Missed big HR meeting (MyMicrosoft is now improved)

Wow. I missed a HUGE HR townhall, er, employee meeting today (they announced new compensation and review changes). I just got the email from Lisa Brummel and, wow, wow, wow.

Is Lisa reading Mini? Damn straight she is.

This is the "Mini-smackdown" I wanted to see. Hopefully these changes will get us on a more customer-centric path.

One big thing that's gone? Stack ranking. No longer am I judged against Charles and Adam and Tina and Jeff. Now, either I'm doing a good job for Microsoft or I'm not and my review will now reflect that.

I LOVE these changes!

Also, I love the transparency that the Office team is experimenting with (you can see the Office team's ranking, and guess pretty closely what salary each employee there is making).

One thing I love about Microsoft is that we are willing to play with the business and make improvements. For a big business these kinds of changes aren't made easily, nor often, and I appreciate when they happen and the amount of work that goes into making them happen (I know someone in IT for HR, for instance, and he told me about all the work that's going on behind the scenes to change the review system).

Oh, and thanks Mini! These changes are due in no small part to you. Even if you don't get official props in the press releases.

Can one person change a huge company? Mini did. And we don't even know his name.

But, don't miss the work that Steve Ballmer, the leadership team, and Lisa Brummel did here either. Wonderful. Cheers. Now, let's get back to work figuring out how to make our customers lives better.

Lisa announced MyMicrosoft, a series of initiatives that'll make Microsoft a much better place to work.

There's a lot more to what she announced than I'm talking about here, but as I read over the list I'm just astounded.

These are not small little tweaks. They are wholesale changes to how Microsoft treats its employees.

Well, I'm off for a three hour drive from Livingston to Billings. I'll link to more on this topic later (I don't see anyone talking about this stuff externally yet).

By the way, my cell phone isn't working. So, stick with email until tomorrow.

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80 Replies to “Missed big HR meeting (MyMicrosoft is now improved)”

  1. I’ve been reading MiniMSFT for quite some time, and it’s great to see this happening, it’s almost inspiring to see how one person has bought about all these changes, and to see the people really rally behind him (not on everything, but enough to get these changes done anyhow ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  2. I’ve been reading MiniMSFT for quite some time, and it’s great to see this happening, it’s almost inspiring to see how one person has bought about all these changes, and to see the people really rally behind him (not on everything, but enough to get these changes done anyhow ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  3. So spill the beans already! I’m seriously interested to hear about these changes even if I don’t work there. MS leads, for better or worse, and others follow.

  4. So spill the beans already! I’m seriously interested to hear about these changes even if I don’t work there. MS leads, for better or worse, and others follow.

  5. Just check out Mini’s blog – the comments tell the tale.

    Losing the stack rank? – Not hardly – stating that it is no longer linked to individual ratings, but it is still linked to compensation equates to B as in B and S as in S. – However you slice it, the stack rank still exists.

    Towels and dry cleaning – woo hoo – the stock is at 1998 levels and all that Steve and Kevin could come up with were some towels – I guess like Douglas Adams used to say, it’s good to know where your towel is, but “show me the money” –

    Still glad I left and sad for all the ‘Softies I continue to hear from either getting ready to leave or who have just recently left.

    Fire Ballmer and fix the ailment.

  6. Just check out Mini’s blog – the comments tell the tale.

    Losing the stack rank? – Not hardly – stating that it is no longer linked to individual ratings, but it is still linked to compensation equates to B as in B and S as in S. – However you slice it, the stack rank still exists.

    Towels and dry cleaning – woo hoo – the stock is at 1998 levels and all that Steve and Kevin could come up with were some towels – I guess like Douglas Adams used to say, it’s good to know where your towel is, but “show me the money” –

    Still glad I left and sad for all the ‘Softies I continue to hear from either getting ready to leave or who have just recently left.

    Fire Ballmer and fix the ailment.

  7. These are not small little tweaks. They are wholesale changes to how Microsoft treats its employees

    ============================

    Were they in any way influenced by Google’s highly pubicized approaches?

    Pehaps there was fear of the best and brightest – leaving for the hi-profile competition.

    Will you get – 20% of time to work on personal projects – option?

