Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Why Enterprise IT needs to emulate Microsoft hiring practices

Microsoft is repeatedly voted one of the top places to work in America...

Nick Malik shared some insight on what makes Microsoft a great place to work...

a) benefits are great. More important than paid family leave and all the free soda pop: the best health insurance plan in the USA. Dead serious. Add in things like support for adoption, matching 401(k), Stock bonuses, and employee morale budgets, and you can see why people like to be here.

b) money means nothing if your boss is an idiot (I am blessed with a wonderful boss and it can only go downhill from here). At MS, every manager gets an automatic, anonymous, 360-degree review by their staff, their peers, and their manager, as part of an annual survey process called MSPoll. Senior managers are reviewed on the basis of how well the managers under them are respected and valued by the men and women who write the code, sell the products, and answer the phones. Managers get training, support, and mentoring in leadership. We all know who our leaders are. Accountability is built-in.

c) One of best, most experienced, and most effective executive leaders is the Vice President of Human Resources. She (Lisa Brummel) is smart, decisive, and in control. She is a respected and full member of executive staff. HR matters in Microsoft, and that means that employees know that their voices will be heard.

d) No strategy statement, from the top line to the individual managers, is considered complete without strategies for insuring that the people are looked out for. You cannot talk about improving efficiency or increasing sales without also talking about improving training, increasing readiness, and maintaining morale. Once again... it's cultural.

They say that "the fish stinks from the head down" and if you want to find the source of a cultural problem, look at the founders. But the inverse is true, too. The virtues of a founder can become a core part of a company.

Bill Gates is the product of a strong pair of parents. His mother ran the United Way in Seattle for decades, and believed strongly in charity, giving, and social responsibility. Now that Bill is retiring, look at what he has moved on to. He is feeding people, providing needed medicine, and insuring that libraries, schools, and communities around the world are prepared for the challenges of an overpopulated world.

In this case, Microsoft is a beneficiary of that fundamental belief in human potential. Where else would we go to be more respected, more valued, and more able to make a positive contribution to the world? Certainly not most enterprises...

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