Saturday, August 20, 2011

Microsoft Annual Review 2011

It has become a tradition for folks to share their review numbers to help get a sense of what's happening and how your numbers stack up. This year we have a new challenge of working through an entirely new review system and (for engineering) a pay-raise for the levels most at risk of departing for greener pastures. I know folks on the edge of leaving who have been willing to hang on to see what happens.

What's a good format? How about something like the following, obfuscated as you wish:

  • L# (promo'd?)
  • Bucket (1+, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Merit % (/Promo %) / Engineering?
  • Bonus $K
  • Stock $K
  • Optional comments about Division / Group, discipline, impression of review

If you like the review system, I'd really like to understand why (something better than, "whee, I got a 1+," please) and I'd encourage commenters to not slam the positive perspectives. I'm not too pleased with the new system at all because I feel very good engineers in my org are getting lower results because of a very strict curve. I'm probably breaking the rules in that if an excellent person got a 3 I'm having my folks be truthful in writing review feedback that, yes, they did an excellent job, just when it comes to the 3 realize that more people did even more excellent work and what it is they need to do to step it up (or, you know, start connecting recruiters with all of those competing 1s and 2s). Same thing for 4s who are doing a good job and not really having any performance problem. HR would prefer me to write the text of the review according to the verbiage of the ranking system, but screw that. I did that years ago when people got a trended 3.0 and I'm still scrubbing those dark spots of demoralizing compliance off my soul.

How do you feel, whether you're a manager writing reviews this year and comparing results to last year, or an IC trying to make sense of your compensation and recognition?


-- Comments

1,308 comments:

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Anonymous said...

With a rating of 4, can one expect to be considered for other roles in the company? Again, this is the usual trash excuse of the stack ranking and nothing to do with performance rating.

Anonymous said...

The internet is not the same as public, Skippy. It's the internet, and the rules have always been different here.

So let's assume for the sake of argument that the rules are different. Your language still shows you as a crass and classless git (and probably clueless to boot).

Perhaps you're nothing but a troll, but in the event that you were an employee you'd certainly get my vote as a prime candidate for a 5 and instant RIF.

I personally wouldn't hire you to so much as sweep floors.

Anonymous said...

"Women-hating"? OP here. My comment was not "women-hating". Nor did I say that women managers are any crazier than the male ones.

I've run into crazy male managers, too. The difference, in my observation, is that the gloves didn't come off as hard and fast to protect the men from their own stupidity as they did to protect the women from their own stupidity, at the expense of the direct report.

Whether you like it or not, multiple senior level managers did tell me that higher level female managers are protected in the Windows orgs to a degree that men are not in those same orgs. It seemed like a fairly open secret. I don't like it either, but that doesn't mean it's not real.

Anonymous said...

L65
Bucket: 3
Merit: 2.5%
Stock to base: 3K
Bonus: $17K (12.58%)
Stock: $36K
New base:145K

Your bonus seems low. As a L65 in bucket 3, you should have recieved 100% of your bonus target, which is 20%. Are you in some sort of sales position that doesn't have the standard bonus?


Not the OP, but as this happened to me I can explain it. Basically this person was promoted to L65 band sometime in FY11. HR not only prorates you by using the bonus elegible salary metric, but they now also prorate the bonus.

This means anyone that moves bands at review time cannot achieve the full bonus the next FY.

Another interesting tidbit - this prorating only affects the bonus. You still get full stock award target.

Anonymous said...


Assuming most of the numbers being posted are legit, Level 62 seems to be the sweet spot. So, if you are a 62 now, or get promoted to 62, you picked the perfect time, unless I'm missing something?

You are correct. Level 62 received the biggest stock2cash swap, $7000, of any level below L66. L62 also received a 5% R&D bonus, which capped out at L65. This raise was primarily targeted at L62 and below. Notice that L61 received a 8% R&D bonus, and L60 and L59 received 12%. These were the levels that are the most mobile and most likely to get recruited away to Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

BTW - All of this info is on HRWeb and was discussed in detail in LisaB's email and her post on MSW. That so many people ignored all that and waited until now on this blog to start understanding the pay system, the very reason you have a job in the first place, is just mind boggling to me.

We all saw our preview numbers in April. Who didn't take a screen cap of that, or at least write it down? Everyeone should have known exactly what they were eligible for this year. The only surprise should have been which bucket you landed in. It's really disheartening to see so many coworkers who are clueless about their own pay, despite the best efforts by the company to spoon feed us the information. Even the fact that the preview numbers would be taken down was readily available, it said right on the page that it would only be available through June 1st. Yet some people want to turn that into a conspiracy as well.

Anonymous said...

Here is the folly of the new review system: In the old system, the GM, VP's, etc could shave a few bucks of bonus, stock and merit off everyone to load up their favorites... That ultimately didn't effect your review score of e/20, a/70, etc. Now the system is designed where to tool gives the number and the GM's, VP's, etc cannot modify them. So away around the system is when the model is pushed to them, to move people into lower scores to make room for their favorites so they can continue to load them up. After the model was pushed to our VP, I have seen and employee with a 3 (borderline 4 - and the employee agreed they were a 4) changed to a 2 and given a promo! I have seen an employee who has consistently been an e/20 adn their manager rated them a 2 this cycle. After being pushed to the VP, that employee was now a 4.

The old system allowed for gaming by the higher ups that effected my money a little, but not my career. The new system being played will destroy careers. LisaB should be fired as well as Ballmer. We really need to clean house and get rid of all the croynism.

Anonymous said...

Glad I left the company for a new career before all this crap happened. My skip level manager who was trying to force me out got walked out before review time (they actually walked out a female MSIT director). Now I have a letter from Microsoft offering me a buyout package for my silence since I formalized an EEOC complaint about being forced out. No regrets and life is good.

Anonymous said...

This new system is so demoralizing, it's insane. Went from a midyear of "great trajectory, upper 70s" to a 5 without any warning.

Same as others here, got the "we calibrated you higher, fell down at the VP level" and then "how" was what they used since my work for the majority of the year was undeniably exceeded expectations.

But it is also VERY clear to me that I didn't know how to play the game. I made one major mistake and that was pushing back when I got reorged and my new boss moved me into a role I was not qualified for right before calibration. That two weeks of rockiness where I was "too honest" wiped out an entire year of strong work. The rest was digging for justification to the point of taking glowing 360 feedback and telling me it meant I was too nice.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have smiled, said I was happy to support the business and glad for the new opportunity. Then I would have taken my better review score and used it to get the fuck out before I inevitably failed in the new role. I would have known that I couldn't afford ANY mistakes because I've only been here for a 1.5 years and wasn't on the high profile project team. I thought that the bulk of the year would actually matter. It doesn't.

Now, I'm trapped in this role with expectations that I perform at the same level as my peers who have been doing it for years. They told me that they want me on the team and that I can recover. I feel highly skeptical about that.

One thing that hasn't been noted here that should, in the old system "only" 10% of company had the chance to get screwed over. Now, that number is 20% without the A/U distinction.

Anonymous said...

Can one disagree with the review? and is it preferrable?

Anonymous said...

I was advised by a friend in HR that it is better to accept the review so as to not appear defensive. As others have pointed out, HR is not your friend and has been intimately involved in coaching your manager on how to "own the message" that they are delivering to you about your "bad" performance.

You can dispute it in the field before signing it, but you have to be REALLY careful.

Anonymous said...

Here is the folly of the new review system: In the old system, the GM, VP's, etc could shave a few bucks of bonus, stock and merit off everyone to load up their favorites... That ultimately didn't effect your review score of e/20, a/70, etc. Now the system is designed where to tool gives the number and the GM's, VP's, etc cannot modify them. So away around the system is when the model is pushed to them, to move people into lower scores to make room for their favorites so they can continue to load them up.

I tend to prefer the new system, but nothing's perfect.

The new system means your rating determines your reward. In the old system, some "1s" (E/20s) got very different bonuses from others, and there was little oversight or transparency on how these rewards were distributed. Same for rewards within the E/70 group, A/70, etc.

Basically, going from being the top A/70 or E/70 to E/20 might not have made that big of a difference. But going from 2 to a 1 *is* a sizable difference.

In the old system, you had virtually infinite "buckets" if you go on payout (combination of merit, bonus, stock, maybe promo), and the system was obfuscated by all those different levers being masked by the (relatively) simple labels.

Now you have real buckets. The advantage is, making it into a higher bucket is always an appreciable jump. The disadvantage is that if you drop a bucket (even just barely missing the cut-off), it's a more appreciable loss.

Some will appreciate the simplicity and within-bucket fairness of the new model. Others will object to its mechanical "coldness" (i.e., your cries of "but I was the *best* 3!" land on deaf ears)

Anonymous said...

One thing that hasn't been noted here that should, in the old system "only" 10% of company had the chance to get screwed over. Now, that number is 20% without the A/U distinction.

That's a weird thing to say. You got a 5, which applies to only 7%. That's less than 10%.

Seems to me like little has changed there. Instead of A/U you have 4/5. If you got a 5, it's pretty clear you would have been a U/10. The people who might complain are the 4s, some of whom can claim that they're now being lumped in with 3% of what used to be 10s. On the other hand, that 3% are probably pretty happy to be lumped in with what used to be the bottom chunk of the 70% :)

Anonymous said...

My comment about 4/5 was in general and not my specific situation.

With my situation my boss said I would have been A/70 because potential mattered more. Track record matters more now, and 1.5 years isn't a tract record in am org where average tenure exceeds 5 years. So no, not U10.

Anonymous said...

One thing that hasn't been noted here that should, in the old system "only" 10% of company had the chance to get screwed over. Now, that number is 20% without the A/U distinction.

That's a weird thing to say. You got a 5, which applies to only 7%. That's less than 10%.

Lets get one thing straight with a 5 you can't move with a 4 no one will take you unless you have a friend who is a GM.

That's life so now 20% of company is basically im0bile and where do you think those 4's will go after they manage out the 5"s.

Anonymous said...

Here is the folly of the new review system: In the old system, the GM, VP's, etc could shave a few bucks of bonus, stock and merit off everyone to load up their favorites... That ultimately didn't effect your review score of e/20, a/70, etc. Now the system is designed where to tool gives the number and the GM's, VP's, etc cannot modify them. So away around the system is when the model is pushed to them, to move people into lower scores to make room for their favorites so they can continue to load them up…The old system allowed for gaming by the higher ups that effected my money a little, but not my career. The new system being played will destroy careers.

I’ve been trying to figure out why the new review model was handed down to us and this explanation makes the most sense of any I’ve heard. If you believe the new model came about because of feedback from Lisa’s listening tour I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. ;) To give Lisa and HR the benefit of a doubt (I know, I’m being very generous here), they may have created the new system in an attempt to force performance “differentiation” and deal with the mistrust of Executives’ ability to be fair and honest in the review system and curb the cronyism. But, in their infinite wisdom, their attempt to fix the problem made it worse by creating a model that amplifies the consequences for anyone who happens to fall on the outside of the crony system during any given review cycle, and even forces upper managers who may have otherwise done their best to be fair to make even more rigid choices between their favorites and those whose careers to effectively sink at MS. The end result is an even more disconnected Executive class, and employees who are even more beholden to the whims of GMs and above and must do everything they can to navigate the political waters they’ve created. All that packaged up in a sugar coated message of “Hey, we listened to you and now you’re getting more money” (too bad we’re screwing over more of your coworkers and making you even more fearful for your livelihood each year). Of course, the more ominous explanation is the new model was created with the express purpose of striking more fear into employees and making it easier for managers to weed out internal competition. I’ll leave it to the conspiracy theorists to debate that one.

Ah, to look fondly on the days of focusing on creating great products and real shareholder value. I used to tow the company line, but right now I’m so burned out on MS leadership that if I find myself on the losing side of this system I will have no qualms going to one of MS’s many competitors to help stomp MS firmly into oblivion. Sorry MS, it’s nothing personal, the curve made me do it.

