back down and every team has to chip in with their 10%er.

To be fair: There always are a few truly underperforming employees with no future potential and managers tend to do the right thing and put them in the lowest bucket. But that’s not more that maybe 3% of the population. Certainly not 10% (or 7% as in bucket 5 of our new model).

This is frustrating for managers, as you always have to piss off some employees who really aren’t bad at all. And it’s especially frustrating for everyone in the company, because we end up competing with each other as opposed to Google, Apple, etc.
Oh but wait, you say, we are now taking not only results into consideration when scoring people, but also “how” people achieved those results. This will magically solve all those problems and people will no longer compete with each other but rather collaborate.

I have no idea how managers are supposed to measure the ‘how’. By peer feedback, where people more often than not simply scratch each other’s backs?

Anyway – enough rambling. I also have a question: how does one get a sabbatical? I ran a search on hrweb and found nothing about it. Is this some L67+ perk

Anonymous said...

L64 here, and my numbers are the same as the person who posted earlier today, aside from base pay.

Here's my "problem." I've been an outstanding E/20 for a while, and have consequently received stock at 350% of target for the last two review cycles. Under the new system, even if I'm a 1, my stock is only at 180% of target, and the increase in base pay is not even close to covering that decrease. Even when you factor in the higher bonus in 2012, still not even close to my current compensation package. That sucks for me.

What sucks for the company is that, presumably, they want to retain me because I'm a good employee, right? Well, when I was getting stock at 350% of target, I wasn't going anywhere! My stock award last year was over 60% of my base salary, but I have to stick around for 5 years to get all of it. I would have to make a lot more in salary elsewhere to justify giving up all of that earned stock, plus the potential to keep getting those types of stock awards in the future.

Now, if my stock award goes down to more like 25% of my base salary... that is a lot less incentive to stay.

Don't bother telling me, "If you don't like it, then leave!" That's exactly my point. The company shouldn't want high performers like myself to leave, but these changes make it easier for us to do so. Isn't that backwards?

Anonymous said...

... and you could still be paid 20% more at Google

Is this before or after "failure in social" paycut?

Larry Page will make Ballmer look like a genius!

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile Apple and Google handed you your ass.

Apple did, but Google did not. It's still deriving >90% of profits from the same search engine that can be taken care of by 2,000 people. What do the other 24,000 do at Google?

Anonymous said...

With a rating of 3 I can look forward to a 3.5% raise. A rating of 1 gets me a 6.9% raise.

How much is the cost of my gas and food going up?

Meh.

Anonymous said...

HR: 5s won't be able to move, and on the second 5, you're out. No restrictions on 4s. 20% 20% 40% 13% 7% curve will be forced within the band of ~50 employees.

How does it work if there are more potential 7%ers in one band and no 7%ers in other band.

Anonymous said...

Is it really true that the salary hikes won't be given to those in business disciplines (product mgmt, corporate strategy, etc)? I'm an MBA student and was thinking of applying but if that is true then I may pass...

Anonymous said...

And J, for all his cool talk, didn’t deliver much either.

Allard did good work back around 1995, when he dragged MSFT kicking and screaming away from NetBEUI and IPX to TCP/IP. I gave him a ton of respect back then. Then he dropped off the radar for a while, and re-emerged a few years later, dressed in black, lost weight, and hanging out with Jonathan "Seamus" Blackley. Pretty well from then on, he was wasting everyone's time and resources. XBox: geez, what a dead-end drain of time, money and image - a great software company has become the Hasbro or Mattel of the IT industry (and an unprofitable one at that), making Barbie dolls for kids instead of enterprise software to transform the world. And what is it with these clowns, who want to be called funny names? James became "J", and Jonathan said "call me Seamus".

But Allard did good stuff, back when we were still early into TCP/IP. Remember, NT 3.1 didn't even run any TCP/IP at all!!

Anonymous said...

To everyone who is criticizing mini:

Some of my colleagues find the blog and the comments fully of negativity as well.

I do not get this reaction. I was a high performer who after a few promotions (always exceeded), suddenly started staring at achieved. I did not know what was wrong with me until I read this blog last year. The problem was with my emotional quotient. I did not have a clue about playing games (though I am an Indian *wink*wink*) Thanx to this blog, I have amended my ways and become a less of pain-in-the-ass. I have learnt how to play the system to get what I want. This does not mean I am compromising quality, not a lot anyway. This only means I am getting work done in a frictionless manner. I am back on exceeded track as well.

So in essence what I am saying is: some of us are taking this blog in a positive way and it is helping us. We are sensible enough to ignore people on suicide mission, jerking off in the comments section.

Oh and claim all you want about gold star and how they were given to sycophants…but I earned my gold star the hard way, pulled off an almost impossible feat in impossible timeframe. My only regret was to be in Satya Nadela’s org at the time of getting the award. His body-language clearly told me that he does not care about bee-workers.

Thank you mini.

Anonymous said...

L65 E/20 C plan here. For the past 4 years. HRWEB tells me that @ my salary of $148k and a rating of 1 I'm expecting to get $158k base, ~$60k bonus and $70k stock.

I have higher offers as I'm in a hot area (OSD analytics) but, I'm content. I must be the only one judging by all these comments.

Anonymous said...

For someone that has worked hard and put in the nights and weekends, this whole review cycle will be just another swift kick in the balls..

Anonymous said...

1 is the new 5.0 !! Net pay decrease once overtime, inflation, and my Phone8 bill is factored in. Rewarding dead-wood managers while penalizing IC's.

This is all proof that Microsoft continues to have a listening problem- with its employees as well as its customers.

(running to door)

Anonymous said...

Steve and Lisa can't even ship a new pay plan without it being ten years late to market.

Anonymous said...

Want a real pay raise? Don't live in Seattle, WA

100K is peanuts in an expensive metro area like Bellevue and is a road to no-where. Long hours at the desk and in traffic- for what? Do yourself a favor and take a pay cut at 90k anywhere else and be way better off. Have a life.

It's never about what you make. It is all about what you make relative to everyone else. Maybe Bill can explain..

Anonymous said...

Contractors and college new hires are making more money than I am after a decade and four promotions with the company?

I know our review system is broken Lisa... but seriously what do I need to do here- quit and come back?

Anonymous said...

Am i missing something.. MCS here... between %1 - %5 raise (which is normal anyway and under inflation) and only 2k bonus to basepay...

So all i got was 2k? so whats all the noise about? Did MCS get screwed or just me ? :)

Anonymous said...

"Newhire future starts will get an email with an updated offer (assuming in R&D)"

Can anyone else confirm this? I'm still evaluating offers (MS included) and would like to make an informed decision.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but if he was *actually* as good as he told you he was, that would not have happened, especially for 21 years.

Corner office quarterbacks around here are always quick to the point at the employee as the problem. They don't want to answer the real question which is how they let someone in their org get marginalized for two decades.

Because we all know the answer to that one. The way to the top at Microsoft has been all about screwing the little guy over.

Anonymous said...

I mean look at the way they have laidoff these people, it is nothing short of CRUEL.

I bet if everyone sat down and read each other's reviews for the last three years...

well that would be insightful...

We would probably find out that half the company was A/10

Anonymous said...

This has never been the case in any organization I've been in over the last 15 years -- Developers are always, as a group, higher level than their PM and Test peers.

+1

In my team, if you want to have a career path to nowhere, you become an SDET

Anonymous said...

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.

It doesn't take a google. Bob's software in a strip mall will do fine.

I've had six interviews and two offers this month from start-ups to Fortune 500 and everyone is willing to match my pay range without blinking an eye.

There has never been a better time to jump ship.

Anonymous said...

Although I don't participate in Test's stack because they report to a different org, the only Principal I'm aware of is the TM who manages >30 FTEs.

The only people that get rewarded in test org are managers.

Anonymous said...

HR: 5s won't be able to move, and on the second 5, you're out. No restrictions on 4s. 20% 20% 40% 13% 7% curve will be forced within the band of ~50 employees.

Dumb, seriously dumb. All this internal competition is destroying this company.

Anonymous said...

As a recent MS departure I'll say that Microsoft's engineering culture is what's broken- not the pay scale. Leaving to a higher salary was icing on the cake and I can see why MS is addressing it- it's the easiest part to fix but it's not the core issue.

The Sinofsky triads, office-door culture, constant meetings, lengthy release cycles and endless turf wars are not conducive for devs wanting to kick ass on a fast-paced agile team.

Microsoft has a reputation of hiring alpha-male types; the problem is that they don't want to work at a second-rate company which Microsoft is turning into and so they're leaving in droves.

I hope all these whiners fixated on their salaries stick around at Microsoft instead of infecting everyone else. 'd rather work with people who care about their work environment more than some backstabbing to move from 3 to 2 on a review for a 2% bonus.

Anonymous said...

I took a level 60 job at Microsoft, with the same salary (and less 401k match, bonus) I previously earned from another fortune 20 company. Adjusted for living cost, my total package was cut by 25%. I worked for 4 years prior to joining Microsoft and had been admiring it for a while. Although I enjoyed the work I I do here, the 25% cut drove me into a pretty stressful financial situation.

+1

Factor in the high cost of living, and my wife and I have struggled to meet our most basic needs. Working here has just been a bad deal all around.

I plan to move this spring wants the kids are out out of school.

Anonymous said...

This is like the Windows ME of compensation plans? Buggy, doesn't solve customer's problems, etc..


I was thinking about coming to MS, but maybe I will wait until the next version of HR Pay Plan ships...

If it ships (kinda sounds like vaporware at the moment)

=)

Anonymous said...

In my opinion all devs should look outside microosft where they will be more respected and will have faster career growth.

...

It is difficult to imagine a place where I could be respected less than Microsoft.

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.

You hit the nail on the head here. Until Steve starts firing these greedy managers that only care about themselves, this company has no future.

What is needed to save this company NOW are major organizational changes.

Anonymous said...

This is the approximate salary spread per level, from L59 to L68. This is current, not the new FY11 stuff. While hard to represent in text here, this should show how it is possible in the current system for a high paid L62 to make more than a mid-paid L64 or even a low paid L65. Also notice how much wider the bands get at high levels.

In thousands of dollars
---75----100---125---150----175---200---225----250
----|------|------|------|------|------|------|------|----
---[-L59-]
----[--L60-]
------[---L61--]
---------[---L62---]
------------[---L63---]
--------------[----L64---]
------------------[----L65----]
---------------------[----L66-----]
-----------------------[--------L67--------]
-----------------------------[----------L68-----------]


And keep in mind that most people fall in the middle of their band, rarely will you ever find anyone at the extreme top or bottom of any band. The bands are +/- 16% of midpoint, most people are in the +/- 10% range of midpoint.

Anonymous said...

I see the smart companies that want our Windows/Office revenue getting serious about poaching off our full time employees while this fiasco is playing out.

The company is in a weak spot due to HR's incompetance. The levels/pay/org - none of it makes any sense anymore.

All competitors need to do is go for the jugular, play with our blood a little. Bleed off enough talent (in any band) and the rest will come unraveled by itself.

Anonymous said...

For the first time ever, Ballmer has acknowledged that MS is the Titanic and sinking is inevitable.

Micro-who? Hopefully Steve has a plan to lease-out 10 million square feet of commercial office space in Redmond, WA.

