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:

«Oldest   ‹Older   1201 – 1308 of 1308
Anonymous said...

L63@Windows
Bucket: 5
Merit: 0%
Promo: 0%
Bonus: $0
Stock: $0
Midyear: meets expectations.
No warning. Bolt from blue.
Reason cited: curve

How much time do I have?

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know how much it costs for the MS COBRA insurance program for a family of two individuals, if you quit?

Anonymous said...

No offense, but why are tech writers making 6 figures?
--------------------------

Agreed. There are tons of content development pukes who make over 6 figures at Microsoft. This should go to folks who are develoepers. Majority of them are NOT technical. No wonder our documentation and training materials suck. We can easily vend this out to folks who are both more competent and cheaper.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else get a request to give anonymous feedback about the new review process?

Anonymous said...

I have a question.
I've been working for 4 years since grad hire and am at L60 including one promo and 1+ global levelling(working outside US). Am I behind the average or on track? My manager told me that he's going to promote me to L61 next summer.
Greatly appreciated if anybody answer me! :)

Anonymous said...

Is it true that if you get a mid-year promo, you automatically get a 3? I'm pissed with this score given I feel I kicked ass all year.

Not true and never has been. Unless of course your team has set its own non-standard rules. More likely it's just some lame manager's excuse thinking it will make you feel better / like them more.

Better question is, what was your score last year? If you were a 70% then nothing seems unusual. If you were E20 then it sounds like perhaps you didn't perform as well relative to your peers versus the year prior.

Anonymous said...

4 people in the team I work all got told they were running at 2 or 3 all year then screwed with a 4 at review time. Well done MS for having managers who are self serving, manipulative , and have Zero Spine.

Anonymous said...

Working hard towards your team's goals and geniuinely ownning the product would fetch a 2 or 1. You help others, enjoy work and there are lot of opportunities in MSFT in every team...Just own the product and results will follow.

You are too funny. As you stated, your experience at MS is short; just wait a few years and you will be blind-sided too.

Anonymous said...

So some of you say that you can't get information in your review changed or the score changed but I beg to differ. Last FY my director put some things in my review that were a total shock in order to justify not promoting me when I had an amazing year from a commitment perspective and impacting MS P&L. I told him under no circumstances would I sign the review and I was going to HR because what he had put in the review was the first time I've heard the information, nor did he mention any of this during our weekly (when he would make time) one on ones. The look on his face was priceless because I suspect he thought I was just going to accept it. He did go to HR, had them send the review back and made the adjustments..has anyone in Redmond experienced this?

I've also known of a few others that have had their old reviews changed...i.e. exceeded, achieved format after their managers totally put blatant lies in their review and were called out by their leadership...funny how those people are still people managers?

Anonymous said...


2. They’re establishing the paper trail to justify letting you go within the year. My team did that and it looks like they’re replacing us with h1-b’s and overseas teams. Is your skip-level a current or former h1-b by chance?


Time to call your congressman/congresswoman and put an end to the h-1b program,.

Anonymous said...

L65
Bucket: 5

Paging thru these comments looking for a viable strategy to stay until I can find a place to land in a company that still cares about its people.

Please Comment With Stategy.

I am not a 5. I worked Hard on High Impact Projects and Succeeded greatly. I am an IC who had two very bad Managers who both left unwillingly and were Not an Advocate for me in the ranking.

Victim of Stealth RIF for the purposes of Domestic Outsourcing is how I see it.

Status right now is Month to Month looking for improvement, but told by my direct and skip level that there is really nothing short of a miracle.

Plan is to continue to manage my projects as they are successful, but pursue opportunities outside.

Should I do this, or cut and run?

Any Advice Please.
(Long term employee with many, many successful years)

Anonymous said...

http://worldofsu.com/philipsu/?p=209

Tells you all you need to know about the "A" teams at Microsoft, as well as the Principal-and-above levels in the rest of Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

I'm seeing a lot of comments about the failures of this company with the ascendancy of SteveB and LisaB

It is very obvious in the numbers and the comings and goings.

I have been to every company meeting in my many years at Microsoft. It would be soooo cool to hear boos instead of cheers for these two come Friday.

Manuel SepĂșlveda said...

I worked for MS for 6 years and I was 'invited' to leave in May 2009. It was hard leaving MS, I realy loved working for a high tech company. But my advice is this: "if you have a dead horse on your hands, don't beat it too hard". The dead horse may be the path that your career is headed, not necessarily MS.

Anonymous said...

http://www.itproportal.com/2011/09/19/microsoft-looking-buying-yahoo-again/

please tell me that this isnt happening again.... this is Foolishness, once again...


why cant the board do something?

Anonymous said...

I got a 5. No indication before review so it was a suprise. Really worried now , can i get RIF'd anytime or can i work my way out of it. Manager said i was tool long in my level 4 yr @L62, but i've had 3 managers in the last 3 years and expectations keep changing and i have to start from scratch each time.

Anonymous said...

> anyone noticed LisaB's new (?) title of CPO?

Apparently she's got promoted to the president level.

Anonymous said...

I know that this isn't the *best* place to ask questions, but it's the most anonymous.

A colleague of mine just got shafted. He set commitments to match the CSP above his, had them calibrated at a divisional level, and executed on everything and more. Unfortunately, he ran into a VP with a chip on his shoulder against SDETs, and he got a 4.

I know - it seems like there should be more to this story, but there's not as far as I can tell. Fortunately for my friend, he's extremely well known in the industry and already has a few external offers to entertain. Unfortunately, this means MS loses a star performer. It sucks, and I'm trying to talk him into staying, but with that 4 (which he says is by far the worst review he's ever had at MS), I can't find any reason to convince him not to leave.

What's worse, is I can't blame him a bit. I hate the way this company can screw people over on a whim, and can't see for a second how this system impacts our bottom line.

I'm starting to think of asking him to keep me in mind at whatever company he goes to.

Anonymous said...

"Is it true that if you get a mid-year promo, you automatically get a 3? I'm pissed with this score given I feel I kicked ass all year."

Sorry buddy..you just kicked ass..you should've kissed ass

Anonymous said...

No offense, but why are tech writers making 6 figures?

From Tina to Dilbert:

Many have English or other fuzzy degrees, but many also have degrees in Math, Science, or technology. Many of us have spent time as IT professionals or developers in the real world (have you?), so we know how hard it is to deploy and operate MSFT products. Some have written docs that removed deployment blockers for large companies who refused to buy into something that had too many undocumented switches and levers to allow into their environments. We're in the forums, monitoring complaints on Twitter, and scouring blog posts about how hard it is to use MSFT products--and then we do our best to document workarounds for our customers.

If you don't want us to make that much money, please (PLEASE) put us out of a job by shipping products that don't need us. MSFT products also create decent wages for Support and Consulting personnel (who, by the way, make plenty of use of our documentation)--and no one questions how much they're making.

Anonymous said...

I got my review on Sep 13:

L63
Rating 4

New hire , 7 months in the company

Interviewed by 2 managers, offered at level 62 under unwanted manager, refused offer, reoffered at level 63 for wanted manager. Hiring manager changed to old "bully" unwated manager 2 days prior to joining MSFT. Never got along with the manager. Systematically isolated and badmouthed behind my back. Still reporting to him on paper, he writes my review but assigned to work day to day with manager I had liked.

Seems like a deliberate retribution for hard negotiations.

Going to leave soon. Started interviewing. Dont even want to wait and see what my future is. Thanks for the 2 payraises in 6 months, looking for 3rd now.... elsewhere. Bye MSFT

Anonymous said...

