Monday, September 05, 2005

The real MSPoll

Microsoft has an annual employee poll, called the MSPoll, in which everybody is asked to rate how they feel about their work environment, their managers, the company strategy etc. Nobody is forced to take this [anonymous] poll, but everybody is strongly "encouraged" to do so by their managers [who can see how many of the people reporting to them have already filled out the survey], by dint of indirect methods like group emails to the effect of "Only 25% of you have filled out the poll; c'mon, please fill it out ..." or more direct approaches, like asking people point-blank whether they've filled out the survey yet [technically, not allowed, but still done].

Out of this poll comes a set of neat little numbers that purport to capture how employees are currently feeling; the theory is that managers will look at these numbers and then use them to make [positive] changes. In practice, I never saw the company-wide numbers really change -- efficiency of cross-group cooperation always got a poor rating, employee satisfaction tended to however around 70%, a substantial fraction of people didn't understand/agree with overall company strategy etc. So, from that perspective, I never saw much value in the poll.

However, the written comments actually were useful, because they represented individual voices behind the abstract numbers, and talked about what really bugged people. In that vein, I really hope that people at MS who can make a difference are reading what's being posted to Mini-Microsoft, especially the comments, thinking about how to address all the dissatisfaction being voiced there, and not just dismissing it as a few malcontents pissing and moaning. The reason I think the comments there are so valuable is because they're often not one-off comments, but an actual discussion thread, which is something you don't get out of the MSPoll comments.

Why do I care ? Because I still have a soft spot for the company, know that there are a bunch of really smart, dedicated people there and hope that it can go back to being the fun sort of place it was when I first worked there. Granted, the stock is never going to be what it used to be, but hopefully it can still be a place where the emphasis is on writing and, more importantly, shipping cool software, not all the bureaucracy and wheel-spinning that it seems to have devolved into.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alex, we are still all working at MSFT and loving the poll - your rigtht that the comments are always useful. :-)

PS. Someone heard your one hand clapping on the internet

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm filling it up right now :)

4:19 PM  

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