Sunday, October 01, 2006

Microsoft Internal Transfers Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

This past week, Microsoft leadership acknowledged a persistent request from its employees: please - please! - make internal transfers easier. Microsoft acted, and now moving around inside of Microsoft is a bit looser and more in favor of the employee. The new policy, to me, comes with a series of curious contingencies, but on the whole, it's a great move and a great acknowledgement to every Microsoftie who has honestly and directly communicated with leadership that our ability to manage our career by efficiently moving within the company had become exceptionally encumbered. It also addresses concerns people have noted here about getting permission to interview and suffering demoralizing lock-in when their manager deigns them too essential to leave (at least the VP now has to step up and go on record for the lock-in - may they feel the cool breeze of future accountability on the back of their neck with every consideration).

When this was announced, I was at first surprised at how close to the 2006 Company Meeting this change was. Why didn't the HR leadership announce it then? It was on my wish-list. Well, in retrospect, I guess it might have been uncomfortable to hear cheering from the audience regarding the change to easily leave the current group you're sitting with ("Yah! I can get out of my stinkin' group! Oops, I mean, didn't they just mention our team name? Yah, team-name!").

I think for both Microsoft and you to succeed, strategic movement through-out the company, according to your passions and interest, is the best career-management strategy. The longer you continue doing the same-damn-thing the more likely it is you're going to peak and max-out in your career and start going through career atrophy. Want to have full-spectrum experiences? Move from successful cycle to successful cycle from group to group.

The first step in all of this is a successful informational. What does that consist of? A few ideas from me:

  • A super career-site posting that easily resonates with the best-fit candidates, or an efficient campus job peer network to find them.
  • A well prepared potential internal-hire that requests an informational and comes ready to sell themselves and learn more about the position and the team.
  • A well prepared hiring manager who can deftly identify candidates who most likely will succeed in the group.

A lot of people probably go first to the internal career site or subscribe to the internal job aliases. That's alright, but how do you ensure that you find the best fitting job? Sometimes it really relies on how well the job description is written. A much better long-term strategy is to never eat alone at work and to establish strong Microsoft connections now so that you can create your dream job position in the future.

I know we have an internal resume service but I've never used it. Does it work well? It seems at this point it would be ideal to have internal recruiters who see internally the bastion of employees interested in broadening their career by working in a new team and letting those internal recruiters aggressively go to it. In fact, I'd say that the reward for an internal hire should be twice that of an external hire. In this case, there's a lot less overhead for the hiring and it represents efficient rebalancing within the company. I know, I know, you start having people game the system and jumping from group to group. I guess the gaggle of contingencies in the new policy I was griping about above address that so that we don't end up with Enron career games.

As for the informational, both sides have to be prepared. When I was looking for a new position, I had great informationals that ended up taking up an entire afternoon and I had at least one exceptionally poor informational. I put the blame of the poor informational squarely at my own feet because I was unprepared and only mildly interested and knowledgeable about the group. I sucked. And I would have only had myself to blame if that had been my dream job or super career opportunity.

As part of getting ready to do requests for informationals, do you prepare a resume? It can't hurt and it does serve as an introduction and a way for the hiring manager to ask more directed questions. You should update your resume once a year anyway, especially after your review or after shipping. That way, your resume is always fresh and ready to shop around should you want to test the vibrant external Microsoft waters. In Redmond there are some exceptionally knowledgeable ex-Microsofties over at JobSyntax to help you spruce your resume up or even prep.

Then you start asking yourself questions like: in thirty minutes or so, how do I sell myself and learn if this the position and group I might be interested in? How do I close the loop on the informational so that there's a clear direction going forward at the end?

Do your homework. Know the group. If it's a product group, for instance, use their product and describe your take on it and a vision you see for it going forward. What's your passion? How does it align with this group? Show that you're looking forward and engaged and not just desperately looking to abandon a burning, sinking ship and/or a cycle of bad reviews. Talk up the positive aspects of your current group given that it shows the wisdom and IQ you'd be bringing with you. Talk about your long-term plans: do you want to be a Development Manager or such? A Distinguished Engineer? Sorry, but you've got to sell yourself and your future. And maybe somehow figure out how the group's poll numbers are and what recent attrition has been like so that you can have some assurance that it's a healthy group.

At the end of the informational, if you're interested, get a commitment regarding the next steps and show that you're open for a one-off interview (especially if you're crossing disciplines) to ensure an interview loop would be an effective next step.

If you're a hiring manager... well... sorry, I got mentally distracted thinking about the whole Mini-Microsoft thing and wanting to scale-down through cuts and attrition and how hiring just seems to exceptionally wrong at this point. Anyway, I guess it's better to hire from within and rebalance vs. bringing more new people in. Okay, so if you're a hiring manager, your work is cut out for you. Now's the best time, though, to look for internal candidates: the reviews are over and major product groups and getting ready to ship. Everything is in flux and now we have this sweet new internal transfer policy.

You've got to pound the streets. Or at least the websites and conference rooms. How does a job get filled if no-one knows it exists, let alone if the ideal candidate doesn't know it exists? Are you just relying on the internal career website? That seems pretty limiting. Again, you've got to create opportunity to hire people by engaging in presence and connections within Microsoft.

So: transferring within Microsoft. What strategies work well for people out there?


Additionally:


121 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a great development. It will allow employees to find good groups, and prevent managers from holding back people who are not satisfied in the current job from looking around. I know of some people who were forced to stay by managers for flimsiest of reasons.

Anonymous said...

I’ve got bitten by the old policy and this is definitely a step in the right direction. Still it’s more risky to go "job-shopping" internally than externally since you have to “notify” your manager about your intentions

So, unless your manager is extremely ethical I would make sure you move once you notify your manager

Anonymous said...

Yes. Mini, chalk up another one to your relentless blogging. If you are not making the decisions, you sure are having an impact on the decision makers.

Even though it requires what amounts to "parental notification" as opposed to "parental consent", it is better. Maybe managers will realize that they do not own the people working in their team.

The VP bit to establish real business justification is really important. Too often PUM's and functional managers have blocked movement under filmsy pretext. Now they have to at least get their managers to buy in. I have suffered from this practice and I know of other people, who ultimately resigned and left Microsoft over this insane practice.

Hopefully, by next year we will not require notification either. Thanks for railing against this practice on your blog.

Anonymous said...

This change is a dollar short and a day late. The process isn't that much easier. Until an employee can have a full interview loop with another group and not have to disclose it to his or her manager until he/she has an offer in hand and is ready to pack up, this is just smoke and mirrors. You should be able to interview for internal positions just as you can always interview externally.

Anonymous said...

I found the following description of Google's practices in this area fascinating:

http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2006/09/good-agile-bad-agile_27.html

It's a long rant about capital-A Agile(TM) development, but the details he reveals about Google's internal workings are eye-opening. Specifically:

"- developers can switch teams and/or projects any time they want, no questions asked; just say the word and the movers will show up the next day to put you in your new office with your new team.

- Google has a philosophy of not ever telling developers what to work on, and they take it pretty seriously.

- developers are strongly encouraged to spend 20% of their time (and I mean their M-F, 8-5 time, not weekends or personal time) working on whatever they want, as long as it's not their main project."

And so on.

Who knows whether this will work/scale in the long run, but it's a radical departure from MSFT's approach.

Anonymous said...

Yay, did the WinSE folks get the memo too? If they thought the attrition was bad before.....

Anonymous said...

My experience with resume submissions on the Career site:

I submitted three resumes the same day. When you click "submit resume" it sends an email to the hiring manager and to their HR contact containing the text of your resume and the text of the job posting.

One of the hiring managers replied within an hour and we quickly scheduled a meeting. For the other two, I waited a day then replied to the mail introducing myself, expressing interest in the job posting, and asking if we could set up a time for an informational. One of the hiring managers responded to that mail fairly quickly. The other one never responded. Scratch them off the list, I suppose - maybe they would have been great, but to me it seems like they did a great job narrowing my search for respectful and engaging teams.

A couple of folks have suggested that the best way to start the process is to schedule the informational, but that seems like terrible advice to me. Has anyone else tried this? It seems so... impersonal, and disrespectful.

Anonymous said...

Here's my pet peeves about the career site:
Hiring Managers write too generic job descriptions and requirements.
The 'Division' and 'Product' should be used well enough so that it's clear what product/component you're hiring for. No more Division = WIndows and Product = 'Windows Server'. I prefer Product='Windows Server' and Component='BITS' for e.g.
Why doesn't the site reflect the actual workflow that I, as a candidate, needs to go through to find a job? Why is the first thing it lets me do submit my resume instead of scheduling an informational?

Anonymous said...

Oh LisaB! My trusted friend! what would we all do without you? I've got one more request, could you please get the managers to be nice people so that you wouldnt need these new rules?

I'll tell you what, in the spirit of the new rules, I'll tell my manager tomorrow that I am interviewing at Google, I've been in this role for 18 months :)

Anonymous said...

