For all the talk of how Microsoft has changed under CEO Satya Nadella, it’s still a gigantic corporate behemoth, with all of the organizational baggage that carries.
It’s something that a developer named Robert Parks says he had to figure out the hard way.
The title of his blog post this week, entitled “Recruitment to Resignation: Four Months at Microsoft,” tells the whole story: Within just a few months, this talented programmer got completely lost in the system before getting placed with a nightmare boss.
It started when Parks entered the Microsoft New Employee Orientation, or “NEO.”
“Some Microsoft SWAG [sic], a few cheesy ice-breakers, a lengthy presentation about health insurance, a prerecorded message from Satya Nadella, some completely useless information about transportation, and then that was it,” Parks writes.
Completely new to the city and to Microsoft, Parks says he didn’t even know how to use the company’s shuttles to get around its massive campus.
Left to his own devices, all Parks had to work with was his new boss’ name and office number. But the new boss didn’t show up in an office directory. And when he finally found the office, with the help of a receptionist, it turns out the boss was on vacation.
Parks says he tried to stay busy and work with his team to make himself useful during the period the boss was gone, even though he didn’t have a clear goal or role set out for him.
A week and a half later, Parks finally had the chance to shake his manager’s hand.
Parks assumed that this would be followed by a formal welcome email, or an invitation to a sitdown. But it would be another two weeks before they actually had a one-on-one meeting. That meeting did not go according to plan.
“The first item on the meeting’s agenda was apparently to browbeat me for not communicating with him enough. It was a sentiment I couldn’t believe he could hold unironically considering the context, but somehow he did,” Parks writes.
The boss continued to criticise him, and then changed the topic before Parks could defend himself. This boss accused Parks of not fitting into the “Microsoft culture” and chided him for not taking initiative.
“I thought this was going to be a meeting where we’d get to know each other and talk about the project. Instead I found myself on the defensive, the recipient of a barrage of inane accusations. I left the meeting even more confused than I went into it,” Parks writes.
Just a few minutes later, the boss called him back into the office and asked Parks if he thought that team was good for him, he claims.
The rest of his experience with this manager over the next few months was equally bizarre, Parks says. This boss would constantly ride Parks for not asking enough questions, with seemingly no context.
“I’m not sure if he thought I had pressing questions that I was refraining from asking of if he just wanted me to make up random questions to ask him. Neither option made any sense,” Parks writes.
In general, Parks says this boss was rude and short with him, being passive aggressive and taking him to task for every mistake, real or imagined. When Parks lodged a complaint, the boss responded that he was a “driver” and “drives right over people.”
“It wasn’t an apology, but I guess it was as close as I was going to get,” Parks says.
Odder still, Parks says that other team members and new hires weren’t subject to this same treatment.
When Parks finally resigned, he says, it took two days for anybody to notice and the paperwork to get filed.
Parks has some advice for Microsoft to prevent this from happening again: First off, a better new hire orientation system that takes more employee feedback into account would have let him hit the ground running. Second, he says, Microsoft needs a way for employees to give feedback to their teams, or even choose a new one, besides their direct managers, since it’s a confict of interest.
It’s obvious that Parks had an extreme experience. And in a Reddit thread discussing his essay, Parks agrees that he could have done things a little differently.
But it’s equally obvious that despite all the new energy that Satya Nadella has brought to the company, change is slow to come at a company as big and old as Microsoft.
Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.
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