Anonymous said...

pb0608 has Roz Ho who went to VP and is now back. She is not on ExecBenchFY11-12 but maybe next time.

The fact that Roz Ho still has a job at Microsoft has got to be the sign of an institutional illness, she was the face of one of the biggest failures (at least in terms of cost vs. sales) in the history of the company. She managed to not just launch a failed product but to destroy an entire product category, sour the company's relationship with the biggest US wireless carrier and drive a talented team of people directly to the competition. She must have some really good friends.

Anonymous said...

Here's a comparison of 2010 and 2011 reviews

2010
Level 62
Promo to Level 63
bucket e/20
base: 102K
merit: 3K
promo: 10K
stock: 35K
bonus: 15K
total comp for year: 153K

2011
Level 63
bucket: 2
base: 114K
merit: 3.9% 4.5K
stock to base: 4K
bonus 14K
stock 22K
total comp 151K!

I also recieved a gold star this year which was 21K but it skew's the view. if anything it should have supported a 1 rating anyway

not sure being promo'd was a good thing!

Anonymous said...

Instead of this wild speculation by my fellow ICs, can we please have a manager post what really happened during the "Calibration" process? It will be nice to get a no BS explanation of how numbers get fiddled with. Do Leads have as much of a say or is it just Managers? Do they feel bad when they have to jack the Kims on their team with a 5?

Anonymous said...

4 = A/10.
5 = Under Performed.

If you are 4 or a 5, my suggestion is to start looking out, the axe is on its way..

Anonymous said...

HR is NOT your friend.

Don't argue, accept what has been handed over.

If you are not happy, move out.

Anonymous said...

L64
Bucket: 1+
Merit: 11.5%
Bonus: 28k
Stock: 56k

In general I guess I personally can't complain about the new system, but I also know that other colleagues in my team are getting 3/4s which are totally and completely underserved, they should be getting 2/3s at the very least. So it's a bitter sweet review for me.

Anonymous said...

Seeking advice...Softly/informally told by my manager (and then skip level) that I'll be getting a 5 and it will be "bad" and a "difficult review/message". Pretty shocked where I landed and head is spinning now since all signs pointed to a decent year.

Pretty clear to me my skip level has been trying to manage me out so I'd guess a RIF is in the cards based on their language and willingness to share the 5 rating before the actual review. Feels like a courtesy warning of impending doom despite the fact that I had above average reviews in the past and looked like I was going to advance.

I have a couple weeks til the formal discussion and am at a crossroads about whether I should retire ahead of the conversation or face it. I've expressed my willingness to my manager to work hard to define success and have "stepped up my game" to match those words, but I've been told "recovery will be really really difficult".

Would walking away ahead of the review without being shown the door be better than getting RIFd? Would MSFT share that I was RIFd to a future employer? If I am RIFd, am I immediately shown the exit?

If anyone can provide a thoughtful and helpful response about some of these general RIF questions I'd be extremely grateful in my time of uncertainty and anxiety.

-Dead Man Walking

Anonymous said...

In India, Women are never given 4s or 5s as they are retained at 3s or higher ratings in the name of diversity. Also gender bias and racism is far higher out in India..Specially if you are non Telugu.

Anonymous said...

To Dead Man Walking.

Would walking away ahead of the review without being shown the door be better than getting RIFd? - Makes no difference. I suggest hang around, use the resources and start the hunt ASAP.

Would MSFT share that I was RIFd to a future employer? - No.

If I am RIFd, am I immediately shown the exit? - No. The message has been shared with you. Move out else you will be given 6 weeks to or less to pack your bags.

- Already Dead.

Anonymous said...

Of all the divisions in MS, MSIT India Stinks the most. Extremely political and the managers are biased to a selected few who fill coffee cups for them and buy vegetables for their wives..

Anonymous said...

I disagree mate, it is VLIT India..

Anonymous said...

Ah, to look fondly on the days of focusing on creating great products and real shareholder value. I used to tow the company line, but right now I’m so burned out on MS leadership that if I find myself on the losing side of this system I will have no qualms going to one of MS’s many competitors to help stomp MS firmly into oblivion. Sorry MS, it’s nothing personal, the curve made me do it.

One of the big issues is that both the old and new systems have badness associated with the U/A? 10% (old) and 5/4? (new) ratings, which means either 10% (old) or 20% (new) of all employees *yearly* feel less loyal to MS.

When you consider employees' reviews over the years, the total number of less loyal employees will probably be much higher, likely > 50%.

The culprits:

1. HR will always be out of touch with engineering, and should never be allowed to influence the review system. Their role in the performance system should only be to help hire, and fire.

2. There is still too much "old thinking" in mid/upper management at the company, for anyone that matters to grasp and fix this problem.

This is one of the main flaws in the review system that has been eating away at the company.

Anonymous said...

In India, Women are never given 4s or 5s as they are retained at 3s or higher ratings in the name of diversity. Also gender bias and racism is far higher out in India..Specially if you are non Telugu.

+1

5 years in the system and not from South India. feeling the same thing. racism 100%.

Anonymous said...

layoffs?

Anonymous said...

@Of all the divisions in MS, MSIT India Stinks the most. Extremely political and the managers are biased to a selected few who fill coffee cups for them and buy vegetables for their wives..

this is really interesting. seriously.

Anonymous said...

@If you are 4 or a 5, my suggestion is to start looking out, the axe is on its way..

how much time we have?

Anonymous said...

"Can any of those folks that got a '5' tell us what the experience was like?

I thought you were supposed to be RIFed on the spot?"

So cute - in the real world we call this 'fired'. Microsoft has an acronym. Again. Cute.

Anonymous said...

@If you are 4 or a 5, my suggestion is to start looking out, the axe is on its way..

how much time we have?


Last year my hubby was RIF'd in mid-August, which means it can't have been much after review scores were handed out. He was ambushed at a regular weekly one-on-one with no hint that it wouldn't be a regular meeting, two days after being given a big new project to work on. So, start moving your private files and emails off-site NOW. Remove any breakables that belong to you, and take them home NOW. Refill any long-term prescriptions you may have, NOW. It could be a week, six weeks, or some other period of time, but I can tell you this much: they cut off your medical insurance starting the day after you're RIF'd, and ship you your jumbled belongings thrown randomly into boxes whenever they get around to it. After that, you get to muddle through COBRA and Unemployment and all that stuff on your own. You also get to be amused at the packet you'll receive about COBRA, called 'Microsoft Cares'.

Anonymous said...

Dear "Dead Man Walking".
No, unless future money doesn't matter to you, do not walk before your review. That is what Microsoft wants you to do and the whole purpose of "managing out low performers" in this undercover RIF operation currently in process (thus no WARN Act applies). If you leave on your own ("resign"), they/the State will not owe you unemployment (The State pays this, but Microsoft foots the bill being self-insured in many states). If they fire you for their purported "underperformance" reasons, you're still eligible for about $500 a week in unemployment (YMMV based on your previous salary and State)for the next 26 weeks and maybe more. Either way the review will still be in your permanent file. The only way you would not qualify for unemployment, if fired, is for gross misconduct (stealing, etc.). Just being told you’re an underperformed doesn’t disqualify you from unemployment insurance checks.
No, Microsoft does not share why you left with any future employer. They would be in lawsuit city if they did that. They outsource this job to a third party who just verifies dates of employment, and/or salary to any future employer.
Net, it may be a hard conversation, but wait until you're forced out, unless you're walking into something immediately better (new job, etc.). HR would like you to believe you have to leave on your own and will not advise you on unemployment benefits to leave you with the idea you're not qualified for it. Saves the company money if you leave on your own or don’t apply.

Anonymous said...

To 'Dead Man Walking':

Here's another thing. They'll probably give you the choice between "leaving voluntarily on the spot" and "being fired on the spot". If so, they'll say that it will look better for you if you leave voluntarily. We found that the Unemployment Insurance office still granted UI even though hubby 'left voluntarily', because MS HR actually reported him to the state as 'dismissed due to underperformance/not meeting job requirements'. (In other words, they told the State they'd fired him, despite convincing him under considerable duress that he was better off "leaving voluntarily".) The UI review process was delayed as a result of this contradiction in reporting, but eventually a ruling came down that hubby had not been fired for cause (stealing, breaking NDA) and thus qualified. They're not stupid at the UI office. They know what's going on.

$500/week doesn't seem like much, but will just about cover COBRA for a family with children, so it's worth pursuing.

Anonymous said...

Good luck dealing with Microsoft's COBRA administrator, Towers Watson. The company is totally incompetent and you will spend countless hours collecting your benefits.

Anonymous said...

Are all 5's being told they were performance? I was told mine wasn't performance and asked to stay (which I'm not). my manger says I was a 3 when he left the room and was moved to 5 later at GM/VP level. L65. I did see that there was a nominal raise of 3K to take salary to $145K. mid year was 70/A. prior reviews I had four 20% in a row up to last year.

Anonymous said...

Level: 65
Rating: 3
Merit: 2.4%
Bonus: $30K
Stock: $36K
New Base: $159

My bonus and stock were both up versus last year, on fairly similar performance. In my view, the review is more about the manager delivering it than the system. I had same manager this year as last, and the review discussion was very similar. Discussion of the numbers was a small part of it.

Anonymous said...

Good luck dealing with Microsoft's COBRA administrator, Towers Watson. The company is totally incompetent and you will spend countless hours collecting your benefits.

You got your COBRA paperwork? A couple emails, a few phone calls, a letter and nada - so I frickin gave up and just moved on and did the old "Forget You". My status: single with no dependents, no significant pre-existing conditions. I rolled the dice that I'd have employer-funded insurance again before it would matter.

The added stress from fighting and pleading with them for something rightfully due me seemed worse for my health than taking my chances for 6 months without insurance.

I was fortunate. It worked out for me, but yuck, what a way to treat employees. Especially when the hard hours at Microsoft for many who had been with the company before things became "easy street" probably created a few health problems.

Anonymous said...

what's the average level for who's been working for 4 years. I'm at 60 promo'd early this year. I think I'm bit behind the fashion. Any thought?

Anonymous said...

2010:
L62
U/10
no bonus
no merit
no stock
base: $100K

2011:
L62
Bucket: 2
Bonus: 13%
Merit: 9%
Stock: 130%
New base: $116K

Thought I had to share this, again too much negative karma is floating around. I almost quit last year. You might have a bad year, retarted manager or just a victim of politics throughout the chain. These things will happen - EVERYWHERE. Be smart, be proactive, play your cards well and change your playmates if you had to.

About the basepay bands being so different for many posters. They probably also change by country per local market conditions.

Anonymous said...

I've expressed my willingness to my manager to work hard to define success and have "stepped up my game" to match those words, but I've been told "recovery will be really really difficult".

It's mind-boggling to see what Microsoft has become: a corporate gulag where cowed slaves in the lower ranks are intimidated by management psychopaths who play mind games to keep the underlings in perpetual fear of losing their jobs.

It's a wonder that any useful work gets done at Microsoft at all, and it's surprising that MS can hold onto any competent staff.

Anonymous said...

To the guy who had a U/10 and made it to a 2:

How did you go about rescuing your career? I've got an A/10 for 2 years running and I haven't been able to move anywhere internally. I do informationals and as soon as they get my formal application (and they get access to my review scores), I get turned down. If you can't move, do you just pray for a change in your review score one day? It seems like there is a lot of intertia, so if you're in the A/10 bucket one year, it is very hard to get out.

Anonymous said...

Interesting posts...and thanks Mini for starting this conversation.

In addition, could you Microsoft devs please explain us outside of Microsoft what do these L61, L62,... L65 level numbers mean?
Is L61 Junior SDE, L62 Senior SDE, L65 Principal SDE? Or what?

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

L64
Bucket: 1+
Merit: 11.5%
Bonus: 28k
Stock: 56k

WOW!! Those high level roles really get "lovely" stock portions!!!

Anonymous said...

