Monday, November 13, 2006

Not-so-limited Kim

Should Kim just quit?

A bit ago, post review season, the following comment came in about how a mandate came from HR to slap "limited" on anyone who had been in their level too long:

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 called FUD on this. And without a smoking gun email from HR, there it died. Recently, I sat in a meeting with managers across the company and they were complaining fiercely about Scenario II for limited. Who-da-whatsa, Scenario II was for real? Okay, time to get off my lazy butt and actually revisit the contribution ranking review pages. Hmm. Sure enough. Outstanding / Strong / Limited was updated in the middle of the review season so that the original Limited, which seemed to match the word pretty well, had an additional branch added for people who had plateaued in their career at their current job salary level and were doing a fine job but were not expected to be promoted any further.

You're doing well. But you're limited. A... special kind of limited.

Whose bright idea was this? Isn't this a trended 3.0 all over again?

My question is: is this just a passive aggressive way to move on people from Microsoft with a vague hope that people in lower levels will fill their spot and perhaps achieve more?

Imagine you're a manager and one of your reports is Kim. Kim is a solid report, doing exactly what you need, very professional, integrated well into Microsoft. Someone you can depend on and an integral part of the infrastructure to your team. Maybe Kim is reached Level 63, 64. You realize that you could probably push to get Kim promoted to the next level, but most likely Kim would get murdered come the next review time. So Kim is going to stay in their current level, probably for the remainder of their long career.

Microsoft has invested a lot in building Kim up to this solid contributor point.

Thing is, come review time, once Kim has been at their level for a while, you're going to have to slap a "limited" on Kim. Does Kim see this coming? Does Kim buy into this "limited" designation with little awarded stock (as in zero)? I can tell you, if I was a 62 or 63 and a solid contributor to the team like Kim and I was slapped with a "limited" I would be heading for the door, patting my right buttock along the way as a firm kissing spot for my boss. If Kim stays with the team, most likely they are not going to be putting in the big effort for the team (why should they - they've been put in a box: unpromotable). Maybe you think this "Limited Scenario II" slap would fire Kim up and get them to prove that they can earn and perform at the next level. I doubt it. I don't see too many people on the internal HR blog happily fired-up about their limited appraisal.

I think it's fine to ensure someone realizes they have, in your leadership's opinion, topped out. But are they limited? Because I can tell you, once you tell them they are, they no doubt will perform like it. Or leave. And I wouldn't want my solid Kim to go in either direction. Shouldn't there be an expectation that if you reach a nice level like 63 and keep performing at that level that you should get reasonable compensation and rewards? Maybe we just need a new designation below Strong: Solid. Or a scale, given that many of these designations are already broken into sub-levels anyway. What do you think?

Another thing about this whole Scenario II thing: my (obviously enlightened) group didn't buy into it. If they did, there would have been a lot more limiteds being handed out. Which brings up another issue with our new review system: now that the training wheels are off, groups roll-up some wildly different ways of spreading out the reviews. Some do in fact bring back their own curve with respect to commitment ratings. Others vigorously pursue Scenario II. I'm pretty sure the goal was to be honest about how a person is doing against their CSP and their commitments, but this is being dampened in some teams.

Other going ons:

  • Microsoft Shareholders Meeting 2006: did you go or listen to the webcast? What did you think?
  • What exactly is MSFT's dividend strategy? from MSFTExtremeMakeover. Again, Microsoft gets advice over and over again that to invigorate the stock for consistent growth, Microsoft needs to increase the dividend to a respectable level.
  • Delegated to the Dustbin of History by Collision Domain talks about management at Microsoft, especially focusing on micromanagement vs. delegation.
  • Generally positive reactions came in around the Microsoft Academy post. What I found interesting are the stories people shared of other companies who did something similar to ensure they had a high quality workforce.
  • With so many releases I keep on thinking of that Thanksgiving cornucopia decoration, with Vista and Office boxes and Zunes and 360 games spilling out, along with a lot bags of cash with "To Novel, love Microsoft" written on them. Looks like in return Watson should be reporting lots of interesting data to the Zune team. Maybe we'll figure out a way, as a company, to dogfood major strategic devices - and their support software - one day.

Administrivia: boy, things (and by "things" I mean "servers") are up and down in Google's Blogger land. I assume this is because the underpinning BlogSpot infrastructure is getting replaced. The good news is that there should be a comment feed for posts one day. The bad news is that there are probably many 500 errors between now and then.

Update: corrected title, almost a year after posting and see it was "No-so-limited Kim" vs my intended title of "Not-so-limited Kim" - oy!

No comments:

Post a Comment