Microsoft - Missed opprotunities | Glassdoor
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Helpful (1)

"Missed opprotunities"

Star Star Star Star Star
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
  • Comp & Benefits
  • Senior Management
Current Employee - Senior Software Development Engineer in Redmond, WA
Current Employee - Senior Software Development Engineer in Redmond, WA
Doesn't Recommend
Neutral Outlook
No opinion of CEO

I have been working at Microsoft full-time (More than 10 years)

Pros

- Some businesses have great potential
- Challenging problems

Cons

- Company was positioned to own mobile, but mismanagement let Apple take it away
- Stack ranking encourages selfish employee competition rather than team success
- Benefits are declining: health/dental now have a 2.5k deductable

Advice to Management

- Don't miss gigantic business opportunities: e.g., mobile
- Change culture so employees focus on business success not their fiefdom

Other Employee Reviews for Microsoft

  1. Helpful (2)

    "Not the place it once was."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Principal Architect in Redmond, WA
    Former Employee - Principal Architect in Redmond, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Microsoft full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Opportunity to work with some amazing technologies and very smart people. Huge variety of work to choose from across a large organization. Life as a Senior engineer can be great with lots of interesting work and you can focus on engineering not meetings and politics. Lots of chances to interact with customers if you make time for it, even when its not part of your role. Microsoft has huge resources and can afford to invest heavily in research and development for the long term, there are only a few places you can work that are really able to do this. If you want to work on massive software projects that have a huge impact then Microsoft has a lot to offer.

    Lots of opportunities to take on new challenges and learn new things provided your manager is supportive and your group is growing. There are some great managers at Microsoft and they make all the difference. Find a good one and work for them, follow them around if need be. Life at Microsoft is far better when someone has your back, especially at review time.

    The salary and benefits package are still competitive but not as good as they were a few years back. Campus is being modernized and the working environment is good and getting better. For a large company the day-to-day work is pretty low friction in terms of needless rules, engineers have Admin access to their workstations etc.

    Cons

    Big variability in culture and working conditions between groups. Some parts of the company are great places to work run by people who respect their reports and coworkers. Where people are encouraged to work as a team and do their best work. Other groups are perpetual death marches run by self-serving management. It's very hard to see the difference until after being hired. Once hired you are stuck in that position for 12-16 months. This is long enough to get a poor review which will make it harder to move.

    Competitive culture encourages individuals to show themselves in the best light, even if it means making co-workers look bad or doing things that are not in the group or company's long term interests. The stack rank culture is engrained in the company, don't expect a different review system run by the same people who ran the old system to change things any time soon.

    Decisions are often driven by politics and personalities. At the Principal level politics becomes more important. If you are the sort of person who says what they think, even if it is likely to be unpopular this may be your downfall. Being subsequently shown to be right will not help. The end result can be a a lot of smart people collectively making seemingly dumb decisions and building the wrong things. The Peter principle applies and often the politically savvy get promoted for all the wrong reasons. You come across quite a lot of senior people who are clearly just waiting to vest their next stock grants.

    Over resourcing results in large teams and empire building. Often teams will vote to (re)build existing functionality "we built our own DB because (we thought) SQL Server didn't meet our needs". Lack of willingness to use open source and LCA's slow responses also promotes this problem. Sometimes this is due to valid IP taint issues but a lot of the time it's not. Smaller teams can often move faster because they are forced to make smarter decisions by their limited resources.

    In general Microsoft has been slow to adopt the latest engineering practices. There are good reasons for this on some of their largest products, like SQL and Windows, but in many other cases it is simply a case of "not invented here" and "we're Microsoft, we're different". The fight to get newer (agile) process and engineering practices adopted on several of my teams was a long and painful one. If you want to work on smaller projects using the latest practices then choose your team carefully.

    Advice to Management

    Ditch the old culture, it is no longer attracting the best people and in today's (hot) job market new hires and current employees have a lot of other options. There's a noticeable exodus to other employers (management knows this but do not seem to stem the tide). Overall the company is very inward looking, most employees have a very skewed view of the rest of the technology landscape. This skewed vision drives product decisions and fails to delight customers.

    Decide on the company's direction and stick with it. Stop trying to be in every market segment.


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Incredibly smart people poisoned by back stabbing review system"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - User Experience Designer II in Redmond, WA
    Former Employee - User Experience Designer II in Redmond, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Microsoft full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Decent pay and very good benefits (great health insurance, discount gym membership, free bus pass, showers/locker rooms and locked bike storage, etc.)
    Flexible hours - just get your work done on time and meet deadlines
    Informal culture
    Tons of different projects and teams
    Free internal training programs, many of which are quite good
    Largest privately held free-communing/shuttle system in the country (MS Connector)
    Incredibly smart, driven people - not a lot of "dead weight" here

    Cons

    Review system pits colleagues against each other for promotions, pay raises, bonuses and stock awards. If you aren't moving up, you're moving out. Collaboration is encouraged, but absolutely not rewarded due to the review system. I know they have recently stopped the stack ranking process, but the culture around it has been in place for decades and will not be easy to change.

    Also, because of this culture of "me first", and a history/culture centered on technology/code to solve problems, Microsoft doesn't really care or know how to care about its customers. They have top-notch researchers with PhDs who don't know how and don't have the time to conduct proper user research. The few that do aren't valued. As a result, the focus is on features, code and getting promotions, not understanding real-world customer needs and collaborating as a team to solve them. I found this frustrating and prevented me from getting excited about the projects on which I worked because I knew they weren't going to really help solve the users' problems.

    Advice to Management

    Interestingly, management seems to know that they have a cultural problem and they want to change it, they just aren't sure how. This is at least a promising sign that Microsoft has the potential to turn itself around and realize its full potential. My advice would be to focus on understanding customers' needs and wants. Invest in user research, specifically ethnography and social anthropology studies, not surveys, site visits and usability studies (although they have their place as well). Next, do whatever it takes to build a culture that rewards collaboration rather than stifling it. I truly wish you all the best of luck. If Microsoft can address these two issues, I believe their potential will be amazing. Time will tell if Satya Nadella can get his management teams to make these changes a reality.

There are newer employer reviews for Microsoft
There are newer employer reviews for Microsoft

See Most Recent

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