Because unless he rapidly changes course- figures out how to keep his employees happy, bigger organizational changes, investments in new technologies - the writing is on the wall.

The fact is that what he has, his customers don't want.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mini,

Long time read, first time commenter.

I have been in Microsoft for 3 years, according to my limited scope and experience, I think the most discouraging experience is the success of your organization does not alien to your personal success.

I think the review across our organization is fair enough: the rock stars do get decent reward for their awesome work. However, there are quite a few good worker waiting in the pipeline for promotion due to the very limited budgets. Regardless our organization contributes half of profits to the corporation, the promotion/morale budgets is dwarfed by Bing, WinMo, etc.

Quite a few my colleagues move to other team in the last release. I chose to leave the company to join a small startup, problem solved.

Anonymous said...

So, it looks like if you are in a R&D job you are looking at 15 to 17% base pay hike for a rating of 1 and for the non R&D (about 70% of the FTEs?) it's about 4 to 6% base pay hike for rating 1. Is that it?

Anonymous said...

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

HR: Their salaries will be adjusted (increased)

Anonymous said...

Few suggestions to the MS FTEs (assuming at least few of you are MS employees!)
Keep voicing your opinions and constructive feedback through MS Poll. When I see the MS Poll participation rates it saddens me that a lot of people squander away a golden chance for making their voice heard.

Beat the curve system - if you are a manager, when you handout the dreaded 10% (or now the 13 and 7%) be honest about it - if it's someone you are not planning to manage out, do your best to help them and help find their niche in your team or elsewhere. I would always ask the question, if there was no curve what would I have given this person and would I want him/her on my team.

If you are a hiring manager, then don't reject someone just by looking at their rating (I know most of us do look up or find out the prior year ratngs one way or other). Give the guy/gal 30 minutes of your time before dropping them like hot potatoes.

Folks, since the time I have been at MSFT, I have heard almost everyone (managers and ICs) complaining about the curve. If you haven't figured out by now that a) the mothership/HQ/HR/SteveB/LisaB or whoever is not going to change the system, and b) that collectively we can do something about it, it's sad.

It may take few years to effect any change or it may never happen, but at least you know you tried.

Don't compromise your integrity.

Anonymous said...

Talked to my manager. The current year will finish with the same review system. The following 12 months is where this review will kick in. Seems sad to have to wait 15 months to see this change.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else notice the significant increase in the number of “if you don’t like it, then leave” type comments?

We also know very well that HR STAFF is TOUTING for having reduced the headcount ON THEIR RESUME’S.

Aha, so it’s HR leaving the “if you don’t like it, then leave” comments. I suppose that's another way of reducing headcount.

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

…or someone from MS HR, management, SLT, Ballmer himself…

I've been at Microsoft as a manager for 4 years and I love going to work day after day. […] Really, if all you gripers don't like these changes, get another job.

At least this one’s honest.

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.

And the millions upon millions of regular people who genuinely love their iPhones and iPads are just brainwashed members of the Apple Cult.

That’s right, just keep your head in the sand, everything will soon be fine.

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.

Well, the toxic culture has to come from *somewhere*.

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.

Dear MSFT Shareholders: 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 - specifically, Ballmer.

I hardly think some lone blogger with a comment system is Microsoft’s real problem.

Anonymous said...

"Now, if MSFT is applying the forced curve at the 10 person small team level, then yeah, something's f'ed up."

I'm a manager. That's the way it works. If you manage ~10 people, you have to go to the calibration meeting with one of them identified as your 10%'r.

There have been some other commenters saying that leveling only applies to groups of more than 40 or 50. Unfortunately, that's not the way the system works in practice. What really happens is this: The manager of the large group (50+) requires each of his mid-level managers to arrive at the calibration meeting with their smaller groups pre-calibrated. That way, all the higher-level manager has to do is add everything up, correct anything that strikes him as conspicuously wrong, verify that the aggregate meets his larger group's leveling requirement, and "bingo!" his calibration work is done. BTW, arguing with the group (about why your 10%'r doesn't deserve the rating) rarely works because the other mid-level managers know one of them will have to give an extra 10% if you successfully avoid giving one in your group.

And for all of you ICs who have been commenting on this blog about how the bottom 10% should leave the company anyway, I'll clue you in to something. You're not as safe from a 5 rating as you think you are. Speaking as a manager, the differences between an A/70 (3 in the new system) and an A/10 (5 in the new system) is usually very, very small. Agonizingly small sometimes. Contrary to what I read on this blog, most people at Microsoft work very hard. You're not as special as you think you are. Someday, one of your projects will be delayed, etc., your teammates will have done better (perhaps only marginally) and then you're going to be the 10%'r. When that happens, post back to this blog and let me know if you still think the 10%'rs should be fired.

Anonymous said...

I find it funny that people think that moving a small portion of stock awards that vest over 5 years to cash as part of salary where you see the benefits immediately means that MSFT is admitting the ship is sinking. First, you will continue to get stock awards (59+) and the highter levels are still highly compensated by stock. Second, this is what employees asked for!

Anonymous said...

Why are people complaining about the cost to live in the Seattle metropolitan area? Live in the San Francisco Bay area, Maryland/ DC, or NYC metropolitan area for a few years and be appreciative that Seattle is still an affordable city.

If people think Seattle is expensive, I suggest moving to Little Rock, Arkansas.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, on the old system the curve was not across the company, but rolled up to your GM or Senior Director.

So here is the problem I have with the system both old and new.

If I'm on a professional baseball team and play for a leading team, and I'm a 3 player on that team, well then good for me. But if I'm a 5 on that leading team I'm out.

But on a weaker team in major league baseball that 5 might be a 3 or a 4, and not only would I have a job on a major league team, I would be doing well.

The margins are so close here. I read all these ego-manic replies of I work hard and have gotten E/70 or E/20 year after year and it could never happen to me. You are one bad manager away, one blown project, one delay launch to it all going away. The gap between an A/10 and an E/70 is not that wide in reality, and outside of politics, managers don't have a huge say.

A curve system is useless unless everyone on every team is rated on the same curve across everyone in their level/discipline. Microsoft doesn't do this.

A mediocre player on the New York Yankees is going to be a good player for Kansas City, a mediocre player for Kansas City wouldn't even make the cut for the Boston Red Sox. But the way the current system is set up, the average player on a weak team within Microsoft gets the same reward as a very strong player on a strong team within Microsoft. It's broken, it's wrong, and this new system does nothing to address it.

For those say the pay increases are generous, this is after a review cycle where raises were light for most, and then no raises the year before. The salary increases only bring things to parity to their external peers while reducing long term incentives, and putting caps on them. I for one can see right through it.

I love Microsoft but it is a very sick organization that desperately needs massive change. These changes don't address them.

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?



first and foremost our marketing is worst than any other company out there

1. Stupid cloud adds which i think no body understands nor uses
2. Bing adds are boring and at times irritating. They dont show anything what more can be searched using bing and what cool features bing has ( video preview, search history, deep links)
3. Speding billions on dollars on youtube, walsteet journal etc with no proper focus escpecially zune etc which no one knows about our product until V3

Whenever a microsoft add comes I need to hide my face in front of friends for embarassment

Forget about the payrise all the marketing departments should be outsourced to some startups which would come up with new innovative ideas to the mass media for fraction of cost.

Anonymous said...


Talked to my manager. The current year will finish with the same review system. The following 12 months is where this review will kick in. Seems sad to have to wait 15 months to see this change.


You are 100% incorrect, of course. Did you read the e-mail from Steveb, as well as the info on hrweb? I can't believe how stupid some people are.

Anonymous said...

FIRE BALMER!

Anonymous said...

per my understanding, most of the employee just got some stock re-allocate to base, which is better than nothing (the change amount will be around 3-5% of the total base); but it really not much things need to highlight, we did it too late and too little. Just for some R&D guys, the addtional base increase may be good news for them, but for all other BU, it is just soso

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.

You hit the nail on the head here. Until Steve starts firing these greedy managers that only care about themselves, this company has no future.

What is needed to save this company NOW are major organizational changes.


Steve Ballmer doesn't believe in major organizational changes.

You are eventually getting a salary bump, some changes in health benefits and the old review system with the ratings reversed.

Windows and Office going along for the ride in PC upgrade cycles keeps the company making money.

The Board of Directors doesn't care how the sausage is made.

Here is where they are from:

JPMorgan Chase
Merck & Co.
Netflix
Harvey Mudd College
August Capital
Bank of America
BMW AG
Microsoft

They come from financial services companies (including "too big to fail" bailout banks), a drug company, a car company, a college and Netflix.

Nobody I would count on to care about Microsoft's work environment.

But, there's one guy there that profits if you are depressed about it.

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!

>>>>>

Thank your lucky stars you didn't actually file a well-documented formal complaint - or you'd still be stinging from the legal bills involved in fighting off not just Microsoft's internal lawyers, but an outside law firm as well, determined to find a way to fire you for cause and scare you into taking a gag/resignation agreement.

For anyone who doesn't know what a gag/resignation agreement is, it's where Microsoft agrees to turn a firing into a voluntary resignation for some amount of money, in exchange for your permanent silence over whatever actually went on.

The simple existence of such paper and process, really tells you everything you need to know.

I worked for the company for a dozen years under Bill. It is a hellhole under Ballmer.

Anonymous said...

Till 7 days back, after working for 5 years, and realizing that I am not getting my true worth, I had made up my mind to start revamping my CV (something I have not done since 2006 - I am a college hire); and start posting it on various sites.
But, this sudden news has really made my decision harder. Will hv to wait till September.

Anonymous said...

This is a CBI cap and effective paycut for anyone who has been an Exceed in the past. In my case, compared to past years CBI, the new numbers represent a 20% cut in CBI at similar levels of job performance. It looks like all they did is take from the top to give to the middle. With comp effectively cut for the higher performers via a CBI cap, MSFT may see more departures of those who ar really driving things but below partner level where none of this probably matters.

Anonymous said...

8:26:00 +1

It is still a forced curve, regardless of how you name it. The “new” review system still promotes competition within teams—pitting one employee against another for a specific set of rewards. I’ve sat in calibration meetings and had to give good employees an underperformed to meet a specific curve, no matter how much I protested. God forbid they should “peanut butter” the rewards. And if you’re new to a group just before reviews? Good luck getting an Achieved. Or a 3.

I’ve been increasingly disheartened about how reviews are done at MSFT and I’ve managed teams in three divisions. I see people who are more “visible” getting E/20 regardless of whether that visibility contributes to the bottom line. I see people being moved out who have given years to the company and are having a down cycle due to a number of reasons (bad manager, reorgs, personal or health issues, you name it).

The company has moved from being about people, careers, and teamwork to being about competition, calibration, and pigeonholing. Some people thrive in this new environment. Many don’t.

Ballmer’s email confirms what I already knew—that good people are leaving MSFT in droves. This is an attempt to stem the tide.

skc said...

>>I've had six interviews and two offers this month from start-ups to Fortune 500 and everyone is willing to match my pay range without blinking an eye.

There has never been a better time to jump ship.<<

Which begs the question, why are so many unhappy people posting here instead of getting a better job?

I have zero sympathy for anyone that works at Microsoft and has posted more than two comments to this blog.

Finding better employment is as easy as making a phone call.

Anonymous said...