    Now, THAT would be wholesale ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. These are not small little tweaks. They are wholesale changes to how Microsoft treats its employees

    ============================

    Were they in any way influenced by Google’s highly pubicized approaches?

    Pehaps there was fear of the best and brightest – leaving for the hi-profile competition.

    Will you get – 20% of time to work on personal projects – option?

    Now, THAT would be wholesale ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Pingback: In Re:
  10. “Lisa announced MyMicrosoft, a series of initiatives that’ll make Microsoft a much better place to work.”

    It’ll be late, lose a few features and need a couple of service packs to be usable ๐Ÿ™‚

    Seriously though – it is a good thing when momentum can be started but while Mini may be the instigator it is the rank and file (forgive the expression) who were vocally reading his blog who actually made the difference.

    A voice in the wilderness is just a lone nutter.

  11. “Lisa announced MyMicrosoft, a series of initiatives that’ll make Microsoft a much better place to work.”

    It’ll be late, lose a few features and need a couple of service packs to be usable ๐Ÿ™‚

    Seriously though – it is a good thing when momentum can be started but while Mini may be the instigator it is the rank and file (forgive the expression) who were vocally reading his blog who actually made the difference.

    A voice in the wilderness is just a lone nutter.

  12. imo, it took strong competitors hiring in the area — without that, I doubt mgmt would have cared what mini said. When I left not long ago, I had three interesting job offers in the Seattle area, so there is strong competition for employees.

    I think many people have noted that Microsoft does better when it has competition in the product space. The same thing is true with respect to competition for talent.

    But these changes will take time to make people feel better. Just like any trust that has been broken, it will take some time for Microsoft to regain it from its employee. (Some people may remember the attempt to reduce new hire’s vacation time to 2 weeks.)

  13. imo, it took strong competitors hiring in the area — without that, I doubt mgmt would have cared what mini said. When I left not long ago, I had three interesting job offers in the Seattle area, so there is strong competition for employees.

    I think many people have noted that Microsoft does better when it has competition in the product space. The same thing is true with respect to competition for talent.

    But these changes will take time to make people feel better. Just like any trust that has been broken, it will take some time for Microsoft to regain it from its employee. (Some people may remember the attempt to reduce new hire’s vacation time to 2 weeks.)

  14. isn’t it funny how mini can initiate changes, but has to remain anonymous?

    The management will listen if forced and have no way of punishing the person who is critising them.

    You guys are luck that microsoft is so big no one can figure out who mini is. In a comany of 25, the whistle blower is soon found and fired.

    God. Is. In. The. TV.

    monk.e.boy

  15. isn’t it funny how mini can initiate changes, but has to remain anonymous?

    The management will listen if forced and have no way of punishing the person who is critising them.

    You guys are luck that microsoft is so big no one can figure out who mini is. In a comany of 25, the whistle blower is soon found and fired.

    God. Is. In. The. TV.

    monk.e.boy

  16. If one looks at it then it did not even costed that much money. Most of the new services are employee paid. Since stocks are expensed in dollar terms in quarterly reports, 15% increase in the number of stock grants is pretty much neautralized with the corresponding decline in the stock price. That precisely is the reason that these new expenses are already built in the earning forecast. These expenses won’t even cost a tenth of a cent in quarterly reports. (40 million dollars per year).

  17. If one looks at it then it did not even costed that much money. Most of the new services are employee paid. Since stocks are expensed in dollar terms in quarterly reports, 15% increase in the number of stock grants is pretty much neautralized with the corresponding decline in the stock price. That precisely is the reason that these new expenses are already built in the earning forecast. These expenses won’t even cost a tenth of a cent in quarterly reports. (40 million dollars per year).

  18. It’s a good first step, but you are really overstating it.

    Management made changes because of *massive morale problems*. They had *no choice*. This is not a sign of great senior management. It is a sign of incompetent senior management getting a clue after being clubbed on the head multiple times with sledgehammers. These guys have such thick skulls that it took a while to sink in. Real management wouldn’t have let the problems get so bad and fester for so long. Ballmer and Co. is once again a day late and a dollar short.