I am an MS employee, but I didn’t receive the e-mail (or notification) you reference. It has either 1) not filtered outside your HR or recruiting cloud yet or 2) the mail was sent to you as a ruse. Not quite on par with a pretexting scandal but it may have identified you all the same.

Anonymous said...

Mini, where's this info coming from? Did I miss the memo? I'm pretty sure we haven't received anything about relaxing the internal transfer policy.

Also, I'm not sure how this all will work. So let's say I go to an informational and get a loop. Will HR notify my manager about this? Will they notify my manager if I fail it? Receiving such a notification would be a sure-fire CLM in most groups.

What if I'm a brutal-kick-ass-star performer in my group and I want to leave the group and there's no one to replace me there? Would there be time constraints imposed? Or the reverse situation - let's say I'm a lame ass piece of deadwood vegetating in my office (i.e. the kind of dude who wouldn't be previously allowed to transfer). Would I still be allowed to transfer?

Anonymous said...

The update and the HR page weren't clear to me on one thing:

Although you don't have the "may I please look for another job? PLEASE?" insult, it still seemed like you need to notify your management of your interest to interview. They need to go through more hoops to block it, but it's still possible.

If this is true, it's still pretty broken. Many people ask for informal interviews before running an official loop because they want to be damned sure that they'll get the job before they ask for permission (or now, "announce"). Why? Showing that you're unhappy suggests that you're going to leave sooner or later, and if you don't get the job, you're crap in your manager's eyes.

I'm becoming an old codger, but most of my career was spent outside of Microsoft (and I've been at MS for awhile, so please don't mistake me for a spring chicken). Outside of Microsoft, the only kind of hiring is external hiring. People hire you (or don't) based on your interview/skills/experience. They don't make the decision based on a nasty review written by your current manager, which they read and immediately think "This person might be getting the shaft, or the manager might be right and they're a bad egg. I can't take the chance, so I'm saying 'No.'"

The industry standard is an external interview. Internals shouldn't give bad managers greater ability to hinder someone from excelling than externals.

Anonymous said...

When was this sent around? I just looked over my weekend mail and didn't see anything. And I sure would have noticed it last week, since I'd just unsub'd from a bunch of stuff and mail was lighter.

Did it come from Lisa? Steve? Some faceless alias? Was it buried in some Micronews article where no one would ever read it?

Who da'Punk said...

Did it come from Lisa? Steve? Some faceless alias? Was it buried in some Micronews article where no one would ever read it?

It was buried in some Micronews article with a big picture of our head of HR. That links to the HR site with lots of detailed information.

It's my understanding that SteveSi also blogged about the change in his internal blog.

Some people got email. Not everyone. Again, I guess you (and by "you" I mean our leadership) don't want to herald this kind of change too loudly.

Anonymous said...

Some group/division leaders did the decent thing of notifying their group members of this change. But some groups never did so --- I guess the division leaders are just trying to hide or procrastinate the news, which reflects poor on these people's characters.

Where is SteveSi's blog? Can someone post the URL here?

Anonymous said...

Some people got email. Not everyone. Again, I guess you (and by "you" I mean our leadership) don't want to herald this kind of change too loudly.

We should post the names of the groups that didn't forward this so we all know to avoid those groups!!

Anonymous said...

Don't any of you read Micronews or SteveSi's internal blog?

SteveSi even posted the email that was only sent out to managers. Talk about transparency!

Anonymous said...

Congrats mini for another win. Now if partner compensation is brought inline...

Who da'Punk said...

Congrats mini for another win.

The real thing that made a difference here is everyone at Microsoft that communicated upwards their displeasure with the currrent policy and what they wanted instead.

It wasn't my one voice but the combined voice of Microsofties demanding common sense change.

Who da'Punk said...

Where is SteveSi's blog? Can someone post the URL here?

It's on the internal msblogs site. You can find it off of the main page.

Who da'Punk said...

One thing I failed to mention is that this is a Microsoft U.S. change only.

So indeed Microsoft France, you are still too existential.

Anonymous said...

Odd that SteveSi posted it to his blog, but didn't mail it to his own org. I mean, if he's going to put an originally managers-only email on a blog that's theoretically readable by anyone, then arguably there should be no harm in mailing to his own front-line folks, right?

Or is it one of those things from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "the notice was clearly posted in the basement in a disused lavatory with a sign saying "beware of the leopard""...

Anonymous said...

Scratch my previous "leopard" comment - from the memo it looks like this is supposed to trickle down to people this week.

Anonymous said...

When I got hired 9 years ago, we made "Microsoft Hires". You were either good enough to work *anywhere* in the company or you didn't deserve to work here at all. Sounds like google has the same policy. So then why do they have a policy where you just decide and agree what project/product to work on and we put people through all kinds of hardcore paces like they're submitting their resume to work for microsoft for the first time? What's up with the "prove" you're worthy to work on our cool new project attitude?

I'm a decent interviewer and am a solid 4.0 performer, but the bar is just too high to move around, once you've found something interesting and worth moving for...

If I have to go through that kind of hassle, I might as well be looking outside the company (which I am).

Sure, we need to weed out the dead wood, but reading someone's reviews and an informational is more than enough to figure this out. Does this part of our culture really make sense?

Anonymous said...

I had a manager who, while giving me permission to interview, apparently took it as a personal affront that I would even consider putting my career ahead of his personal desire to demonstrate he was such a great manager nobody would ever consider leaving. After I declined the internal job offer he seems to have considered that betrayal ample reason to treat me as an untrustworthy employee who now should be prevented from making a single decision affecting his personal or professional life. He even mentioned my request for permission to interview as a rationale for why I was a bad person in a meeting with his manager. She had no comments, at least not there.

In the end, since I would likely not get permission to interview again, I ended up leaving the company to get back control of my career and my life.

He is probably now getting kudos for managing a difficult employee out.

Anonymous said...

Where is SteveSi's blog? Can someone post the URL here?

It's on the internal msblogs site. You can find it off of the main page.


can not find on http://blogs, what is the exact URL? I have heard good things about his blog, but just could not find it.

Who da'Punk said...

can not find on http://blogs, what is the exact URL?

It's off of http://msblogs/ - the other internal blog site.

Anonymous said...

Don't dislocate your shoulders patting yourselves on the back or giving each other high fives...this is the precursor to some major changes that will likely make Mini a very happy him/her/it. Now that Kevin Turner has gotten his sea legs, expect some major cuts to staffing levels. He has already frozen all open req's, including those in the 65+ range, and there's much more in the works. Hers's an indicator where he got his executive-level training:
www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15102492/

Anonymous said...

So I got this memo. Oh well.

To the person who asked about informationals, I use these to get some face time with the hirinig manager, and to see what the job is about. Usually the job description is so rah-rah-go-team that it really doesn't describe the postion.

I usually email a hiring manager wiht a copy of my resume and a brief intro, and ask for a half hour to an hour of their time. If they respond, it usually gives me a good change to talk about their product, and their job.

Now my problem is that Im such a lousy interviewe.

Anonymous said...

I find it ridiculous that a change like this is "US only". In India while we may have only a few thousand employees the job market is a lot more competitive considering the nature of the market - when employees are hired they are promised a grand vision of how careers are completely controlled by the individual and that MS is a land of immense opportunity and then we have to watch in shock and awe with a move like this.....

Anonymous said...

da'Punk,

You linked to some books. Do you think they're useful or was it just making a point? I keep picking up the never eat alone one.

Who da'Punk said...

Regarding books: I wish I had read a book like Never Eat Alone when I was starting out. I don't think I would have turned into a super-connector, but I would have made better decisions along the way.

Gitomer's book is an enthusing dose of cold-water common sense.

Anonymous said...

You still have to notify your manager that you're interviewing. It'll very likely be a CLM (career-limiting move) in your current group. So what's the big change?

I want to see the ability to interview without bringing your current manager into the loop! Mandate a transition period instead, if the goal is to help the old group handle your move.

Anonymous said...

The reality is that until they fix the "limited fiasco" (everyone with more than 30 months at level automatically gets a "limited" contribution ranking, regardless of performance), none of this will matter.

Strong contributors who are scenario 2 limited can't be distinguished from weak contributers (scenario 1 contributors).

.

Anonymous said...

This advice has been offered here before, but it's worth repeating: don't sell yourself short. Browse the external job ads and test the waters. You may be surprised by what the market is willing to offer.

I left a few months ago to join another company after five years with MS. While the benefits are not as good, I received a significant increase in salary that more than made up for the reduction in benefits. I now work for a company where I feel that I am working for me, rather than the "Partners" at MS. I imagine the atmosphere at my new company is similar to the atmosphere during the earlier years of MS. We feel we are out to conquer the world, and expect to share in the spoils of war. In contrast, at MS I felt I was a serf shoring up the defenses to protect the crown jewels, and hoping for scraps to fall off the tables of the royalty.

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?

Anonymous said...

Having left MSFT many months ago, I find reading mini so much more fun now, it reminds me of how, crap-tastic my years were there....

I asked for permission to interview, didn't get the offer, then I was a "bad" employee. I started looking outside MSFT. Now I make more $, have more responsibility, get more training, and have more time to spend with my family. :) All that and my commute is still the same.