>In my team, if you want to have a career path to nowhere, you become an SDET

>In my team, if you want to have a career path to nowhere, you become an SDET

That's because the test discipline has been systematically dismantled over the past 5 - 7 years. And some of the perpetrators have been the test Senior Leadership Team themselves. (Short-term gain, yum, yum).

The rationale was that test is a largely unskilled job that can be replaced by automation and vendors: and that the STE role was not needed at all. AFter all, anyone that can write code must be able to test,right? (That was irony, BTW)

Extrapolating, we'll have a fair-haired children who will create the pretty and comforting reports (and get the glory), and as few as possible miserable SDETs managing a legion of vendors.

Many millions of tests are and will be run - whether they are any good, whether they are any good, and the total inability to triage the results is and will be irrelevant.

The bottom line is that leaders are getting rewarded for "great news now" - no bad news, nothing that requires more than short-term investment.

So instead of the brightest and the best, Microsoft retains the most obedient and malleable.

Anonymous said...

This change does benefit me. I am constantly at .9 comp ration in Level61 and 62. I am E/20 all through(less than 3 years in msft). With this change, I will get atleast 17% increase without promotion. I might still be in low comp ration, but i am very happy to take the extra dough...I didnt want to switch companies right now, as I have am working on a cool feature.. Definitely will move next year, as Management BS and polictics are unbearable. I would like to work for a company where culture focuses on Customers!

Anonymous said...

>Few suggestions to the MS FTEs (assuming at least few of you are MS employees!)
Keep voicing your opinions and constructive feedback through MS Poll. When I see the MS Poll participation rates it saddens me that a lot of people squander away a golden chance for making their voice heard

My experience is totally the opposite. In 10+ years, I never saw a damn thing change as a result of the poll at the organizational level. In the last poll before I left, my manager dropped 53% in one category - which she attributed to statistical spread.

Many people only see downside with the MS Poll, from wasting an hour of their lives to potentially being idetified as "negative".

Anonymous said...

Want a real pay raise? Don't live in Seattle, WA

Of all the complaints here (I do believe many are justified), I think this one is among the worst.

I suggest you get a grip on a simple economic reality: The places you want to live are high cost of living places. Maybe your bumf*ck hometown was cheaper, but nobody wants to live there, there is no economic base and no top jobs, and if these things existed this would by its very nature drive up the cost of living. You yourself probably failed to get a decent job there, and that's why you're living in Seattle now.

The metro areas where people actually have plentiful and desirable jobs are expensive. Compared with the rest of these places (eg. SF, NY, DC, Boston), Seattle is pretty cheap. In fact some of us took our offers from MSFT because it's cheaper to live in Seattle than the Valley [where there are more jobs] and therefore your salary goes further.

By all means, move back to Peoria or Podunk or wherever you came from. Good luck finding the same caliber job for similar pay. I've considered leaving Seattle, but it always comes down to this: the places where I'd want to move are more expensive than Seattle.

Anonymous said...

If Steve and Lisa really believed in a curve aka normal distribution, half of all employees would be below average and half above. That means about there are about 45,000 employees whose retention is not all that important. Also this hypothetical 45k would receive no bonuses and no stock. All rewards would go to the upper 45000 employees distributed as follows:

- ~31,000 employees in the first standard distribution would get 4% of total rewards
- ~12,000 employees would get 28% of the awards
- ~ 1800 employees would get 68% of the rewards

So putting that in context, let's say average salary is $100k, and total bonus/stock/merit pool is 20%. Therefore with 90k employees total award pool is $1.8billion. Under my curve here is what you get:

- 45000 employees get nothing
- 31000 share in pool of $72million (4% of total pool), or average award $2,322
- 12600 share in a pool of $504 million (28% of total pool), and get $40,000 award
- 1800 employees share in a pool of $1.224billion (68% of the total pool) and get $680,000 each.

Now THAT is differentiation. I thought Ballmer was supposed to be good at math?

Anonymous said...

@"Few suggestions to the MS FTEs (assuming at least few of you are MS employees!)

...

Don't compromise your integrity."

+1

Sawdustmaker said...

Ballmer is unwinding the performance and compensation strategy deployed back in 2000-2001. At that time, salaries were more or less increased by 20+ percent across the board (higher for the product teams, lower for everyone else). Bonuses were increased and the rating “curve” was adjusted to provide more flexibility for those organizations with high performing, teams (the idea was to stop penalizing solid performers simply because of the “curve”). Shortly thereafter RSU’s were added to mix of stock based incentives.

Now fast forward to 2003-2004. Guess what? Salaries are a bit high so Ballmer in his infinite wisdom decides to eliminate salary increases. Fortunately he gets talked out of it, but for a period of a couple years or more, salary increases averaged between 2-3 percent. Okay, so you bump everyone 20% and then eventually even the score over the next 4-5 years by providing minimal increases.

Stock growth over the same period is essentially zero, so the troops start to get a bit restless. That is when the talent drain really began. I began to hear very senior and valuable employees (who by the way were beyond being very well compensated) begin to decide enough was enough and it was time to move on. They had lost their passion for MSFT, and to a certain extent lost faith in the company they once thought they would never leave.

Stock has not been a motivator since 2001. Here's an idea. Instead of simply giving people more cash, how about providing incentives based on revenue growth (or new revenue streams created via new innovative products)? As far as I know, this has never been attempted. How about providing significant incentives for innovative ideas (both to individuals and teams)? Simply increasing bonuses or handing out more RSU's creates a disconnect from shareholder value. In defense of Ballmer, MSFT has proven that a stable company that can ride out tough economic times and continue to generate profits will not see any reward in terms of shareholder value. So why not try to reward employees on revenue growth or "innovation value", meaning ideas that can be monetized by incorporating into existing or new products. Further, incentives must be geared towards both individuals AND teams. As a former employee (and more importantly a shareholder), I want to see the stock price move in a positive direction and I'm not confident this is the answer, nor do I think it will help with talent acquisition or retention.

MSFT is not losing talent to Google and Facebook because of compensation. MSFT is losing talent because MSFT is no longer "cool." Address that issue and the magic will return.

Anonymous said...

"Talked to my manager. The current year will finish with the same review system. The following 12 months is where this review will kick in. Seems sad to have to wait 15 months to see this change."

Your manager is wrong, the new review system begins this year, the old system is done effective now.


Direct your questions to HR, not your manager.

Spork said...

"Folks, since the time I have been at MSFT, I have heard almost everyone (managers and ICs) complaining about the curve. If you haven't figured out by now that a) the mothership/HQ/HR/SteveB/LisaB or whoever is not going to change the system, and b) that collectively we can do something about it, it's sad.

It may take few years to effect any change or it may never happen, but at least you know you tried."


These kinds of comments make me sad because you know the person is new and hasn't yet had their spirit broken by the Microsoft system.

You *cannot* change a single thing about the culture. Many have tried and all have failed.

Most groups are under executive mandates to not hire 10% people -- even senior hiring managers can't bring those folks on to teams. And individual managers lose control of where their employees fall in the stack very quickly -- once you hand your stack off to your manager it's totally out of your hands, and often out of your manager's hands.

The system is broken and will not be fixed... if you try you will burn-out and leave. If you want to stay, figure out a way to make peace with the status quo.

Anonymous said...

Employees are leaving because under Ballmer MS has become a laggard and a loser. Who wants to work for a company that has had a "lost decade"?

I blame the board. They ignored this for most of a decade as long as it only affected the share price. Only now that it's finally theatening recruitment and retention do they bother to make a change, and even then only to compensation and not to leadership.

Anonymous said...

"Dear MSFT Shareholders: 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 - specifically, Ballmer."

+1

But it isn't just perception, it's reality. Despite spending more than any other company over the last decade to diversify, MS has failed to move beyond the PC. Where Apple is unrecognizable from even four years ago when iPod and Mac sales dominated their results, the bulk of MS's earnings are still powered by the same three engines as 1998.

As the PC era rapidly gives way to the post PC era, growth is stalling and will soon be replaced by decline. And there is nothing on hand to replace that lost revenue and profit stream.

I think it might be too late for the company to make a comeback. But you're right that replacing Ballmer immediately is required to even have a chance at that.

Anonymous said...

I've never seen so many people incapable of mastering their own destiny. Microsoft moved me out here, but I certainly don't have any allegiance to the company. Try working in a tougher market, where it's hard to keep a job, and get back to me. You're a bunch of whiney bitches.

Here's how the world works: If work/life balance sucks: Quit or get a job in a better group. I've never worked a minute over 40 hours at Microsoft. If the pay is inadequate: Work to level up or quit. If you don't like the benefits: Quit and go elsewhere (and then discover you had it wrong). If there are too many meetings: Decline invites or quit. If the office door culture annoys you: Work to move toward a team room culture or quit.

Do you see the pattern? Microsoft is changing for the better, led by people who don't have their head up their ass. I'm in a group like that, and I'm an agent of change. I get off on fixing what's broken. But the truth is, if I felt change wasn't possible, I'd nut up and quit.

Stop being a bunch of whiney ass victims. I have no desire to work with a bunch of dicks who feel entitled all of the time.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if there is a way to get the data about how many older, ill, or disabled employees have been forced out of the company or had to quit because of being denied paid disability leave?

http://www.king5.com/news/local/Cancer-patient-says-Microsoft-cut-his-job-because-he-got-sick-120423754.html
http://www.king5.com/news/local/Microsoft-worker-denied-paid-leave-for-brain-surgery-120323299.html

Is this a trend?

Myself, I am an older employee with a disability and my new manager is clearly trying to fire me after only a few months. I've been shuffled around my org due to many, many re-orgs and despite delivering on some big and visible projects I've been identified as a 10%-er and it does not seem to matter what I do; I am tainted as a 10% and am doomed after 20+ years. I am currently on unpaid medical leave -for a disability-related illness - because like Ken Knightley in the article linked above because I got a mid-year review that declared me as underperforming - out of the blue.

I have heard lots of rumbling about how KT is a fan of 'aging out' older employees who avail themselves of the healthcare benefits. Is there anyway to collect quantitative data to support/refute that theory? I would really like to understand if that is a real thing or if it is just noise that happens to be true in my case, and Ken's, and Duncan's, and a few other former employees that I happen to be acquanted with... fact or fiction?

Anonymous said...

Probably. If you're not approaching 40 and don't cost the company much in health care, you have a few more years.

Two words: Class Action

Or do you think HR are so smart that it could never happen?

Anonymous said...

Question for Sunday, April 24, 2011 8:26:00 PM regarding: “I'm a manager. That's the way it works. If you manage ~10 people, you have to go to the calibration meeting with one of them identified as your 10%'r.”

If your directs are both Managers (& Leads) and ICs, are the Manager’s & IC’s calibrated in the same group? I was led to believe they are not, but it sounds like you are saying they are calibrated against each other. I'm my Director's lone IC, the rest are Dev, Test & PM Managers, and I believe this will disadvantage me in the stack.

Anonymous said...

But I'm also aware of Computer Science PHDs at MSFT who write test scripts and have no responsibility outside of that duty.

A competitive hire is designed to just keep someone useful away from the competition.

Microsoft doesn't care what they do.

There is a lot of talent being wasted by Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

enterprise software to transform the world

Thanks for the best laugh I've had all day.

Turning into IBM isn't going to help this company out of its rut.

Anonymous said...