    MiniMSFT: 1
    Senior management: 0

  19. It’s a good first step, but you are really overstating it.

    Management made changes because of *massive morale problems*. They had *no choice*. This is not a sign of great senior management. It is a sign of incompetent senior management getting a clue after being clubbed on the head multiple times with sledgehammers. These guys have such thick skulls that it took a while to sink in. Real management wouldn’t have let the problems get so bad and fester for so long. Ballmer and Co. is once again a day late and a dollar short.

    MiniMSFT: 1
    Senior management: 0

  20. I think too much credit is being given to mini-ms. Hasn’t he been ranting for years now? Why did the previous VP of HR do anything if mini was supposedly so influential? Agree that incompetent management is to blame more than mini. If there weren’t competition in the hire space, would mini really matter? The other side of that coin is, why isn’t mini leaving himself if things were so bad. Certainly he wasn’t able to effectuate change internally through the management chain, otherwise by blog about it? Again, pointing either incompetent or apathetic management.

  21. I think too much credit is being given to mini-ms. Hasn’t he been ranting for years now? Why did the previous VP of HR do anything if mini was supposedly so influential? Agree that incompetent management is to blame more than mini. If there weren’t competition in the hire space, would mini really matter? The other side of that coin is, why isn’t mini leaving himself if things were so bad. Certainly he wasn’t able to effectuate change internally through the management chain, otherwise by blog about it? Again, pointing either incompetent or apathetic management.

  22. Yess!. Thanks Mini. But why is (almost) everyone considering our Hero as a “him”. Isn’t there a slightest chance to be him a “her”? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I guess there is. Do I know something? Well, maybe; but I won’t tell you…

  23. Yess!. Thanks Mini. But why is (almost) everyone considering our Hero as a “him”. Isn’t there a slightest chance to be him a “her”? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I guess there is. Do I know something? Well, maybe; but I won’t tell you…

  24. Dead obvious changes that should have been made more than a decade ago, are now lauded as visionary, when people been screaming forever and rattling the cages. Stock price, heavy internal discontent, key defections and hiring war competitors more a play, over blogger rants. But Mini did impact in the Thomas Paine ‘Common Senseish’ way about it, in that the ‘treasonish’ thoughts, became everyday discussions. Mini got beyond the faux cheerleading seen on most Microsoft blogs, and instead of just irrational hate, proposed solutions or at least made attempts. That’s my take.

    And well, from the “Marketing Evangelism” angle, the “good news” is punched in by the Symantec suit news-cycle heavy-hit today. No one will be talking about “MyMicrosoft” today, rather the fact that even the dead-loyal Symantec has seen fit to sue.

    Always a crisis, always a new wrinkle with Microsoft. Looks (externally) like a company in the slow process of implosion.

    PS – Actually I have always thought, Mini was a ‘team’, with a ‘her’ in command, just has that feel. But I dunno, good writing, can take on many personalities.

    PSS – No discussion of the Second Life lawsuit? Virtual property not mirroring real property. How soon before we see Second Life Mortgage brokers drinking the blood dry? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. Dead obvious changes that should have been made more than a decade ago, are now lauded as visionary, when people been screaming forever and rattling the cages. Stock price, heavy internal discontent, key defections and hiring war competitors more a play, over blogger rants. But Mini did impact in the Thomas Paine ‘Common Senseish’ way about it, in that the ‘treasonish’ thoughts, became everyday discussions. Mini got beyond the faux cheerleading seen on most Microsoft blogs, and instead of just irrational hate, proposed solutions or at least made attempts. That’s my take.

    And well, from the “Marketing Evangelism” angle, the “good news” is punched in by the Symantec suit news-cycle heavy-hit today. No one will be talking about “MyMicrosoft” today, rather the fact that even the dead-loyal Symantec has seen fit to sue.

    Always a crisis, always a new wrinkle with Microsoft. Looks (externally) like a company in the slow process of implosion.

    PS – Actually I have always thought, Mini was a ‘team’, with a ‘her’ in command, just has that feel. But I dunno, good writing, can take on many personalities.

    PSS – No discussion of the Second Life lawsuit? Virtual property not mirroring real property. How soon before we see Second Life Mortgage brokers drinking the blood dry? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  26. The Second Life lawsuit is bogus, Christopher. It’s a case of one guy trying to scam the land auction system. There is no “news” there other than one user trying to manipulate the system for personal gain.