"Gold Star and team awards, etc. -- but because of "how" I achieved them (apparently without sufficient ass-kissing)."

Depressing to see that nothing has changed, with politics still winning out over results. No wonder MS has been passed by Apple in every way that matters and the company is about to fall to hard times.

Anonymous said...

"I have a couple weeks til the formal discussion and am at a crossroads about whether I should retire ahead of the conversation or face it. I've expressed my willingness to my manager to work hard to define success and have "stepped up my game" to match those words, but I've been told "recovery will be really really difficult"."
Are you so desperate ? Get a life and get out of the toxic culture that microsoft symbolizes. You might as well work hard elsewhere. No matter how hard you work, they'll (mgmt) will get back to you and say you didn't do enough. They will exploit you to the core.

Anonymous said...

The levels are for everybody, not just devs, and they vary per country.

In terms of devs in the Redmond area, 59-60 are SDE, 61-62 are SDE II, 63-64 are Senior SDE, 65-66 are Principal SDE, and 67+ are partner. New hires out of school or with limited experience generally start at 59. The same principle applies to Test and PMs in Redmond.

Anonymous said...

L: 62 (promo at MY)
Bucket: 2
Merit: 3.9%
R&D increase: 5%
Stock to base: $7k
New base: $128k
Bonus: 13%
Stock: 130% of "bonus eligible salary"

The numbers are the same as my new rewards estimate for bucket 2, which was reassuring.

I'm satisfied with my numbers but the new buckets are mysterious. My feedback was glowing but my manager just said there are other, better 62's out there. I'd like to read their reviews.

Anonymous said...

The levels are for everybody, not just devs, and they vary per country.

In terms of devs in the Redmond area, 59-60 are SDE, 61-62 are SDE II, 63-64 are Senior SDE, 65-66 are Principal SDE, and 67+ are partner. New hires out of school or with limited experience generally start at 59. The same principle applies to Test and PMs in Redmond.


Close... 65-67 is Principle. L68 starts the Partner band.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what to expect this year, my boss is straggling on his reviews, but "calibration" seems even more of a soul-sucking turf war in the new system since it has set rewards and a set curve.


Same sh*t, different day.

Anonymous said...

The HiPo on my team was told he was being nominated before the final decision so he could have the chance to opt-out if he didn't want the extra responsibilities. I can't imagine there are very many who opt-out

I can. It's a bunch of extra bullshit that doesn't pay dividends, and it's not causitive to your review score. "HiPo" != "1+". I was HiPo in my previous org and am not in my new org, but I'm getting better review scores than the "HiPo's" in my new team.

This is a cynical perspective of course, but it illustrates the point that all that really matters is your actual review score and promotion velocity. Nothing else.

Anonymous said...

What's base salary range for L64 in bay area?

Anonymous said...

Instead of this wild speculation by my fellow ICs, can we please have a manager post what really happened during the "Calibration" process? It will be nice to get a no BS explanation of how numbers get fiddled with.

Many people writing here have already covered specific parts of the review. I've led large teams with several leads and worked for 4 different PUMs and 4 GMs . The two parts which seemed constant were:
*a colored sticky with your level band (60-62, 63/64 and 65/66) your past 3 reviews, your diversity status, and your last review all written.
*a room away at a resort for this fun filled 1 day activity.
*the other GM's direct reports in the room (each of us representing 30-50 FTEs).
*Bottom 7-10% (depends on the year) get pushed out on the whiteboard as the lowest...a fight ensues, and trades are made, based on the criteria above and some vague discussion of historical accomplishments and attitude.
*top 20% per level band group are presented. GMs and PUMs pick apart for their favs a little. moving into this group of top 20% means luck and skill both met opportunity ---it's HARD!
*every other IC is generally lumped onto the center of the whiteboard, and we move around each others a little, but basically the diff btw 3 and 4 isn't enough money to do much fighting.
*a gender and race "diversity scrub" is applied, and people are moved down to accomodate the new improved scores across the org.
*managers who have 30 folks meet the curve coming in. Lisa is totally full of shit when she says there are exceptions, I've had 7 bosses, in different orgs. all the same there. meet the curve. The same lie is told about people who are worked out - the curve doesn't accomodate that; lisa's tour explaining the opposite is crap.
*it used to be 10% of employees per org were being run out. and I've taken teams where 10% was too low!!! But with no real flex in the curve you have to adhere to even on small orgs,and with the new "no transfer" reality for 4s and 5s, it's effectively 20% of people...if you have a good org, that forces some very nasty injustice which I've carried out. Like Mini said, it will take some scrubbing to get that off.

*Shred Sticky notes --every admin I know will tell you this is how it works too, they have to clean up the notes:)

Anonymous said...

HOUR question. Friend got fired after getting in argument with manager two years ago. Got statement saying not to show his face on premises. Now works at major OEM and was invited to meeting on campus. Does he have a way to attend? Asked me to check with HOUR but I don't want to get the scarlet letter either: anybody knows who I should point him to? BTW: boss got canned this year, there is some justice :-)

Anonymous said...

HR question. Friend got fired after getting in argument with manager two years ago. Got statement saying not to show his face on premises. Now works at major OEM and was invited to meeting on campus. Does he have a way to attend? Asked me to check with HR but I don't want to get the scarlet letter either: anybody knows who I should point him to? BTW: boss got canned this year, there is some justice :-)

Anonymous said...

L61
Bucket: 5
Merit: 0
Stock to base: $3,300
Bonus: 0
Stock: 0

Anonymous said...


What's base salary range for L64 in bay area?

Same as it is for Redmond, just add in the extra 9% on top.

Anonymous said...

Could someone give more information about HiPo and the MS Bench programs? What do these programs generally entail? Is there additional compensation in addition to standard salary/bonus/stock? What types of additional responsibilities are given? Any perks? How does one get selected?

Anonymous said...

HR question. Friend got fired after getting in argument with manager two years ago. Got statement saying not to show his face on premises. Now works at major OEM and was invited to meeting on campus. Does he have a way to attend? Asked me to check with HR but I don't want to get the scarlet letter either: anybody knows who I should point him to? BTW: boss got canned this year, there is some justice :-)


He will be fine. Microsoft will want business with the major OEM so it won't matter.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of managers are giving that whole "I tried to get you a x but you came out with x-1" excuse.
And yea, these salaries for these L62s seems way high unless you guys were getting hired in that high.

Anonymous said...

Is there anyone which got 3 or lower like the new review system?

Anonymous said...


I think a lot of managers are giving that whole "I tried to get you a x but you came out with x-1" excuse.
And yea, these salaries for these L62s seems way high unless you guys were getting hired in that high.

I doubt that, this blog sort of attracts and amplifies those kinds of comments. Not claiming that isn't happening, just doubting that it's a common occurance. Everyone I've personally talked to either got what they were expecting, or in the case of one guy, his manager told him he was put in for x, and ended up with x+1, so clearly it goes both ways, you just don't get those stories as much here as you do the others because no one is bitching about getting more than they expected.

As for the L62 salaries, they are only high in the context of the FY10 payscale. So far I've seen one L62 post here with new base pay of about 1.0 comp ratio, the rest have all been below 1.0. The pay scales took a big jump. People who were near 1.0 or even above 1.0 comp ratio are now well below it. The midpoint for L62 moved up about $18K. Other levels moved up accordingly. Think about it, L59 and L60 recieved 12% R&D bonuses, on top of whatever merit increase, plus stock to cash. The entire pay floor was raised up considerably.

Anonymous said...

@If you are 4 or a 5, my suggestion is to start looking out, the axe is on its way..

How much time we have? -- 6 Weeks Max.

Anonymous said...

(repost. prev post got lost in the street fight on gender protection)

L61 - promo last year;
Bucket 4
Merit 1.0%
R&D 8%
Was E/70 for few years. New to level, in bucket 4??

At mid year told easy bucket 3, possibly 2. Got pushed back to 4 from 3 at manager of lead.
Review stated some "how" comments. No major -ve feedback.

WTF?

Next to be managed out? should i move internally or just leave?

I want to move within MS.
Can i get hired internally with a bucket 4? Can a manager/lead add clarity here?

Anonymous said...

L63 PM
Bucket - 3
Merit - 2.6%
R&D - 5%
Stock adj. - 7,000
Bonus - 10% of BES
Stock - 11,000

Manager review indicated the earth would stop spinning without me, but he gave me just a 3... I wonder what he would say to those bucket 1s and 2s. Hippocrits may I say? Or is this the norm in MS? I am an industry hire with the company for 16 months so far. Have told my manager I am leaving MS - full of politics with 1s and 2s going to the talkers not the doers. Coming from a variety of other companies, some are MS competitors, I see a downfall of MS on the horizon if this kind BS continues.

Anonymous said...


L63 PM
Bucket - 3
Merit - 2.6%
R&D - 5%
Stock adj. - 7,000
Bonus - 10% of BES
Stock - 11,000

You claim L63, but your Stock Adj. and your Stock award both indicate L62. Which is it?

Anonymous said...

Ass Kissing is the only way. I repeat the only way to survive in MSIT India.. If you even as to think a little differently than your manager you are headed for 4s and 5s.

Anonymous said...

Avoid joining MSIT India, it is toxic culturally and detrimental to your career. You will loose touch from your core technology and be good for nothing by the time you are 6-12 months in the org. I repeat avoid joining MSIT India.

Anonymous said...

>@If you are 4 or a 5, my
>suggestion is to start looking
>out, the axe is on its way..
>
>How much time we have? -- 6 Weeks >Max.
what a nonsense. even for 5's not to mention 4's who're solid performers in most cases meaning they of course delivered on their commitments and sometimes overdelivered they just failed to achieve the rest (impact in the team, etc.) or failed to be as excellent as others _in their calibration pool_ in 'how' or 'proven capability'. not the best thing in the world to get 4 at MS but definitely not the worst and definitely has nothing to do with 'axe' by itself.

Anonymous said...

2011
Level 63
bucket: 1
base: 180K

Anonymous said...


2011
Level 63
bucket: 1
base: 180K


lol. in your dreams my friend !!!

Anonymous said...


2011
Level 63
bucket: 1
base: 180K

And now we have some bullshit. That's about $6k beyond the maximum for a L63, and no one ever gets the max.

Anonymous said...

Is a 4 same across bands?

For instance there seems to be concern here that 4s while not axed now will be good bucket 5 candidates in the next review and so axed next year...

Someone has to be a 4 , it seems unfortunate that seniors and principals who have worked through the years would be let go..

i started here and have got 5 promos in last 11 years and am a senior and as most of you can attest it has been all hard work..so the question..

Also if a report has 30 folks across bands, is the 13% for each band or all across? Or is it across disciplines?

Anonymous said...

>@If you are 4 or a 5, my
>suggestion is to start looking
>out, the axe is on its way..
>
>How much time we have? -- 6 Weeks >Max.
what a nonsense. even for 5's not to mention 4's who're solid performers in most cases meaning they of course delivered on their commitments and sometimes overdelivered they just failed to achieve the rest (impact in the team, etc.) or failed to be as excellent as others _in their calibration pool_ in 'how' or 'proven capability'. not the best thing in the world to get 4 at MS but definitely not the worst and definitely has nothing to do with 'axe' by itself.

--
You are not in touch with reality my friend.

Anonymous said...

I agree, 4s are basically signals that your time is up and you should start focusing on getting a new job elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I noticed some posts about the importance of "how" in this year's reviews. Can someone who have gotten their reviews please explain what the interpretation was ?

Reading through my commitments/accountabilities it was always the "what" and hardly the "how". It just did not seem right to change the review parameter close to the end of the review period after we have burnt ourselves out to achieve the "what" and there was no feedback throughout the year on "how" i was achieving

Anonymous said...

Your lead can easily get you a 5 if he doesn't like you. What he can't do is guarantee you anything else - all we can do is make the best case in calibration, and then the higher ups do whatever they want anyway. If you trust your manager is on your side, that is the most you can hope for.

Anonymous said...