Anonymous said...

Mini, like I believe in a leaner, more efficient MS, but it's not simply cutting headcount numbers that will make it leaner, it's streamlining the onerous processes. There's not a reader here who cannot think of one 'process' right now that they'd love to see go away. Ditching it would be like tossing ballast. Sure, there might be some rocking of the boat until things are balanced, but progress will be less hindered by process.

I left last yr. I'd had enough. I could not get permission to interview out "...until we ship Longhorn, we need our solid performers..." My lead was known as one who few wanted to work for. Others quit. Many were RIF'd. He's still there. People are still leaving MS, even now.
Many of those who left, are now back as v- and a- , for more money, and fewer hassles.

So now, I'm working more sane hours, I see my family, and I make more than I did before. Out of the blue, I get a call from a recruiter at MS. They are wanting me to interview for an FTE position. I know the people in the group, and know that one just left. I know the person who left and why. I'm tempted to come back, as the money's better, and it is a position I wanted 2 yrs ago.
Yet another case of getting ahead by leaving and coming back?
If I'd been given permission to interview for that position then...


I'd love to see some comments from anyone who left and came back, and what changes in compensation resulted. I know of a few, but some of those changed their levels by at least 2 levels.

Anonymous said...

What is this "limited fiasco"? Months at level did not affect rankings in our division.

Anonymous said...

There should be another major benefit to this change: visibility from VP-level of the numbers of employees that trying to leave their groups.

My guess is that in the past this information could be hidden by incompetent managers, giving a false impression about satisfaction in a group in general, and with individual Leads and Managers in particular.

Hitherto, a bad Lead or Manager could poison an otherwise great group/project, so I'm hoping this change WILL be used as a tool to identify and ship out these failing leaders, instead of a revolving door of attrition of their troops to other groups or companies.

Anonymous said...

When I saw the "limited fiasco" post, a light bulb went on. So NOW I understand why I and others in my group/area got "Limited" rankings out of the blue. Pretty easy to meet those spread goals when you hardly ever promote anyone in a large group, unless they're willing to go into management.

It'd sure be nice if they'd add the real "third" reason for giving Limited rankings though, so we aren't left scratching our heads and thinking they really mean that we have NO POTENTIAL to add anything worthwhile in our current positions. What is the incentive to stay, if that's the case? (That is, we're given a Limited with reason #2.) Sure, stay on in the job you're doing well, but we won't ever reward you for doing good work there. Be a fool if you want to.

Some great morale booster, these performance reviews.

Anonymous said...

What is this "limited fiasco"? Months at level did not affect rankings in our division.

Seems groups used varied criteria to hand out their Limited's.

Another b26 SDE said...

"The reality is that until they fix the "limited fiasco" (everyone with more than 30 months at level automatically gets a "limited" contribution ranking, regardless of performance), none of this will matter."


I've been at my level for 5 years now and got a "strong" contribution rating. Wasn't too excited about the stock and bonus numbers, but it didn't suck either.

So please, enough with the FUD.

Anonymous said...

Since they treat us IMO like outsiders when we want to apply or interview for another position, then why can't they give you what they give outsiders in comp for gaining that position?

My previous postion, I was 2 levels lower then those coming into the same job. Now the newest postion I am still 1 level below the lowest level they wanted for the positions range. Why couldn't they offer me the same they offered the external they hired at the same time when our skills are the same? The person is still up 2 levels and yet we do the SAME EXACT work. It will take me 3-5 yrs at the rate they give level ups. I know I have been around a long time.

This is the part I believe that pushes people to leave then come back if and when they are offered a position. But why HR? does it have to continue to be this way and yet this is still not an area they fixed. You preach how MS wants to keep the talent yet your so willing to watch them walk away then offer them more to come back. Still even now it is considered a lateral move or you may get a level only if you get approval.

I don't get this. MS is pushing larger numbers on offers to the outside world yet they fail to bring the internal talent up to the offerings of the newly hired employee. And if you believe the new guy makes less than you, guess again!

This is no different, just new words is all. Same as the new review process. Seriously other than new wording there is no difference? You are fooling yourself into believing this will help if you have a bad manager.

Dead wood. They won't leave. They have, for the most part, been around a long time and know how to work the system. Even new hires coming in are getting the lazy B's here! Heck why not get paid to sit and do nothing rather than get results in your position if your manager is going to turn a blind eye and just rely on others to do the work instead. Hey why not, you can still get achieved and strong just like the ones that did the work cause your a 3.0 employee!

So where is the motivation anymore? HR still does not get it! Nice try LisaB you can have an E for effort but you still fail at results.

Anonymous said...

Could be that I missed it, but there did not seem to be any specific language that indicated that you had to notify your manager before the actual interview loop in the new group. Why wouldn't you set up the loop and get the offer and then notify your manager? That's basically how informationals/informals worked {unofficially} before the change. This just legitimizes it in the eyes of HR.

Anonymous said...

Product Support managment is gonna hate this. They are the worst offenders of locking people in.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't my one voice but the combined voice of Microsofties demanding common sense change.

Sorry mini, but we havent got a common sense change yet, just a slight movement in that direction.
The new review system: curve by another name and a bit more disrection to high end, not enough.

Internal transfers: even less of a change. It makes as much sense as telling your manager you are interviewing outside, BFD.

@ said...

i attended a microsoft thing in my area...all microsoft "partners" were supposed to get together and get some "insights" from the MS team. Well, some 50 people showed up, most of them heading small 1 -10 person companies, taking time out to attend. There was a girl fresh out of college who spent over an hour just gushing about the features in Vista and Outlook and Office. Then some tips and tricks and that was it. Couldnt wait to leave. I think there is a genuine disconnect between the armies of people developing solutions on the MS platforms and how MS views and partners them...It was mostly one way communication, reading points off a powerpoint presentation. Not something to do for roomful of people who took time out on a workday morning.

Anonymous said...

* The reality is that until they fix the "limited fiasco" (everyone with more than 30 months at level automatically gets a "limited" contribution ranking, regardless of performance), none of this will matter.


This is a lie. I'm a manager who gave an employee with 49 months in level exceeded/strong. (well deserved)
If this is policy in your group, talk to your HR gen or LisaB.

Anonymous said...

dude, its tough managing a large corp. There is no way in Heaven (ABM) or on Earth (IAM) that inside will generate the creative results you want.

Corps, governments, HR flunkies (sorry Lisa, but you are only as good as the structure you prop up) all have reached their Peter Principled Level of Perfection which destroys individuals and unique solutions, which is exactly what Microsoft needs right now.

Anonymous said...

According to a Google Kirkland employee:
http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/

First, and arguably most importantly, Google drives behavior through incentives. Engineers working on important projects are, on average, rewarded more than those on less-important projects. You can choose to work on a far-fetched research-y kind of project that may never be practical to anyone, but the work will have to be a reward unto itself. If it turns out you were right and everyone else was wrong (the startup's dream), and your little project turns out to be tremendously impactful, then you'll be rewarded for it. Guaranteed.

The rewards and incentives are too numerous to talk about here, but the financial incentives range from gift certificates and massage coupons up through giant bonuses and stock grants, where I won't define "giant" precisely, but think of Google's scale and let your imagination run a bit wild, and you probably won't miss the mark by much.

There are other incentives. One is that Google a peer-review oriented culture, and earning the respect of your peers means a lot there. More than it does at other places, I think. This is in part because it's just the way the culture works; it's something that was put in place early on and has managed to become habitual. It's also true because your peers are so damn smart that earning their respect is a huge deal. And it's true because your actual performance review is almost entirely based on your peer reviews, so it has an indirect financial impact on you.

Anonymous said...

Mini, why don't we call a day where everybody who's not satisfied with MS wears a specific color? That way we can show our collective voice. MS can't fire you for wearing a certain color of shirt, right? Also, I don't think managers will mind because based on my observation, managers are not satisfied either.

Anonymous said...

I now work for a company where I feel that I am working for me, rather than the "Partners" at MS. ... We feel we are out to conquer the world, and expect to share in the spoils of war. In contrast, at MS I felt I was a serf shoring up the defenses to protect the crown jewels, and hoping for scraps to fall off the tables of the royalty.

I totally agree with this! This is how I feel!

Anonymous said...

I think this HR move is bullshit, bullshit and then some more BS. Why not let the employee get another job offer internally and then ask for permission to move? What is the deal with getting permission to interview with no assurance that you will get the job? Apple, Intel, Google - the list goes on - has a better HR policy.

If you ask for permission to interview, the manager sees you as a short time and then screws you over during the review. I was a solid 4.25 LRA performer and got a 3.0 when I started interviewing.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, it makes NO SENSE to tell your current manager you are looking elsewhere, whether in-company or out!

Obviously, the reasons you want to leave have reached critical mass and require no amount of negotiation with your current boss.

Take the interview! Inside or out! Doesn't pan out? No harm, no foul.