L63
Promo to 64
Sales
Bucket 3 ...was told would have been 2 but vp said people had to be in role 12 months wtf
100 stock 18 k
Merit 4.2 percent
Promo 8 percent
Stock to base 4k
New base 143k
11 years in

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is Windows specific, but does anyone know what's going on with the short notice L65+ org-wide meetings just scheduled?

Carpool rumor is that we're soon to be bleeding bad attrition and transfers.

Anonymous said...

2 years ago, I got a 10%. In 2 months I had an offer from Google and my compensation was 50% higher, not to say I don't have to deal on a daily basis with people who can't write/read/test a quicksort or with leads who won't let me do something because it is not in their personal commitment plan.

If you got a 4 or 5, it is about the time you start looking elsewhere asap.

Interesting how nothing changed since I left.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to work in Microsoft as a developer *writing code* for the whole career, without becoming a manager?

What is the top level of coder in Microsoft? Is it L63? L64?

Are all L65+ managers who don't write production code?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

On CNBC "Squawk Box" this morning there was a lot of joking about MS finally being a utility stock (compared it to a power company) and noting the growth days are officially over (like we didn't already know that). Lots of positive buzz around Larry Ellison's Oracle during the same segment. Very sad for someone that was around in the glory days.

Anonymous said...

After 5 years at Microsoft I finally said, "Enough is enough! I quit!" I've worked as both an IC and a manager on various teams, and I'm so sick of the inequity in how people are treated. As a manager, I was forced to give review scores that I felt my directs didn't deserve, because the execs had to meet the enforced curve. This year I worked a ton of overtime, was totally randomized by my manager and praised for how well I handled it, was the only person on my team to get 100% positive peer feedback, worked on highly-visible UI that got rave reviews from our customers, etc., etc., and I got a 4. I found out I got a 4 by overhearing the results of calibration being discussed in a manager's office next to mine. I found out that my original score was a 3 at our UX org's calibration meeting, but when calibrated against all of engineering under a GM way up the ladder, it was changed to a 4 to meet the curve. Why the hell do managers bother to even give us a score, when some exec who has no clue who I am and who doesn't see my day-to-day work can change the score to fit some curve?! My manager and her manager even went to HR on my behalf, but they were told they had to "own the score." My manager said she could not bring herself to write a review that supported a score she felt I didn't deserve. Her written review was a sharp contrast to the 4 that was given to me--it was full of praise for the great work that I did. She told me I was the best hire she had ever made. I turned in my resignation after overhearing my score through the wall, and I made it clear why I was quitting. How the hell am I supposed to remain motivated to work my ass off when this is how I'm rewarded??!! For years now, I've found that the only thing that motivates me is knowing I'm working hard to create a better product for our customers, and I work overtime to ensure that I don't block or create more work for my co-workers. I certainly haven't been motivated by any rewards from the company! Oh sure, compared to most companies they pay well and give good benefits, but people can only stand to be beaten for so long before they throw in the towel. My low score was a personal and professional slap in the face. They've made it very clear that they don't value me. Reviews are nothing but crap shoots at Microsoft. I was nice and gave 3 weeks notice. I had to sit through my review with my manager before I left, and it was all I could do to contain my resentment and anger. It's quite sad, really. I remember the day I got hired at Microsoft. I was sooo excited!!! Well, so long Microsoft. It's time for me to go to a company that appreciates me.

Anonymous said...

I got my review quite late, and it took me a while to swallow it.

L 61
Bucket 5
Merit 0%
Bonus $0
Stock $0

Good midyear, good conversations up to my review, known star performer (always 20% or 70%)--and fired. Shafting several teams I was working cross-group with, and earning my management official complaints.

Looking into my legal options. My review was virulent, and it was 100% out of the blue. But, on the whole, I'd rather be out than stay in a group that turned toxic overnight.

Anonymous said...

No offense, but why are tech writers making 6 figures?

I don't know about Microsoft, but at Apple, most of the tech writers are writing code to fully understand and to provide outside developers with examples of how to use the technology they're writing about. I know people who have gone from software development to tech pubs and back. Those guys are easily worth what any other engineer is worth.

Anonymous said...

"2. They’re establishing the paper trail to justify letting you go within the year. My team did that and it looks like they’re replacing us with h1-b’s and overseas teams. Is your skip-level a current or former h1-b by chance?"

Sorry to hear that.Being an ex-h1b I can see why microsoft likes to hire h1's more than US citizens. h1-b's work in a state of fear and uncertainty and that fear is used by management to manipulate and get more work out of them in return for green card. h1-b's don't complain as they fear that losing a job implies they have to leave the country on a short notice. Please call up your congressman/congresswoman and put an end to this so called highly skilled slave labor program called h1-b. Corporate folks can always argue that they can't find talent in US but in reality the cost of hiring an american makes it so expensive that they go for h1-b's. The h1-b's can always get paid slightly more than the existing market rates as published by DOL. So there you go..they hire h1-b's paying more than market rates when the market rate itself is low for that particular profession !

Anonymous said...

Original post:
-----------------------
Microsoft has an ironclad policy about not changing review scores -- over the last 15 years I've had a number of employees try a number of things to get review scores changed and it's never happened.,

I haven't faced this yet in the new system, but in a decade here I've seen review scores and docs changed before signing/uploading. After signing/uploading is a different story.

I know a middle-manager who, when still new at MS, threw a direct report under the bus at review time because his own manager (the direct's skip-level) said to do so. Two months later when the middle-manager realized he'd been used by the skip-level, the middle-manager asked HR to revise the directs' rating. HR said "too late." True story.

Also, have some sympathy for your manager. Implementing this new system required us to hand out a lot more 4/5 ratings at more populated levels (L63/64/65) than before. That's an icky thing to comply with, especially in the unwarranted cases of high-performing employees who lost out simply because "someone has to take the 5." Maybe I hired you, told you all year you were on target, ran your '3' rating up the flagpole only to have it come down a '5'. Maybe this happens to several people on my team because while I'm good at motivating you, I'm weak at protecting you. For each person my choice is to refuse the directive, become the 'problem child' among my peers, and risk getting 5'ed myself next year. Or I could swallow my integrity "just this once", retreat to my back-yard man-cave in Sammamish, and write about how you are the weakest link in the 'comments' section of your doc. Then I'll spend our review discussion hammering home how lame you are (that's me 'owning' the rating my superiors handed you) instead of reminiscing about all the great stuff you delivered for me all year.

So if your review doc reads like a character assassination, it could be your manager's way of soothing themselves for perpetuating the lie that your high performance earned you a 5. If you want it changed, pursue that before signing. The money won't change, but that's probably not what's motivating you anyway...

And if you got promoted to management this year, seriously think how you'll handle this integrity challenge we face at review time. I'm physically sick about it. I used to think I could withstand this long enough to pay off my house, this year I'm not so sure. And I can't see how a system that crushes managers to crush IC's helps us innovate or delight customers.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 11:09:00 AM

-----------------------

Why the hell did you become a manager then ? If you cant protect, and give this long bs story, what morals do you have ?

Stand up/fight for your people when they are good and then people will respect you. If you can't do it, quit and dig your grave. Not sure how many employees you have forced already to dig their graves.

Ashamed of people like you.

Anonymous said...

Also, notice that in > 1000 posts there is NOT A SINGLE manager cribbing.

+1

Conflict of interest, pure and simple.