Avoid joining MSIT India, it is toxic culturally and detrimental to your career. You will loose touch from your core technology and be good for nothing by the time you are 6-12 months in the org. I repeat avoid joining MSIT India.


You could have stopped at "avoid joining MSIT..."

And for everyone bitching about not getting a pay raise because you're doing the same job as the core engineering orgs... Stop. You're not. If you think you can, go get a job building customer facing software. There are lots.

We're a software company. We sell software.

I'm talking to you Content Publishers.

Srlsy.

Anonymous said...

Hate the new system, but it's approximately as bad as the last one. Let's all get together and come up with something for next year that can be just as completely useless as the last two..

L65
Bucket: 3
Merit: 2.4%
R&D: I'm in engineering but was told I don't qualify for the increase.
Bonus: 17.06%
Stock: Completely irrelevant since I seriously doubt I'll be here for the first vest.

I love the company, I love the work I do... I just can't stand the total lack of appreciation anymore.

Can't decide whether I should go work for VMware or start my own company again.

Anonymous said...

pb0608 has Roz Ho who went to VP and is now back. She is not on ExecBenchFY11-12 but maybe next time.

Roz Ho is a clear example of the focus on diversity hurting business results. I can see several more capable people on the bench list who are still not to the level where she reached and drove the company's future in mobile into the ground.

I will not be surprised if she is still in 1+ this year at the calibration.

Anonymous said...

Shame on us for not leveraging our talents to create an organized framework to capture our collective intel about "real-life" HR policies and compensation data, in an anonymous aggregated way that still shows nuance by geo, business, and band.

And broaden the issue beyond our collective noses so that we and colleagues in other companies may compare review and reward truth across companies. What are the comparable review and reward systems at Facebook, Apple, and Google? Why not collaborate to write them down side-by-side so we can all be wiser?

God bless Mini and all, but as fun as it is to read, the endless comment stream amounts to little more than 280 (and counting) farts in the wind.

Anonymous said...


Roz Ho is a clear example of the focus on diversity hurting business results. I can see several more capable people on the bench list who are still not to the level where she reached and drove the company's future in mobile into the ground.


Careful there, we got a foul-mouthed, low-class white knight mangina on the board (likes to use f*cktard in every sentence) who'll come after you for your "misgonistic attitude".

FWIW, I agree with you 100%.

Anonymous said...

Farting in the wind is more rewarding than listening to my very excellent manager squirm while trying to explain to me why I was rated as average for the 5th straight year despite nailing every damn thing and more that was asked of me...

Going to fart in the wind now.

Anonymous said...

I feel bad... being a year and a half I just realized that working hard and with quality vs being super visible and ass kissing will take you to different routes - basically 3 vs 1.

Expected promo with high probability, was told 2 "close to 1" in midyear. Review written with very pretty words. Don't reflect number though (3).

Maybe my lead sucks on calibration meetings? I want to know if it's really only me (not enough BS) or my lead also blows (he's not very loud and all of my teammates said their reviews were Meh). Any thoughts?

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Anonymous said...

I would say the same for all divisions in India not just MSIT. People actually laugh when I show off my WP7 :(

Anonymous said...

"Diversity".


Someone in the know, please: When calibration adjustments are made at MS "in the interest of diversity," are we talking only about gender and race, as someone has suggested? If not, what other factors are taken into consideration (e.g. sexual orientation, disability, etc.)?

Anonymous said...

Once you get the hipo program, do you stay in forever or is it revaluated every year?

Anonymous said...

Seeing all of these spambots posting for casino sites makes me want to blow all of my bonus money @ Snoqualmie.

Anonymous said...

Why don't managers have the balls to own the message?

I don't understand why they think they are doing people a favor by saying "you were an after my meeting, but an after it went up". That makes me hate the manager for being bad at his job, then I lose faith in the higher level managers because they make bad & arbitrary decisions. I think there must be training for this sort of decision making. Ballmer probably leads it.

Anonymous said...

Expected promo with high probability, was told 2 "close to 1" in midyear. Review written with very pretty words. Don't reflect number though (3).

I'm curious about claims like this. As I recall, the new system wasn't announced until after mid-year discussion.

Anonymous said...

For those who are in hipo/bench programs, would their presence there inappropriately influence future calibrations? Like bias the managers to always put them in the e/20 or 1+ bucket? Is there any oversight of this by the hr dude who sits in the calibrations?

One of the HR docs on hipos seems to say, that once you get in a bench, you are to be elevated to next CSP band within 2 years. If not the manager has to spend more time working with you and training. So essentially they are ensuring bench ICs get promoted from one CSP to next 2 levels up by 2 years . So a promo every year guaranteed!!! Shocking !!!
Given that, why would anyone want to join a team with benchers in it.
The benchers are guaranteed to be at the top of calibrations unless they are caught stealing or something.The way to spot a bencher is to see in outlook if they belong to an alias of the form “Microsoft emerging leader *” or “ * bench *”

Anonymous said...

L# 64
Bucket 3
Merit 3%
Bonus 10%
Stock 100%
Services

This is my second average year in a row. I guess things could be worst but I did make more coin at level 62 and 63 various years prior so it is frustrating. The system is highly biased with favortism IMO.

-Joe Average who used to be a "Rock Star", lol I always hated hearing that said.

Anonymous said...

Why don't managers have the balls to own the message? I don't understand why they think they are doing people a favor by saying "you were an after my meeting, but an after it went up". That makes me hate the manager for being bad at his job, then I lose faith in the higher level managers because they make bad & arbitrary decisions. I think there must be training for this sort of decision making. Ballmer probably leads it.

Would you rather your manager lie to you like they’re told to do in the training and write some exaggerated justification in your review so they can look like they’re owning the message? If you’re truly a victim of the curve then they’re doing you a favor by keeping nitpicky details out of your review that would end up getting blown into big red flags to other hiring managers if you try to move teams.

I agree your manager should have better advice for you in the review discussion, but don’t be so quick to judge them. As a lead who’s had to deliver scores that changed somewhere up the chain without explanation even after they breezed through my team’s calibrations (due in no small part to the hard work I did through the year getting visibility for my people), I can tell you that trying to own a message that I had practically nothing to do with is demoralizing and makes for a very tough review discussion.

Anonymous said...

Damn, I got a 1 this year. Right out of the blue, no notice or anything. Time to beg for change @ Pike market I suppose.

L61
Bucket: 3
New Base: 105k

Anonymous said...

Yeah, women managers are the worst. They are constantly out to prove themselves to the world by speaking loudly, but forget to grow some skills. (Plus the 500lb dyke running HR would die before letting a female get into bucket 4 or 5).

Anonymous said...

How much time we have? -- 6 Weeks Max.

help me understand this.
There are about 30K MSFT employees in WA.
7% of that is around 2K. (people in bucket# 5)
So if 2K people are RIFed due to performance reason in 6 weeks, wouldn't it invoke WARN act?

I suspect that MSFT may need to keep some of these people in 5 to hang around a bit.

Anonymous said...

>I agree, 4s are basically signals
>that your time is up and you >should start focusing on getting
>a new job elsewhere.

Speaking as someone who got U/10'd a couple years back, this is an exaggeration. The 4 is a nebulous area somewhere between "kinda sucks" and "okay, but average teammates placed higher". It's a sign you need to do some honest self-assessment of how you rate compared to others of your and adjacent level bands within your team and figure out if you're getting your due and proper.

1. It's likely you don't compare as favorably to your co-workers as you would like to believe, this is typical of the human condition. Take some time and be really honest with yourself here. If you're several years into your career and rate yourself as a 8-9 out of 10 at whatever tech/work/etc you're best with, you are full of shit and can stop at this step.

2. If you are reasonable certain that you compare favorably, have you been pushing for recognition of your work, making sure your lead and manager know you're doing good work? You don't have to suck cocks to get good reviews, but being a wallflower that nobody can connect to successful features (or whatever) will minimize the impact of your production on your rewards.

3. If you get to this step, you're getting gypped; tune out any jibba jabba about "HR adjustments", "we sent it in", and suchlike, if MS is not willing to pay what you're worth that's just too fucking bad for MS. This is a corporation, not a cause. You can either stick it out and see if you get a better result next time, or seek employment elsewhere. Given current industry conditions, there are jobs to be had for the competent and professional; moving internally with a 4 is improbable.

For my part, My U/10 was not an unreasonable review; I stuck it out, A/10 and 3 since then. I am mindful that the U/10 will impede my progression at MS, if I become tired of that I will leave.

Don't panic over a 4. It's not nearly as bad as what many people have gotten and rolled with, and is not a sign of imminent RIFfing. It's a yellow light, not a red.

Anonymous said...

Correction: A/70 and 3 since.

Anonymous said...

L65 in the field (account mgr)
Bucket: 1
Merit: 6.8%
Bonus: $37 K
Stock: $69 K
New base: 159K

I love the new review system because I had a 1 and this cascades salary increase and bonus. A lot of sales guys are frustrated anyway.
We have to make my living with the Revenue Based Incentive [bonus based on $$$ quota].
Quota increase for FY12 > 20%
We count on good products to be sold, come on Redmond folks, back to work ;-)

Anonymous said...

Bottom line... The new plan was under funded. So they moved the number down at the exec level... Plain and simple....

They messed up and many of us suffered...

I would bet the execs got their numbers...

Anonymous said...

Where did the 6 week number come from for the 5s to be RIFed? Is it fact or speculation?

Anonymous said...

pb0608 has Roz Ho who went to VP and is now back. She is not on ExecBenchFY11-12 but maybe next time.

Roz Ho is a clear example of the focus on diversity hurting business results. I can see several more capable people on the bench list who are still not to the level where she reached and drove the company's future in mobile into the ground.


Any one know of other cases where VPs got to stay after such a big fiasco? I had heard that once you got to VP it was either deliver and get rewarded or get out and not vest your stock grants. Or is this another diversity exception.

Anonymous said...

Why don't managers have the balls to own the message?

If your manager doesn't have the balls to own the message, thank them. If you really did drop down because of higher level calibration, this is very helpful data for your career planning. It makes it pretty damned clear that extra effort on your part is not likely to help (which is why HR goes on about managers owning the message, btw).

Anonymous said...

Plus the 500lb dyke running HR would die before letting a female get into bucket 4 or 5

If that's the best criticism of Brummel that you've got, you're missing a lot of opportunities.

Anonymous said...

Glad I left the company for a new career before all this crap happened. My skip level manager who was trying to force me out got walked out before review time (they actually walked out a female MSIT director). Now I have a letter from Microsoft offering me a buyout package for my silence since I formalized an EEOC complaint about being forced out. No regrets and life is good.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 7:08:00 AM

I left earlier this year too, selected from multiple offers. Have seen EEOC mentioned a couple times on this board, would you provide a link to start this process? Is the process pretty straight forward? I don’t care about the money (settlement)---read it will be low, my intention to make sure that Microsoft takes notice and tag the skip level and manager so these two piece of shit will not be able to do what they did to me to other reports. Did file a complaint with HR before I left, HR is worthless, as everyone knows on this blog, but once you file, the gloves are off. Now, I’m out, settled in my new job, have time to play with either an EEOC or law suit---or neither, it will be my choice. Once filed, I know I will never go back and it may also “damage” my future job searches---so be it, I’m doing this with my eyes wide open, hope those two pieces of shit got a “5” and out of the door already, have not heard it, an EEOC complaint can probably help increase the odds that they do get a “5” next year!

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, women managers are the worst. They are constantly out to prove themselves to the world by speaking loudly, but forget to grow some skills."

Why make such an ignorant comment? Surely you have enough common sense to realize that stereotypes are misguided at best.

Anonymous said...