Analogy: Coach I want to leave the football team of which I am the highest scorer and apply for the Rugby team. Do I have your blessings? I don't THINK so.

Anonymous said...

To the folks who want to be able to interview without notification to your manager: having that ability probably would not help you much and it may hurt you a lot.

The reason is that any half-way decent hiring manager will call up your current manager with a conversation that goes roughly like this:

***
HM: "Hi, I'm thinking about hiring Joe. Is there anything about Joe that I should know before making him an offer?"

CM: "You mean that Joe is interviewing around? Hmmm, I was not aware of that. Well, I suppose one thing about Joe is that he is not up front with his management about his career intentions."

HM: "Thanks, that is helpful to me to know as I make the decision on whether to make Joe an offer."
***

So by not notifying your manager about your intentions to interview around, you have poisoned relationships with both your current manager and your hiring manager.

If you get the job offer, this is probably minor. If you don't get the offer, and if you are worried that your current manager is vindictive, you're now in serious trouble.

IMO, it is MUCH better to be straight with people, especially your manager. Yes, it totally sucks if your manager uses this against you, but trust is a two-way street.

Anonymous said...

"Mini, why don't we call a day where everybody who's not satisfied with MS wears a specific color?"

The best part about Mini's page is the posts that make me roar with laughter. Better than comedy central anyway because these posts are intended to be serious.

My suggestion would be that everybody wear a sign on their butts that says 'kick me' or `fire me' or how about telling your PM "Hey, I hate this group, can I have permission to interview".

I couldn't make this stuff up. Mini, you invented a new category of humor called 'misintended deadpan'.

Anonymous said...

My Manager screwed me when I mentioned to him that I wanted to move. His way of locking me down. Inspite of working 70hrs/week or more at a stretch and sucessfully releasing a product, I got a Limited.

Can someone (hiring mgrs especially) please share How this will affect my intention to move internally? Also are level jumps common during a internal transfer?

Anonymous said...

wow I cannot believe that you guys are making so much out of this VP permission thing.

I left MS almost 6 months ago, but things are so clear in my head, that if ever I had one wish granted then I would have asked "Gates" to make this change.

I been on both sides of the table. I once got an offer from another group(those good old days of MSN in 2000) but my boss prevented my move for almost 6 months , using the "business justification" crap. The hiring manager wanted to fill the position, and he could not wait, so i lost it. I hated the stuff that my boss gives me permission to interview and then uses the business justification to hold me back. Now I guess this wont be possible. If I would have moved into MSN, I would be a director(as the guy who took that position is now)

2 years later when I asked permission to interview, I was given, but did not make it through the interview( I was in Test and it was a PM position). Next review I got a 3.0

Fast forward, 2 years, and I am a Test Lead, and one of my SDET want to interview for SDE position. I encourage him and give him the permission. Guess what ... my GM comes charging at me as he did not want to show attrition in his group. He basically make me withdraw the permission and the SDET is stuck.
I hated the internal career system. I can see to some extend why they have it, so that managers can plan that someone is leaving, rather than knowing one fine friday the employee is gone.

Anonymous said...

Just interview outside the company. It's pretty sweet! You don't have to tell your manager jack!

The current policy is still bullshit.

I'd like to interview for a position on the windows team but due to the reorg that is STILL going on (6 months now) few hiring managers know if there are going to be open reqs until after the reorg when they discover that a lot of people didn't show up to their new teams (oops!).

I really enjoyed it a couple of years ago when a dev on our team disappeared during a building-wide office move. Nobody knew where he went. A few days later he called his manager from his new office at Google to ask MS to send him his personal things. Man I miss that guy.

WikiServerGuy said...

I would think in a professional environment one would be able to apply to a different part of the company without the fear of getting stabbed in the back by one's own manager! Sounds like there is a lot of unneccessary ego stuff and bureaucracy going on...

What horrifies me is thinking of what would happen if someone who is talented gets stuck in a group they don't quite fit in and wanted to move...

Anonymous said...

Internal transfer issues exist all over the place. I had an issue at a previous employer where I was looking at a transfer into another group, purely as a way out of Silicon Valley. I kept my manager in the loop and he seemed appreciative. The transfer fell through at the last minute and on my next review I was burned badly. My manager asked me to promise not to leave for an indefinite period. When I declined, he informed me that my position was being eliminated and that I needed to transfer or I'd be fired. Assholes, like hydrogen, are the most common element in the universe.

Anonymous said...

Ballmer and Gates got less bonus this year. Many partners got their millions for doing nothing.

Anonymous said...

"So by not notifying your manager about your intentions to interview around, you have poisoned relationships with both your current manager and your hiring manager."

Or...(conversation with new manager)"I haven't told my current manager because I fear he would punish me for wanting to leave. Could you be so kind as to not contact him?"

Anonymous said...

Not only should I be able to interview internally anywhere, anytime but, there should be a "candid" exit interview system in place to uncover abusive and political managers.

The interview-ee would be judicious yet candid in his appraisal of his prior boss and his new boss would get cc'd. This prevents harangues and normalizes the process.

Exit interview questionnaires would be designed in such a way as to "pull out" any incompetencies and anomolies in the exiting department.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

Or...(conversation with new manager)"I haven't told my current manager because I fear he would punish me for wanting to leave. Could you be so kind as to not contact him?"

That is a reasonable request for an informational interview, but not for formal interviews:

1) Many groups *require* that a hiring manager contact someone's current manager before making an offer.

2) Even if there is not a formal requirement in the group, any good hiring manager will want to gather all reasonable sources of information before making an offer. A good hiring manager will take it into account if there is a problematic employee/manager relationship, putting an appropriate filter on the information they hear.

3) By asking the hiring manager not to contact current manager, you are sending a powerful signal to the hiring manager that you may not be trustworthy. If you're treating the current manager that way now, the hiring manager will be suspicious that s/he will be treated the same way some day.

Although transparency is sometimes disadvantageous in the short term, in the long term it is usually best to be open and operate with high integrity.

Anonymous said...

"Assholes, like hydrogen, are the most common element in the universe."

So much for the collective wisdom of HR departments. I want that on a bumper sticker. I highly recommend that all of you especially those of you with high integrity and honesty (usually bracketed by naivety) read the Gizmondo's Spectacular Crash article in Wired this week--all six pages.

Then take a deep breath and carefully reflect on whether or not similar or such shady characters exist at Microsoft, especially in the 900. As a customer and experiencing the incredible levels of denial to come out of Redmond over the years, I would suggest you might be surprised what crawls out when you turn over a few rocks.

I think the HP Pattygate episode should reinforce this statement. Money and power can blind one to the difference between felony and expression of ego.

http://wired.com/wired/archive/14.10/gizmondo.html

Anonymous said...

I am in HR myself. Not saying the "limited fiasco" is not real, but sounds like some bad managment/hr action. Most groups (assumption), including mine, in no way used length in level to assign contribution (limited, strong, outstanding) ratings. Be curious to know where we are seeing this.

While a logical person might say there is a correlation (all things remaining equal if you have been in your level for a long period of time, it probably means that your long term contribution to MS is not increasing, but steady), it is not an "If, Then."

Anonymous said...

What horrifies me is thinking of what would happen if someone who is talented gets stuck in a group they don't quite fit in and wanted to move...

Ponder hypothetically no more! As an IC with a solid work ethic and record of super evals at prior employers, do let me fill in those blanks from personal experience when I was new to Microsoft.

You're hired into a job that when you sit down to it, is not the one described to you in your interview. Instead, it's much less of a fit than the one you accepted.

Even going way up the management chain, to the skip-skip-skip, no one will give you permission to interview. HR quotes the "X months in role" rule.

You work 70 hour weeks, and miss weekend sports with your son, all spring and summer. During those 70-hour weeks, you get done what you know would be 25 hours of work elsewhere, with 45 hours worth of handling process, emails about process, meetings about process, etc.

You get stressed enough that for the first time in your life, you require meds to make sure you don't have a stroke.

You collect a barely-adequate eval at review time, despite working harder than you've worked in years to succeed in spite of endless roadblocks.

Finally they start to say, "Okay, when it makes business sense for our org, you can transfer." Of course, by then, the group you want to move into is close to closing the position they've tried to keep open for you. Your skip-level still won't give a date for when it might "make business sense".

After a couple months of this, you hand your skip-level an envelope containing your resignation letter and badge. You know that this is the final play in your game of "permission to interview chicken". You're anguished about leaving a company you were so excited to join, but more anguished about staying in your current role. It's difficult to see the upside to doing work you could have done as a new college hire 10 years ago, overloaded with process, and consuming too many hours for too little pay. The benefits are great, but you have to think about your health and your career progress as well. You explain what's in the envelope and add that you have nothing more to say. You turn around to leave and HE BLINKS FIRST.

That's what it's like. A huge amount of angst and drama, and a mediocre review permanently on record, all just to get the right thing for Microsoft to happen.

Since changing groups, my contributions have been well-regarded and well-rewarded. I add real bottomline value in my current role, and management recognizes that.