What exactly counts as R&D? I heard Content Publisher and Support are both not part of that, what else?

Anonymous said...

I’m generally happy about the change, but don’t really have strong feelings about it.

I've been on multiple teams at MS and have friends on many others. It has been my experience that in general (of course not always!) those who collaborate well are the ones that get the e/20s or at least solid a/70 (1 and 2 now). Here are my thoughts on why:
1) to succeed in such a large company you need to be plugged in. Working well with others helps you succeed by knowing where to get specific information.
2) many managers look at collaboration or the outcomes of it (getting broader /cross-group projects done etc) as reasoning to move people from a 70 to 20 or to give a gold star. Etc. Collaboration isn’t enough on its own but IS a differentiator once you have mastered doing your job on your own.
3) it is often those who are paranoid about their reviews and not doing well who become competitive. I think the false assumptions of what gets a good review, promotion, or gold star is what causes the competition. Being passionate about your work and doing a good job first and second caring about the money is usually the way to do well – not the other way around.

Sure MS could do way better, but I just have to think that if you will only be helpful to others and collaborate if you are paid to do it …then you’re doing it wrong.

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."

If you actually do work here, you obviously haven't been here for very long.

Suggest you hold your tongue for a few more years and then see how you feel.

Anonymous said...

This still does not address promotions at MSFT. I've been in groups where someone does very little yet they are promoted because "it is their time". Now with this new rating you can still get 1's and 2's for many years but no promo! I also question the 4's on this scale. How many managers would even consider an open position if someone had a 4? Forget the 5's, you are now a 7 percenter, (down from a 10 percenter)

Anonymous said...

I am an outsider.

I have received an offer for SDET2, currently I am a software developer in embedded domain. Does it make sennse to take the job in test(windows group)? I was really interested in joining msft but the comments on this blogs make me little skeptical. All you insiders, pls help.

Anonymous said...

The so called hike in base pay will only benefit for those who were atleast in high 70's or 20 percent . For rest there will hardly be any benefit.
Contribution ranking prior to '10 are not being considered in base pay hike

Anonymous said...

In response to the person asking about accepting an SDET position. I've been at MS for 15 years and it takes some effort for an SDET to move to an SDE position, although it is easier than it was 10 years ago. An SDET path can be a good one and the pay gap has diminished in recent years. It sounds like, however, you really do not want to be an SDET in which case you should wait until the right SDE spot comes along for you to apply to. As you can tell from the tone of this blog, working at Microsoft is not what it used to be.

Anonymous said...

Probably. If you're not approaching 40 and don't cost the company much in health care, you have a few more years.

Two words: Class Action

Or do you think HR are so smart that it could never happen?


How do you plan on getting the data to prove it?

Even if you did, they usually do it before you are protected by age discrimination legislation.

Steve Ballmer would look like a douche if you could prove it but HR will tell you with a smile on their face that they follow the law.

Anonymous said...

However, there are quite a few good worker waiting in the pipeline for promotion due to the very limited budgets.

If Microsoft valued competent journeyman developers and actually focused on building and shipping software instead of this "scope" and "influence" bullshit, maybe people would be satisfied with their jobs and be happy to come to work.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to climb the career ladder, I just wish there was room for people who are content slinging code for a decent wage. But since that's how you end up in the A/10 or Limited/II or "4" bucket...

Anonymous said...

I find this blog so entertaining. Those that actually post here and work at Microsoft, you have a pretty darn good deal - so many people would LOVE to be in your shoes. I have been at Microsoft for over 11 years and feel so lucky to work there; my stock has not been the greatest but I have benefited from it over time. I make great money (b/c I work smart), I have an amazing work/life balance, & my family is protected with fantastic benefits that most people be grateful for. Yeah, my spouse and I both work (not both at MSFT), but if my spouse lost their job, I could support the family alone. Stop complaining and be thankful for what you have. If you can't live on your current or "new" salary/bonus, perhaps you should think about your lifestyle and make some changes. The grass is not always greener people - you'll find the same B.S. at the next company. I am staying and at least I'll retire on the lake b/c I made smart choices over time.

Anonymous said...

I have received an offer for SDET2, currently I am a software developer in embedded domain. Does it make sennse to take the job in test(windows group)? I was really interested in joining msft but the comments on this blogs make me little skeptical. All you insiders, pls help.

At a startup, you would have more responsibilities and learn a lot more.

At Microsoft, there are a lot of people competing to get the pieces of a project that are rewarded at the end of the year.

Some people want to leave but have a family and don't want to risk a move or are on an H1B visa and can't easily move.

If the idea of working at Microsoft appeals to you, try it out for a couple of years.

Anonymous said...

I have heard lots of rumbling about how KT is a fan of 'aging out' older employees who avail themselves of the healthcare benefits. Is there anyway to collect quantitative data to support/refute that theory? I would really like to understand if that is a real thing or if it is just noise that happens to be true in my case, and Ken's, and Duncan's, and a few other former employees that I happen to be acquanted with... fact or fiction?

The excuse they will use when they let you go is that people are expected to advance to a higher level every few years.

At a higher level in an organization, there are fewer positions and it takes time to advance to that level.

So, over the years, older workers are herded into fewer positions.

An "up or out" policy is a nice structural way of moving older workers out of the company. It saves money on salary and healthcare.

Anonymous said...

All the naysayers who are fed up with ballmer era's Microsoft, move on - I did and life is beautiful. There are plenty of good things outside. When one is with the mothership you have the blinders on. Step out, there is so much more, start a startup, look at Valley. Let's try to make it the same dynamic environment here, I am sure Sand Hill will follow here too. Dont get sucked in to rating, curve setting, review shit, 5 or 10% or whatever the whims & fancy of the bald guy says - he is designed to kill innovation and make you into a obedient robot! Vote by your feet.

Anonymous said...

I was really interested in joining msft but the comments on this blogs make me little skeptical. All you insiders, pls help.

It's hard to say without specifics, but I would say more than 50% of posts here are not by insiders, so don't expect too much.

Microsoft is a huge place, with decent internal mobility, so even if you don't like the actual job you're offered you can usually move to a position that's a good fit for you.

Anonymous said...

@outsider:
Lol, yes take the job! Most of the negative comments here are Apple HR reps and folks who couldn't get an offer from MS (probably).

The comments from these people dispairing about the new system show how little they actually researched. The payscale changes in Sep will be great- especially for someone at the SDET2 level.

Do you really want to pass up an opportunity because of the vocal minority & trolls? Besides, if you find you don't like it, you can always find a new job.

Anonymous said...

The review system is again more broken than before. Now the achieved + 10% category is gone and replaced with some garbage about not meeting commitments. Many groups have already managed out the bottom of the stack several years in a row so now the bottom 7% (rating of 5) is actually pretty reasonable performers who should be allowed to work and not denied reasonable respect.
This is like communist China - x% of people are counter-revolutionaries and must be sent to reeducation camp!

Anonymous said...

Myself, I am an older employee with a disability and my new manager is clearly trying to fire me after only a few months. I've been shuffled around my org due to many, many re-orgs and despite delivering on some big and visible projects I've been identified as a 10%-er and it does not seem to matter what I do; I am tainted as a 10% and am doomed after 20+ years. I am currently on unpaid medical leave -for a disability-related illness - because like Ken Knightley in the article linked above because I got a mid-year review that declared me as underperforming - out of the blue.

I have heard lots of rumbling about how KT is a fan of 'aging out' older employees who avail themselves of the healthcare benefits. Is there anyway to collect quantitative data to support/refute that theory? I would really like to understand if that is a real thing or if it is just noise that happens to be true in my case, and Ken's, and Duncan's, and a few other former employees that I happen to be acquanted with... fact or fiction?


Quantitative data? I doubt it. Every single person who's been "managed out" like my husband and like you say you are, no doubt feels they're the only one. When they ambush you at a weekly one-on-one (probably after giving you some big new project to do) and escort you to your car and off the campus, if you're lucky you'll be given a severance package, but if you take it you sign away your right to sue. (thus, the dearth of class action suits.)

I don't think you'll find any data. The broken discards are licking their wounds and trying to begin again, many of them after 20 years and (I imagine in many cases) having been hired out of college and no other employment history. But if you want to start gathering anecdotes, I think you'll find some.

Your story is my husband's story. Moved around, working harder and harder until the chronic stress made him break down physically and mentally. It's not a "weakness" to be human and to be unable to tolerate years of cortisol and adrenaline. It's just being human. Anyway, once you get the 10%, you don't qualify for paid medical leave, even if the stress of working was what causes you to need a medical leave in the first place. In our case, we burnt up all hubby's accrued vacation in lieu of using up savings. But, while he was on unpaid medical leave, he couldn't even look for new work, or he'd "have to pay it back". What, pay back the vacation money? Evidently.

Finally, he went back. And as I've said, the first thing his new manager said was "I heard you were only coming back to quit." "Oh? Who told you that?" "HR did." Funny. He never told HR any such thing. He meant to go back, start anew, start fresh in his new group, do his part. They had already decided to get rid of him. It didn't matter how hard he was willing to work, or what critical knowledge he had, that his group needed. They dumped him and that knowledge was lost. Their problem, not his.

I feel for you. Hubby has now been looking for work for 5 months. It isn't as simple as making a phone call, no matter what sk8 said at 7:28am. He's had one phone interview, some very excited staffing agencies who hustled his tweaked resume out, and a whole heck of a lot of silence. Thank God for Unemployment insurance, Ebay, and tax refunds. That's all I can say.

Anonymous said...

>Now THAT is differentiation. I thought Ballmer was supposed to be good at math?

The problem is not the amount of the reward, its the way in which individuals are categorized, which is totally vulnerable to gaming.

From top to bottom, everyone is shit-scared of getting that 10% (or whaever it is now), as that effectively means they're done.

That has led to a culture of:

- risk averseness
- messenger shooting
- not rocking the boat
- "kiss-up-kick-down" management whose sole raison d'etre is keeping their VP's scorecard nice and green regardless of the situation on the ground

That isn't how passionate employees are attracted and retained, personally I'm still glad to have quit at the beginning of the year, after 10+ years with the company.

I went back to what I used to do: engineering.

Anonymous said...

Do you see the pattern? Microsoft is changing for the better, led by people who don't have their head up their ass. I'm in a group like that, and I'm an agent of change. I get off on fixing what's broken. But the truth is, if I felt change wasn't possible, I'd nut up and quit.

Stop being a bunch of whiney ass victims. I have no desire to work with a bunch of dicks who feel entitled all of the time.


Thanks for taking the time to explain. The situation is clear as crystal now. Wha a bunch of losers we've been!

Anonymous said...

>I am an outsider.

I have received an offer for SDET2, currently I am a software developer in embedded domain. Does it make sennse to take the job in test(windows group)? I was really interested in joining msft but the comments on this blogs make me little skeptical. All you insiders, pls help

Absolutely, categorically LOOK AROUD AGAIN FOR OTHER OPTIONS. I speak as one who was both an IC and manager in Test in Windows (left the company now).