Re: "how does calibration work?"
In my org (>100) I expect each manager to come to calibration with their team balanced (20% @ rating 1, etc.), or if not to have a strong justification why. We then discuss every individual (no Post-Its - I think it's demeaning) to ensure that we all agree. For each individual we look at their top few commitments (were they important to the biz? Are they appropriate for their CSP band? Were they met or not met?), how they achieved them (what were their feedback scores & verbatims? Did they leave a trail of dead bodies while getting their work done?), and their history (past review scores, recent promos, gold stars, strong performance year over year, etc.). We then stack rank the employees within each band and make the +1 or -1 adjustments to meet the curve. If we need a +1 in a band, we take the person from the top of the stack, and the converse for the -1. In each of these cases, however, we should have the data to support the change, and I pushed back on both +1 and -1 adjustments in my calibration and successives ones up the ladder if I or my managers did not feel the score was defensible.

This process was repeated in my manager's calibration. Overall, I found the new system eliminates some of the subjectivity from the old system's calibrations. Can a bad manager still play favoritism? Yes. Can a poor manager still screw it up? Yes. Watch out for those people, and don't hire them and don't work for them.

Anonymous said...

To the guy who had a U/10 and made it to a 2:

How did you go about rescuing your career? I've got an A/10 for 2 years running and I haven't been able to move anywhere internally. I do informationals and as soon as they get my formal application (and they get access to my review scores), I get turned down. If you can't move, do you just pray for a change in your review score one day? It seems like there is a lot of intertia, so if you're in the A/10 bucket one year, it is very hard to get out.


Yes. With a (A-U/10) flashing red light above your head, other teams would treat you as radioactive leftover. I wouldn't even try informationals unless you have very very good story to tell. Even that's the case, some orgs would require GM/VP level approval to hire an underperformed fellow. Unfortunately this is how it works: So, you have to "prove" that you can perform in your current group etc.

For most, the issue is that they rely on their manager only and live the illusion that he/she can get anything in the calibration meeting. We all know that's not the case. You should definetely proactively manage your relation with your skip manager as well. Well, and that's not enough either. During the calibration meeting your boss'es peers stand up and comment on you. If you get comments like "I have no idea what s/he's up to!" there is a very high chance that you will be wiped off from the center of the whiteboard and pushed down the stack.

So, network really is the one and only vehicle to make it work - unless your manager is king of the jungle and you're his/her rockstar. It doesn't have to be always ass kissing or overmarketing yourself. You should let your org know you. Let your manager's peers know about you - in a good way, so at least they don't say negative things or just state "don't know" about you.

Don't forget a manager has it's own career concerns as well. So the directs can be at best a "second level" of interrest to him/her. You have to take the inititiave to drive the discussions with him/her every month and openly talk about the potential rating YTD. So, work shaping up your final score throughout the year, not at the review meeting. It would be too late. Calibrations happen in a light way every quarter. By March you're pretty much set up where you will be landing.

Of course there will be scenarios where none of this would work effectively. (bad manager, new GM, that VP, this product etc - maybe it's really only you) Still, make up your way and stick to your desicion. Do not give up easily.

Anonymous said...

I am East-European and I speak with a slight accent – do I fall under the diversity group? I can really work on the accent and get it to a point where people would have to make an effort to understand me. I also look a bit middle-eastern and I tan really well. Should I be hitting the tanning machines? I am kind of worried about skin cancer.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
How many years does it typically take for someone going from L63 to L64 and from L64 to L65? If there are already plenty of L63s in the team, does it really matter in your progress?
Also, whats the Base Pay range of L63?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Why make such an ignorant comment? Surely you have enough common sense to realize that stereotypes are misguided at best.


Why take the bait? Fucktardulatious fucktard...

Anonymous said...

How much time we have? -- 6 Weeks Max.

help me understand this.
There are about 30K MSFT employees in WA.
7% of that is around 2K. (people in bucket# 5)
So if 2K people are RIFed due to performance reason in 6 weeks, wouldn't it invoke WARN act?

I suspect that MSFT may need to keep some of these people in 5 to hang around a bit.


--

Please understand that WARN act is applicable only in the US. Entire Volume Licensing Team was WIPED OUT CLEAN in 6 Weeks. The Reason - It costs 3 times for an employee in Europe than in Asia. Does it make sense now mate????

Anonymous said...

Waiting for my 7 year wake-up call which is more valuable than the stock and bonus I'll be missing when I get a 5. I have given up the last 7 years of my life, missed watching my kids grow up, nearly destroyed my marriage over my job. It's my own fault, I did it to myself and now I know without a doubt that I'm not valuable to MS.

When I sat down and did the math it became clear to me that I'm a fool.

I've had the opportunity to work with some of the smartest people I've ever met, but the lack of teamwork and vision is staggering. Watching incompetent, teflon, ass kissers get highly rewarded makes my stomach churn. Time to find a new opportunity.

I can say unequivocally that my 5 is undeserved and I'm sure I won't be believed. I'm in the field and I can say without a doubt that management is clueless about my efforts and results. They see what they choose to see or make up and really couldn't care less about reality.

Anonymous said...

"Hi,
How many years does it typically take for someone going from L63 to L64 and from L64 to L65? If there are already plenty of L63s in the team, does it really matter in your progress?
Also, whats the Base Pay range of L63?

Thanks"


There's no typical velocity for promotions once you get to the Senior band -- it ranges from less than a year to more than 5 years.

If you're popular with your executive management chain -- GM and above -- you'll find yourself moving from 63 to 65 fairly quickly. If you're not popular, expect to stay a 63 for a very long time and expect to never make 65. Promotions in the Senior band and above are not dependent on the quality of your work, they're dependent on how you're perceived by GM and above.

Anonymous said...

I have given up the last 7 years of my life, missed watching my kids grow up, nearly destroyed my marriage over my job. It's my own fault, I did it to myself and now I know without a doubt that I'm not valuable to MS.

while admirable that you take ownership of your actions also be clear that is what smokers do when they decide to quit smoking. does it leave the tobacco companies off the hook? I agree each person is responsible for what is important to them in their life and when you run with a pack it is hard to distinguish reality as the culture is structured that way around you.

Anonymous said...

"Is there anyone which got 3 or lower like the new review system?"

I got a three and the new system is fine for me at L65... you need to go into it with the correct expectations.

For me, I spent a few years after hitting Principal working my ass off for my overlords and getting the same mixed-message BS that so many other folks here have described: told throughout the year that I was nailing everything and that I was a "rockstar" only to see A/70 on the actual review.

So this year I decided to do average work, with average effort, and to smile and nod and act SUPER EXCITED about everything. Again, told I was a rockstar, got my 3.

If you're not part of the in crowd it really doesn't ever matter if you do stellar work, your actual scores will always be middle-of-the-road. If you can become skilled at doing middle-of-the-road effort while being perceived to be SUPER EXCITED, you can collect your 3 forever and live a much less stressed-out life while you're at MS. ;-)

Anonymous said...

If you can become skilled at doing middle-of-the-road effort while being perceived to be SUPER EXCITED, you can collect your 3 forever and live a much less stressed-out life while you're at MS.

----

I remember the "Blue Monster" meme from a few years ago with its "Microsoft: change the world or go home" slogan. At the time (about 5 years into my time at MS) I really believed Microsoft was in the business of changing the world, but I see attitudes like the one in the comment above and think it's time we went home.

Will the last person to leave, please turn off the lights?

Anonymous said...

Re: "how does calibration work?"
In my org (>100) I expect each manager to come to calibration with their team balanced (20% @ rating 1, etc.), or if not to have a strong justification why. We then discuss every individual (no Post-Its - I think it's demeaning) to ensure that we all agree. For each individual we look at their top few commitments ...


A tremendous amount of effort and emotion goes into the review process. It would be nice if product design got similar focus.

Anonymous said...

@11:18 -

Seems to me the people who should go home are the ones unable to create a review/reward system that is effective and motivational. It's demoralizing to sacrifice and excel merely to be dismissed due to internal politics.

There is no shared vision. It's a job, not a calling.

Anonymous said...

To all of those asking about "when" the 4s and 5s will get pushed out, I was one in 2010.

The WARN Act doesn't apply to the approach Microsoft is taking. I was one of the ones that went through this in 2010. Microsoft has a lot of smart people working there. A "workaround" can easily be thought up to bypass a government requirement.

Simply put, HR has to be coordinating and deciding when the 4s (A/10) and 5s (U/10) leave. They have a slot open and said team has one. BAM! You get the 1:1 notice. The message is delivered that we have decided to go the termination route due to performance. You get your last check with your vacation cash out. WARN states more than 500 people over a 30 day period. While not impossible, Microsoft can easily stay below that number on a monthly basis. I mean that gives them right under 6000 people a year without one WARN notice needed.

I went through a very hard period after this thinking that a company I truly was proud to work for couldn't be like that. They would care. I have no idea what decides severance there but I got absolutely nothing. I gave them over 10 years of my life. My final job was in Windows org so there should be no reason not to offer severance if it is a budget issue. Microsoft just doesn't care about you because you are on your way out.

After a lot of thinking on it, I have just come to realize that Microsoft needs a certain number of slots every year to fill with "Competitive College Hires". With the company no longer growing head count, the only way to do that is to push a portion of people out. Do they give this Scarlet A to the right folks? I would like to think not given the career I had there.

What does it look like in a post Microsoft world? I would have to say that I'm very happy. I have found something new to learn in the whole Apple App world.
I would have never even done this had I stayed there due to be loyal to Microsoft. I find the whole Open Source world fascinating. There are people out here who really care about technology not how much of a raise I'm gonna get and disappointed that I got a 1 and it wasn't a 1+. I get that everyone needs money to live but I have lived on unemployment and still have my house and cars.

I'm shocked looking at sites like LinkedIn to find how many of the people I worked with have left the company. There is a brain drain happening at Microsoft. Opportunities are endless outside of the redmond walls for sure.

Anonymous said...

L63

Bucket: 5
Merit: 0%
Promo: 0%
Bonus: $0
Stock: $0

One year in level.

Midyear: meets expectations.

Took a new role under a different manager in the same BG in April.

No warning. No performance management. Was told "you are definitely not being managed out. We know you will succeed in your new role."

The only theory that makes sense is that at some point, it came down to time in role. If you had 20 people equal at 4 and no one at five, how would you stack rank them?

Anonymous said...

IDK about India but I want to be a Canadian!

Anonymous said...

IDK??

Anonymous said...

"L63

Bucket: 5
Merit: 0%
Promo: 0%
Bonus: $0
Stock: $0

One year in level.

Midyear: meets expectations.

Took a new role under a different manager in the same BG in April.

No warning. No performance management. Was told "you are definitely not being managed out. We know you will succeed in your new role."

The only theory that makes sense is that at some point, it came down to time in role. If you had 20 people equal at 4 and no one at five, how would you stack rank them?"


If HR blessed that message, someone is going to be fired other than you. HR requires all 5 ratings to be accompanied with formal "you're not meeting expectations" language.

Nobody is artificially pushed out of the 4 bucket and into a 5 due to curve pressure -- if an org has too many 4s they would generally elevate some to 3s before pushing some down to 5s, simply because a 5 comes with so much additional legal CYA.

Anonymous said...

L64: rating 5

0 on everything
No HR action yet

First year at MS

Due to many rotations in mgmt, 5 different managers within the first year.

Midyear: 3-
In reality I had no guidance and having come from the outside no idea of how MS works so I thought I was doing reasonably well. A career killing 5 is unreal. I was told I was a 4+ one month before review so the 5 was a complete shock.

In reality, the stack ranking system in this company shows that senior management has no faith in the ability for their managers to make rational decisions about their staff.

Base was 132k and I was told by my last manager (number 5) that I was making more than most. This is truly terrible because in 15 minutes of calls I found more money elsewhere.

Evaluating options, completely disgusted by this company... I bet my management didn't get a 5, they all should have.

Anonymous said...

"If you can become skilled at doing middle-of-the-road effort while being perceived to be SUPER EXCITED, you can collect your 3 forever and live a much less stressed-out life while you're at MS.