Yet, I almost walked away from Microsoft. And I will always remember with no small amount of distaste how management seemed to not care that I was absolutely miserable in that role.

LisaB, some failsafe needs to be put in place to keep these situations from going on as long as mine did. If it's not removal of the requirement to get permission, no matter how many months in role, then there should be an appeal path so that an employee can bring visibility to situations that don't seem right. The very talented people you most want to retain are likely to vote with their feet, as I almost did, if that's what it takes to get them back on the fast track.

Anonymous said...

While we're sharing bad internal transfer stories:

I too got the "you're too critical to our business" and "a longer than typical transition period" BS. Very flattering, but simply not true.

What was worse was that sr mgrs in IW PMG actually told both my eventual hiring manager (a GM) and the hiring manager of a colleague (a VP) that: "You don't want this guy. He's too low level, not a strategic thinker, and not a great team player." Both of us had gotten 3.5s/4.0s in that group prior. In this case, asking the VP would not have helped.

Happily, both hiring managers made their own hiring decisions.

WTF? Guess it is the old adage, "If you are not with us, then we are against you."

As long as Sr mgrs can get away with this kind of BS, the official policy is kinda meaningless.

Turnabout is fair play tho'...I tell everyone who asks, including some superstars I know, to stay away from that very dysfunctional org.

Anonymous said...

I was at MS from 1990 to 2000. Worked in PSS & systems, manged up to 20something people.

A few things I learned:

- In terms of culture and reviews, MS is a bunch of different companies that share an office park. Some groups give 3.0s to all just-promoted people and all the stock to the 4.0s. Others give stock to people they want to stick around, not to who got good ratings. Some rank scores within the group, others within people of the same level in the group. Et cetera.

- In terms of transfers, a lot depends on what's going on with you and your boss. In 98 I has some frank discussions with my boss of some years where we agreed I should work for someone else. Part of it was I was tired of crap from assholes who noticed I had Boobies and OMG how he can he give Boobies Reponsibility or Trust unless Sex was involved.

Not only did he agree with me looking, but *HE* spread word among people he knew that I was looking. Which led directly to the job I ended up accepting.

- This also leads to my final note: once you've been at MS a while, don't pick jobs by duties or scope or technology. Pick a boss you trust. Or leave.

Anonymous said...

"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."


*snort*

Didn't happen to me, and I'm 30+ months at level.

Did it ever occur to you that maybe just your group has this policy, not MSFT? When you say you got an email from HR about it - unless that's from LisaBr, it ain't about the whole company. When you say you know many divisions followed this - which ones? Name names, or else you're just handwaving to sound like you're a victim of Big Bad Process, rather than possibly just in a, ah, sub-optimal product group.

Anonymous said...

"Turnabout is fair play tho'...I tell everyone who asks, including some superstars I know, to stay away from that very dysfunctional org."

Name the org. We'll all just be extra careful with positions in that org.

Anonymous said...

I am certain there are a bunch of these kinds of stories, but one of my directs' directs came to us just after review period last year.

This person kicked ass and took names for us this year and we wanted to reward this person for the great job. This person was 42 months at level and we were not allowed to give this person anything more than a "Strong" and even that took some ferocious pushback on HR. So, we were able to avoid the "Limited" designation, but it wasn't a slam dunk. The part I have the problem with is that it had nothing to do with performance, at least from where we stood. I cannot even begin to think about what we would've told this person during the review discussion beyond the inexcusable "HR made us do it".

Anonymous said...

These changes to the interview process came in a bit too late for me. I requested permission to interview in August and hell broke loose. I became the enemy of the state (the team) and my manager royally screwed me on my review. Prior to the requesting permission episode, I was friendly enough with the manager where he confided in me that I was running for a 4.0-comparable review this year. What I got in hand was a pathetic 3.0-comparable review with merit and bonus amounts that would make any self-righteous man throw-up.

I still managed to get the new job but my review was royally screwed. I almost want to publish the manager's name and the group name but I don't intend to stoop down to his level.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm irate.

To the collective moaning about how immoral it is to desire to interview without your boss knowing: You're either someone whose MS career has been extremely fortunate, drank far too much Kool-Aid, or are just plain fibbing to suit your current needs.

You've asked for interview permission, and either didn't get the offer, or didn't want the job, and not gotten reamed for it? Congratulations. I've been punished twice for interviewing. I have more than enough justification in not being trusting of some of my managers.

I'll say it again: Until internal interviews give employees the same benefits that an external interview does, the talent will continue to leak. [As someone who has worked for many companies in our industry, I can say that outside of MS, a hiring manager at a company would be considered immoral if they called your current employer without your permission to ask about you. I never quite have understood what kind of person takes stock in references. I've known too many morons in management positions to ever consider taking someone's word about a candidate merely because they have 'Lead' or 'Manager' after their title. I hire people based on their interviews, not on what their current or past boss thought of them (for all I know, they were childhood chums!).]

Anonymous said...

I still managed to get the new job but my review was royally screwed. I almost want to publish the manager's name and the group name but I don't intend to stoop down to his level.

----

my ex boss (andrew) did that to me (and so did his heir-apparent who took over when he left (dalen)..

Anonymous said...

"3) By asking the hiring manager not to contact current manager, you are sending a powerful signal to the hiring manager that you may not be trustworthy. If you're treating the current manager that way now, the hiring manager will be suspicious that s/he will be treated the same way some day."

Sure, that possibility exists but it's more likely that I am conveying that the manager isn't trustworthy. At any rate, I am being candid and I am sure that's a welcome behavior. If not, perhaps this isn't the manager for me.

So may times, we forget to ask ourselves, "is this the guy/gal I want to work with/for for the next "x" years?" From what I am hearing on this forum, that's perhaps the biggest unaddraessed concern.

The power that each has is to quit or to fire; anything other than that is...negotiable.

Anonymous said...

"While a logical person might say there is a correlation (all things remaining equal if you have been in your level for a long period of time, it probably means that your long term contribution to MS is not increasing, but steady), it is not an "If, Then."

The operattive word here is "probably." What is really needed is an interview with this person to discuss "what's up?" and some appropriate steering in the right direction. This is why management is about "people" and not just projects. Long after the project is complete a good manager will be able to correct the problem and motivate that person to new heights.

That's the true spirit of management and obviously one not embraced at the evil empire.

Anonymous said...

These changes to the interview process came in a bit too late for me. I requested permission to interview in August and hell broke loose.

I suspect you. Being a manager I know that reviews models are finalized mid-late July. If your manager found out about you going in Aug, there is nothing he could do about it in August. August is just too late to make any change (other than with ones with higher approval).

Anonymous said...

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.

So the people who got reamed for asking the permission, I have one question.

Were you the super stars in your group and looking for more challaneging opportunity elsewhere. If yes, I bet asking permission to interview can't hurt you.

If you were lagging and thinking that you need another chance in another group to prove yourself, then it might be possible that you got bad review. But in this case you anyway deserved a bad review. Of course, sometimes it is not your fault that you are not being able to demonstrate your real talent because of the environment which does not give opportunity. But that's what the career paths are all about. Somehow you managed to reach that environment or say it in other words, somehow you failed to get a career break. For an example, I may think, I could have done a better job than so and so VP. BUt guess what, she managed to discover and walk on the career path which I failed to do so.

Oh, I am very talented. If I were in so and so position then my talent would have come out be recognized for million dollars. I have talent and it is not being recognized is not my fault. So I am being declined my millions for company's fault. So let me shoot a comment to mini. Crazy. Is not it?

BizDog said...

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.

Anonymous said...

Is not letting your manager about your job transfer before you get the offer not acceptable?
YES

Why so - particualrly when i can do that for resignations?
Both are not the same.Its much much easier and frequent - 20x - for one to consider an internal change than to quit a company.

An earlier rant inthe comments that this doesnt apply to India DC - Dude...dont be lame. The raises in India are in 2 digits and MSFT India is in the 95th (or more) percentile.

And Mr Ex-MSFT, i respect your decision. But please dont condescend on the not-so-wise rest-of-us. we know your job rocks and your company is the next google( or the current one). Start an anonymous blog for your new place and tell me happily that theres not been a single post.

The 70K+ monster may not have become all 'sainty'. But it certainly started listening.

Anonymous said...

These changes to the interview process came in a bit too late for me. I requested permission to interview in August and hell broke loose. I became the enemy of the state (the team) and my manager royally screwed me on my review. Prior to the requesting permission episode, I was friendly enough with the manager where he confided in me that I was running for a 4.0-comparable review this year. What I got in hand was a pathetic 3.0-comparable review with merit and bonus amounts that would make any self-righteous man throw-up.


Here is well known secret at MSFT: wrap up your highly visible work in May/June, and seek permission to interview in September. And for the rest of the year make your manager happy.

anon said...

When it comes to HR practices, sadly MS models itself after GE (and now Walmart?) rather than Goog. As pointed out earlier, Goog drives behavior through incentives.

Can you imagine how your average MS engineer would behave if her team of 5-10 could win a $10 million cash bonus prize? Set up 3 such prizes each year (coming out of the "partners" honeypot) for best product implementations/ideas of that year, and you'll soon find that the words "innovation" and "MS" are not oxymorons.