Managers have enough visiblity into the calibration process to ensure there are enough ICs in their bands that can be pushed to the bottom, so as to leave enough room for them to get the 1/2 (or 3) ratings. In my org, the % of managers who get 4/5 is a rounding error compared to the % of ICs who get 4/5.

In this system where an IC can be in the same band as his manager (e.g. Senior IC reporting to a Senior lead), it is common for manipulative managers to take advantage of their politically naive IC reports. The formula is simple: deprecate the IC's work to your peers and manager, maneuver yourself into a position of seemingly rescuing the IC's work, and otherwise take undue credit for the IC's accomplishments. After all, you have much better visiblity up the chain than your IC.

Just to make sure, also deprecate other peer's IC reports that are in the same band as you. Be sure to do this very subtly and carefully though, particularly during calibration. HR is watching, but won't interfere unless you say or do something really stupid.

By the time the IC finally realizes that the manager he's working for is a shark, it's too late, and most folks avoid rocking the boat and quietly change teams. If they openly make a fuss, the system sides with the manager and only the IC gets hurt, so the system is self reinforcing.

Yes, I've run into a few great managers at Microsoft, but they are rare. On the other extreme, I've seen a GM inherit a new team after a reorg, have more than half of the team quit or move to other teams within a few months, get slapped with the lowest MS Poll numbers I have ever seen for two years in a row, and yet he is still around.

No, Microsoft is good to its managers. Even if most of these managers are so out of touch with the work their ICs do that they couldn't get a job outside Microsoft even if they took a pay cut.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it if you remain a L62 for more than 60 months you should expect to get managed out, even if you are performing well at your level because you show no growth potential.

L63 seems to be the magic hurdle that you need to cross to be considered a viable long term contributor to the company.


No longer. L65 is the new L63. In our org, L63/L64 with successive 4/5 will be managed out. L65/L66 are safe for now even with successive 4/5. Tomorrow, who knows.

Anonymous said...

There is some hope for people who have gotten a 4 or 5. I know of two people in the Windows team that got a U/10 a few years back. They managed to recover in the following year. So leaving MS isn't the only option for people in this situation.

Disagree with this, depending on what your definition of "recover" is. Your 4/5 will impact you for the next 5 years. At least.

If you get a 3 next year, yes, you will not be fired. But it'll take you 5+ years to get a promo.

No matter how brilliantly you deliver over the next year, you will not get a 1/2 (in fact, your manager will tell you this, if you ask). It'll take 2 - 3 years of brilliant performance to get a 1/2, and it'll take multiple 1/2's to finally erase this 4/5 and get your next promo.

Sorry to be so negative, but I wish someone had told me this a few years ago when I got an A/10. I would have quit.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 10:34 on Sept 13: Boss in question not an H1B or similar, but he's definitely gunning for certain people in the department and I am not surprised to be one of them. Thanks much for the advice, and I promise you I'm working on it. Even the thought of disembarking from the clown car is putting a spring in my step. Good luck to you all...

OP here – You’re welcome. While we probably will never really know what’s going on, when there’s enough stink in the air you know something is rotten.

P.S. I just got a great job offer outside the company despite my “you’re nothing but a waste of space” review feedback. Substantially more money and what at least looks like a better environment. If it hadn’t been for that kick in the pants I might have never looked outside. I haven’t been this excited about my career in years. Funny thing is all the hard work and new skills I learned this year led directly to getting in the door for this new job. Thanks Microsoft!

So they’re out there my friend. Keep the faith.

Anonymous said...

Ballmer just sent out one of his "Rah rah things are great and exciting and blah blah blah e-mails." I deleted it immediately as I always do, but a co-worker pointed out that they forgot to remove the actual author's e-mail signature:

Frank Shaw | Microsoft Corporate Communications |


HAH! Sure enough, it’s there! Good catch! And if you take a look at the blog link in the guy’s signature, it sure looks like the same writing style, too (commas and “And”s and all).

Steve-o’s not even writing his own “super excited” emails. Guess he’s not that excited. What a clown.

Anonymous said...


2 years ago, I got a 10%. In 2 months I had an offer from Google and my compensation was 50% higher, not to say I don't have to deal on a daily basis with people who can't write/read/test a quicksort or with leads who won't let me do something because it is not in their personal commitment plan.


Are you saying everyone at Google can "write/read/test a quicksort"? Interesting..

Anonymous said...

Have been a successful PM many years in MS, always good reviews. Midyear had a gold star.

Bucket=4. Asked why? the answer was that you failed to work with your team, but the midyear gold star was based that you worked really well with the team. Pissed. No wonder we're going down...

Anonymous said...

L65
Bucket: 5

...

I am not a 5. I worked Hard on High Impact Projects and Succeeded greatly. I am an IC who had two very bad Managers who both left unwillingly and were Not an Advocate for me in the ranking.

...

Status right now is Month to Month looking for improvement, but told by my direct and skip level that there is really nothing short of a miracle.

Plan is to continue to manage my projects as they are successful, but pursue opportunities outside.

Should I do this, or cut and run?

Any Advice Please.
(Long term employee with many, many successful years)


I've run into many L65's at Microsoft, and every one of the *IC's* are stars (not so much the managers), who would have no trouble finding better jobs outside Microsoft.

Microsoft's system rewards the politically savvy and manipulative folks, not *necessarily* the stars. It sounds like you were screwed over by your managers and the "system".

Any recovery will be painful and slow. Why bother? If I were you, and had gotten an undeserved 4/5, I'd be looking to leave.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to work in Microsoft as a developer *writing code* for the whole career, without becoming a manager?

What is the top level of coder in Microsoft? Is it L63? L64?

Are all L65+ managers who don't write production code?


Yes, it's possible, but not advisable.

The odds of going beyond L63/L64 as an IC are very small. You have to be 1) politically savvy, 2) have a good manager, 3) be in a good org, and 4) be lucky not to get reorged, transferred, etc. Of these, 2) and 3) are the hardest, since most managers and orgs have become highly toxic and backstabbing.

All the time you're at Microsoft, a clock is ticking on your "time in level". If you stay too long in one level, your review score will trend down to a 5, and you will be managed out. If you make it to L65, you have to then survive in an extremely brutal environment. You are competing against managers who have 5 - 50 reports, and who have visibility and influence 2x to 10x what an IC has.

If you're politically savvy and revel in this sort of environment, give it a shot. If you're looking to do great work and change the world, sorry but you'll want to look elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

"I turned in my resignation after overhearing my score through the wall, and I made it clear why I was quitting."

Wrong move. You must be a young person; trying to make your point rather than making your self-interest the top priority :)

They couldn't care less than you made your point, and in the end your manager had to throw you under the bus, whether she liked it or not. Some H1B will now take your place and it'll be like you never existed.

You should have said and shown nothing, and kept collecting your paycheck until such time as you had secured a better position elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

L63 (got a promo in the middle of last year which was about a 5% bump)
Bucket: 1
Merit: 5.5%
Bonus: 18% (about $23k)
Stock: 180% (about $30k)
Sr. Finance Manager

Anonymous said...

hence even if you wanted to move within company, it is difficult. the hiring managers are just considering 1's.
any suggestions for those with 3 or 4 and wanting to move within? does a 3 or 4 this year mean lower rating next year too?

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know how much it costs for the MS COBRA insurance program for a family of two individuals, if you quit?

