Thursday, July 17, 2014

18,000 Microsoft Jobs Gone... Eventually?

1. Cut Once.

2. Cut Deeply.

And might I humbly add:
3. Cut Quickly.

As of this morning, we're looking to cut 18,000 Microsoft positions including around half of the Nokia destruction-palooza orchestrated by Mr. Elop and Mr. Ballmer.

How does this affect all of Microsoft? Redmond? That's a bit unknown. Just looking at the State of Washington WARN site, I don't see a notification from Microsoft yet: .

And that concerns me because now you have a level of stress and anxiety at Microsoft. First, the selfish stress about whether my job is affected. Then personal circle stress. Then partner collaboration stress. Then way out there general concerns about the company. And guess what: when folks are stressed and gossiping, they are not effectively - er, excuse me, productively (?) - implementing the latest strategy. Physiologically, they have increased cortisol and this time will turn into a fog.

That's why I hope that Cut Quickly happens. Without it, we're back to our first layoff experience. If anything broke the back of this blog, it was the first big Microsoft layoff back in 2009. How? How could the realization of a step towards Mini-Microsoft do that? Because it was implemented so poorly, with constant worries and concerns and doubts about engaging in new ideas due to expectations those would be the easiest to trim during ongoing cut-backs. When was it over? When was the "all clear" signal given?

So if this truly drags on for a year: we need a new leader. This needs to be wrapped up by the end of July. 2014.

One last small comment: yeah, everyone loves to flatten, including me. But to truly flatten engineering at Microsoft we need to decide that people management is actually a well invested career path. Most developers I know that become Leads are invariably harmless as a manager but spend most of their time deeply technical because they know that's where the rewards are. For the others that I know that have embraced becoming a people manager and have excelled there: well, if they get flattened into an Individual Contributor then they might as well leave Microsoft. Bless their hearts, but if they had to reconstitute their Dev skills to match the career ladder level they climbed to as a leader, they are sorely out of luck. I'll be honest with them. I hope all the other leaders out there are just as honest.


Thoughts? Are you affected? The one bit of advice I can pass on from the previous round of layoffs: don't leave any HR 1:1 meeting without being absolutely satisfied you know everything you need to know and have everything to move forward. Because once you're out the door, for all the assurances you're going to get, it's super-hard to make a connection for more information and follow-up.

Now, excuse me, I'm sure I'll have a busy morning. And like all of you, I'm keeping an eye out for a sudden HR Generalist meeting that pops up on my calendar... until I hear the All Clear.