Instead of review by managers, set up a peer review system. And see people start working cooperatively rather than the current mantra of "manage up, backstab sideways, and screw down." And managers with poor OHIs or high attritions should be made ICs.

Internal transfers shouldn't be death marches. If someone is a MS hire, they should be good enough to work in any group within the company and shouldn't be put through silly hoops and 10-hour interview loops.

So now MS'll pay you $1,000 for referring an external candidate that gets hired, but the people who are here already are treated like crap. Many of the new hires aren't anywhere near as good as those being given "limited" ratings and leaving the company. (The top new hires go to Goog and start-ups, don't kid yourselves). And so the wheel turns...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great positive post!

> Yes. Mini, chalk up another one to your relentless blogging.

Are you sure that this development would not have happened without Mini? Why not give Lisa and her HR team the credit for listening and, more importantly, acting? It's so easy for a biased mob to attribute most progressive actions to Mini and then lynch the leadership for every perceived mis-step.

Have you ever stopped to ponder, after the MyMicrosoft development, whether Microsoft still needs this blog more than the celebrities here do?

Anonymous said...

>> ... Kevin Turner has gotten his sea legs, expect some major cuts to staffing levels. He has already frozen all open req's ...

Frozen all open req's? You are mistaken, sir.

Also, you are reading too much into Kevin's background at Walmart to conclude that he will eventually initiate a massive downsizing. Microsoft is becoming more and more a conglomerate with many product lines and there is still a lot of cost-efficiencies by sharing global functions between business units. Just think about P&G and imagine how massively global Microsoft is becoming. How can Microsoft maintain this same global footprint with 1/4 of its current workforce? In such a scenario, do you think we would even be capable of launching the XBOX360 like we did in India and South-Africa lately with much fanfare?

Anonymous said...

>> Having left MSFT many months ago, I find reading mini so much more fun now, it reminds me of how, crap-tastic my years were there....


I have a sinking feeling that you represent a majority of those who religiously visit this blog... Is it possible, sir, that you are trying to compensate for failing to have made a difference while at Microsoft?

Anonymous said...

"How can Microsoft maintain this same global footprint with 1/4 of its current workforce? In such a scenario, do you think we would even be capable of launching the XBOX360 like we did in India and South-Africa lately with much fanfare?"

Um, you need the expensive extra headcount so that you can do things like launch money-losing products? Maybe, cutting the staff is a good idea after all...

Anonymous said...

A couple of observations from an outsider:

1. Redmond is located in a culturally different area than say the SF Bay Area. I have lived many years in both places and worked for tech companies in both places. The expectations and work ethics are very very different. One tends to be more regimented and contains (from my perspective) a more traditional employment structure (see Dilbert) while the other has more basic high tech roots in the processes of innovation and startups. Look at it this way. One is dominated by divergent thinking and the other is dominated by convergent thinking.

2. Since Microsoft copies and duplicates as a corporate policy of new product development instead of innovation implementation, the convergent thinking environment creates a really successful business while making it less focused on providing an environment where individuals have a lot of freedom.

3. Google on the other hand suffers from the opposite problem. Too much divergent thinking generates lots of fun things to work on for creative people and a very poor business model that has trouble focusing on how to make money. We will have to wait and see which one dominates in the end, if there is an end.

Since I am more of a creative type, my bet is on Google, but that is just an opinion.

Also, Bizdog, what an amazing and focused example of whats wrong with the partner model at Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

"And for the rest of the year make your manager happy."

Amen... It is not too late to start now. Let Cynthia Shapiro's "Corporate Confidential" be your bible. MS library has several copies! or better get your own, lest your manager finds out what you have been reading.

Anonymous said...

Please stop comparing anything and everything with GOOG. Wait for at least one more in house success from GOOG before raving about all the greatness that is GooG.

Oh and did you read about the slap-in-the-face for the "add all good tech adjectives here" VDO team at google?

A mini like google blog will have ranters from every team thats not core search

Anonymous said...

"Since I am more of a creative type, my bet is on Google, but that is just an opinion."

Is this some humor website? Since when Google became creative? At he moment Google's workforce is more than 10% of Microsoft. But certainly their creativity by any measure is way below 10% of Microsoft.

Are you making your observation as an outsider or an insider of Google.

From Google you see product which are short term. Short term products have at most one single idea, often not even that. If you are in creativity business then you would know that have two connected ideas are far more difficult to get and valuable than two independent ideas.

Google have many independent ideas. Microsoft have products with many ideas. Vista for one. Office for another. Connected entertainment yet another one.

It seems you are counting Google's fail ideas but failing to give Microsoft any credit for failed ideas. SPOT watches for example. If you are fail to realize that how creative, yet failed, SPOT watches idea is then you should realize that 99% of Google's ideas are just like SPOT watches.

Just like thousand of unsupported opinions just like yours do not stand against a single but supported opinion.

Similarly, dozens of failed ideas from Google are meaningless compare to one successful idea (xbox anybody?). Now all of Google's idea can simply be balanced by our Live Services team (far smaller than 8000 workforce Google boasts).

Next time you write, make sure you do your homework.

Anonymous said...

More good news. MS released Vista RC2 yesterday. Stability is great and performance is better than XP because of SuperFetch, ReadyBoost and GPU utilization.

RC2 is the last test release and this means we are shipping real soon.

Not in time for holiday season? MS is actually going to issue coupons for upgrades to Vista if you are buying laptops/desktops during the holiday season.

So much good news that I think MSFT is undervalued right now.

Anonymous said...

... Kevin Turner has gotten his sea legs, expect some major cuts to staffing levels. He has already frozen all open req's ...

GEO of Microsoft Germany, Jürgen Gallmann, has resigned this Friday (10/6) with immediate notice. Reason he has offically given was a disagreement with corp. about future strategy and focus of the German sub. MS press release gave no further details, but *insiders* where quoted as follows in the media:

- MS Corp had imposed increasing restrictions on the German operation.
- An extremly disfunctional relationship with Kevin Turner.
Source: http://www.wiwo.de/pswiwo/fn/ww2/sfn/buildww/id/126/id/218754/fm/0/SH/0/depot/0/ (German)

In the past 4 years MS Germany has increased its headcount from 1.500 to 2.000; a further increase by another 500 people was planed.

Anonymous said...

Mini,
Doesn't this go back to many posts suggesting manager, management is not accountable?
Guess what, now the employees have to prove themselves accountable as well...

Customer

Anonymous said...

Have you ever stopped to ponder, after the MyMicrosoft development, whether Microsoft still needs this blog more than the celebrities here do?


If Lisa had never mentioned or alluded to Mini in any public setting, I'd give Mini no credit for change. But that is not the case. Lisa has alluded to the effect Mini has had on her and the business several times, good or bad. If she doesn't want Mini to get credit she sure the hell shouldn't acknowledge his existence.

Anonymous said...

> Can you imagine how your average MS engineer would behave if her team of 5-10 could win a $10 million cash bonus prize?

Yes - she (and everyone else) wouldn't want to work on the 90% of other stuff we do that is important, but not risky and innovative.

A lot of what we do isn't particularly risky and innovative for good reasons. Companies invest billions of dollars to buy and train employees on products like Office and various Server-based products. This is technology where conservatism must temper innovation so that new features actually do add value rather than confuse or necessitate retraining and/or new equipment.

Very few people actually get to work (at least throughout their career) on risky and innovative. I'd be all for the 10 million dollar prize if a way were found to award it on occasion to teams whose products' only make the news when they go awry. You know, the "dull" (but not necessarily straightforward) stuff that no one considers when it works; but when it breaks...

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that this development would not have happened without Mini? Why not give Lisa and her HR team the credit for listening and, more importantly, acting?

--
You sir are a biased HR person. Give credit where it is due to mini. Mini raised the issues first when Dipetro was sleeping with his team of HR managers.

Anonymous said...

Please stop comparing anything and everything with GOOG. Wait for at least one more in house success from GOOG before raving about all the greatness that is GooG

I have worked closely with four Devs hired away from MSFT by GOOG, and one that GOOG offered and we retained. Based on those five people, I'd say the score is MSFT 3, GOOG 2. They hired two good engineers, two bad ones, and we kept the best one of the bunch. And retaining that one took some doing. Can't just deny permission to interview on those pesky external transfers.

GOOG seems to have three things going for them:

1) they have really good search algorthms

2) they've managed to sell advertising without screwing up the usability of their search engine.

3) they're (cleverly?) engaged in back-door funding of Open Source projects in the hopes those will cause problems for MSFT.

That's not much in the grand scheme o things. They are no threat to a well-led, well-organized MSFT.

[blink][blink]

I guess those are some important adjectives in that last sentence.

Anonymous said...

"Next time you write, make sure you do your homework."

