Microsoft has a busy year ahead of them, from new products to supporting old ones. A former Microsoft employee has written a list of things Microsoft should do in 2012. They all ring true. But, two of them really stuck out.
The first is about treating your employees right. This has been brought up to me from several Microsoft employees, and say that it is perhaps the #1 limiting factor at Microsoft. The scores that are under a quota. This limits your employees big time. You can lose some very talented people this way. It just doesn’t make sense, and you are not only losing talent, you are losing the respect of your employees. They will go on to be very successful at Google, Apple or other competitors.
Perhaps bigger than all the other things combined. Microsoft’s motto is ‘Your Potential, Our Passion’. They should apply this to their staff. There are lots and lots of great things about being a Microsoft employee, but the one thing that negates them all and that ruins the experience is the horrible review system, and the consequences of how it works. Like many things in Microsoft, it looks great on paper. Every employee is given a score from 1 to 5, with 1 being good. Your pay, bonus, stock grant, and career trajectory hinge on it.
Second, support your products. Yes, once they get past being successful in the marketplace, DON’T STOP! Keep marketing them, keep updating and supporting them. Don’t just drop them and shrink the team down to nil. Once you burn enough bridges, people will stop wanting to cross them. After the loss of the Kin phone, even the carriers were scared to take on another Microsoft phone – what about the consumers? The Zune? Don’t get me started on that one.
This goes beyond developer APIs of course. When Microsoft starts up something new, it’s done with full steam ahead gusto (Silverlight as a prime example), but once it’s launched, and once it’s successful, sustaining it doesn’t seem to be a priority. Hello IIS. Hello Zune. Hello *. Heck, I just read an article that MS may be stepping away from the ‘decision engine’ branding for Bing that it spent goodness knows how many dollars to get out there…