The Test discipline has been largely gutted by Microsoft, and wherever possible offloaded to automation and vendors. My experience was:

- Microsoft does not "get" Test. Regardless of rhetoric to the contrary, the evidence points to senior leaders seeing it as a costly nuisance rather than an integral part of the engineering process

- Wholesale automation was sold as the key to getting rid of manual testers and manual testing. This notion was, and still is badly flawed

- Many teams do not have the bandwidth to maintain automation suites, so there are vast reams of automation code whose purpose and/or efficacy is unknown

- In some cases, the tests generate orders of magnitude more issues than there are people to triage them

- Test execution has been largely handed over to vendors, some overseas and some onsite. These men and women are generally very good, but they do not have the experience or the investment in the product. Many FTEs in Test spend most of their work day managing vendors (as well as doing their own work, or trying to do so)

- Compensation and career progression for Test lags behind the Program Manager and the Developer diciplines - particulalry the latter.

Stay where you are or go somewhere (anywhere) else. If you want to be in Test, try Google. You'll be wasting your time and your talents in Test at Microsoft in general, and in Windows in particular.

Anonymous said...

For anyone who doesn't know what a gag/resignation agreement is, it's where Microsoft agrees to turn a firing into a voluntary resignation for some amount of money, in exchange for your permanent silence over whatever actually went on.

Severance in layoff '09 for those lucky enough to get it was also tied to a gag agreement.

Some of us didn't sign it. Severance roughly equivalent to 1/8 of my pending stock awards was a sick joke that was not worth serious consideration.

Did anyone else decline the severance/gag agreement, or am I the only one? I may write a book, and if there are other non-signers, I might include others' experiences as well as my own.

Anonymous said...

One good thing about the new review system is that when laid off, an employee won't be required to walk away from unvested stock awards roughly equivalent to a year's salary, because more dollars will be given as cash in hand.

Anonymous said...

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

You kinda jumped in with both feet, didn't you? Sure, you want a set of standards around an agile, componentised, strategic IT framework for your corporation. Microsoft's strength is in being able to deliver to your required standards AND integrate in a way that adds value. The MS product stack is ITS strength in meeting YOUR standards. If you follow the link left by the SITFO poster, the penny might drop! :)

Anonymous said...

I've never seen so many people incapable of mastering their own destiny. Microsoft moved me out here, but I certainly don't have any allegiance to the company.

The real reason most people don't quit Microsoft is obvious: there are simply not that many jobs out there in this economy for PMs, testers, middle managers, and other people with relatively soft skills. It is pretty rare for a person to have the dedication to develop a hard skill like being a strong developer that allows him or her to easily switch jobs. This is simply an aspect of the human condition and something you have to accept. Count your blessings if you have such a skill and have some sympathy for your fellow human beings at Microsoft who don't, and are basically forced to live with a bad boss, the bad review system, etc.

Anonymous said...

How about providing significant incentives for innovative ideas (both to individuals and teams)?

Impossible. If it was 2006 and you invented the iPhone at Microsoft there's no way you could have gotten it off the ground because it would have competed with Windows Mobile. If it was 1997 and you invented Google, you wouldn't get any traction because MSN was already contracting search out to some other company. 2009, iPad, tablet PC. You fill in the rest.

Microsoft is a big enough company and has its fingers in enough pots that any innovation you can think of will be quashed immediately due to politics. Seriously, can you think of any product Microsoft has launched in the last 20 years that wasn't due to some external disruptive force? If you want to make a product that isn't derivative, you have to work for somebody else. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

To the snarky poster whose response to a legitimate comment about the cost of living in Seattle was "move back to Podunk ..."

I left MS in 2010 for a new job in Colorado. My compensation package increased 28% and I paid $160K less for a larger house. I had a similar offer in Austin where the housing prices are also lower than the Seattle area.

The pay increases at MS won't change the broken "peer as your enemy" culture. My advice is brush up on your technical interviewing skills and then get your resume out there.

Anonymous said...

Does it make sennse to take the job in test(windows group)? I was really interested in joining msft but the comments on this blogs make me little skeptical.

This is a grip fest. Those that post, self-select. It is a big company filled with happy people and frustrated people. I suggest you ask yourself if you will enjoy doing the job and will be satisfied with your compensation.

Anonymous said...

For those of you that think that MSPoll results in changes, you are delusional.

Every year (until FY11) I filled out the MSPoll. Every year some excuse is made as to why results are low. We do some teambuilding event to try and improve results and the results are the same.

Last September, a mini-poll was done in our org to see how people liked the new org structure and manager. When my lead's results dropped by the same percentage of new people she received in her org, she identified us all as non-team players and we have been treated as such ever since. I have no hope of advancement. I have no hope of transfer now (according to her I am a non-team player now), and I would be surprised if I even received a 4 on my review. Needless to say, filling out the FY11 poll with any negative comments would have just made my position worse.

I am looking to leave now becuase of this. Which is sad. Up until this reorg last summer, I was always happy with my team, and I loved doing my job. I had almost no politics with the previous 10 years at MSFT and felt sorry for the people that had to deal with that crap. Now I have to deal with it. I've watched someone get two promos who should have been a 10% because they know who's ass to kiss. I don't kiss ass and fully expect to be Kimed out soon.

Anonymous said...

Hire Eric Schmidt as CEO ... he has the the technical chops, strong industry credibility, and a decade of running a successful search business. Moreover he is already a billionaire so the the old-guard bully-boys would not faze him.

Anonymous said...

For the guy with the sdet2 offer: try and see if you can get in as an sde. As noted in a few posts above, sdet is a terrible career path if you actually want to go somewhere in your career.

Anonymous said...

>> Does it make sennse to take the job in test

No. Made this mistake myself years ago, took a while to get back to dev. I recommend declining the offer and interviewing again 6 months later for a dev position. This is _easier_ than getting from test to dev at Microsoft, and you won't have a stigma of having been a tester before which is something that can significantly slow down your career here.

Anonymous said...

>> Larry Page will make Ballmer look like a genius!

Read up on the guy. He may _look_ like a mumbling idiot, and lack presentation skills, but idiot he ain't. He's the more level headed of the two founders, and more business-savvy. I don't have first hand info, but I'm pretty sure self-driving cars (and many other crazier things) were Sergey's idea. OTOH even that is not totally worthless. I'm pretty confident that 10 years from now driving will be to a large extent (i.e. on a highway) automated, and Google will have a ton of patents around that. Remember, Google doesn't put 50 engineers where 10 will do the job, so the cost/benefit ratio is there to be sure.

Anonymous said...

Monday, April 25, 2011 11:29:00 AM said:

"Do you see the pattern? Microsoft is changing for the better, led by people who don't have their head up their ass. I'm in a group like that, and I'm an agent of change. I get off on fixing what's broken. But the truth is, if I felt change wasn't possible, I'd nut up and quit.

Stop being a bunch of whiney ass victims. I have no desire to work with a bunch of dicks who feel entitled all of the time."


1.) Folks, this is a good example of the type of people you'll have to deal with every day at your Microsoft job. If you like this attitude, then Microsoft is the place for you.

2.) From my outside perspective Microsoft is not changing for the better. I struggle to find many bright spots for the company right now. So, Mr. Anonymous, care to back up your smugness with some examples?

Anonymous said...

Many people only see downside with the MS Poll, from wasting an hour of their lives to potentially being idetified as "negative".

I agree. My experience was that when my manager started getting bad MS Poll results things became more uncomfortable in our group. Not filling out your MS Poll was akin to filling out a negative MS Poll. So, fill out your poll and fill it out positively... or else.

How silly is it to spend money on a company-wide poll to gather false data?

Anonymous said...

Quick Question: After the contract ends, am I able to go on Unemployment while I'm looking for a new one?"

No -- the end of a contract isn't considered a termination or layoff, so you're on your own.


This is incorrect. Don't know the legal stuff but I know of a few orange badges who get unemployment insurance during the downtime until they're eligible to work on contract again.

Anonymous said...

@"Few suggestions to the MS FTEs (assuming at least few of you are MS employees!)

...

Don't compromise your integrity."

+1+1

Anonymous said...

Big MS headlines in the local rags lately have been excitement about a gaming peripheral, YAR (Yet Another Reorg), the largest yet, following on the heels of smaller seismic ripples.

Mentally grinding on this evaluation process must be a real drag, the kind of thing that really eats at the soul, ready for mastication while waiting at a stoplight or suffering from insomnia.

Meanwhile, renewed obsession w/weeding out "dead wood" (aka former "exciting new hires!") smacks of projection from the top. How is it possible that the folks with uppermost compensation at MS are the equivalent of dozens of line level employees? Is there a basement in Redmond where they're breeding a new race of supermen? Has anybody actually -seen- these people put on their pants two legs at a time? Doubtful; certainly there's little evidence of ubermensch other than embarrassingly long and tortuous 1040 returns.

Anonymous said...

The story of the cancer patient being denied benefits for ‘performance reasons’ is possibly the worst abuse of corporate power that I’ve ever heard of in a ‘civilized’ country. This scares the heck out of me. I know that I am not immune from cancer, none of us are. I also know that I’m not immune from a ‘5’ rating, again, none of us are, especially if we come to find ourselves struggling with a chronic disease.

Seriously, UNIONIZE MSFT. It’s the only way to prevent these abuses. It would also kill the stock price, but hell, no loss no foul there.

So, right now I’m a well performing Dev in Windows. Just the sort of ‘human resource’ that last week’s pay-rise is targeted at retaining. But I’m also in my 40s, and I don’t want my family to suffer like this poor man’s. I also don’t intend to spend the next two decades worrying about it. Time to look elsewhere.

In the meantime, good luck to Ken Knightly, Duncan Sutherland, and anyone else hit but this odious policy. I hope you all sue and win astoundingly large sums in compensation. Large enough to support you and your families through this difficult time. But also large enough to send an undeniable message to Balmer, Brummel, and the shareholders who apparently continue to support them.

Anonymous said...

"I have received an offer for SDET2, currently I am a software developer in embedded domain. Does it make sennse to take the job in test(windows group)? I was really interested in joining msft but the comments on this blogs make me little skeptical. All you insiders, pls help."

If you're a developer and enjoy development, you will hate your job as an SDET in Windows. Windows is a monstrously giant organization and you will be buried doing monkey work as an SDET II, and it will be extremely difficult for you to ever escape from Test while at Microsoft (and certainly you'll never leave Test while you're with Windows).

I don't believe I'd join the company in any capacity under Principal knowing what I know after 15 years, but I surely would never, ever join the Windows team as an SDET II.

Anonymous said...

I have received an offer for SDET2, currently I am a software developer in embedded domain. Does it make sennse to take the job in test(windows group)?
Avoid wasting your time taking up an SDET job unless the offer is significantly better than what you have .You have to deal with people who can be pretty dumb and not from the top tier schools . If you try to switch the Test title can go against you, if you try interviewing at more elite companies like Google and Facebook somewhere down the line .

Anonymous said...

This is just old (s)wine in a new bottle. Base pay goes up a bit, stock that vests over 5 years comes down. You pay taxes on a higher base salary, assume the stock will tank further based on the rationale and get demoralized, and then a year down the line start paying for medical care which will wipe out the net benefits. Doesn't matter how you take it in - end of the day you get f@#$%^!

Angela said...

Mini, why does the front page say 534 comments, but there actually only 511?

Anonymous said...