As far as I can tell (going through the paperwork we've been filing since we got on Cobra), the 2011 price Premera LiveWell for Employee Plus Spouse/Dependent Person is $1200/mo, plus $110/mo for Premera LiveWell Dental.

If you want Microsoft Group Health, it's $633 (dental, same as above)

If you want the LiveWell Health Savings Plan, it's $540/mo.

Consider these numbers approximate and subject to rise, as all insurance costs continue rising.

Anonymous said...

I am not a 5. I worked Hard on High Impact Projects and Succeeded greatly. I am an IC who had two very bad Managers who both left unwillingly and were Not an Advocate for me in the ranking.

You are not and never were a 5.

You are not a number. You are a free man (or woman).

That number is just what you were assigned, for any or no reason. It can be a lie. It can be an excuse. It can be anything - except for defining you. Don't let the number define you. If you've read through these >1000 posts, you know how many people are reporting in who are in your exact shoes. It happened to my hubby also.

Your best bet is to polish your resume NOW. Get your name out there NOW. They have already decided to get rid of you. Turn it around and take your power back. Go TOWARD something. I promise you, with even the most rudimentary of vetting, your new position elsewhere will be better, healthier for you, and a more positive place to work.

Anonymous said...


A question to all reading this: Will changing teams or orgs help someone move beyond level 62?


Unequivocally yes. I was stuck at 62 in my previous org with mediocre reviews for several years. Switched orgs last year after the review, got promo'ed to 63 and a rating of 1 this review. Switching orgs can make a world of difference.

Anonymous said...

"
So if your review doc reads like a character assassination, it could be your manager's way of soothing themselves for perpetuating the lie that your high performance earned you a 5. If you want it changed, pursue that before signing. The money won't change, but that's probably not what's motivating you anyway..."


This is incorrect.

Microsoft will not change a review score without a serious legal challenge, and it doesn't matter if you sign your document or not. There's no legal requirement to sign a review document, it's only internal policy.

Once the model is locked - long before people are made aware of their numbers - it is impossible for an employee to change their score without a credible legal challenge.

Anonymous said...

Fight Club dude

+1, I like your style, but tech writers really shouldn't need to justify their existence.

"No offense, but why are tech writers making 6 figures?"

Why do you care? Folks who haven't done the job, let's give the dissing of technical writers a rest, shall we? Same goes for those of you are tech writers, but who look askance at those whose backgrounds are far less technical (legendary previously hard core devs, I'm talking to you).

How about simply judging individuals by whether they add value, delight the customer, are great at their core job function, behave like sane adults, and play well with others? These basic skills are becoming increasingly hard to come by, so if people can do these things, I don't give a rip what their degree is. I've known highly technical PMs with degrees in music, incredibly sharp product managers with degrees in journalism, and technical writers with degrees in linguistics who could run technical circles around PMs.

It's asinine that those of us who have "fuzzy" degrees are made to feel like a vastly inferior subspecies. My degree is in journalism, and yes, I know, it's a wonder that I've somehow been able to comprehend and document complex technical stuff like IPsec, but somehow my feature teams and I work through the little problem of my fuzzy degree.

So pretentious peeps who have problems with tech writers and fuzzy degrees, get off your intellectual high horse. We've all got better things to do with our time, like making the best of whatever situation we're in here at MSFT, or getting out of Dodge and doing something different with our lives.

To think that you're any better than another person solely because of the degree you have or your discipline, and to consider yourself the best arbiter of the appropriate salary for a job you've never done is absolute hubris. Those of you who do that, Icarus called and he wants his wings back.

Anonymous said...

It is SO DEPRESSING to read these comments, except one person getting 1+ and 300K rewards.

Look, life is short, Try something new before retiring for good.

Microsoft is no longer the same company Bill Gates created 30+ years ago. When LisaB complaint about having 8 new borns/day, I wanted to vomit. How can a woman complain about seeing more and more babies? What's wrong with her?
If she really wants to save money for this company, go and get rid of non producing partners. There are so many. They make millions annually. Did Microsoft have any partner level engineers 30 years ago? no!

Anonymous said...

"You motherfucking piece of dipshit, shut your cocksucking mouth. It is not your bloody motherfucking job to tell me what i should do or not do :)"

I think it would be either "you motherfucking piece of shit" or "you dipshit" in order to have a good flow to the sentence. Combining the terms chosen in the same phrase doesn't quite work. Second sentence is fine, although anyone at MSFT should have a strong enough self-image to use an uppercase "I" in that part. Is the smiley at the end your effort to meet the new "how" requirement? I would suggested using a period if that was the end of the sentence, then the smiley. Maybe one of those overpaid content writers could help you out with your posts.

Anonymous said...

It is all a joke

sEAN bENTLEY said...

Just adding one more voice to the crowd: I was essentially forced out with a 5 this year after a 20-year career, with the same issues as others have brought up... I know at least two other longterm, 50-something 'softies, who to my surprise landed at Amazon. So I do think there's a none-too-subtle ageism going on at MS, in the interest of hiring newbies at a lower rate. Still...it sure feels good to leave the juggernaut, even if I don't have income or healthcare for a bit.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone else get a request to give anonymous feedback about the new review process?"

Yes, and gave it yesterday. Mine was for managers only. Part of what they were looking at was improved efficiency. (How much time did you have to spend in calibration, determining rewards, etc.)

Nowhere were we asked to rate the fairness or accuracy of the new system.

Anonymous said...

For those who care so much about those little 10% raises, you will never get rich with this type of income. Do a favor to yourself, create your own company. The internet has huge potentials, everyone can do a facebook kind of junk.

Anonymous said...

Agree with an earlier poster, Reward over-achievers, fire under-performers, and treat the rest of us equally. The forced curve promotes ego-centric behavior, discourages teamwork, and demoralizes 20% of the workforce. With this system there has to be a bottom 20%, but that doesn't justify false/misleading statements I'm hearing about being put on many of the 4/5 reviews. Is there a rule that 7% of the people have to suck? What does that say about our hiring practices? Also, how is it statistically possible that the score distribution is equal distributed across all the divisions and groups, even though some teams are much more successful than others? What are the odds that no more than 7% suck in each protected class? So, much for objectivity. Are we in kindergarten? It's time for upper management to grow up and start thinking creatively about how to motivate the entire workforce to reach their potential instead of dividing the superstars from the mere mortals. The beatings will continue until morale improves...

Anonymous said...

Mobbing + Microsoft = Mobbingsoft
http://mobbingsoft.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

Wrong move. You must be a young person; trying to make your point rather than making your self-interest the top priority :)

Yeah, I'm a young 44 years old, and I've been in this field for 22 years. My own self-interest IS my top priority. Read below.

They couldn't care less than you made your point, and in the end your manager had to throw you under the bus, whether she liked it or not. Some H1B will now take your place and it'll be like you never existed.

Actually, I wasn't trying to make a point. The reason why I quit was because I couldn't motivate myself to do a good job at work after this slap in the face. And I was sick of putting up with the BS. I've seen too many people getting screwed over my years at the company. I've worked at MS long enough to know that a lowly peon like myself quitting because of unfair treatment has zero impact on anyone or anything. I'm not a fool.

You should have said and shown nothing, and kept collecting your paycheck until such time as you had secured a better position elsewhere.