----

I remember the "Blue Monster" meme from a few years ago with its "Microsoft: change the world or go home" slogan. At the time (about 5 years into my time at MS) I really believed Microsoft was in the business of changing the world, but I see attitudes like the one in the comment above and think it's time we went home.

Will the last person to leave, please turn off the lights?"


In 2011 if you put your heart and soul into Microsoft, you are a class-A chump indeed.

Microsoft is a giant sow, and we're all piglets suckling at her money teats. Your goal should be to suck as much delicious cash milk as you can before you're eaten by one of the hungry hogs hanging around the slop trough.

It's an ugly image, but it's the world Steve and Lisa created. I've been there long enough that I've figured out how to game the system to get maximum cash for minimum effort, mostly because Microsoft stopped rewarding me for loyalty and effort years ago and we entered into a basically hostile arrangement... my employer is my enemy, but at the moment the stalemate is lucrative so I stay.

And yes, there are thousands of me at the company... and virtually every single Partner is merely a piglet with stronger suction than his brothers.

Anonymous said...

"My final job was in Windows org so there should be no reason not to offer severance if it is a budget issue. Microsoft just doesn't care about you because you are on your way out. "

Windows has no higher budget or better heart to treat employees, it's under the same curve, even though it used to bring in more than 40% of the net income. I left earlier this year, got fed up, in a way I'm thankful that things brew up, the silver lining is I don't have to deal with the GPM or lead or the review result. I'm taking the "old Microsoft and Windows quality" with me to my new job, creating my little quality bubble outside of Microsoft and being much, much happier. Helping a L65 to bid out now, didn't ask him why, but based on timing, I'd guess it's part of the aftermath of the new review system. I probably make $5k less a year, but much, much happier and appreciated, at the ad would say: "That's Priceless!" That GPM and lead can go f*ck themselves, I have a broom they can borrow, they don't even need to return it.

Anonymous said...

I have not had my review yet, but I don't care at this point how it turns out. I've been e/20 the last multiple years and HiPo. Magic date of Sept 15, I'm leaving. I'm tired of PMs on the same team who constantly try to trash your efforts in order to attempt to improve their own standing and of people who have no business being hired by any technology company 'owning' msft project or product direction. Anyone who asks questions, pushes for improvements or disagrees with the mostly clueless and/or lazy 'owners' becomes a target for lousy 'how' review scores. Don't ask questions or try to improve quality if you want a good review. Meanwhile the project gets delivered poorly and very little actual work gets done other than the 'owners' patting each other on the back for eliminating anyone that is fighting for our customers and has knowledge of the 'owners' lack of delivery, capability or effort. I'm heading into my next job with joy at leaving this increasingly toxic environment behind. No other company I've worked for before MSFT would stand for some of the crap I've seen here.

Anonymous said...

Nobody is artificially pushed out of the 4 bucket and into a 5 due to curve pressure...

Nice theory but not true. I'm a manager who had an employee pushed to 5 due to the curve. They were very shocked and unhappy, to say the least, and I still feel like shit for having to deliver the news.

Anonymous said...

Why does anyone think the WARN Act applies to five-firings? Termination for cause isn't an "employment loss" in WARN-speak. Poor performance is cause. (Not "misconduct" which is where you get into things that kill your chances at getting unemployment.)

Anonymous said...

Midyear: 3-
What does this mean?

Anonymous said...

"Nobody is artificially pushed out of the 4 bucket and into a 5 due to curve pressure...

Nice theory but not true. I'm a manager who had an employee pushed to 5 due to the curve. They were very shocked and unhappy, to say the least, and I still feel like shit for having to deliver the news."


That's a really rare exception, then, and I'm surprised you weren't required to run the review language through HR and legal for a risk assessment.

5s are used exclusively to deliver a "you probably aren't the right fit for Microsoft unless you dramatically improve in x, y and z areas" message, and any time a team would assign someone a 5 but tell them they were doing OK it opens the risk for a lawsuit.

5s require documentation. If you receive a 5 without warning -- especially if, like some of the posters here you've recently had a gold star or a glowing midyear -- it's worth your time to at least consult an attorney. Microsoft is apt to settle if you have documented discrepancies between written performance messages.

Anonymous said...

Nice theory but not true. I'm a manager who had an employee pushed to 5 due to the curve.

And I'm an employee who got pushed to 5 due to the curve. Nothing to do with performance; just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A reorg left me as the unknown new guy in an existing tight team, and they were required to assign a 5 to someone. Guess who got picked? Never mind that my previous leads and my customers LOVED my work this year.

Oh well, this is just the kick in the butt I need to get out of here after far too long in the belly of the beast. Time to see what a non-insane company looks like. Signed an offer letter this morning for a higher base than I had here.

Anonymous said...

5s are used exclusively to deliver a "you probably aren't the right fit for Microsoft unless you dramatically improve in x, y and z areas" message, and any time a team would assign someone a 5 but tell them they were doing OK it opens the risk for a lawsuit.

No, that doesn't seem to be true any more. The published curve buckets called for a certain percentage of 5s per org (wasn't it 8%?), and that means that even if everyone in an org is a rock star, someone's got to get picked. If you don't have any truly bad performers handy, then it becomes a popularity contest instead.

I haven't seen my review score yet but have advance warning that it'll be a 5, and I assure you that my mid-year feedback was nothing but, "You're doing a great job, thanks for the results, keep up the good work." I'm fascinated to see what's actually written on my review because I literally can't think of anything negative (and true) that they'd be able to write, other than "well, you were the guy with the least amount of political capital in the org".

Anonymous said...

L61 (promo'd last year)
Bucket: 3
R&D: Not eligible
Merit: 2.55%
Stock to Base: 3.3K
Bonus: $9.2K (10%)
Stock: $6.5K
New Base: $108K

in SBTU

Was basically told I got a 3 instead of the 2 because of the forced curve. There is NOTHING bad in my review at all and multiple above and beyond items.

This on top of stellar peer reviews, lots of project success, tons of contributing to the success of others.

Midyear review was in line for a 2.

I could have worked about half as hard for the SAME rewards. My manager tried to sugar-coat it and many promises of working with me to have some high profile successes in 2012 that "can't be ignored". To be fair, I don't think this was his decision or idea.

I think it probably happened a step or two above him with a manager who keeps people on board who are not doing any work, who give projects to people who have track records of failure and who seems to consider "taking turns" at success to be a good idea. I've heard it from that manager before when it comes to promos or such - So and so got one last time, it's someone else's turn.

This is what I hate the most at Microsoft - I never feel that I'm rewarded in line with the work I do or the team-mates I help out when needed.

I can work a whole lot less hard and get the same exact rewards.

Anonymous said...

On several occassions I have read comments on this blog that talk about the "diversity" scrub performed during reviews. Do managers get written guidelines about this or is this done by HR ? Is any of this documented at all?

Anonymous said...

"On several occassions I have read comments on this blog that talk about the "diversity" scrub performed during reviews. Do managers get written guidelines about this or is this done by HR ? Is any of this documented at all?"

--When I was a manager, this never came up in the calibration meetings I attended. I was a lead with 6 reports and my group was calibrated in a batch that included over 200 other employees. I didn't hear of that occurring at any of those meetings either. When the stack went to the VP level? Who knows?

Anonymous said...

I had a great 15 year career until the layoffs on '09 when I was given a U/10 without warning. Management didn't spell out what I had done wrong--said I shouldnt require hand holding and should figure it out for myself. I worked my ass off and what was my reward? Another U/10 because my "hard work came too late and my performance was uneven." Then we got reorged, old manager said I was off my performance plan on his way out. New manager said "nobody in our org ever has two bad scores." She rode my ass harder than everyone else on the team and at midyear said I was underperforming again. She only wanted to focus on the last two scores--not the long history of great scores I had. Needless to say, I got out, found a better, better paying job, and haven't looked back. If they give you a bad score, don't expect them to work with you. My management and HR couldn't have cared less.

Anonymous said...

Diversity Scrub: Process which HR goes through to make sure enough "protected classes" are above and below average, so there is no inherent discrimination in the review tool. This way Microsoft hopefully doesn't get sued or have evidence of discrimination in their tool, for EEO purposes. Essentially it comes down to numbers.
Each year MS must also file an EEO-1 form with the EEOC.gov to show how many of each protected class they have on staff and at various management levels. This is true for about any company.
Protected classes include Ethnic (African American, Latino, American Indian, Eskimo and Pacific Islander); Sex – female; Disabled (pregnancy included); Veteran Status, over the age of 40. I think for purposes of the MS HR review scrub they are primarily looking for female and ethnic. If anything they hope to push out more people over the age of 40-50 due to healthcare cost by using the “velocity” argument and by assigning 10%s or 4/5s to people who are older and been in career for a while. Protected classes also are people who may have partaken in a protected activity: FMLA leave, complained to HR about Discrimination, Retaliation (regardless of outcome which will always be that Microsoft found none), whistleblower, union organizer, etc. A good but expensive book, published by an Employment Attorney, that will tell you more is at http://undercoverlawyer.com. I don’t sell this book, but learned a ton from it.
Protected classes do not include anyone of Eastern European or Middle Eastern decent (someone asked earlier), or sexual orientation (at least at the Federal level, though some states may have different laws here).
I've been a manager and seen a protected class moved up, and a solid performer put in marginal territory simply to "fit the curve", so he went from being a ‘average’ employee to a ‘poor – not at ones level’ employee because of someone else. I didn't mind moving up a protected class, but to screw up a solid performer’s career because he was chosen to go into 10% territory is simply not fair to the stockholders of this company. I'm a female manager.

Anonymous said...

Partners and 10%'s or 4/5s. Is the curve is enforced at each level band. HR says so. Ask them to show you the evidence. Transparency? In accounting, having come across more than I should one day - completely inadvertently - the answer is NO.
At levels 68 and above the amount of those getting a 10% was about 4%, and at the VP/SVP level it was even smaller, like 2%. Further, it appears that those numbers are achieved by 'exiting-anyway' Partners and executives, for example, though I don't personally have any information on anyone in particular... if an executive announces in Spring that they're leaving the Company but staying around until September to 'transition' as they usually do (and pick up their last few Million $'s in stock vests plus bonuses) that exiting executive will take the curve hit, still with their near 100% bonus intact.
Many executives even if not doing well are allowed months to find a new role, are never handed a poor review or asked to leave the Company. They just stay in place until they find their next unpublished gig. We don’t allow people to compete for these roles and now freeze 20% of the rank and file in place. How unproductive.

Anonymous said...

To all 4's and 5's,

Please come together and file an employee harassment class action suit, that's the only language this company is going understand.

And, there are many many ex-softies who would be willing to support you.

Anonymous said...

Dear "I'm a senior manager in DevDiv.", doesn't sound like you are very informed in HiPo these days. Look at anyone and their associated aliases, you can now get bench program and program year just by that. Quite public.

Anonymous said...

No difference between the corrupt managers and the GADDAFI'S of the world.

Anonymous said...

"*a gender and race "diversity scrub" is applied, and people are moved down to accomodate the new improved scores across the org."

Hehehe. Corrupt to the core.

I find poetic justice in the fact that--statistically speaking--the
"sacrificial lambs" are Democrat Party contributors since MS employees as a whole contribute so generously to the "cause".

Anonymous said...

So basically, that's why Jawad was on the books for a year after checking out officialy, to take the 10% bucket for the VPs. Makes more sense now.

Anonymous said...

For those who have received their review, are your new numbers available on https://managepointhr?

That site's data seems ~2 weeks stale now ...

Anonymous said...

"Midyear review was in line for a 2.

I could have worked about half as hard for the SAME rewards. My manager tried to sugar-coat it and many promises of working with me to have some high profile successes in 2012 that "can't be ignored". To be fair, I don't think this was his decision or idea.

I think it probably happened a step or two above him with a manager who keeps people on board who are not doing any work, who give projects to people who have track records of failure and who seems to consider "taking turns" at success to be a good idea. I've heard it from that manager before when it comes to promos or such - So and so got one last time, it's someone else's turn.