It's great to see SLT reacting to the market. However they are just doing a minimum to stop the bleeding of talent, which may not be enough. I have been with the company for a while now and Microsoft always had enough self-criticism to turn around when it missed a major trend (e.g. Internet) or screwed up with org too much. Have not seen that agility in the last five years and problem is deeper than Steve's troubles with the top job. With Win/Office cash cows still delivering there is growing layer of mid management focused 90% on internal games, avoiding any risk to their careers. SLT has done nothing to change this and rewards internal loyalty more than impact in the market. You cannot afford this dead weight in the midst of fastest industry transformation since Internet.

I would strongly recommend everyone to "test the market" themselves. That way you will find out how your deal compares with the outside world and decide to leave or stay for the right reasons. Last thing anyone should do is get warped into dog&pony show of the corporate compensation system. At the end of the day it's people who rank you not "the system". If you don't know who is sitting at the calibration table and what they will say about you, it's you who will get screwed. On the plus side Microsoft is still worth premium on your CV, so if you want different compensation system and culture you can find it. As long as Steve is running the show, you know what you will get at MSFT, so take it or leave it. If you think however that Steve is the "worst CEO" or Microsoft has the most toxic culture you need to get out more.

BTW I did my "market test" and decided to leave. Better deal, great signing bonus and front end role in cloud computing. I do however give a full credit to my Microsoft CV and extensive ex-Microsoft network to be in the position to pick my next gig among best jobs in the industry. Take control of you career inside or outside MSFT and good luck!

Anonymous said...

In my 18+ years at MSFT with the last 11 as a manager, please consider this advice:

After every 1:1 with your manager, have them document your current standing with regards to score.

Why? I should have taken my own advice. After being managed by an immigrant hired to meet a diversity quota, he tells me I am achieved. Cool. This is March 31. Well, 2 weeks later I change managers, and am now a U/10. Never given a transition review. HR is no help, they say all review matters are enforced by the business groups. Escalation is no help. That just seems to dig a deeper hole.

I was fired 2 months later.

So, the moral of the story is: Always ask your manager how they would rate you now. But then again, anything can change at calibration.

Oh, and to add to what others have said: I am in my late 40's with many physical ailments. None of them kept me from doing my job. But they were costly maintenance medications.

Anonymous said...

"Apple did, but Google did not. It's still deriving >90% of profits from the same search engine that can be taken care of by 2,000 people. What do the other 24,000 do at Google?"

They both did. You've lost more than $8 billion competing against them in search and have less share today, even with Bing's recent gains, that you did five years ago.

99% of the profits of MS come from Windows, Office, and Servers. Using your logic, what do the other 60K people do?

Google's are actually winning marketshare and becoming leaders in their respective fields even where they're not yet generating a profit (e.g. YouTube, Android, Honeycomb, Gdocs, Chrome, etc.).

MS's are mostly losing billions and failing.

Anonymous said...

"In defense of Ballmer, MSFT has proven that a stable company that can ride out tough economic times and continue to generate profits will not see any reward in terms of shareholder value."

No. MS has proven that if you undermine investor confidence through expensive mistakes and failures faster than you grow earnings, your stock won’t appreciate. Most recently that’s been accomplished by losing a decade head start in mobile and tablets and then mounting a slow, expensive, and ridiculously ineffective response (a tablet one still isn’t here even as iPad sales are forecast to reach 50-100 million units). But there have been similar problems all the way back to losing billions on Xbox in the early 2000’s.

Companies who have done what you said but largely avoided those confidence killers have caught a bid even if they’re slower growers. Examples here would be Oracle or IBM.

Anonymous said...

Would anyone with access to the electronic version of the Duncan Sutherland lawsuit care to post a link to an online copy of it? Not currently being in King County, I cannot just stop by the KC law library at lunch. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Question for Sunday, April 24, 2011 8:26:00 PM regarding: “I'm a manager. That's the way it works. If you manage ~10 people, you have to go to the calibration meeting with one of them identified as your 10%'r.”

If your directs are both Managers (& Leads) and ICs, are the Manager’s & IC’s calibrated in the same group? I was led to believe they are not, but it sounds like you are saying they are calibrated against each other. I'm my Director's lone IC, the rest are Dev, Test & PM Managers, and I believe this will disadvantage me in the stack.


OP here.

The short answer is that if you're the same level-band (e.g, 62-64, 65-67, etc) as the managers reporting to your Director, you're going to be calibrated against them. Being an IC vs manager may or may not affect your calibration. I've seen it go both ways, good and bad. If you're not writing code, though, it's more likely (in my opinion) that you're not going to stack up as well against the managers when it comes to calibration. So I think you're probably right that you'll be disadvantaged in the stack. Not enough that it would cause your Director to stack rank you at the bottom if there was clearly a manager who wasn't performing. But enough that management responsibility could be a tie-breaker between otherwise evenly performing employees.

Anonymous said...

"enterprise software to transform the world

Thanks for the best laugh I've had all day.

Turning into IBM isn't going to help this company out of its rut."

Enterprise software is one of the only areas MS has demonstrated it can win, keep on winning, and generate above average profits. And there are worse fates that turning into IBM. Like fading away completely, for example.

Anonymous said...

Reading these comments I feel like everybody is either demonizing or lionizing Microsoft. A few points as somebody who has worked at Microsoft for a couple of years:

In general, people at Microsoft are pretty well compensated. I am glad to see that we are adjusting the base pay in areas where we are lagging the market. I think that is a smart move.

I work in cpub and while I would love to make more, compensation for cpub is not lagging the market. I make 150% of what I made at my prior job just a few years ago. Cpub folks will get a base pay adjustment but not the extra raise they are giving to other R&D professions where the market demands it. While I'd like to see our profession get more money and respect, the market defines pay.

I am concerned about the new review model making the bottom 20% into "untouchables". While I believe that a curve is necessary, ours sometimes really hurts good folks who have a bad boss, a job that is a bad fit, or a bad year. I'd like to see our culture change so that a mediocre review wouldn't end a good career needlessly. At other companies one bad review doesn't spell an automatic invitation to leave. We should encourage people who aren't doing well to find a position where they can. Smart people are a limited resource and somebody with a past history of good performance should be given a chance to succeed elsewhere.

While the changes to the healthcare are regretable(and definitely a change that will cost folks some money), I am confused by the level of drama around this change. Even with the changes it is substantially better coverage at lower cost than you get almost anywhere. It cost employees $600 a month to cover an employee, a spouse, and two kids at my last employer.

Cheers!

sensible said...

Speaking of lawsuits against Microsoft for questionable HR actions, does anyone have an update on the Craig Bartholomew suit that was mentioned in early 2010?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

From the morning of April 21 ...

"every study ever done has shown that salary is a poor motivator compared with engrossing, interesting work."


The problem is, at Microsoft, you're screwed both ways.

Anonymous said...

99% of the profits of MS come from Windows, Office, and Servers. Using your logic, what do the other 60K people do?

where do you get such accurate numbers?

Anonymous said...

I'm my Director's lone IC, the rest are Dev, Test & PM Managers, and I believe this will disadvantage me in the stack.

Thank you "OP Manager" for answering my question. I'm an L65 SDE, thankfully still coding, managing a small group that are only dotted-line to me. After a recent reorg I asked my new manager (same level) whether I would be calibrated against manager's only. His response was "Why would you think that?" instead of a simple yes or no. I went with my gut feeling that I won't do well in this year's stack and decided to put my resume out there and have been surprised by the positive response. I'm hoping to move on by August. Even if I receive a "1" this year I don't want to spend the rest of my career dealing with this crap. BTW, I came to MS from IBM, and their politics are child’s play compared to MS. Thanks again for your help.

Anonymous said...

Clear vision not equal to "whiner." New compensation changes moves portions from one category to another. It's just math, and the overall difference between maximum total compensation from old plan to new is a little less than 4% here. HR math is different, so don't use that.

Count up the pay/bonus/stock available to Level 1, meaning if you are good at what you do, I say you should be Level 1, rather than buying off on the HR idea that good is Level 2 or 3 and you should be grateful. Level 1 gets 100% of the loot available in whatever form, not weird HR math where Level 3 gets 100% of some sort of fake "target" zone. To me, the maximum bonus/stock you can receive is my "target", not HR-math where Level 3 gets the "full" amount of stock (as in HR100% which is actually about 70ish% of the max a Level 1 can get).

As everyone's individual set of numbers is different, here's an approximation for 2011 total compensation (cash/bonus/stock):

Level 1 gets 100% of avail comp.
Level 2 gets about 90% of Level 1
Level 3 gets about 85% of Level 1Level 4 gets about 76% of Level 1
Level 5 gets about 70% of Level 1, all as base pay.

2012:
Level 1: full base/bonus/stock.
Level 2: 90% of Level 1
Level 3: 85% of Level 1
Level 4: 74% of Level 1
Level 5: 66% of Level 1, all as base pay

Differences as you go down the list of levels are due to lesser bonus amounts in overall compensation. Likely that a Level 1on wheels would get more than the real "target" amount of 100% of the total pay package, so that could still have a multiplier.

For 2012, Level 1 max comp (top base/bonus/stock) is about 4% higher than maximum comp in 2011, so 4% is all I see in upside, just in different buckets than before. Until we get to "share" our medical expense in 2013 (about as chintzy as tolling 520 bridge). Does not take into account stock price rising or falling, vesting, or quitting/getting canned before you get the stock.

Anonymous said...

Angela said...
Mini, why does the front page say 534 comments, but there actually only 511?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 2:21:00 PM

Angela,
I believe that the difference in the two numbers reflects the comments awaiting moderation that have yet to be posted.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I just read over 550 comments on this blog. Oh well, I must be sitting at home back east obsessed with the idea of landing an SDE position in Seattle. I see many of you softies are full of wit and excruciatingly honest commentary. Right now I need some of you anonymous insiders to sling some of that unvarnished truth my way.
You see, I think I have a lot to offer. I’ve been all Microsoft since I learned C++ programming science apps on Windows 3.1. I led great team writing education software on Win95. I had a blast in the late 90s as a SQL Server consultant, pushing it into all types of orgs that once thought it was Oracle or nothing. After the dotcom bust, I went to a flagship state university and got a cs degree and a math degree, graduating with a 3.97 gpa and class rank of 1 out of 150. I am the only person in the history of the university to score percent grades on the entire theoretical cs curriculum. But I also scored perfect 4.0 on the entire math curriculum.
I don’t smoke or drink, I’m physically active, been a vegan for decades and I’m in near perfect health. Except for some root canals and a broken finger a few years ago, I’ve needed no medical treatments since I was a kid.
Since graduation, I’ve been employed as an engineer, but as an EE at a financially shaky startup, NOT as a FTE SDE.
What’s my problem? You tell me, I’m 54. I am over the hill?
In the past few years, I’ve done 3 loops at MSFT, 1 at Goog and 1 at AMZN. Though I made it to the “as needed” at MSFT, I don’t think I got close to offer on any loop there. I don’t come across as a rock star, I’m not one. But at Google especially, I studied up and it seemed like I blew the doors off their interview. When the lead came in I coded up his problem in 10 minutes and then spend the rest of the time completing a correctness proof. He said he never saw anyone do that in an interview before. Still, no offer.
Am I over the hill? Shit I’ve got kids in preschool, what should I do?

Anonymous said...

For anyone who doesn't know what a gag/resignation agreement is, it's where Microsoft agrees to turn a firing into a voluntary resignation for some amount of money, in exchange for your permanent silence over whatever actually went on.