Why? I don't need to be working. My husband is an FTE at MS and makes plenty of money. We don't have kids, and we have very few expenses. I'm now on his insurance plan, getting the same health benefits that I had as an FTE. It's a perfect time for me to take a hiatus from work and decompress for a while. It's the best move I've ever made! No stress, sleeping better than ever, traveling, spending time at the gym (I hired a personal trainer and I've lost a bunch of weight already), and I'm a much more relaxed and happy person. When I'm ready--maybe after the holidays--I'll look into getting another job. I already have contracting agencies and recruiters calling me, so I'm not concerned about finding work when I want to return to the grind. Maybe I should say *if* I want to return to the grind--I'm really digging this time off. :-)

Anonymous said...

They should young up the management chain first.

Anonymous said...

Re: mobbingsoft..... That tale is a walk in the park compared to my experience, which is yet again an example of retaliation (and discrimination/harrassment of someone in a protected class) at Microsoft. At least that individual got a PIP to execute against. They wouldn't put me on one because they knew they couldn't create one which would both hold up to legal challenge AND be one whose objectives I could not meet, because I tend to be a curve-buster.

Try the same thing whille being forced to work 65-75 hour weeks in an attempt to at least get close to the workload set for you by your manager which she would not negotiate on. After having already done that and more for 2 years and being exhausted.

Being forbidden any transfer oportunities that came my way because of my reputation as an over- rather than under-performer? Check.

Lies in the mid year and annual reviews? Check.

Constant threats of termination even though my productuvity was in the top 20-30% of the team? Check.

Abusive 1:1's that I finally quit attending in order to keep my sanity and emotional stability after my request to bring a blue badge third party chosen by me, not you, into them as a witness was refused.? Check.

Assigned only low level rote work, not any of the higher level opportunities i used to receive from other managers, that were instead given to more junior "favorites"? Check.

General, vague complaint about one incident of underperformance, about which my manager refused to give details when asked, allegedly to protect the identity of the complainer, although no one else in the room at the time seemed to have an issue with my conduct that day? Seriously, no one had even a guess as to what the problem might have been. Check.

HR refusing to investigate my reported issues for over 6 months, and repeatedly telling me that I was the problem, only doing so after I found another employee i had never met who was a victim of the same tactics by the same manager years before? Check.

Sham investigation which specifically stated it found no evidence of the initial charges and carefully avoided addressing my charge of retaliation (probably because they knew it was obvious it had occurred)? Check. Which took 5 months to complete? Check.

Results delivered within days of my annual review, along with "permission to transfer" which according to Microsoft policy I should have had all along as someone whose prior review was e/70? Check. With the information that all IC's were being removed from the problematic manager? Check. No explanation furnished for that, of course. ;-). And also, within days of my being given an a/10 by the problematic manager, which replaced "nananana we won't let you out, you are our captive to do with what we please" to keep me from transferring. Weeks before the big hiring freeze? Check. And just months before the first layoff of 2009? Check.

Reprimanded in my annual review for unprofessionalism for referring to a sick coworker who would not stay home to keep her germs from spreading as "typhoid mary"? check. (Yes, Microsoft HR, go look it up and conclusively identify me. And when you do, send me a less embarrassingly deficient severance agreement than the last one you offered, and maybe I will consider signing it and the associated gag agreement.)

Guess you all know how the story ends. Ex-Microsoft, class of Jamuary, 2009. Even though a year later, my reputation was such that when a principle architect needed something done by our team and my manager suggested a resource, he pushed back with, no, I need a resource more like (x), who can find bugs in our code. A year after my departure as a 10%er, I was still being held up as a best-in-class example of someone in my role, for going above and beyond the competencies listed for that level and role.

The names are coming. T, J, J, and B. And to a lesser extent, C, B and Lisa B, who could have stopped this stupidity and chose not to.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm didn't see anything about aircraft carrier bonuses in there. Must mean the economy is still bad.

Anonymous said...

L62 in MSIT
Promo'd to L63
Promo 5% ($5,139)
Bucket: 2
Merit: 3.9% ($4,009)
Bonus: 13% ($13,275)
Stock: 130% ($14,300)
S2B: $7000
New Base: 119K

Jack T said...

L61
No Promo
Bucket: 2
Merit: 3.8%
R&D: 8%
Stock2Base: 3.8%
New Base: 103K
Bonus:13%
Stock: 8K

From what I see, I am paid at the same as some at L60? I have been E/20 in the last two reviews. Any ideas of why?

Anonymous said...

I personally did "well" on my last review. It was only a 3, but I ended up leaving anyways. I took a giant leap but it turned out to be a great move for my sanity. You see I came from the CSS business. Customer support. After 9 years at Microsoft, I simply couldn't take it anymore. What used to be a fun job turned into an absolute nightmare. The utilization goals set forth in this organization force the employees to be dishonest. What used to be a customer focused environment has turned into a numbers driving environment, and if you weren't willing to play the game by over-charging customers in labor then you were penalized, perhaps even fired. Its not like managment is unaware of this force lapse of integrity either. It starts at the top, and works its way down. Uppper management has been told many, many times that we were overcharging customers just so that the reports show that people are busy. After all..if you aren't busy, you must be overstaffed, and therefore some employees need to go. What they don't take into account is that threatening employees constantly with job loss for low utilization in the support business, forces otherwise honest people to behave dishonestly. MSFT should hope that there is never a labor audit on the cases that exist in their system, because I suspect people will be joing to jail or getting sued for overcharging hours on premiere contracts. This is why I had to leave. IT wasn't because I wanted to, I just simply couldn't contribute to this behavior anymore. Wake up management! Your employees are suffering because you lost sight of what was important. Customers.

Anonymous said...

Man, I am happy I left before the review kicked in. Much happier now making 35%+ at a company that truly values employees than nickel and diming over .02%. I didn't care to find out whether I had. 3, 4 or 5. I took cash in hand versus a bunch of bullshit all over me later.

Job market is great guys!! Brush up your skills, interviewing skills, online job tools (such as linkedin and indeed.com) and leverage your networks. Don't settle for anything less than a significant pay bump. The work/life, mental and physical health improvements are worth it alone.


Gopher it!

Anonymous said...

Agree with an earlier poster, Reward over-achievers, fire under-performers, and treat the rest of us equally. The forced curve promotes ego-centric behavior, discourages teamwork, and demoralizes 20% of the workforce. With this system there has to be a bottom 20%, but that doesn't justify false/misleading statements I'm hearing about being put on many of the 4/5 reviews. Is there a rule that 7% of the people have to suck? What does that say about our hiring practices? Also, how is it statistically possible that the score distribution is equal distributed across all the divisions and groups, even though some teams are much more successful than others? What are the odds that no more than 7% suck in each protected class? So, much for objectivity. Are we in kindergarten? It's time for upper management to grow up and start thinking creatively about how to motivate the entire workforce to reach their potential instead of dividing the superstars from the mere mortals. The beatings will continue until morale improves...

I couldn't agree more. What kind of board of directors looks at this way of running a company - which is based on human capital, not factories and pumping out widgets - and approves of the SLT?

I can only guess that they don't actually care if the company is run into the ground or implodes but are trying to get their status and gold stars (for being on the board of "Microsoft") and will then ditch the gig (they hope) before things fall apart. Anyone else have a better explanation?

Anonymous said...

L65
R 5
Sales 110%

First negative review in 15+ years. Written comments do not reflect performance.
Younger MS? I believe that might be the case.
Trust in review process? No
Belive that MGRs ranked themselves first in high band? Yes
Think the whole review process is less political than before? NO

Anonymous said...

If one gets a 4, how hard is it for this person to switch to another team? In extreme worst case, if this person fails all internal interviews with other teams, will the manager give him a 5 next year no matter what?