  27. The Second Life lawsuit is bogus, Christopher. It’s a case of one guy trying to scam the land auction system. There is no “news” there other than one user trying to manipulate the system for personal gain.

  28. Oh, so does this mean that I can leave my Windows machine (without a third-party firewall) running and online for more than 10 minutes without getting infected? Does this mean that I won’t have to fork over hundreds of dollars every few years to upgrade to the next version, with all the new consumer-rights-restricting features?

    Frankly, I don’t care if the company has better internal dynamics if they’re not going to produce a product that attracts me.

  29. Oh, so does this mean that I can leave my Windows machine (without a third-party firewall) running and online for more than 10 minutes without getting infected? Does this mean that I won’t have to fork over hundreds of dollars every few years to upgrade to the next version, with all the new consumer-rights-restricting features?

    Frankly, I don’t care if the company has better internal dynamics if they’re not going to produce a product that attracts me.

  30. It’s easy to see why SteveB loves developers; you dance a jig and give them a plaque and a coffee and they’re happy. Not like the partners who want stock and cash and performance independent mega bonuses.

    Let’s review; ratings are no longer stack ranked, but compensation is still strongly differentiated. So a manager can say nice things about everyone who works hard. However stock and bonuses and raises are still fixed pool, unrelated to how hard the group has worked to deliver.
    Most managers will do what they do today; write the review to match the stock award instead of write the review to match the stack ranking.

    As for the rest; bringing back towels and opening a convenience store on campus are nice gestures; at best they’re symbolic gestures to say we’re not totally indifferent to employee quality of life. To spin them as substantive is a bad sign about that pony waiting for you in the next room that they’re going to give you at review time.

  31. It’s easy to see why SteveB loves developers; you dance a jig and give them a plaque and a coffee and they’re happy. Not like the partners who want stock and cash and performance independent mega bonuses.

    Let’s review; ratings are no longer stack ranked, but compensation is still strongly differentiated. So a manager can say nice things about everyone who works hard. However stock and bonuses and raises are still fixed pool, unrelated to how hard the group has worked to deliver.
    Most managers will do what they do today; write the review to match the stock award instead of write the review to match the stack ranking.

    As for the rest; bringing back towels and opening a convenience store on campus are nice gestures; at best they’re symbolic gestures to say we’re not totally indifferent to employee quality of life. To spin them as substantive is a bad sign about that pony waiting for you in the next room that they’re going to give you at review time.

  32. >Why did the previous VP of HR do anything if mini was supposedly so influential?

    Mini only got influential in the past six months. He wasn’t even influential enough when we wrote our book to get noticed.

    The last HR guy didn’t last long, did he? Yes, there was a reason for that.

  33. >Why did the previous VP of HR do anything if mini was supposedly so influential?

    Mini only got influential in the past six months. He wasn’t even influential enough when we wrote our book to get noticed.

    The last HR guy didn’t last long, did he? Yes, there was a reason for that.

  34. By the way, my cell phone isn’t working.

    Ironic. I had a brief stint with a MS Smartphone, and found that was one of the main features, i.e. “not working”, finally went LG VX9800, mainly on account of the good 3GP/3G2 performance, coupled with the great audio speaker output (not exactly a ‘smartphone’ but then everyones needs are differing). And oh, unlike the hellish hair-pulling with Activesync, the LG VX9800 got my Outlook data via Bitpim, as easy as pie.

  35. By the way, my cell phone isn’t working.

    Ironic. I had a brief stint with a MS Smartphone, and found that was one of the main features, i.e. “not working”, finally went LG VX9800, mainly on account of the good 3GP/3G2 performance, coupled with the great audio speaker output (not exactly a ‘smartphone’ but then everyones needs are differing). And oh, unlike the hellish hair-pulling with Activesync, the LG VX9800 got my Outlook data via Bitpim, as easy as pie.

  36. Three hours from Livingston to Billings? You must drive slowly.

    I didn’t know they took the towels away but now that they’re back that changes everything.

