(WebHost Blog) I am not sure how many have been reading the Microsoft Confessions at Beta News, but they have been quite interesting. As a quick synopsis, Joe Wilcox at Beta News talked to some people who were layed off from Microsoft and the stories were interesting. Judging from the comments I can tell that a lot of people are missing the point of the articles.
First off we can assume that Wilcox, as a reporter, talked to people who were not harboring angry feelings of loss, remorse, and bitterness (we can tell this from the stories themselves as well, I have seen bitter layoffs and these people are nothing like it). However, the point we get from the stories doesn’t really hinge on emotional distress anyway. They could be bitter, they could be relieved, either way doesn’t really matter to the point.
The bulk of the comments though have been focused on this non-issue. They have said things such as who cares they are bitter employees or this is how all large businesses are deal with it, or this is a waste of time because of a or b. And again not the point.
Anyone who has ever worked in a large organization knows a lot of these stories are in fact common place. How many people have been screwed over by mismanagement, failed deadlines due to too many chiefs, badgering by several bosses, etc.? Fact of the matter is, this is the sort of business culture that is normally considered typical of large enterprises (which really depends on the industry and the management in place and etc.).
Now the point, all five stories sing the same refrain. Essentially, what we have is a business whose overall culture changed as the company matured. Microsoft became larger, a little slower, grew a gut (middle management.. yes pun intended), and slowly the small, agile, culture of the SMB mindset vanished.
There is a wrong and a right way to change the atmosphere, the working environment of a business. Judging from the articles, I think it is safe to assume that instead of an actual focused change, Microsoft just sort of drifted to its current state. A few of the articles say the company doubled in size since they were working there so I think the next assumption is that the new employees brought with them a piece from their previous employment.
A company’s culture is more than just the social norms of a business. It is its work ethic. It determines practices, protocols, how a business solves problems, etc. It is the framework from which everything that runs within a company is based off of. It is up to management to ensure new employees become integrated into this system.
There are times when the culture needs to change such as when integrating new systems or tools, switching to a new focus, branching out into new products, making up for company weaknesses, etc. Changing the culture of a company is a delicate matter and requires a sound plan and it also helps to let your employees know why you are doing it.
For my own subjective commentary on Microsoft, I don’t think the change was a part of a focused plan, it just sort of happened. And honestly I think Microsoft is trying to do way too much. They have been trying to chase after Apple and Google with relatively little success. They have been increasing their product line and the number of employees to find a means to win in all these different categories and in doing so has greatly affected the quality of their products. With the great influx of employees they have watered down their own corporate identity and its now biting them in the bum. They traded up the business culture of a market leader and innovator for those of a company who is trying to play catch-up to their betters.
The lesson found in these Microsoft stories is a simple one. A company’s business culture is important to the success of the company. If change is needed then do so in an organized and focused fashion, allowing old and new employees the chance to gradually make the switch. Do not let the business culture get watered down, nor should you just leave its fate to chance.
About David Dunlap
Over the past ten years David has been a prolific author of hundreds of blogs, commentaries and reviews found here on WebHostBlog.com, as well as WebHostMagazine.com and other sites around the Internet. David manages the daily operations at both WebHostBlog and Web Host Magazine & Buyer’s Guide, and as the head editor, David uses his unique analytical skills to ensure that both sites maintain their integrity and tough, but fair minded, reputations. Prior to his active career analyzing the Web Host industry, David specialized in networking and communications for the U.S. government. David’s expertise in traditional and search engine marketing has helped boost companies both inside and outside of the Web Host industry.