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, received an offer and I'm trying to evaluate how reasonable it is for MSFT standards. It's for a L63 in finance - $135 base / 15% target bonus / $17 target annual stock. This is coming from my current comp of $200+ base + bonus (so 25-30% paycut). Is MSFT low balling me and is there room to negotiate? Any thoughts appreciated, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is totally bullshit! I got my offer at L59 for 81k early this year. I started my job recently. Because I did't attend the review, I got NOTHING for R&D increase. Now I heard MS is giving 95k to L59 new hires. WTF is that? I don't want to wait until next review to get what I deserve and lose 1k bonus because of my low base. Those HRs are doing nothing but pushing people away. I am gonna keep my resume fresh and look for any opportunity to get out of here.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like more people are disturbed the the rating, but less complaints about compensation.

The attitude "I am compensated OK, but I am pissed about the number I was given. With no review number, I would be more satisfied."

Agree or disagree?

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time, at a former Seattle headquarters company, in addition to reviews and ratings, we did a stack rank as an exercise to see who we couldn't live without, from top to bottom. We additionally identified the top 10% and the bottom 10% in that stack. Everyone who did their jobs well received the maximum bonus for their range (nearly everyone. If someone was seriously faltering, we put them on a PIP, with real ways to improve and rise up to the level of performance that was expected. The top 10% received additional bonus and stock, the bottom 10% received no bonus. However, after several years of building a strong team, cherry-picking from around the company, and pursuing excellence as a prime directive, I went to look for the bottom 10% and saw all high flyers. I informed my manager that I now had no bottom 10% who should forfeit their bonus, and that was fine. Because the team was strong, everyone knew their job and did their part, and they even pitched in and helped someone else out if need be. It can be done. Really good developers, even if they were mouthy or sometimes misbehaved towards authority types, were not smacked with an overall C/D/F grade for their manners or behavior. Slick marketing types stayed out of the way.

After they got their fairly generous bonuses each year, they did not spend a bunch of time lamenting that they had been shorted. They went back about their work. Because there was another big thing to work on, and we did a great job we would get an extra bonus for that thing. Billions of dollars of pure profit every quarter, and we can't even compensate our people generously. Or avoid insulting educated, trained, skilled professionals with the review process itself, and its overall pettiness. Ridiculous.

reg said...

I got a sizeable bump in salary even though I got a 4. The curve sucked as it did not allow my manager to show that I was right on the line of a 3. The words screamed 3, but the number was still a 4. But in the perspective of the joblessness in the market today, I have no room to complain.

Anonymous said...


Hey guys, received an offer and I'm trying to evaluate how reasonable it is for MSFT standards. It's for a L63 in finance - $135 base / 15% target bonus / $17 target annual stock. This is coming from my current comp of $200+ base + bonus (so 25-30% paycut). Is MSFT low balling me and is there room to negotiate? Any thoughts appreciated, thanks!


No, you are not being low-balled, those numbers are very much "normal" for a L63. However why on earth would you even consider taking a 30% paycut? L63 is the lower-half of the Senior band. If you are currently pulling in $200K+ that would equate to the mid-principle band at MSFT, L66 roughly. What else would you get from a job a MSFT that makes up for the loss of 30% of your salary? If you plan to negotiate you should be asking for a higher level, L65 at least to get into the Principle band, so you don't take such a big hit to your takehome pay.

Anonymous said...


"Hey guys, received an offer and I'm trying to evaluate how reasonable it is for MSFT standards. It's for a L63 in finance - $135 base / 15% target bonus / $17 target annual stock. This is coming from my current comp of $200+ base + bonus (so 25-30% paycut). [...]"

No, you are not being low-balled, those numbers are very much "normal" for a L63. However why on earth would you even consider taking a 30% paycut? L63 is the lower-half of the Senior band. If you are currently pulling in $200K+ that would equate to the mid-principle band at MSFT, L66 roughly. [...]


Are these salary numbers also valid for developers (SDE)? (i.e. Does an L63 SDE get about $130K as base? And a principal SDE about $200K?)

Anonymous said...

If one gets a 4, how hard is it for this person to switch to another team? In extreme worst case, if this person fails all internal interviews with other teams, will the manager give him a 5 next year no matter what?

It'll be very hard, maybe impossible. Sooner or later, he would be given 5.

Anonymous said...

"Is MSFT low balling me and is there room to negotiate? Any thoughts appreciated, thanks!"

SOP for MSFT at recruiting time is to try to hack part of your current compensation, the thinking used to be because of the potentially better benefits or whatever. Plus just some shiny regarding the opp to work at MSFT at all, which is difficult to value anymore. There used to be signing bonuses of some size, which new people didn't realize was only going to partly make up for the decrease in bonus come review time, because a lot of people here only get the "target" bonus at midrange - or less - instead of the total bonus % that you are likely focused on in your offer.

The recruiter will also try to get you in at the lowest range possible, which will haunt your forever. A new recruit will think that since the salary was okay, it is worth taking the job, but instead this will put you too high in the range and your merit increases will be smaller than they would have been if you were in a higher range that better matched your pay.

The hit you take in your salary will depend on your pricing out the components of a MSFT offer that exceed what you currently have. So you have to price out all the pieces of the compensation plan (pay, vacation, insurance costs, 401K match, anything else that is meaningful for your situation) and try to get your current overall comp and the offer to be something you can compare, apples to apples. Like a total pricetag.

HR will tell you things like how quickly you can be promoted, and these will not come true. They will make several verbal misrepresentations that you will rely on in your decisionmaking. If it's not in writing, it doesn't exist, so don't make that mistake. You will only earn a portion of your first year's bonus, based on the amount of money you earn in the fiscal year, as in if you arrive in December, you will only earn about half of whatever amount you think you are slated for, plus they will ding you for being new.

If you are very good at what you do, and you are fine where you are, you should be fairly compensated in the new offer. If your skillset is easily replaced, then this will impact the offer.

Anonymous said...

Hi Folks, I joined MSFT earlier this year. L63, lowballed, got in at 124K, got a rating of 4. Now 130K. 7 months into the job, I found an offer that pays 50% more when benefits and stocks are also taken into account. Probably see you MSFT :) bye

Anonymous said...


Are these salary numbers also valid for developers (SDE)? (i.e. Does an L63 SDE get about $130K as base? And a principal SDE about $200K?)

L63 is L63, whether you are a Dev, Tester, PM, or Finance. All levels of have a salary range, which overlaps about two levels above and below. For example, it's possible, though not common, for someone at the top end of L63 to have a higher salary than someone at the bottom end of L65. All levels have a salary midpoint, and extend +/- 16% from that. Most new hires are brought in at about 90% of midpoint, so they have room to grow within that level. For engineering disciplines, the titles match up to levels as such (using Software Development Engineer):

L59 - L60 SDE
L61 - L62 SDE II
L63 - L64 Senior SDE
L65 - L67 Principle SDE
L68 - L70 Partner SDE
L80 Vice President

There is no L71 - L79

L66 is about the earliest you'd find someone with a base salary of $200K, but even that is very rare. It's far more common at L68 and above.

Also, as someone else mentioned about the bonus, it's a percentage of your "bonus eligible salary", which means it's always going to be lower than your annual pay rate. If you have been at the company for less than a year, take your total salary since starting up to June 30th, multiply by your bonus percentage, and that's your bonus. If you've been with the company for more than a year, take your total salary since last July 1st (hint, that 12 months contains 2 months of last year's lower salary rate plus 10 months of this years current rate) and multiply by your bonus percentage to figure your bonus amount.

