Monday, October 9, 2006

Random October Bits

I think things are going to enter a quiet period here for the rest of the year and into next year. For now, here's a random October collection of interesting comments and newsbits that clears a whole bunch of blog-this flags in my Outlook.

Re-Titled: it was amusing to me that the Wired "Rebuilding Microsoft" article got re-titled to "Ozzie to Face New Challenges at Microsoft" when it showed up in this past Wednesday's daily news summary. Well, I'd rather have the link vs. having it denied because of the article title.

Limited: As we all try to figure out what our reviews mean and how to manage the reviews and compensation, one commenter brought up a rule in their group that anyone over 30 months at level were slapped with Limited on their review:

I'm the "limited fiasco" AC.

Apparently some groups either didn't get the message or chose to ignore it. I have an email from HR indicating that EVERYONE with more than 30 months at level (regardless of level) MUST get a Limited eval. This is why they added "limited scenario 1" and "limited scenario 2".

Your group may have chosen to ignore the memo, but I know that many divisions didn't.

And I know that many senior 64s who got 0 stock award are sitting looking at Google and Amazon's help wanted ads.

Most folks didn't experience this and slapped FUD on that. If a group did decide to do this, I suggest forwarding that HR email to LisaB and tell her this is wrong and some heads need to be knocked around for creating a passive-aggressive punishment system. If you want people gone, RIF them already. I've always told people that Microsoft is pretty happy with you if you reach L63. If you look at the CSPs as well, they give you an idea about what kind of promotion velocity you should be pushing for and it pretty much goes away as you hit the mid-60-levels. The bad thing about this months-at-level idea, hopefully a FUD-dy-duddy idea, is that if people realize they are going to get punished for not getting promoted they are going to do what it takes to get promoted vs. what's the right thing to do for their business.

More Than Human: Brier Dudley has an interesting HR-infused blog post that covers both Google and Microsoft: Human Resources Issues at Microsoft, Google. It points to the double LisaB article in Monday's Seattle Times by Benjamin Romano:

And while nothing but praises should be shouted out for getting rid of the performance curve and the trended review scores, we still have a dysfunctional stack-rank review system that competes employees against their peers. Small steps.

http://minimsft/: on the upcoming internal employee discussion blog: I want Microsofties to participate on it and not crosspost from the internal blog onto here. When I recognize that happening, or when people see one that got through and point it out, I just will drop the comment into the bit-bucket. On the other hand, you're welcome to crosspost from here and onto the internal blog to continue a discussion on a topic that you know will only include internal Microsofties.

Basic content rule: what starts internal must stay internal. If you have a comment about the discussion area from a non-content point of view then yes, please, write about it.

As for concerns about an HR sponsored discussion area being completely career-safe to engage in: well, you remember that blue Corporate Confidential book, right? HR does not exist to make your life easier. And if that Orange Scarfed Dementor Brigade starts jumping on people, especially anonymous contributors, then we'll all know it's time to throw in the company-provided towell.

Transfers: The new internal transfer program... well, the first response to the internal transfer post was "Hey, what new internal transfer program?" given that it was given a pretty soft-announcement by showing up in Micronews. In general, commenters believe it's a step in the right direction, but it would be much better to just interview for the position and not ever get your manager in involved. While many left stories of revenge when they did look to interview, one story of success came in:

I asked, more appropriately informed, my manager that I am planning to interview and both the times I got promotion. I am now a level above than my peers. I got promotion in two consecutive years whereas normally I would have got one in two years.

I strongly believe that's normally the case. Because that's the only way to keep your super-stars within the group. But minimsft is not a forum for such people. It is forum for people who felt unjustice.