Severance in layoff '09 for those lucky enough to get it was also tied to a gag agreement.

Some of us didn't sign it. Severance roughly equivalent to 1/8 of my pending stock awards was a sick joke that was not worth serious consideration.

Did anyone else decline the severance/gag agreement, or am I the only one? I may write a book, and if there are other non-signers, I might include others' experiences as well as my own.

>>>>

It would be interesting if you'd fill in how the 'ordinary' (layoff) severance agreement process is approached. And were you allowed to actually keep yours when you didn't sign it?

The resignation agreement process is usually, your manager walks up with one or more security guards, says "you're fired" hands you a piece of paper and tells you that if you want n months of pay and COBRA, and a release from the stigma of being fired, you have to sign it right now. Or you're invited to a meeting in an outlying building, where the same interaction takes place in private. And if you say no, they jerk it away, walk you out and you're on your own. I've seen both. Which gets chosen depends on whether they think private intimidation or public humiliation will work best for them.

Go Lisa Brummel! (I mean, really, go.)

This is actually against the law. The page that you sign, clearly says that you know that you have 21 days to consider the offer and discuss it with family and legal and financial counselors - which is all moot because they target people who can't say no or risk further pissing off a major corporation, now or 21 days from now, even if they could deal with the stress and humiliation and physical intimidation right now.

Ken Knightly is just the latest in a long sad parade of guys with marriages and kids, bills to pay, who ended up on the chopping block with undiagnosed health problems - undiagnosed because they couldn't take time off. Doctors have a hard time diagnosing anything when you're terminally low on sleep, your entire blood chemistry is off, and your blood pressure is 200/130. I get this. I was there. Fortunately in my case it really was just a crazy schedule, poor diet, and the stress of living in an insane asylum every day, and I don't have kids, or a sick spouse, and in the grand scheme of things the amount of money being offered wouldn't matter.

Now, under ordinary circumstances there is an upside to signing a severance agreement. Microsoft will be more than happy to hire you back as a contractor. Why the hell not, when you've already contractually agreed to never say anything bad about them?

There is no upside to signing a resignation agreement. The gag agreement is the same but the terms are not. Depending on how badly you've pissed them off, it can be anything from the usual severance terms to complex legalese that works out to, you can't work in the industry anywhere, not for MS, not for any partner of MS, and not for any competitor of MS. That leaves ... ?

And of course, while you're giving up all rights to ever pursue any kind of legal action against MS, MS is committing to nothing of the kind.

Anonymous said...

I think the new compensation strategy is a stop gap for a number of things, most posted here in the comments. One of the areas not adressed is the legal quagmire Microsoft has found itself in with the old rating system. While managers can still rate an employee as not promotable, the actual compensation piece has been removed from their control and is no longer subjective. I don't think it will stop the demand letters from attorney's because of poor HR practices, but it will probably help just a bit.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that the lowered stock target takes effect in September 2011.

That's right at the start of the new compensation system. But it will take one year to collect the increased salary.

I thought my September 2011 stock was for my 2010 thru 2011 efforts, which btw were compensated at the old & lower salary base. So it'd only fair to keep that coming September's stock award at the current target.

Anonymous said...

http://www.prlog.org/11461257-microsoft-is-expected-to-announce-yet-another-reorganization.html

SatYEAHH! reorganizes ... churn begins in STB. Hell YEAHH!

Anonymous said...

"From my outside perspective Microsoft is not changing for the better. I struggle to find many bright spots for the company right now. So, Mr. Anonymous, care to back up your smugness with some examples?"

Well you're on the outside, of course you don't see it. Pay attention... this is all public:

Many of the products in DevDiv have gone completely agile. MVC, Silverlight, EF, etc., these are all iterating and shipping quickly, out of band from Visual Studio or the .NET Framework. No one is sitting around waiting. Result: Happier customers, far better products. Consider the time it took from .NET 1 to 2. Huge improvement.

Xbox.com, Xbox Live, and to a private beta degree, Xbox dashboard, are all iterating quickly and deploying sometimes on a weekly basis. These people aren't holed up in offices with closed doors, they're in big team spaces, collaborating and winning. Weekly.

Azure is deploying regularly. No more big bang moments. New value to customers at least monthly.

Many teams building Web apps and services are using open source, and some are even contributing back to the projects (see: jQuery). "Not invented here" doesn't matter anymore.

There are countless other examples you'd see internally. There are failures, too. But painting the company with a broad brush is asinine and uninformed. The Windows/Office culture has a few years at best. There is a new generation of smart people, industry hires, not some PM's that worked on Microsoft Bob 20 years ago, changing the culture, one product at a time.

I stand by my first post. You're either a part of that, or you're a dinosaur. If you're the latter, get the fuck out of the way. If you don't believe change is possible, move on. You don't have to sell your soul or work over 40 hours to make it happen.

Anonymous said...

The system is geared for individual compensation where I'm constantly in competition with my peers for my slice of the pie. There's little incentive to help out others...

This is why I just quit and left after a decade to another company. I never had a bad review and had good growth. I hated the fact that we don’t know how to work as a team due to the reward structure and review system that’s in place. It’s clear the HR department has never read an organizational behavior book and thinks that everyone’s motivational need Is cash. What about a safe environment for learning and failing successfully (Read latest HBR great article on this). If they change a large portion of the review to team based rewards I would come back at some point. The new company I am at does not tolerate the chest pounding dog and pony show that goes on; I am going through some serious detox. Microsoft is a very toxic place and long term it’s not good for one’s growth. I personally need teamwork to help grow and learn best from others. I was not getting that at Microsoft. The new review model that they have rolled out does not solve any of the above and therefore will not improve Microsoft’s ability to be agile and ship quality software faster with better quality. If you want to see slow monolithic software practices from the 80’s check out Windows Live.. Two years to ship a service. I have no ill will to the company and valued my time there. I wish you all the best and hope the raises compensate you appropriately.

Anonymous said...

But at Google especially, I studied up and it seemed like I blew the doors off their interview. When the lead came in I coded up his problem in 10 minutes and then spend the rest of the time completing a correctness proof. He said he never saw anyone do that in an interview before. Still, no offer.

That's because whatever one may think of Microsoft, it's not the Land of Age Discrimination that Google is. Over 40 there and one is a considered an old person.

Anonymous said...

Lol, yes take the job! Most of the negative comments here are Apple HR reps and folks who couldn't get an offer from MS (probably).

I would disagree. I've been with the company for nearly 10 years and find the comments here extremely realistic. I worked in different orgs, Office, Windows, DevDiv and all the orgs had major mismanagement issues.

A new review system is better than the old one since it makes the reward more predictable. But the new system still suffers from the major problem: your manager is the ONLY person deciding on your review bucket. Express your ideas that may be good for the product but are different than those of your manager and you just lowered your review. Have a reorg or your manager goes on extended leave, military duty or similar and the entire team may get a temp manager that looks at new folks as "u/10 candidates". Worse if the new manager is working on another project of his and gives no damn about your team. That can really screw up the review. Everyone is human and all may have gripes and prejudices. So do managers that are assigning your review score and there are no checks or any way to contest it in place.

Don Glover said...

The exclusion of content publishing from the pay raise is just the latest in a continuing trend of decisions that shows Microsoft (at the highest levels) does not value the roles.

NovoEgo said...

Lol, yes take the job! Most of the negative comments here are Apple HR reps and folks who couldn't get an offer from MS (probably).

Nope. If you've ever worked at MS then you know most of the comments on this blog ring true. It's the same stuff you hear from the rank and file in the cafeterias and kitchens and private gatherings. If anything, the unabashedly positive comments sound like they're coming straight from Microsoft PR/HR.

Steve said...

Content Publishing (and other roles) were not included because those employees were not at risk of leaving based on industry pay. It's as simple as that. Don't like Content Publishing Pay? Don't be a Content Publisher. I do think the messaging was not handled well with regard to Content Publishing being excluded.

ZenHappy said...

Um, Wednesday, April 27, 2011 9:16:00 PM ? You are out of your friggin' mind.

'Xbox.com, Xbox Live, and to a private beta degree, Xbox dashboard, are all iterating quickly and deploying sometimes on a weekly basis. These people aren't holed up in offices with closed doors, they're in big team spaces, collaborating and winning. Weekly.'

Have you been in Studio A lately? Would the last person there please turn out the lights?

The team formerly known as Xbox LIVE and Platform was gutted - GUTTED in the Sept 2010-January 2011 re-org. Prior to that, 60+ people (in a ~300 person team) left the org in the months prior to Kinect launch. (!) Exec. Management always knew that shipping Kinect on that schedule with the amount of resources they had would break the team, and it did. The director of development for Xbox left the company after Kinect launch and is now a VP at Sony. SONY. Two the key architects left for greener pastures. The Chief Security Officer for IEB is now a Dev Manager. Morale is in the tank. There are new departure announcements several times per week.

Since the launch and the re-org? People have left that team in droves. Transfers out to the game studios. Transfers to 'core' Microsoft. A ton of people went to Zynga.

The new management team is signing up for some aggressive schedules and that would be all well and good if anyone who knew how to buid/release the service and the console were still around. Instead you have n00bs who know how to ship Windows trying to figure out the gamer marketplace and how to use non-standard, undocumented build and release manual processes that don't use SDL or any of the standard dev or release tools (iexpress, checkpoint express, PREFast, etc. etc.).

In a couple of years it will all be fine, and the Windows folks will have brought some discipline and rigor to the Xbox universe. For the next few years, though . .. ouch.

And those goddamn 'collaborative spaces'? Everyone fucking hates them. Two years after moving into the Studios buildings, the OHI poll still consistently had comments from the team about how much everyone hates the fucking building and not having a door.

Change is definitely possible, and necessary. Calling bullshit when you say how fantastic life is in Xbox does not make one a dinosaur; it means someone is paying attention. Do not speak of what you do not know, pal.

Anonymous said...

"I find it interesting that the lowered stock target takes effect in September 2011.

That's right at the start of the new compensation system. But it will take one year to collect the increased salary.

I thought my September 2011 stock was for my 2010 thru 2011 efforts, which btw were compensated at the old & lower salary base. So it'd only fair to keep that coming September's stock award at the current target."

Stock awards are compensation for future potential (why they vest in 5 years, not immediately), not for past performance. That's what your bonus is for. Bonuses look like they're going down a bit as well, though.

Also, you're not waiting a year for the salary bump to go into effect. That happens immediately on Sept 15th. A year later you will have earned the money that you would've gotten in stock anyway. I haven't done the math, but I bet it works out to approximately 1/5th of the old stock award which means you would've vested that in a year anyway, and if you sold it immediately as short holding would effectively be income. At least this way you can put that money somewhere it'll earn interest, since the stock price is stagnant.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of lawsuits against Microsoft for questionable HR actions, does anyone have an update on the Craig Bartholomew suit that was mentioned in early 2010?
-------
Doesn't matter. The law firm handling it only does settlements - which always come with a gag agreement. They may as well be on Microsoft's payroll.

Anonymous said...

-In general, people at Microsoft are pretty well compensated.

Even Microsoft's own HR department wouldn't agree with you. MS has always had a reputation for meager pay. They target 50-60%

Anonymous said...

if you're a level 60, I don't understand why you're bitching about 94k/year... you're either too junior to command any more money, or you've mismanaged your career and that's the best you can do.