So lets say that last year on June 30th you were making $90K / year. Then in September you got a nice bump to $100K / year. This year rolls around and you are told you earned a 10% bonus, so you think "right on, $10K". Not so fast. That 10% is applied to 2 months at the $90K rate, and 10 months at the $100K rate, making your 10% bonus equal to $9,833.33 because your bonus eligible salary contained two months of last years lower rate.

Anonymous said...

It is all a joke

It's funny you should say that.

Anonymous said...

L63 is L63, whether you are a Dev, Tester, PM, or Finance.

So, are the salary ranges for a given level the same, independently of the particular discipline (Dev/Tester/etc.)?


L63 - L64 Senior SDE
L65 - L67 Principle SDE
L68 - L70 Partner SDE
L80 Vice President


Do SDE's in higher levels (e.g. L65+) write production code, or are they Dev Managers who supervise other coders, just "press F5", etc.?

Anonymous said...

If you are in a class of folks that MS doesn’t seem to care as much about (older, high health care costs, took FMLA, whistleblower) with overall good review history and a “pat-on-the-back-you’re on-track” mid-year, only to be rewarded with a bad review containing a bunch of BS don't waste time complaining here. File a complaint with the EEOC before it is too late. You only have 6 months and it doesn’t cost a dime.
You also need to document your complaint in a rebuttal to your review or some other official communication with H/R for your claim to have any merit. Do that first. Of course, this exposes you to retaliation and may speed up the end of your MS career. On the other hand, the very fact that you complain puts you in a protected class and raises the stakes. Even when there is no finding for discrimination, there can still be a finding for retaliation and the damages are much steeper, especially if defamation is proven. Have some guts and fight. If your complaint has legitimacy, the possibility of a retaliation action may even let you stay around longer, albeit in misery.
If you got a 5 or a 4 this year with a 10% the year before, you most likely don't have a future with MS anyways, so there isn’t much to lose.
Make sure to collect a good paper trail from your email and conversation history while you still have access to it, "he said, she said" won't cut it. You need documentation from your mid-year, important accomplishments omitted, and exonerations for unjust zings. Also, be sure to document all the crap that gets thrown at your afterwards – that strengthens a retaliation claim, which btw, you should let H/R know about also. That may get you thrown out even faster…
Who knows, if enough legitimate complaints are reported, it might inspire a class action or serious EEOC investigation (not just one where they ask for a couple of EEO reports, but one where they subpoena for all the back-door upper-level management email). This ultimately could lead to a better performance review system. Ultimately that leads to a better Microsoft - Wasn’t that an original intent of this blog? So even if you get thrown out the window, at least you have a legacy of being one of the fallen soldiers that died for a good cause.

Anonymous said...

"Hey guys, received an offer and I'm trying to evaluate how reasonable it is for MSFT standards. It's for a L63 in finance - $135 base / 15% target bonus / $17 target annual stock. This is coming from my current comp of $200+ base + bonus (so 25-30% paycut). [...]"

Why in the world would you take this offer? Unless you are totally overpaid and people will find out soon.

Otherwise, no.

Anonymous said...


L63 is L63, whether you are a Dev, Tester, PM, or Finance.


So, are the salary ranges for a given level the same, independently of the particular discipline (Dev/Tester/etc.)?


L63 - L64 Senior SDE
L65 - L67 Principle SDE
L68 - L70 Partner SDE
L80 Vice President

Do SDE's in higher levels (e.g. L65+) write production code, or are they Dev Managers who supervise other coders, just "press F5", etc.?


Not to be an ass, but what part of "L63 is L63, whether you are a Dev, Tester, PM, or Finance" didn't make sense? One level, one salary range, regardless of job title or function.

SDEs at L65+ still write production code, but as you can probably imagine the higher the level the less code they write (typically) and the more they manage, plan, architect, etc.

Anonymous said...

People -- "rock stars" all, I'm sure. It's principAL, not principLE. Sheesh.

My comment. Everyone at MS runs around calling themselves, and others, rock stars. I can't help but wonder, with so many rock stars (esp at the exec level), how come the Company is a "One Hit Wonder," like Milli Vanilli and bad 80s hair?

Aapl and now Amzn are consistently eating our lunch. Where I come from in good ole Tx, it's called being "all hat". Just wondering, so pls don't shoot the messenger...

Anonymous said...

what part of "L63 is L63, whether you are a Dev, Tester, PM, or Finance" didn't make sense? One level, one salary range, regardless of job title or function.

I thought the job of a Dev was kind of more important (and kind of harder) than the one of a Tester, so I thought that Salary(L63, Dev) > Salary(L63, Tester).

I was wrong.

Anonymous said...

"Hey guys, received an offer and I'm trying to evaluate how reasonable it is for MSFT standards. It's for a L63 in finance - $135 base / 15% target bonus / $17 target annual stock. This is coming from my current comp of $200+ base + bonus (so 25-30% paycut). [...]"

Original poster here... thanks for the perspectives. I went back to them and they bumped me to L64 with $145k base. Bonus % stays the same, and they increased the sign on cash and stock somewhat. Still a paycut but not as painful. I asked for 150 base and they told me 145 is the best they can do due to constraints around what they can offer new hires. Does this ring true or false? I always get the sense that the recruiter not being fully honest.

Why am I even considering this offer? Because I'm coming in from consulting and I want a career change. And Seattle is cheaper than where I currently am (lower rent, no state income tax)

Anonymous said...


Original poster here... thanks for the perspectives. I went back to them and they bumped me to L64 with $145k base. Bonus % stays the same, and they increased the sign on cash and stock somewhat. Still a paycut but not as painful. I asked for 150 base and they told me 145 is the best they can do due to constraints around what they can offer new hires. Does this ring true or false? I always get the sense that the recruiter not being fully honest.

Why am I even considering this offer? Because I'm coming in from consulting and I want a career change. And Seattle is cheaper than where I currently am (lower rent, no state income tax)


The bump to L64 makes sense because L63 and L64 are in the same "level band". I figured it would be harder for them to move you to L65 because that crosses into the Principal band while the job position was probably scoped to the Senior band.

$145K base sounds right for L64 new hire. Normally people are brought in at about 90% of the midpoint salary for their level so they have room to grow and that's right where you landed with $145K at L64. They are definitely being honest with you.

The bonus target for L64 is the same as L63, 15% of bonus eligible salary. However the stock award target is higher, $24K vs. $17K.

Given the trade off you are making, lower salary for lower expenses and lower taxes your move makes much more sense. Best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...

L61 dev, 3.5 years in level.

Bucket: 5
Merit: 0%
Promo: 0%
Bonus: $0
Stock: $0
Midyear: Going good.
Reason: (Officially) Curve.
Reason: Unofficially bad past review, too long in the same level, too long in company.

Looking for a new job out side of MSFT.

Anonymous said...

they bumped me to L64 with $145k base.

I don't know how's your current company's review system, but at MSFT your competition at L64 will be fierce. Don't forget about forced curve. Someone must go every year, it can be you as well as anyone else in your stack. If you're ready to roll the dice then make sure your priorities are aligned with being highly political/influential and get ready to work really long hours (exceptions happen, but not common).

Looking at your current situation (based on what you wrote) and perspectives at MSFT, I'd pass this offer.

Anonymous said...

"$145K base sounds right for L64 new hire. Normally people are brought in at about 90% of the midpoint salary for their level so they have room to grow and that's right where you landed with $145K at L64. They are definitely being honest with you."