Will Do! Dang and I spent a whole hour reading Dilbert, two hours reading Mini and fifteen minutes reviewing my bible, 'Design with Levers: the Creative Partner's Guide to Managing at Microsoft'. BTW, right now I'm listening to Art Bell from the Philippines talking about how to be psychic and not only do I not work for Google, I don't even use their search engine (or Microsoft's for that matter). True Story.

Anonymous said...

Yes, one of the above comment is dead on the spot.

If one of my superstars going to interview other places, I want to know. If appropriate I will raise the stakes by either promoting the superstar or promise to work on it in the next review period. The hiring manager would have a difficult time matching my offers...

Anonymous said...

I have a sinking feeling that you represent a majority of those who religiously visit this blog... Is it possible, sir, that you are trying to compensate for failing to have made a difference while at Microsoft


--

pot calling kettle black?

misdirection?

you want your $2.00s?

Anonymous said...

"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."


The paid shills are back. This posting is cloaked in "eastern european speak" type sentence structure, implying limited usage of the English language.

And yet, the level of vocabulary is one coming from a writer/marketing person of great capability: "appropriate", "peers", "consecutive", "whereas".

Softies,look through this as you read postings clinging dearly to the notion that Big Brother must know our every movement re: career passions.

And also ask yourself what company would put itself in a lose-lose situation by either diminishing the productivity of a person by keeping them in a dead end job because they won't take the chance to notify their supervisor vs. having them leave the company for the same reason?

Anonymous said...

"Thank you for the great positive post!

> Yes. Mini, chalk up another one to your relentless blogging.

Are you sure that this development would not have happened without Mini? Why not give Lisa and her HR team the credit for listening and, more importantly, acting? It's so easy for a biased mob to attribute most progressive actions to Mini and then lynch the leadership for every perceived mis-step.

Have you ever stopped to ponder, after the MyMicrosoft development, whether Microsoft still needs this blog more than the celebrities here do?"


Paid Shill Part II. May even be Lisa herself. Alludes to celebrities. Gee, mini, if folks like this think there are celebrities on this site and celebrities could add meaning and clout to the site...wouldn't that be a good thing? Of course.

And remember the old saw: Criticism can be a veiled compliment.

Softies, it's important to see through the shills!

Anonymous said...

BUt guess what, she managed to discover and walk on the career path which I failed to do so.

Your youth and inexperience betray you, sir.

One day, you'll get a rude surprise, get upset, feel like complaining, and suddenly realize that you aren't as unique as you'd allowed yourself to believe.

You're talking to a group of people who contain a large number of souls that were once considered 'mission critical', before a position change, a reorg, a new boss (who, unlike your own boss, isn't acting as your career sponsor), or some other event changed things.

When this happens, I hope you'll recall a certain anonymous poster's words: "SURPRISE!"

Anonymous said...

Do you know what is the "Culture Revolution"? During the new rounds of re-org, you are going to see many "managers" will be sent to "labor camp" to be re-educated or they will be self-exiled. What a great movement in Windows org. I wonder where is this idea coming from? Flat and lean organization that will do the best "for customers (people)".

Only the history will tell whether this is the right move. But maybe we don't have to wait too long, there will be another revolution.

Marco Iansiti's Top Ten Innovation Myths:
- Discipline and invention are incompatible
- Planning and responsiveness are incompatible
- Large organizations can’t invent
- Large organizations can’t innovate
- Start-ups are more innovative
- Some organizations do not obey the law of gravity
- Being a large, powerful company is a bad thing
- If you are a large organization, the best way to innovate is to imitate a small organization
- Silicon Valley firms aren’t political or bureaucratic
- Ten myths are too many for a 6:00 pm meeting.

When I looked at Office org and Windows org, by comparing two generals who lead their soldiers I can certainly tell the differences.

Office org:
- Moral: B+
- Strategy (priority): B
- Tactic (resource): B+
- Leadership: A
- Execution and Discipline: A-

Windows Org:
- Moral: C-
- Strategy (priority): C+
- Tactic (resource): B-
- Leadership: C+
- Execution and Discipline: C

Hey, don’t we need more Office generals come to Windows to rescue our business?

Comments?

Anonymous said...

"The paid shills are back. This posting is cloaked in "eastern european speak" type"

You got it wright. I am not an native english writer. And yes I am paid quite handsomely so I wanted to defend my company. I am only 7 years out of college, not at level 65 making slightly more than $130 K. Average promotion in slightly less than 18 months, including the two when my manager kept me in the same group by promoting me. I never actually changed group though twice looked for others more challanging one.

Emotions aside --- tell me what would your reaction be when your superstar ask for permission to interview? Would you want to screw him which does not actually earn anything for your group? Or would you want to try to keep him because he is the super-star. If your answer is former, then it tells your mind-set. If your response is latter then you are a leadership material. In leadership training, one thing they always try to emphasize is do not let negative feelings collect in yourself. Instead always think what is the next best step for your business.

I agree there were a lot of typo in my earlier message. Although, I am not a native english speaker but that problem is because I think faster than I write. Word always helped me figure these errors out. But this small comment box on blogger has no such functionality.

I could see why mini did not start his blog on Microsoft services, which has much better functionalities. But I do not understand why mini chose one of the worst blog services available. That certainly can't be mini's personal preference. May be he wants to emphasize the distinction between Microsoft and Google. Or may be he just trust Google to not cooperate with Microsoft in case somebody tries to find his identity. If this is the case then mini did not understand Microsoft culture. It is an open culture just like other tech companies. I know only two incidences where a tech company tried to punish an open culture. One, is Google fired its bloggers who are not obidient to Google like Matt Cutts. Two, Apple tried everything to punish a person like Apple's mini. The matter even went to court and fortunately court sided not to disclose Apple's mini identity.

Anonymous said...

Superstars, superstars, superstars! Ladies and gentlemen, there's no such thing as a group full of superstars. Why? Because too many prima donnas flatten the production and...fight for the limelight and...move on to other jobs where the light shines on them.

Case in point: USA Olympic Basketball Team.

No, Softies, each team consists of members of different capabilities who generally want to improve themselves, be recoginized and make more money.

Impediments to that make for unhappy performers, wouldn't you agree? One such impediment is the requirement to notify your manager when you want to interview in another department (reads: jump ship, not a team player, quitter, Judas, blah, blah, blah).

Now, the superstars or glib ones may have no such trouble telling the boss. But, the vast majority will stay tight lipped and unhappy or interview outside of the company. Don't you agree? Lose-Lose for Microsoft!

So, you bell shaped curve 12% superstars have a ball. We're talking 88% dysfunction for the rest! That sucks.

Anonymous said...


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.

and

If one of my superstars going to interview other places, I want to know. If appropriate I will raise the stakes by either promoting the superstar or promise to work on it in the next review period. The hiring manager would have a difficult time matching my offers...

--------
So it seems like the best way for someone to get a promotion is to threaten their manager about wanting to "interview other places".

For the sake of Microsoft, I hope that these unethical managers are in the minority. I hope most managers promote employees when they deserve promotions and I hope they don't wait for the employee to use the threat of interviewing outside.
redm.

Anonymous said...

>> If Lisa had never mentioned or alluded to Mini in any public setting, I'd give Mini no credit for change.

Surely, sir, Mini deserves credit for change leading to MyMicrosoft. The question was whether Mini deserved the credit for the recent revision to the "Internal-Transfers" policy and any other positive development at Microsoft. It's OK to criticize and celebrate developments, but it is equally important to give credit where its due.

Anonymous said...

"So it seems like the best way for someone to get a promotion is to threaten their manager about wanting to "interview other places".

For the sake of Microsoft, I hope that these unethical managers are in the minority. I hope most managers promote employees when they deserve promotions and I hope they don't wait for the employee to use the threat of interviewing outside."


There are more than one fallacy in your logic and hence conclusion. It is important to correct this.

1. It is one of the ways and not really the best ways. Also, it is not really a threat. It is a wrong way to see. It is just like the employee is saying that she wants to re-evaluate whether she is getting the best possible.

2. There is unethical about it. It is one way to measure the market value of an asset. A good employee is an asset. In economics, the market value of an asset is not what a person think the value but it is what two persons think its value is. Let me give you an example. You have a house. Everybody thinks it is worth half a million. Except one person who thinks it is one million. What is the market value of the house. It is half million. Because the person who thinks it is one million will not pay more than half a million anyways, unless there is another cometing person. This example shows exactly the benefit of keep your manager in the loop, even if you interview outside. Because that way you are making the current manager and the hiring manager compete, somewhat indirectly though.

3. Take the house example above. Suppose you and your spouse are the only two persons who thinks the house is one million but all other thinks it is only half a million (assume you and your spouse have the same joint bank account). Now, what do you think you want to pay for the house? Do you want you and your spouse competing for the same asset? I bet no. Then why do you want the two groups of Microsoft compete with each other when the salary is going to come out from the same bank account? Microsoft wants you to move freely within the company. But it does not want that the new group gets you by offering more money. Microsoft wants that the new group attracts you by offering more opportunity to work better. This is the reason why Microsoft does not want the new group to offer a higher level. Of course, a strict policy no matter how good it is is never optimal. I am glad Microsoft corrected it in the sense that if the move is an exceptional case then a promotion can be offered.