(Oooch.) A deft hand at handling your career with your current boss is always a good idea. I like BizDog's summary of the change best:

In my opinion this is goodness all around and here's why. Obvious is the benefit to people (ICs and managers alike) who want to change roles - now they can do an informational and have a shot at actually getting to move roles in a reasonable timeframe so they can continue to advance their career while doing great things for the company. Net is lower recruiting costs and higher employee retention - these are good things. But this is also good for managers. It allows you to actually hire strategically for your team AND for people's career advancement which let's face it was difficult to impossible to do before. This also allows a manager to build a truly great team when combined with the new review model. But best of all - ta-dah, yes it shines a glaring spotlight on really bad managers. Why? because they can't hide turnover any more - yep no boat anchoring people until the manager moves on so no one sees what a nightmare they were to work for. Beautiful and bravo. It ups the game on manager accountability and that is something we very much need.

I think we have the potential before us for some really great managers - and leaders - to start thriving and growing within Microsoft.

It's the stock price, dummy: MSFTextrememakeover discusses Microsoft's stock recovery.

Turf-06: As for local blog drama, the spirit of some of the commenters has a new twisty-mix post Company Meeting. I don't mind someone coming along with an opposing or dissenting view. Not at all. That's dialogue. What's bad is that the New Dissention seems focused on boxing previous commenters into a "loser!" box vs. respecting what they've said. I'd like to hear what you have to say without you whipping out the straw man argument or engaging in the tyranny of the "or."

On the change in the mix, Anon Partner adds:

You have to wonder why after 1-1.5 years of MiniMSFT, why there is public chastisizing of Mini going on (incl at the eco meeting by LisaB very dramatically).

The turning point came when people started venting/sharing their review f/b, numbers in relation to partner compensation. That hit low and I think there is a sense of embarrassment in the upper ranks about this. It highlighted the culture at MS in a way that they didn't expect or want. This is why there is a renewed focus on flushing out the readers/posters etc.

This is communism at its worst.

I understand LisaB wants to rebuild the trust between leadership and the rank-and-file. I think an upfront discussion of the SPSA program and rank-and-file compensation, if brought up by Microsofties, should be on the top of the list. Chastise me, please, should I stumble into falsehoods. But not for shinning a light and remarking, "whoa, that stinks!"

On Photosynth:

The Photosynth tech demo you saw: WAS created by a small team, TOOK less than 4 months. IS going to be shipping in less than a month. HAS something we lack in a lot of other products: COOLNESS and WE have a lot of other cool stuff brewing...

Wake up mini-blah the mini microsoft that you talk about is growing from within the company.

and YES I do work for the team that is doing Photosynth.

The Photosynth demo rocked my world. I wish you guys all the success in the world because if you rock everyone's world you can be instrumental in showing how to get it done and shipped.

Jürgen Gallmann: this Microsoft resignation has been pretty quiet - what does it mean? Microsoft's top German Juergen Gallmann resigns.

The Field, revisited: a comment on MCS:

Having lived in the field for 6 years (first MCS, now sales), I can say that, from my experience, the more negative comments on this thread are the more accurate.

MCS is the biggest travesty. The comment above from the person who said that "MCS is about selling software and not generating revenue" is just completely out of touch with MCS management. Eespecially the new regime. MCS has strict marching orders under the current regime to be profitable, focus on growing the business (again - UGH!), and stick to big ($500k+) deals. They've gone so far that <2 week deals now require high level sign-off.

I feel like there's a whole lot more there to discuss, but I'm not sure how best to go forward.

You Are the Universe: and to close, always this gentle reminder for those of you not super happy with how Microsoft is going for you and able to consider other employers:

Leaving MS was a difficult decision and if you are risk averse, you will not leave. But if your résumé looks good and you are a solid performer, you should have no problem finding a job, so the risk is really not all that high. Of course, if you have an MS-sponsored work visa, then you don't have much flexibility. For those that do have flexibility, give it a shot: send out your résumé. See what offers you get. Nothing interesting? Stay where you are. But at least know what you're options are. What have you got to lose?

Indeed! At a lull in your current cycle? Freshen up that resume and shop it around. And if you don't leave, maybe you'll at least find yourself refreshed and recommitted to Microsoft and your career.

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