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Microsoft employees have been complaining about the company’s bureaucracy and management for years.But few have explained Microsoft’s problems as publicly and eloquently as Hamilton Verissimo did in an email interview with ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley earlier today. Verissimo joined the company in 2008 and worked in the group that makes developer tools.
He quit last week, and painted an ugly picture of a “toxic environment” in his email interview with Foley:
- Gross inefficiency. “It’s a very inefficient company, with very little or nothing being done to make it better. MS has small windows of actual product development (new code being written) followed by long period of stabilisation.”
- Managers push busywork. “For PMs [program managers], like me, some manager pushes idiot time consuming exercises like scenario validation…two months to produce collateral that is bound to be useless in six months, since everything is likely to change.”
- Lots of talk, little coordination. “Since MS has a performance review system that values ‘individual’ contributions over team work, everybody want to make impact on everything. Another way to read it is that everybody wants to voice opinions and suggestions and drive them to execution, which commonly lead to mutually exclusive ideas….That leads to dysfunctional products….One thing that really frustrated me was that those random suggestions come from intuition, instead of actual scenarios/facts/data, and commonly show how disconnected MS employees are from the real world.
He also says he could only imagine staying at the company if Steve Ballmer and HR head Lisa Brummel had resigned.
Every product group is managed differently, and disgruntled employees obviously don’t represent the only version of the truth. But these complaints — bureaucracy, poor middle management, and lack of coordination — come up all the time from current and former employees, which makes the interview worth reading.