    And LisaB is pure genius. To think she figured out it was all about the towels after only a *one year* “listening tour”. And I bet three months of that year was spent brainstorming the “My Microsoft” name. Give Lisa a 5.0, er… whatever it’s called now. Oh, I momentarily forgot the execs don’t have to go through that awful, nasty, icky review process anyway.

    MSFT down $0.27 to $22.56. It just doesn’t get any better than this folks.

  37. Three hours from Livingston to Billings? You must drive slowly.

    I didn’t know they took the towels away but now that they’re back that changes everything.

    And LisaB is pure genius. To think she figured out it was all about the towels after only a *one year* “listening tour”. And I bet three months of that year was spent brainstorming the “My Microsoft” name. Give Lisa a 5.0, er… whatever it’s called now. Oh, I momentarily forgot the execs don’t have to go through that awful, nasty, icky review process anyway.

    MSFT down $0.27 to $22.56. It just doesn’t get any better than this folks.

  38. @25. Still doesn’t address why he wasn’t able to effectuate change through the proper internal channels. I’d always been told Microsoft has an “open door policy”. So, the question remains… why did he have to rant externaly in order to supposedly be heard? Speaks volumes about MS management and the creedence they placed in the past in their employee polling. So maybe the former VP of HR couldnt’ keep it in his pants… doesn’t (the things you can find out about public officers) but does that mean the buck stopped there? If so, more reason to fire Ballmer.

  39. @25. Still doesn’t address why he wasn’t able to effectuate change through the proper internal channels. I’d always been told Microsoft has an “open door policy”. So, the question remains… why did he have to rant externaly in order to supposedly be heard? Speaks volumes about MS management and the creedence they placed in the past in their employee polling. So maybe the former VP of HR couldnt’ keep it in his pants… doesn’t (the things you can find out about public officers) but does that mean the buck stopped there? If so, more reason to fire Ballmer.

  40. dmad: one voice changing an organization of 60,000? Possible, but highly unlikely.

    But add that voice to public pressure and add in other voices where everyone can watch? And change happens much quicker.

  41. dmad: one voice changing an organization of 60,000? Possible, but highly unlikely.

    But add that voice to public pressure and add in other voices where everyone can watch? And change happens much quicker.

  42. @31. Actually, no it wasn’t one voice at MS if you believe the comments on mini’s blog were also fellow MS employees that felt the same way. I have to believe each one of those commenters from within MS also had managers that supposedly subscribed to this mythical “open door policy”. Are you telling me that MS has no method to capture internal feedback and take it up through the ranks. I know they do a yearly “survey”. Surely these opinions had to be coming through via this survey. Moreover, are you telling me that if MS management has an
    “open door” policy that there wouldn’t be consistent feedback coming from various groups within MS that were hearing the same things? The only thing this suggests is that MS middle management is incapable of effecuating change, an open door policy does not exist and that MS acted out of fear rather than compassion. Again, to believe that mini was the impetus for this change shows MS has more management problems than anyone could imagine. And is more indication that Ballmer and his team is completely out of touch.

    If all it takes blogging by disgruntled employees for companies to make changes, then those currently enrolled in any undergraduate or post-graduate organizational behavior major are wasting their money on anything they are being taught, and anyone that graduated in the field of organizational behavior should ask for their money back.

  43. @31. Actually, no it wasn’t one voice at MS if you believe the comments on mini’s blog were also fellow MS employees that felt the same way. I have to believe each one of those commenters from within MS also had managers that supposedly subscribed to this mythical “open door policy”. Are you telling me that MS has no method to capture internal feedback and take it up through the ranks. I know they do a yearly “survey”. Surely these opinions had to be coming through via this survey. Moreover, are you telling me that if MS management has an
    “open door” policy that there wouldn’t be consistent feedback coming from various groups within MS that were hearing the same things? The only thing this suggests is that MS middle management is incapable of effecuating change, an open door policy does not exist and that MS acted out of fear rather than compassion. Again, to believe that mini was the impetus for this change shows MS has more management problems than anyone could imagine. And is more indication that Ballmer and his team is completely out of touch.