I have been a L64 for 4 years (non engineering role)and my base salary after FY11 review is $134k. When I asked about compa ratio I was told I am at .9 which is normal after being in level this long. All good reviews as L64 (Exceed before this year and 2 this year).

Anybody know if this is normal? Based on data I am seeing here it doesn't feel right.

Anonymous said...

MSFT should hope that there is never a labor audit on the cases that exist in their system, because I suspect people will be joing to jail or getting sued for overcharging hours on premiere contracts
Are these Government Contracts?

Anonymous said...

L64
Bucket:5
Merit:0
Bonus:0
Stock:0
Years at MSFT:16
Ave Work Week:60+hrs/week
Reason: Curve

Anonymous said...

134 K for L64 is definitely very low but you must be having more by way of stock and bonus. I am L63, my base is 129K after review rating of 4 but I got hosed in stocks and bonus.

Anonymous said...

I have a recording of a CSS manager meeting where Marlena Werder openly discusses how one of her first accomplishments at IBM was firing 5 male employees; 25 year veterans all over 55.

Just give me a location to post. It's 22mb in size.

Anonymous said...

Those of you at corporate have good gigs but the field is where you want to go for serious compensation. There are many field-based 65, 66, & 67 that would likely be 63, 64 & 65s at corporate. Engineering talent at MS is critical but sales/services is where the money is

philip said...

maybe i'm completly off base here, but here's my vision of what's going on at MSFT...

http://www.maccouch.com/2011/10/zero-sum-game/

it can be summed up in to sentences:

" What i do understand is this: When you turn the assessment of individuals on the same team into a zero-sum game, you’ve just activated the self-destruct mode. No one can win in that game.

Steve Ballmer may one day get fired but when that happens what will be left to rebuild MSFT with? One hundred thousand back-stabbing “politicians”? It barely seems a good fit for a technology company [...] "


----

and i still say MSFT should assume Office as its flag product and produce it to every platform and device (specifically iOS) and stop the "we can't hurt windows" crap. that theory will destroy msft.

Anonymous said...

Management at Microsoft - Does the shoe fit?
What are Vogons?>
More info on Vogons:
Introduction to the Vogons>
Further commentary on Vogons:

Anonymous said...

L59, hired 9 months ago as a fresher..
Had worked into MS for 6 months..got a decent 3..but during my review my manager tells me that 'THE COMPANY' wants me to resign over a blog post that I had written..What Suckers!!

Anonymous said...

Terminated today...Was given a 5 at annual review due to my own stupidity of not being able to navigate a highly political org. My level and scope of my role did not align last year, and when I tried to make a larger impact I was stifled and on the way to being managed out. Shame on me for pitching projects and business cases that would have benefited our team and business. Shame on me for having ideas that would have positioned us to meet the demands of our stakeholders and groups outside of the org.

After annual review, rock star in my group offered to mentor me, told my manager that I was worth investing time in. We worked on a development plan with clear ties back into competency model, career stage profile, and created a rock solid set of commitments.

Had a whopping 20 business days from the time of my review until term today.

Was told that I didn't demonstrate enough progress in this time frame (20 biz days) to change the minds of leadership.

Seems reasonable, doesn't it?

Goodbye Microsoft. May you continue to hold on to dinosaurs and corporate parasites for managers making decisions that are motivated by fear.

Anonymous said...

L63
Bucket:5
Merit:0
Bonus:0
Stock:0
Years at MSFT:13
Scorecard - all green
Reason: Needless escalations - sales rep called manager about information needed from me next day while I was at TechReady - written up as 'lack of communication skills'

Anonymous said...

Some of the questions here having me just shaking my head. What could possibly be more important to you at your job than understanding how your pay system works?

How about things like:
* am I doing anything productive/profitable/salable?
* are the people around me treating me with respect?
* do I have a chance to learn anything?
* am I happy with how my job is going?

We live in a big world, with lots of opportunity for smart people (you passed that implicit bar when you got hired). You don't have to be a money-grubbing wage slave to be successful in life. And you don't have to place these games if you want to work at a place with more respect for talented collaboration.

Anonymous said...

L66
Bucket: 3
Total Comp: 10% less than previous year

I was a HiPo, went through Bench, had seriously upped my commitment, my time, and my travel last year, and was quite suprised by the bucket outcome. No transparency, and a manager full of apology ("I fought for a 2 for you"). I have subsequently left MS, and the new company had no problem providing a significant bump in pay.

Anonymous said...

L59, hired 9 months ago as a fresher..
Had worked into MS for 6 months..got a decent 3..but during my review my manager tells me that 'THE COMPANY' wants me to resign over a blog post that I had written..


I assume this was an external non-anonymous blog post? Link, please? Or did you post anonymously somewhere (like here) and they figured it out because of too much information?

Anonymous said...

I have a recording of a CSS manager meeting where Marlena Werder openly discusses how one of her first accomplishments at IBM was firing 5 male employees; 25 year veterans all over 55.

Just give me a location to post. It's 22mb in size


You could setup a Gmail or Yahoo Email account that does not resemble your name and then get a free UTube account, but you do realize that posting a clip like this is illegal since I doubt they gave you consent.

You may want to hang on to it though, there's nothing that says you can't play it back to a lawyer in private to get advice. Plus, if you can memorize it accurately enough so that if a class action ever came up, you could repeat what was said verbatim so that it could not easily be denied.

That clip by itsel isn't that significant, you would have to show a much greater pattern and produce numbers. There has been a lot of mention of potential class-actions, including reverse-discrimination. There may be a chance on age discrimination if you can gather statistics that show disparate impact, i.e. the percent of older employees being forced out/ranked lower is significantly higher than younger ones.

Trying to win a case on reverse discrimination for being either male or white would take a mountain of evidence, especially since Microsoft still has a very low percentage of female and non-white employees.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure anyone is still reading this thread but I'm wondering how life is for my fellow 5s that were told "curve, sorry" with some BS about the "how" but not asked to leave.

My boss is still struggling with helping me come up with anything resembling an improvement plan, or identifying who has the "perception issue" about me. The stress of this seems to be driving her to solve by trying to get me an equivalent position in someone else's team because she can't promise I won't get a 5 again next year. Her boss, and my GM in contrast both say "we believe in you!"

Anyone else with mixed messages?

Anonymous said...

L63 @ SMSG
Bucket :5
Yrs@MS : 11+
Outcome: left MS
No warning, asked why and told forced curve is at each level. So it means you can be a good performer at your level but you get a poor rating vs. a lousy performer at another level.

Anonymous said...

L60
no promo (recieved on last review, not expecting another this time)
Bucket: 3
standard 3 rewards, which were great for what i do.

i just left the company for a new, better opportunity. this review was not the sole driver of this decision, but it was the catalyst to looking. my feedback to my leadership chain and hr in my exit interview was that my review content and financial rewards were great, but the "3" just didn't seem to fit after you read the review, client feedback, clearly exceeded commitments, etc. it just didn't read like an "average to below average" review.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft's glaring weakness is its inability to distinguish the difference between Leadership and Management. This is a 'managed' company, not a 'led' company. In parallel to that, it's also a 'revenue' company, rather than an 'innovation' company. Leadership reflexivly mouth the 'people are our most important asset' and can't seem to detect the hypocrasy of doing so after the first layoffs in a generation.

It's very hard to be agile with bags of gold coins in your back pocket.

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