4. Value of a multi-facet asset like an employee is quite subjective. It is not always clear what an employee is truly worth. Like you are never in the market to continuously evaluate your market value similarly the manager does not continuosly keep evaluating you. Open discussions like asking/informing to interview outside opens these re-evaluations.

In business it is always professionalism or say money talk. Nobody takes anything personally. An employee asking for permission to interview outside should not be taken personally. People who have reached leadership positions know this clearly. Do not take anything personally. This is one of the points in their training.

Mini, in my previous post I digressed to the quality of blogger. A recent news is that blogger got hacked. Somebody hacked the official google blog. It is like somebody hacked Bill Gates mailbox to make a false announcement. Well, the person who hacked blogger may hack this blog too:( It is never a good idea to use a service from a company who works on wow factor more than the real utility for consumers. Perhaps to save marketing money.

Anonymous said...

This is all so Shilly! (or more musings from Comrade Mini-Sir).

"Emotions aside --- tell me what would your reaction be when your superstar ask for permission to interview? Would you want to screw him which does not actually earn anything for your group? Or would you want to try to keep him because he is the super-star. If your answer is former, then it tells your mind-set. If your response is latter then you are a leadership material. In leadership training, one thing they always try to emphasize is do not let negative feelings collect in yourself. Instead always think what is the next best step for your business."

Very cleverly done, sir! You give me two choices, neither of which is acceptable. But, since I can make my OWN choices, here's what I would do:

If I were his/her peer, slap him/her on the back and wish him/her all the best. But, he/she'd be pretty stupid to tell me lest it got back to the manager. We all know the "informal" chain of command has the best communications - word of mouth.

If I were his/her manager, I'd either be pissed or figuring out ways to punish that person (that's if I were the non-nurturing, political, back stabbing, the team is everything, knuckle dragging mouth breather, 93% of the managager ranks-type of manager) If I were in the 7% type of manager, I'd wish the best for this person, give him/her the review he/she deserves and promote them to the new group and hope they took what I taught them forward and succeeded).

Tell me, Softies, if you're buying the percentages (they can't be too far off the Lorenz curve for the general population at a tyrannical, dark ages big corporation), is this the chance you want to take? I didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

"If I were his/her manager, I'd either be pissed or figuring out ways to punish that person"

That's it. A person like you does not grow and need a forum like mini to bitch about things.

Just tell me, even if you are self-minded person looking for highest growth for yourself, how does it help you? How does it make you a VP out of a GM, or GM out of a PUM. Microsoft's company policies are aligned in such a way that if every manager plays whatever is good for the manager then net outcome will be good for Microsoft too.

All you are saying it that you want to take a personal revenge from an employee who is thinking of ditching your group. People do this quite rarely even in their personal life. If a girlfriend/boyfriend ditch, people simply move on.

About your percentages, they are way wrong. I can confidentally say you have no idea about the people in Microsoft. They are as good a people as you find anywhere else. Just look at the giving campaign this month.

By reading your revenge feeling, may be Microsoft ditched you in the past or did not offer you a job. That could be a reason you are trying to malign good people here.

Anonymous said...

"When I saw the "limited fiasco" post, a light bulb went on. So NOW I understand why I and others in my group/area got "Limited" rankings out of the blue."


This is the kind of ridiculous rumor that this type of anonymous ranting spreads, and it's unfortunate, petty and strikes of bitterness and professional immaturity.

How and why smart people would take one criteria that *supposedly* occurred in one group and attempt to make it a collective reality across Microsoft bewilders me. I think you're bitter and looking for any reason to grind the ax.

I am part of a group of 20 or so managers who organized ourselves and meet regularly to review bet practices of applying things like reviews, etc. We followed the HR training guides (which were very good) to the letter and every single manager reported on having great, constructive reviews with our teams - even those who received a limited understood why and agreed that it was a fair rating.

This blog is so incredibly disappointing. Good thing that dealing with the occasional petulant employees with an attitude problem and sense of entitlement has given me a thick skin.

Anonymous said...

'Sir' shills?

Okay, I'm more than willing to believe that there are people intentionally attempting to guide conversation here. A few weeks back, we had a week littered with over-the-top positive posts preceded and followed by weeks that did not resemble it in the least. Maybe just chance, but pretty strange regardless.

As for the 'Sir' posts, sh*t, I made one of those. (one) The wording was intended to convey a specific message in a specific tone. [Mine was the post citing youth and inexperience to someone who was basically saying "I'm a superstar and the rest of you are just whining. Become a superstar and shut up.".]

I'd be more willing to attribute the 'sir' thing to a meme response. You read it, it sticks in your head, ten minutes later when writing, it's close enough to consciousness to use it.

True Shills will be a hell of a lot harder to spot. [This is like a group of teenaged stoners screaming 'NARC! NARC!' at someone in a polo shirt, when in reality, the _real_ dea guys talk, dress, and act _just_ like the people they're infiltrating/investigating/etc.]

To be truthful, I've been fearful of someone managing to get a cookie dropped in via the site (or via a link posted on the site - much more likely) that can be read out by OWA.

[Might want to leave this post on the cutting room floor; I don't want to give the wrong people ideas (although it's pretty arrogant of me to think that they haven't already had much more significant ideas).]

Anonymous said...

My God, Mini, you truly must be doing good. Why do I say this? Because those who fear your truths, are attacking you in every way possible, in more and more numbers under the guise of anonymity. Some very clever word twisting and partial context posts going on here. Shows the heat is really being turned up. Carry on.

What I like so much about you is that you fearlessly publish both sides. Now it's time to hear more from rank and file and less from FUD making professional propagandists (some of whom make Joseph Goebbels seem like Winnie the Pooh.)

Anonymous said...

When I saw the "limited fiasco" post, a light bulb went on. So NOW I understand why I and others in my group/area got "Limited" rankings out of the blue.

We followed the HR training guides (which were very good) to the letter and every single manager reported on having great, constructive reviews with our teams - even those who received a limited understood why and agreed that it was a fair rating.

Limited becomes an issue when HR training is not followed and a review model applied unevenly across the company. Its always happened and has continued with the changes to reviews. I find it very frustrating that this continues to occur.

Those delivering a Limited do not always give a clear message and/or have not set expectations correctly through out the year with the recipient. Or they were forced into a curve and standards pushed down to them by someone trying to apply an agenda or arbitrary standards to dole out the Limiteds.

Anonymous said...

"When I saw the "limited fiasco" post, a light bulb went on. So NOW I understand why I and others in my group/area got "Limited" rankings out of the blue."

"We followed the HR training guides (which were very good) to the letter and every single manager reported on having great, constructive reviews with our teams - even those who received a limited understood why and agreed that it was a fair rating."

"Limited becomes an issue when HR training is not followed and a review model applied unevenly across the company. Its always happened and has continued with the changes to reviews. I find it very frustrating that this continues to occur."

Congratulations to Mr./Ms. Followed the HR Rules. It's a great feeling when you follow the guidelines - which I presume also means you weren't surprising anyone - and all is well in performance review land.

I'm sure this isn't news to anyone reading this blog: but not all managers (maybe not even most?) deliver performance reviews that bear any resemblence to the feedback they have been giving their employees all year, including at mid-year review. This is when employees (such as myself) try to figure out a rationalization other than simply "My manager is a complete idiot and is still supported by her management in behaving this way." Maybe we're wrong; but...umm...to my mind, that's not a great scenario either.

Anonymous said...

Since we're talking finanicals, how about a little something to stir the online strategy discussion. It's been my opinion for years that MS doesn't get the Internet, and with the exception of a few products (SQL comes to mind), we are either way behind or implementing the wrong changes. I remember Excel's big embrace of XML. I saw their demo and asked, "How exactly does a proprietary schema for XLS documents make this product xml-compliant? You can't do xml transformations? You can't read generic XML and map it to cells? Hmmm..." SQL, on the other hand, did get XML right in SQL 2000, out of the box, especially with the XML explicit function (haven't kept track for the past few years, so I don't know how we're doing, there).

Further, the strategy Microsoft has employed for the Internet looks strikingly like the one we deployed on the desktop. Let's see what everyone else does and see if we can do it better, for those technologies that prove themselves. I think the following article explains why we will never turn a profit under this strategy. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/28/AR2006102800803_pf.html.

We have to start innovating ideas, not just innovating ways of doing things better. We need to be the first ones to the table. We will need to make some mistakes; we will need to have some hits and misses. We just can't keep coming to the table 2 years later, just as a techno-fad is dying out. I am hoping with Bill's retirement, we will find something in Ozzy that has been missing in our online strategy.

Anonymous said...

My manager is perfect in every aspect. I want to switch job because I want to switch discipline from SDET to SDE. Should I notify my manager? I am not even sure what the consequences will be. If I put myself in his shoes, I don't think I would give myself an above average rating ever, knowing that the person is about to leave... Why would I in right mind draw out of team budget to pay him when he is about to pack up? He is soon-to-be a stranger.