    If all it takes blogging by disgruntled employees for companies to make changes, then those currently enrolled in any undergraduate or post-graduate organizational behavior major are wasting their money on anything they are being taught, and anyone that graduated in the field of organizational behavior should ask for their money back.

  44. “He wasnโ€™t even influential enough when we wrote our book to get noticed.”

    What arrogance and idiocy! Are you claiming that anyone not mentioned in your book isn’t influential? That if you aren’t aware of someone they aren’t influential?

  45. “He wasnโ€™t even influential enough when we wrote our book to get noticed.”

    What arrogance and idiocy! Are you claiming that anyone not mentioned in your book isn’t influential? That if you aren’t aware of someone they aren’t influential?

  46. “Now, let’s get back to work figuring out how to make our customers lives better.”

    Could you start by having a word with the Anti-Piracy marketing team? Ask them to stop send customers rocks in the mail.

  47. “Now, let’s get back to work figuring out how to make our customers lives better.”

    Could you start by having a word with the Anti-Piracy marketing team? Ask them to stop send customers rocks in the mail.

  48. Goebbels: a book has to pick and choose who to write about. It isn’t unlimited in its scope. We interviewed 188 businesses about how they were using blogging. Obviously there are more than 188 businesses blogging and there were about 30 million blogs at the time of writing the book.

    Yes, we picked the most interesting and influential businesses we could when we wrote the book. Mini wasn’t a business blog, anyway, he just affected business, and he didn’t do so until the past six months. (Our book was, for the most part, finished nine months ago).

  49. Goebbels: a book has to pick and choose who to write about. It isn’t unlimited in its scope. We interviewed 188 businesses about how they were using blogging. Obviously there are more than 188 businesses blogging and there were about 30 million blogs at the time of writing the book.

    Yes, we picked the most interesting and influential businesses we could when we wrote the book. Mini wasn’t a business blog, anyway, he just affected business, and he didn’t do so until the past six months. (Our book was, for the most part, finished nine months ago).

  50. “But, don’t miss the work that Steve Ballmer, the leadership team, and Lisa Brummel did here either.[…] Now, let’s get back to work figuring out how to make our customers lives better.”

    Steve Ballmer did what? Precisely what?

    Judging from various issues with Microsoft software I never knew existed until I had to look after a MS Windows 98 network, which later metamorphosed into a Windows XP network, “making our customers’ lives better” wasn’t high on the priority list.

    And all this talk about “firing Ballmer” reminds me of a joke I once heard about some industrialists visiting a factory in an authoritarian nation. They asked the interpreter about productivity figures, employment issues, and soforth. One of them asked, “What happens if an employee is consistently late, works at a substandard level, and shows no interest in his work?” The interpreter said, “He would be shot.” The industrialists exchanged shocked glances, but the tour had to continue. Half an hour later, after they had finished and were heading for their taxis, the interpreter hurried up to them. “I just had a look at the bilingual dictionary, and the word I should have used is ‘fired’, in relation to unsatisfactory employees – not ‘shot’!”

    As Terry Pratchett has said, “Give a man a match, and he’ll be warm for a moment; set him alight and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life!”

  51. “But, don’t miss the work that Steve Ballmer, the leadership team, and Lisa Brummel did here either.[…] Now, let’s get back to work figuring out how to make our customers lives better.”

    Steve Ballmer did what? Precisely what?

    Judging from various issues with Microsoft software I never knew existed until I had to look after a MS Windows 98 network, which later metamorphosed into a Windows XP network, “making our customers’ lives better” wasn’t high on the priority list.

    And all this talk about “firing Ballmer” reminds me of a joke I once heard about some industrialists visiting a factory in an authoritarian nation. They asked the interpreter about productivity figures, employment issues, and soforth. One of them asked, “What happens if an employee is consistently late, works at a substandard level, and shows no interest in his work?” The interpreter said, “He would be shot.” The industrialists exchanged shocked glances, but the tour had to continue. Half an hour later, after they had finished and were heading for their taxis, the interpreter hurried up to them. “I just had a look at the bilingual dictionary, and the word I should have used is ‘fired’, in relation to unsatisfactory employees – not ‘shot’!”

    As Terry Pratchett has said, “Give a man a match, and he’ll be warm for a moment; set him alight and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life!”

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