This is what I hate the most at Microsoft - I never feel that I'm rewarded in line with the work I do or the team-mates I help out when needed.

I can work a whole lot less hard and get the same exact rewards."


Yes, exactly. And you SHOULD work a lot less hard, but you need to still appear to be excited and enthusiastic.

Your success at Microsoft is not about your great work, it's about your popularity. Every game has its own rules -- learn the rules of Microsoft if you want to stay here and stay sane.

Don't work yourself to death when it has proven to be ineffective, just learn the rules of the game.

Anonymous said...

"No difference between the corrupt managers and the GADDAFI'S of the world."

Please shut the fuck up, hyperbole boy.

Stupidest comment on this entire thread. Congratulations.

Next up: someone compares Ballmer to Hitler. Wait for it... wait for it...

Anonymous said...

"I haven't seen my review score yet but have advance warning that it'll be a 5, and I assure you that my mid-year feedback was nothing but, "You're doing a great job, thanks for the results, keep up the good work." I'm fascinated to see what's actually written on my review because I literally can't think of anything negative (and true) that they'd be able to write, other than "well, you were the guy with the least amount of political capital in the org".

So, spend an hour reviewing your situation with an attorney and see if you have enough to sue.

I had a gold star followed 2 weeks later by a U/10 due to a crazy-ass manager in 2010 who threw a tantrum over something I still don't understand. I talked to a lawyer, we sent a letter to HR expressing concern about a hostile environment, I walked away with 2 years' salary and unemployment.

Anonymous said...

How about everybody who dislikes Microsoft's toxic culture, HR practices, and executive management vote with their wallets by not buying Windows 8 and Office 15?

Anonymous said...

Can any manager verify that every team member has to span the curve? In other words, will every team have 4s and 5s no matter how good the whole team is? We have worked so hard to hire in good people and I'm confident our entire team is top notch. I can't imagine anyone getting stuck with a 5 when they do very good work just because they have to stack. It's so hard to hire good people this would seem like a sure fire way to force the bottom out. Great in theory if you have slackers, but not when you have a great team.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, not loving the new system. Went from a perennial E/20 performer to a 2. Graduate of one of the bench programs. Got a gold star this year as well but apparently that wasn't enough to get to a 1. I was told I just missed the cutoff... great. For whatever reason a 2 stings more than an E/70.

What gets me most upset is that I feel like I did more high-visibility, high quality work this past year than I did when I got E/20s the past 4 reviews (hence the gold star). But when your team is full of dead weight at 59/60 and has a smaller number of really good engineers at 61/62, you get screwed if you're in that higher level band. I feel worse for the 61/62s on my team that got a 3 or a 4... because honestly other than 1 person, none of them deserved it.

Anonymous said...

"I didn't mind moving up a protected class, but to screw up a solid performer’s career because he was chosen to go into 10% territory is simply not fair to the stockholders of this company. I'm a female manager."

"Diversity" is an euphemisms for discrimination, and discrimination is a zero-sum game. Even if you had not known who was being discriminated against (the other pawn in the game so to speak), it still would have happened.

Anonymous said...

"Can any manager verify that every team member has to span the curve? In other words, will every team have 4s and 5s no matter how good the whole team is? We have worked so hard to hire in good people and I'm confident our entire team is top notch. I can't imagine anyone getting stuck with a 5 when they do very good work just because they have to stack. It's so hard to hire good people this would seem like a sure fire way to force the bottom out. Great in theory if you have slackers, but not when you have a great team."

Hundreds of managers -- literally -- have verified the curve on this site over many years, and this blog is literally overflowing with stories of people sacrificed to the curve.

It's even in our official HR documentation. We grade on a curve, and managers on teams over a certain size are required to meet that curve.

Why would you even ask this question? Are you new here? Do you even work at Microsoft?

Anonymous said...

"How about everybody who dislikes Microsoft's toxic culture, HR practices, and executive management vote with their wallets by not buying Windows 8 and Office 15?"

And what would that solve, exactly?

Have you see how many people on campus use iPhones and not Windows Phone 7? Lots. Has that made a difference? No.

Ballmer and the SLT don't give a flying fuck about what you want or think. Fat bald man gets pissed off when he sees employees using non-MSFT products, but he's so wildly out of touch at this point that he's not really even paying attention any more. The SLT are only concerned about securing their millions in stock and bonuses. They DO NOT CARE about how you feel about the state of our products or company.

Microsoft executives fall into two classes:

1. Dinosaurs who grew rich back in the old days and who will stay here until they're dead or fired

2. Outsiders who came here looking for a resume builder so they can go be CEOs somewhere else (like Stephen Elop, affectionately known as "slop").

Personally I haven't bought Windows or Office since 1999 -- it's easy enough to get them for free.

Anonymous said...

"To all 4's and 5's,

Please come together and file an employee harassment class action suit, that's the only language this company is going understand.

And, there are many many ex-softies who would be willing to support you."


This is a naive and stupid comment.

First of all, not everyone who gets a 4 or 5 deserves something better. There are a whole lot of incompetent losers working at Microsoft, and many of them deserve exactly what they get.

Secondly, Microsoft is really, really skilled at CYA when it comes to review scores. Legal lesson for you: In order to file a class action suit you need a class -- "people who got a bad review" don't make a class. What you'd need is a pattern of illegal behavior, like all of them being over 40, or filing medical claims, or being women, etc.

The simple fact is that even though Microsoft's review system is stupid, corrupt and wrong-headed that doesn't make it necessarily illegal. Microsoft certainly does illegal shit all the time when it comes to employee reviews, but you need a much finer filter applied than just everyone who received a 4 or 5

From now on, I'd appreciate it if you left the legal threats to peole who had a basic understanding of the law. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, not loving the new system. Went from a perennial E/20 performer to a 2. Graduate of one of the bench programs. Got a gold star this year as well but apparently that wasn't enough to get to a 1. I was told I just missed the cutoff... great. For whatever reason a 2 stings more than an E/70."

You fucking spoiled-rotten crybaby. I hate you and everything about what you just wrote.

What, feeling butthurt that you're not always #1 ALL THE FUCKING TIME? Oooooh, poor baby, being really good FOR ONCE just hurts more than being told you suck?

Jesus. The hate I feel for you right now, I would kick you in your junk until you were crying for real if you were in front of me right now.

God in fucking heaven, Microsoft employees. What kind of planet do you people live on?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is a giant sow, and we're all piglets suckling at her money teats. Your goal should be to suck as much delicious cash milk as you can before you're eaten by one of the hungry hogs hanging around the slop trough.

Your writing and use of language was delicious. It caused me to get a good laugh for the day. Thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

pb0608 has Roz Ho who went to VP and is now back. She is not on ExecBenchFY11-12 but maybe next time.

Roz Ho is a clear example of the focus on diversity hurting business results.


Yes but in a bureaucracy business results are secondary to maintaining scorecards for diversity et al. How many security, standads of business conduct, privacy trainings are mandatory compared to how to build software or whatever the core skillset of the job is.

Anonymous said...

So now that Jobs is resigning, can Ballmer finally win one?

Anonymous said...

"6 weeks for the 4s and 5s".
You are clueless and stop sharing this kind of nonsense advice with your fellow employees. 1 in 5 people fell in that 4 and 5 category. The guys in 5 are in trouble, yes, but Microsoft is not looking to fire 20% of its employee base - don't be stupid. It will be a disaster, we need the 4s (I know a few 4s that are really good but weren't their lead's first choice that's all), it will be a disaster to the stock price and if the 4s are replaced by new guys, since new guys are always given an average first review, the 3s will be the next 4s and 5s. Since only a few here are 1s and 2s, don't get too uppity about not being in the 4 or 5 class. You are next. For your benefit, you want the 4s to stay, believe me.

Anonymous said...

"So now that Jobs is resigning, can Ballmer finally win one?"
Win what? A sales guy as a CEO. The fool needs to go. He scores a 5 or 4, for real. Why can't employees vote both him and that fat and ugly pigface hr girl out? What system are they creating to keep employees happy here? None.

Anonymous said...

Next up: someone compares Ballmer to Hitler. Wait for it... wait for it...

Who in their right mind would compare Ballmer to Hitler? That's ridiculous and offensive! He's obviously Göring.

Anonymous said...

Anyone ever seen a totally undeserved gold award? Seen one in my team. The fool didn't do anything. He got one last year, so he was given one this year. Year around the guy does nothing but sit around and fix bugs and rubs shoulders with managers and peers he doesn't work with. Communicates through email with everyone he needs to work with he's so hated. I bet he got a 1 too. One of his buddies recommended him for a gold award (yeah, you guessed it: osd; that's how we give gold awards). I brought that up with his manager and the guy just almost killed me. Talk about corruption.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, not loving the new system. Went from a perennial E/20 performer to a 2. Graduate of one of the bench programs. Got a gold star this year as well but apparently that wasn't enough to get to a 1. I was told I just missed the cutoff... great. For whatever reason a 2 stings more than an E/70."

Seriously man, you think you're that good? We sure have a good way of developing superiority complexes and egos in our employees don't we? I can more or less now look at a guy and tell if the fool got a good rating last year. It's that bad.

Anonymous said...

L61
Bucket : 4
Merit : 1.15 %
Bonus : 5%
Stock : 50 %
R&D : 8%

Anonymous said...

L61
Bucket : 4
Merit : 1.15 %
Bonus : 5%
Stock : 50 %
R&D : 8%

Should I consider moving out of the team

Anonymous said...

"No difference between the corrupt managers and the GADDAFI'S of the world."

Actually, nobody is going to feel for you except those that have had those. I had one last year in Windows Live and I pray every day that the saying "what goes around comes around" come true for him. Destroyed my life.

I am sure there's a few of those on this blog too and they're going to write hate responses now.

Anonymous said...

"
L61
Bucket : 4
Merit : 1.15 %
Bonus : 5%
Stock : 50 %
R&D : 8%

Should I consider moving out of the team"

Nobody is going to interview you with a 4 rating.

Anonymous said...

L62 to L63
Bucket: 1
Merit: 5.25%
Promo: 7%
R&D: 5%
Stock2Cash: 7K
Bonus: 18%
Stock: 180%

Anonymous said...

since new guys are always given an average first review,

Not true at all. In my first year I got an average review and I kidded myself into thinking this was the reason. Later I found out how my peers with the same amount of time with the company were rated. People who were not nearly as technically adept but were "likeable" to my skip level got bigger rewards. In later career discussions I was told that my first review score was brought up in calibrations and used as a reason to bring me down. This caused me some amount of career stagnation while the "favorites" kept getting promotions, larger bonuses and in some cases even credit for work I was doing.

Moral of the story to anyone out there who gets a score lower than you believe you deserve, don't kid yourself. Be as cynical as you need to be. They are picking favorites whether or not they admit it to you. Don't hesitate to look elsewhere if you don't think you're getting a fair deal.

Anonymous said...


L62 to L63
Bucket: 1
Merit: 5.25%
Promo: 7%
R&D: 5%
Stock2Cash: 7K
Bonus: 18%
Stock: 180%

Nice! Congrats! Depending on what your FY10 base pay was that's probably about a 24% pay raise.

Anonymous said...

"since new guys are always given an average first review,

Not true at all."

New guys do not get a U10 review rating as the first rating is what I meant.

Anonymous said...

* L62 (promoted@MYCD)
* Bucket 1
* Merit 5.25%
* R&D 5%
* Stock2Base 7k
* Bonus 18%
* Stock 180%

I can't say I hate this new system, though I did actually get more stocks last year at a lower level. As much as people used to complain about how their managers were treating them badly, some of them are now starting to feel the pain, when managers cannot spread out the pie more "evenly" within the middle portion (2+3). As for 1s there really is not much difference, more cash bonus, less stocks, can't say it's a bad thing

Anonymous said...

L62
Bucket: 1
Merit: 5.25%
R&D: 5%
Stock2Cash: 7K
Bonus: 18%
Stock: 180%

I am pretty sure I will move on soon though I got a 1.

