What do I like about working for Microsoft? Many people have different experiences working for different companies, or even different parts of this one; so not all will agree. But my personal experience here has been one of un-paralleled joy. I finally feel like I’m working with and for people who “get it”… who know that a company will succeed if it has the best people, and is willing to let these people stretch and succeed in areas that may not necessarily be their main role.
In past jobs, I’ve experienced both bad and good; sometimes at the same place, depending on who was in charge, or more often, what the current economic situation was at the time. At the small subsidiary of NCR where I started as a developer, it was four years surrounded by fear and CYA. I survived two large layoffs before me and 200 of my close friends were all “let go”. Then at little JobBOSS Software, Inc, when it was JobBOSS-the-small-independently-owned company, it was WONDERFUL. We were truly in charge of our own destiny. But then it grew, was sold, and then sold again, becoming too political and stressful… and admittedly, much of the stress and corporate angst comes from the economic climate during those times; not really the fault of any one executive. Not every manager was an a**hole. <grin> And, sincerely, I never worked for one that I didn’t like or didn’t respect. They are all good people.
So now, when I read this InfoWorld article about how Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, plainly states that he values letting engineers have time to just work on whatever they want… well, obviously, he “gets it”, too. It struck a chord with me. Here’s my opinion: The company – any company – that fosters and encourages that level of trust and nurturing to the very smart people they employ, and is able to maintain that culture throughout their organization, is going to succeed in a big way. This has now made it all the more obvious why Google is doing so many things right.
And what does that mean for Microsoft.. or anyone competing with Google in some way?
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
…or should we really? Do we at Microsoft have to be? Maybe not. Does the fact that I and so many other employees have the approval (and even the encouragement) to say whatever the heck we want (within reason) on our company-hosted blogs somehow imply or infer that perhaps we also give our employees the same freedom in the ways that Google values? If I learn of some corporate policy or stand that I strongly disagree with, and in this blog call Steve Balmer an a**hole, will I be fired, or merely Scobleized?
(Honesly, I would expect to be reprimanded. I don’t think anything warrants that kind of disrespect to anyone, ever. But in Robert’s case, it sure did have an amazing impact.)
So from my somewhat limited, less-than-two-years-here perspective, I’m happy to report that every one my 7 superiors from Steve Balmer on down, also “get it”.