Microsoft: Competing on Talent (A)
In 1999, a front page Wall Street Journal article was attracting attention with a headline “As Microsoft Matures, Some Top Talent Chooses to Go off Line.” It was a question taken very seriously by Gates and Ballmer who understood that company’s enormous success was largely due to its ability to recruit, motivate, and retain extraordinary talent. This article explores the HR philosophies, policies, and practice in 1980s and examines how the policies were managed in 1990s. Microsoft through the 1990s
* Recruiting: Attracting the Best and Brightest
* Bill Gates preference: intelligent, not necessarily experienced, new college graduates, smarts, get things done. * Recruit from elite educational institutions, made visits to schools to search the most brilliant and driven students * An intense interview process, which interviewed by at least 3-10 employees * Microsoft’s tight control on headcount further reinforced the pressure, philosophy was “n–1” * Microsoft’s Work Environment: The Caffeine Culture
* Hard work environment, kept strange hours, consumed cases of Coke, and occasionally slept on the office floor * Comfortable work environment was recognized as being essential to morale and mental health * But some eventually became worn down by the demanding pace, and burnout was as continual concern * Gates keep alive the feeling of a small company by restructured the organizations into small units * Development through Stretch and Challenge
* Strong belief that such individuals were best developed through challenging and engaging work assignments * Limited educational and training, because primarily recruited technical experts some would not be effective managers * Development by horizontal transfers and personal mentoring * “Ladder levels” established to assist managers in recruiting developers and in offering salaries based on skill level * Review and Reward: The...
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