Monday, June 26, 2006

My Microsoft

(forgive the time between posts, this seemed so easy before I started)

So I was initially very excited about the announcements from Lisa B (we were talking in my group of having everyone come to the office in shorts and Izods with the collars up). The good stuff:
  • No forced curve for Merit (renamed commitment rating)
  • Little goodies (like better food, coffee, dry cleaning service, groceries to go, later hours for certain cafes)
  • Increased investment in golden handcuffs for the little people (including me :) with more stock.
  • Towels are coming back! (more of a moral victory than real meat in my simple mind, I have a gym bag that I can put a towel in, just like my sweaty shorts I clean at home)
  • No more game of hide and seek with office supplies (can you believe a Fortune 500 company would actually do something crazy like invert Staple's Easy button with a Hard button on office supplies?!!)
  • Increased discount on daycare rather than having MS Daycares (crazy to even consider MS getting into this business as a benefit to employee!)
  • Increased tuition assistance.
  • Office space!!! Well, sorta, just changing the target from 97% occupancy to 92%. Not sure who says we are at 97% today. When you walk the halls of BillG's building (other than his floor) there is a lot of doubling still. In my math that's over 100%. Maybe building 7 does exist but no one knows where it is so its empty?
  • CSP investment (Career Stage Profiles) and tools.
  • Manager-gotta-earn-it-ness. Not entirely convinced we got this right this time around (1 commitment for managers around managing? been doing that since '99), but talking about it and investing in it (heard about the Manager Excellence summit, its a big 'un).

The bad stuff:

  • No catch up on compensation compression. Would require discipline and control to make sure its not a free-for-all, but should be doable.
  • Was a lot more ho-hum reception across my team than I would have expected.
  • Still a forced curve for Stock (Contribution rating)

The brilliant stuff:

  • Greater transparency. Did you know about Gold Star bonus? Did u know about its three forms? You can now.
  • Greater transparency. Do you want to know what a L67 gets for stock awards, bonus percentage, etc? You can now.
  • Greater transparency. Do you know what your stock score is (contribution rating)? You will this year.
  • Greater transparency. Do you know what your boss, or your peer, or your VP's commitments are? You will this year.
Now that I have had time to digest it and work thru calibration exercises with my team, I am still happier than the day before these changes. There is stuff here I can sell to new people I interview. I love talking about the CSP's we have and are continuing to build out as they should help people clearly understand their career opportunities and hold their management accountable to career growth. I am hopeful for longer term growth and excellence for top talent. I am still holding out hope on fixing the compression issue, even if only thru my own team and management change.

The key thing for me in these changes is the move to greater transparency of decisions and rewards, and hopefully accountabilities. Even if we aren't doing everything right here, the transparency makes it an open discussion on fixing it, and that's something I want in the Next Microsoft.