Anonymous said...


"No difference between the corrupt managers and the GADDAFI'S of the world."

Actually, nobody is going to feel for you except those that have had those. I had one last year in Windows Live and I pray every day that the saying "what goes around comes around" come true for him. Destroyed my life.


+1

Anonymous said...

Can someone post a list of "non flattenned" orgs out there? some one in top or hr folks who know?

I work in a flattenned org (definition : org only as deep as vp->dev vp ->dev manager-> dev Lead->ic, 5 level deep top to bottom) and the promotional velocity is super slow.
Want to move to a non flattenned org to improve career velocity...

The new curve is brutal on flatenned orgs with a strong team...

Anonymous said...

You fucking spoiled-rotten crybaby. I hate you and everything about what you just wrote.

I agree with what you wrote. People need to grow up around here. Unless you are RIF'd, be glad you have a fucking job.

Anonymous said...

I'm in STB and my manager would never allow new hires or (in general) transitions get a 5 (or 10% for last year) unless that person clearly underperformed. Why would a team hire someone if they only reduce the capability of the team? Since he is often the AA, he would also be accountable for making a bad hiring decision.

As for 4s and 5s transitioning to another team. 5s are clearly prevented from interviewing by HR. 4s are up to the discretion of the new manager, although I can see how in most cases they would not be interested unless it is to fill in the bottom % of their team (would you want a manager like that?).

As for the actual calibration, at least in STB, the curve is not forced until you get to 30 per band (across all disciplines). To make this actually work, leads and managers are expected to come into calibration stack ranked and as close to meeting the curve as possible. Discussion occurs and a stack rank 1...n is created, reviewed, and agreed. The 1-5 assignments is now a pure math exercise since perf is relative to peers in the band.

There are lots of bad managers at MSFT, but also some good ones. If you don't have a skip 1:1 with your manager's manager, you should request one specifically to talk about career. If they don't set it up, go to a different org. You might also setup skip 1:1 w/ your M2 Manager's peers.

Anonymous said...

L63 (no promo)
Bucket: 3
Merit: 2.5%
R&D Increase: 5%
Bonus: $12K
Stock: $17K
New Base Pay: $135K

Anonymous said...

I'm tired of PMs on the same team who constantly try to trash your efforts in order to attempt to improve their own standing and of people who have no business being hired by any technology company 'owning' msft project or product direction.

so true! PMs in most of msft orgs have become a plague. they just party on with no accountability, and try to pretend that they know what the customers want. Communication and people skill problems when dealing with PMs are the most convenient cliche used to ditch a dev nowadays. there has to be someone taking the bottom of the curve, right?

i have met many genius PMs during my 9 years in the company, they deserve every bit of my respect. but i have to say, they are a very rare and endangered species.

there are far more idiots in the PM discipline than on the dev or test side. it's impossible to imagine a dev to come up with a one-pager design doc with all vague and empty BS and get away with it. but i have been working on many features where the 1-pager spec literally is 1 page (in large font size with a big title section)

BTW, i am a dev since day one and i am a solid performer with a 2.

Anonymous said...

Random manager here. 1+ is not the same as HiPo. 1+ means top 2% and you get some special payouts at bonus time. HiPo is top 4%, has no effect on your pay but you get to go to the training activities every year.

Anonymous said...

got a 4. At midyear I was a solid 3, but I was told i spread myself too thin from Feb-July and while i achieved all my commitments, it was the how and such that was lacking. Took me too long to get things done.
I forgot the golden rule, do your best work in the second half of the review cycle because that's what people remember. Now I'm stuck until I find a job outside the company. Going to be fun writing commitments NOT.

Anonymous said...

@Wednesday, August 24, 2011 7:49:00 AM who asked about EEOC.

This is somewhat off topic, but considering the limitations on a Microsoft career for many 4's and 5's, it is likely on topic for some readers.

There are two different EEOC processes, federal and state. Generally, though, when people talk about EEOC, they are referring to the federal process.

For the federal complaint, you would file an administrative complaint within 180 days of the misdeed you're complaining about. Details of the process are at http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/charge.cfm. You may wish to consult with an attorney on this, as the attorney can make sure all important elements of your case are in the complaint.

The govt eventually decides either to pursue a case on your behalf (unlikely) or to issue you a "right to sue" letter. To get the "right to sue" letter can take up to 6 months, maybe longer if they're busy. Based on the comments in your filing, MSFT may or may not contact you to offer to sweep the problem under a green rug.

Once you have the "right to sue" letter, you can file a lawsuit and further rattle cages. You have 180 days I think from the date of the letter to file the suit.

The state's process does not require the filing of an administrative complaint. You can go straight to filing the lawsuit. And it has a longer statute of limitations.

If you are not so much interested in the money as in exposing misconduct, putting a lawsuit into the public record is one way to do it. For an example, look up Charles Bartholomew's lawsuit against Microsoft. The text of it is even retrievable over the net.

A more detailed look at the process and some of the gotchas and Microsoft hardball tactics I encountered while an employee and after they learned of the EEOC complaint filed after my termination may be forthcoming in my book. Currently looking for a publisher with good marketing, so that I don't have to do all of it myself, anyone have any contacts?

Anonymous said...

"Since he is often the AA, he would also be accountable for making a bad hiring decision."

You think managers are held accountable for their decisions. That's cute!

Anonymous said...

Anyone ever seen a totally undeserved gold award?

Yes. I received one about 5 years ago (back when this program was still secret). It wasn't for any action in particular that I recall, just doing what I thought was my job. I thought it was strange at the time. I don't personally know anyone that's gotten one since.

I was hoping for one more before they ended that program, but my boss spent more time promoting his pet project (which has limited value) than people on his team. People on his team can't wait until MS Poll opens again, to give him something to think about. We know nothing will be done to fix the problems but at least it'll send a message.

Anonymous said...

"People on his team can't wait until MS Poll opens again, to give him something to think about. We know nothing will be done to fix the problems but at least it'll send a message."

Sadly, it really doesn't even send a message. The poll is *totelly useless*, and execs just use it to navel-gaze. There are so many teams with poll numbers that have been in the toilet for years, and nothing ever gets done. Not worth the effort of filling the thing out.

Anonymous said...

How important you guys think is that your lead plays the calibration game?

I'm L60 looking for promo but didn't get it even though good conv's with him... I think the other leads on the team are more experienced in convincing the manager during calibration =/

Anonymous said...

"there are far more idiots in the PM discipline than on the dev or test side. it's impossible to imagine a dev to come up with a one-pager design doc with all vague and empty BS and get away with it. but i have been working on many features where the 1-pager spec literally is 1 page (in large font size with a big title section)

BTW, i am a dev since day one and i am a solid performer with a 2."


Oh really.

I'm a PM and have seen my share of Dev and Test idiots. In fact, I've seen some Test monkeys who could barely get a job flipping burgers let alone do a decent job of testing software, and I've seen some Devs who write such garbage code, and who are so incapable of explaining what they're doing, that teams are left sorting it out for years.

Every discipline at Microsoft has plenty of retards.

Anonymous said...

Protected classes also are people who may have partaken in a protected activity: FMLA leave, complained to HR about Discrimination, Retaliation (regardless of outcome which will always be that Microsoft found none), whistleblower, union organizer, etc.

STOP! Readers, complaining to HR about discrimination or retaliation CATEGORICALLY WILL NOT save you from a malicious bad review or a malicious manager. It may help. It likewise may hurt or make no difference. And either way, you are creating some bad karma that your Microsoft career may or may not ever live down.

It can also earn you career-ending retaliation. This is not a hypothetical. It is from personal experience of a former E/20.

As long as I mentioned retaliation, if you do file one of these complaints to Microsft and include mulitple claims, one of which is retaliation, here is something to watch for. Watch for Microsoft addressing all claims but retaliation. If you receive a response of that nature, RUN to an attorney. The statute of limitations clock is running and Microsoft may have determined they have a liability on that count, and are hoping you don't realize it.

Anonymous said...

To all 4's and 5's,

Please come together and file an employee harassment class action suit, ...

And, there are many many ex-softies who would be willing to support you.


+1.

Anonymous said...

One thing I have learnt in my 10 years at Microsoft: it's NOT always you. I used to be a stellar performer, the right hand guy of my manager until I decided I wanted to change teams. I was unbeatable and my calibre was beyond question, right? My change of teams has humbled me so much I have a complete different view of the whole Microsoft system now. I am a dev that a test lead went out of the way to destroy the career of, and I went from being an e20 to a 4 this review. Once you get into one of those cycles, you can never get out. I could change teams luckily but that didn't make a difference. It's not like I am at a different higher level not working at capacity. I don't get a chance at high visibility projects and my current project isn't one that SteveB talks about in the annual meetings. It's a lot more about being at the right place at the right time with the right people than just you alone.

To those that are getting 1s and 2s, kudos to you. I remember those days with much sadness.

- Someone that used to be good, took a wrong step or two and then fell into a black hole.

Anonymous said...

@Wednesday, August 24, 2011 7:49:00 AM who asked about EEOC.

This is somewhat off topic, but considering the limitations on a Microsoft career for many 4's and 5's, it is likely on topic and informational for some readers. IANAL, but I've been through this from the complaint-filer side of the system. Verify the info below with your lawyer.

There are two different EEOC processes, federal and state. Generally, though, when people talk about EEOC, they are referring to the federal process.

For the federal complaint, you would file an administrative complaint within 180 days of the misdeed you're complaining about. Details of the process are at http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/charge.cfm. You may wish to consult with an attorney on this, as the attorney can make sure all important elements of your case are in the complaint. My attorney added an addendum to the EEOC's official account of the charge.

The govt eventually decides either to pursue a case on your behalf (unlikely) or to issue you a "right to sue" letter. To get the "right to sue" letter can take up to 6 months, maybe longer if they're busy. Based on the comments in your filing, MSFT may or may not contact you to offer to sweep the problem under a green rug.

Once you have the "right to sue" letter, you can file a lawsuit and further rattle cages. You have 180 days I think from the date of the letter to file the suit.

The state's process does not require the filing of an administrative complaint. You can go straight to filing the lawsuit. And it has a longer statute of limitations.

If you are not so much interested in the money as in exposing misconduct, putting a lawsuit into the public record is one way to do it. For an example, look up Charles Bartholomew's lawsuit against Microsoft. The text of it is even retrievable over the net.

A more detailed look at the process and some of the gotchas and Microsoft hardball tactics I encountered while an employee and after they learned of the EEOC complaint filed after my termination may be forthcoming in my book. Currently looking for a publisher with good marketing, so that I don't have to do all of it myself, anyone have any contacts?

Anonymous said...

For the unfortunate out there and those that like to diss the unfortunates, let me remind you again that here at Microsoft we don't hire losers. So all this loser talk is bullshit.

It's timely to share a quote from Steve Jobs, ref. http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2011/08/24/steve-jobss-best-quotes/
:
"This is not a one-man show. What’s reinvigorating this company is two things: One, there’s a lot of really talented people in this company who listened to the world tell them they were losers for a couple of years, and some of them were on the verge of starting to believe it themselves. But they’re not losers. What they didn’t have was a good set of coaches, a good plan. A good senior management team. But they have that now.” [BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998]

Anonymous said...

When Hedge fund manager David Einhorn called for Steve Ballmer's exit from Microsoft shares rose of Microsoft and Steve Jobs puts down his resignation shares fell of Apple.
This speaks volumes.. Ballmer Quit Microsoft..NOW

Anonymous said...

let me remind you again that here at Microsoft we don't hire losers

The problem isn't individuals. We do hire some very smart and capable people, who I am sure all want to 'do the right thing'.

The problem is the emergent behavior of all those individuals rushing around doing what they think they need to to get ahead. Somehow the whole is a lot less than the sum of its parts.

Nothing will improve until there is major clearout at the top and we stop rewarding the current poor behavior.

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