..

Let me guess. Apparently 'Junior' means 20 years of IT experience over there these days? To the rest of the IT world it means like 2-5

I wouldn't even get out of bed in the morning for 94K on the west coast.

Anonymous said...

Rumors about another reorg in STB.

Anyone have any insight beyond what's been written up by MaryJo Foley?

Anonymous said...

Doctors have a hard time diagnosing anything when you're terminally low on sleep, your entire blood chemistry is off, and your blood pressure is 200/130. I get this. I was there.

My PCP at UW has a lot of Microsoft employees as patients.

His health advice: get out as fast as you can. He is treating my HC & stress with drugs right now.

Anonymous said...

What world do you people live in? You all sound like the world "owes" you a job where you can make gobs of money and become rich in a couple of years and no one competes with each other for rewards - Kumbaya. Get real. If that is so easy, quit your damn job and go do it.

1. Most people are better off financially. I get more cash now versus the same amount of money staggered over several years (assuming stock does not appreciate dramatically.) Time value of money guys - a dollar now is better than a dollar next year.
2. The movement of stock into cash has an immediate compounding affect. Boosting everyone's base salary is compounded year over year with future percentage pay increases.
3. I don't know of any business in the US that has reset salaries from any slow down due to the financial crises. Just like the housing market was reset - so were salaries.
4. Go work at Google. Uh, by the way, Google's stock price has had a 3 year net change of -6.8 %. Not exactly stunning. Google is maturing and has similar compensation issues. FB has been eating their lunch.

Anonymous said...

>> Silverlight...Azure...EF...

You have just enumerated products that no one actually uses. Who cares how often they ship?

Anonymous said...

THERE ARE CTO'S AT IN MSFT WHO DON'T HAVE EVEN HAVE A BASIC BACHELOR'S DEGREE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE OR ENGINEERING.


Who cares, one of the best devs I ever dealt with never made it to 3rd level.

the proof is in the pud.

Anonymous said...

If Microsoft *really* didn't value CPub, it would have laid all of them off during the RIF Year, and replaced them with contractors. Microsoft still has more writers, per product, than any other commercial software company.

Too many folks in CPub behave like contractors -- phoning it in every day, whinging about how no one gives them any respect, lots of "working from home" and "work-life balance". How many times do they require the team's PMs to tell them exactly what to write, and when?

CPubbers honestly can't expect to see a significant pay bump after so many years of foot-shuffling mediocrity.

Anonymous said...

Today's announced plan will not change the root of what is wrong with the performance system. Employees will still be reviewed by the likes of the above; stack-ranking will continue to be a high school popularity contest; and team peers are still the competition.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Anonymous said...

That means about there are about 45,000 employees whose retention is not all that important.

Today's garbage will be tomorrow's treasure.

Anonymous said...

I'm a manager. That's the way it works. If you manage ~10 people, you have to go to the calibration meeting with one of them identified as your 10%'r.

Stupid how dysfunctional this place has become. If you have a strong team and everyone is busting butt why screw someone every year? I bet the manager's don't give themselves a 10%

Anonymous said...

If you actually do work here, you obviously haven't been here for very long.

Not the original poster, but:

I've worked all over Microsoft.

There are definitely orgs that have wonderful situations, and there are orgs where certain people are recognized, rewarded, and very happy.

Are they the norm? Not from my experience. However, people like those who have been posting citing that anyone with the slightest negative comment is unloyal, untalented, etc., etc., etc. aren't shocking. From their perspective, it probably makes sense, however ignorant it might appear to those of us who've seen the worst.

Anonymous said...

Of course Microsoft doesn't value cpub. That discipline is traditionally staffed by ladies. Everyone know you don't have to pay them one penny more that 76 cents on the dollar you'd pay a man.

And of course you can call that out publicly. You have to let them know where they stand, amirite, bros?

Forget that programmer writers have CS degrees, write actual code that ships with the SDK, and develop and test their own tools. Forget that the consumer writers have helped devs stop embarrassing themselves with idiotic error messages and point-and-laugh shipping UI. Forget that site managers manage one of the company's most visited sites. Forget about the production engineers and the PMs and everyone else in cpub.

That's all women's work.

Anonymous said...

They both did. You've lost more than $8 billion competing against them in search and have less share today, even with Bing's recent gains, that you did five years ago.

99% of the profits of MS come from Windows, Office, and Servers. Using your logic, what do the other 60K people do?

Google's are actually winning marketshare and becoming leaders in their respective fields even where they're not yet generating a profit (e.g. YouTube, Android, Honeycomb, Gdocs, Chrome, etc.).

MS's are mostly losing billions and failing.


Search was never a profit driver for Microsoft. In this sense Google's success there was not a threat for Microsoft. Ballmer just wanted a piece of the pie, and became concerned when Google moved into Apps development.

But, Gdocs has not had any commercial success since. Look at Google's latest earnings report. Google Apps revenue (grouped under Other) was DOWN from last year! Compare this with 21% growth in Microsoft Office in the same quarter (and that's from much larger base).

YouTube is the second revenue source for Google. Its estimated 1B in revenue is in the same league as such unknown MS products as Systems Management Server...except, of course, SMS is nicely profitable.

Using your logic it's easy to say Microsoft has handed Google its ass in OS, business apps, and servers :).

Neither Google nor Microsoft have demonstrated ability to infringe on each other's turf.

Meanwhile, Apple came out with hit product after hit product and extracted huge profit from them. iPad is directly responsible for decline in Windows revenue. iPhone commands the majority of mobile market revenue.

Apple has handed both Microsoft and Google their asses.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of lawsuits against Microsoft for questionable HR actions, does anyone have an update on the Craig Bartholomew suit that was mentioned in early 2010?
-------
Doesn't matter. The law firm handling it only does settlements - which always come with a gag agreement. They may as well be on Microsoft's payroll.


Thanks for that intel. When I called them a couple years ago, they told me they'd go for a settlement (and it didn't sound like a large one).

Do you have any other recommendations for a lawyer?

Anonymous said...

If Microsoft *really* didn't value CPub, it would have laid all of them off during the RIF Year, and replaced them with contractors. (...)

Microsoft laid off some stunning engineering talent in the RIF wars because they were stuck in CPUB due to politics, not because there weren't product teams across the company that wanted them but were told they couldn't have them for political reasons.

Too many folks in CPub behave like contractors -- phoning it in every day, whinging about how no one gives them any respect, lots of "working from home" and "work-life balance". (...)

That's because so many of them were long time contractors until Comp 2000 brought them all in house. It is easily arguable that so many people should not have been rubber stamped into Blues, but some manager probably had a quota to fill and didn't want to stand up and say more time was needed.

However, that's not the case for all of CPUB. Some CPUB staff do innovative work, and there was at least one company-critical project that, to be on the inner circle of it, CPUB was where it was at, period. These are the exception rather than the rule of course, but the exceptions are out there.

CPubbers honestly can't expect to see a significant pay bump after so many years of foot-shuffling mediocrity.

Speak for yourself and the CPUB people you know. About 1 in 10 teams that I know in CPUB, and I know dozens of teams, put in as much effort and work on deadlines just as hard as dev teams. THESE people are being ripped off, and the company is going to be the worse for it when the engineers on those teams move to product teams, because the work they're doing really does require mid- to high-level engineering talent, not just people who know (and care) when to use "which" and "that".

Anonymous said...

"Of course Microsoft doesn't value cpub. That discipline is traditionally staffed by ladies."

Pardon me, but WTF?

Seriously, WTF with that comment?

CPUB does attract more women than a lot of tech disciplines, possibly because it often allows for more creativity, and women find that appealing. But to say it's women's work? In most CPUB teams I've seen women are in the minority, more like 20-40%, not the majority.

At least one woman on a CPUB team is the most highly compensated of anyone on that team, which comprises mostly men.

There are gender issues of various sorts all over MS, including some CPUB teams. But to generalize that as a systemic issue with the discipline is an error.

More than just CPUB didn't get those raises. Business groups filled with dozens of men won't see them either. LCA? Finance? Of course neither will all the female marketers or HR reps.

Best to pick on another gender issue, like the kid gloves applied to female poor performers at/over L64 due to Microsoft's disappointing record retaining such women. A woman of that level can f up quite badly, and find herself still employed. Roz Ho vs. Robbie Bach anyone? It applies at lower levels as well, all the way down to 2nd level managers, and even when keeping them in place disadvantages other staff.

Anonymous said...

On stock grants and vesting and all that: This MSFT HR idea of the grant being for your "future value" has always sort of koolaid warped thinking so here's the news: Stock grants are supposed to be handcuffs. Base pay is pay. Bonus is the rest of your pay that you have to wait a year to get, so you don't take off before then. Stock grants/awards are supposed to be big enough and valuable enough to KEEP YOU FROM LEAVING. So "kind of" it's about your future value, but not hanging out there waiting for someone to decide if you really might have future value, and if not we can you and keep your stock, but a statement that you have so much future value that they can't afford to let you go. A statement that lets you do your best work. At my last place, in addition to pay/bonus/stock, great people also had what were called "stay bonuses" which meant that if you would just "stay" through the date specified, you received that designated chunk of cash in addition to your annual stock award and full bonus. Sometimes more stock, too, that only took maybe one or two years to vest instead of the 5 years of a regular stock grant. So the idea of a stock grant/award shouldn't be that you are getting part of your pay check dribbled out to you in 20% segments over five years, but that it's supposed to be enough to make you stay. That's different from what SLT/HR has turned compensation into; their idea that you have to work this month to get your paycheck, work all year to get some portion of your specified bonus but-hey-we-didn't-mean-all-that-many-of-you-would-actually-get-the-whole-thing, and then when your 20% of stock vests you will have enough to pay your property tax - the stock was supposed to be big enough to keep you from leaving, thinking of leaving, laying awake at night wondering if you should leave.

Simon G said...

Are reviews any value? See "Should Performance Reviews Be Fired?" http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2760

Anonymous said...

"I bet the manager's don't give themselves a 10%"

Sometimes they indirectly do. A Microsoft manager once was pressured to give the new employee on the team a 10%. This person was a transfer from another team, and had done nothing wrong, but since he'd only been on the team 3 months he had not had much time to make an impact. The manager refused to tar the employee with the 10%.

That manager's manager bestowed the 10% on the manager instead, and he shifted to being an IC within the year in protest.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if the new model applies to new hires? I'm considering applying to MSFT, and and wondering if I should wait until September...

Anonymous said...

I was an SDE on the Windows team for 10 years, starting in '94. It was a freaking blast to work at Microsoft then. But today? I own an iPad and an iPhone. The machine I use most at home is a MacBook pro running OS X. The next machine I buy will be a MacBook Air.

It's not that I think Mac OS is anything special, and it's not that I don't think Win7 is a great product. But... Meh.

The creativity and enthusiasm for technology at the top of Microsoft is virtually zero. Balmer? Brummel? Those are the people who create the culture at Microsoft now. And when you have a pepsi salesman and an HR droid setting the pace at a technology company, you're going to have trouble exciting creative and talented developers.

Anonymous said...

.. and the reason for handing out big raises at this point to managers that can't write code is?? They might leave for a better offer managing a Mc Donalds?

HR- no worries having them be recruited by a software company right now- that requires genuine tech talent.

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