10 Reasons Not To Work For Microsoft

If it isn’t already painfully obvious, I’m not coy about my opinions regarding my ex-employer, Microsoft. Since I have already written a post listing 5 reasons to work for Microsoft, why not point out some reasons to avoid them as well? After all, even they have to admit that they aren’t for everyone.

Ambition
If you are hellbent on changing the world, challenging yourself and those around you to be the best, or simply want more than a Prius and a paycheck, this is not the place for you. Ambition and perfectionism are often mistaken for being too pushy or too aggressive, while passivity and insouciance seems to be the preferred mindset. As stated in a previous article, if you go too hard, you run the risk of being labeled anything from audacious to a pariah while also running the risk of alienating people to the point of being pushed out. It goes without saying, if you got that fire, being put in a box can have dire consequences.

Mismanagement
A management title at Microsoft is often proof that they have a well-established track record for accepting everything for the way it is. Managers are the harbingers of the status quo and their response to nearly every problem that you bring to them is seemingly to deflect it with the magic words of “this is a big ship to steer”, often without realizing that no one that works on big ships says this when faced with obstacles; they just steer the fucking ship. If you don’t want to spin in circles while having to impress unimpressive surrender monkeys for a living, then you might want to avoid Microsoft.

Performance Reviews
Their reviews are anywhere from subjective to ambiguous and you will likely be spread so thin that your only hope for a good review is to bend the knee and do what you’re told. When you’re spread thin with ambiguous commitments, your managers can pick and choose which statistics carry the most weight in your review. Your manager can make you look good or bad depending on which statistics they want to use and your relationship with them determines which statistics that they choose to measure you with. I have yet to hear of anyone getting a good review while being hated by their manager, no matter how much of an objective and positive impact they have made.

Mental Health

Locked rooftop after hours on Lincoln Tower in Bellevue, WA

The mind of a perfectionist is always in pain and if you’re a high functioning person that loves technology, having your passions and abilities impeded while having to settle for the status quo and ambiguous goals can be incredibly depressing. This can often lead to self-medication through various means and compensating with drinking, smoking, drugs, and comfort eating which are all rampant at Microsoft. It is common for people to start packing on the pounds after starting at Microsoft, much like their employees packing the bars around campus after 5PM. They even lock the rooftops at night and didn’t seem to do this until we had someone jump off the roof. Get a good therapist.

Tenureocracy
Keeping your head down and towing the company line tends to get you much further than any real skill or ability. Employees are seldom allowed to stay in their own lane or grow at their own rate while often being impeded by seniority and complacency instead; especially when promotions are at stake. It’s not a coincidence that management and executive leadership has been there the longest while often being the most detached and least ambitious in the room. Your best hope for any real advancement is to do the millennial hustle internally and move on as you outgrow your current team. Meritocracy = Nope and this is how Good Ol’ Boys clubs tend to operate.

Good Ol’ Boys Club

Microsoft puts on a good show about diversity, values and ethics, but they don’t even seem to screen people for these ethics or values prior to hiring them; I sure wasn’t. In fact, their recruiters seem to act more like sorority girls that are trying to attract new pledges than humans, but you don’t have take my word for it. Further and since they are so horrible at hiring ethical people, they have to force all of their employees to watch “Role Guides” that cover obvious things like not being racist, sexist, dishonest, and to not act on inside information in order to compensate for their poor hiring and firing practices.

Human Resources

HR acts like one big sorority that seems to be working at the beckon call of resident Good ol’ Boys club like Stepford Wives while also functioning as a propaganda machine that churns out cherry picked statistics to give the illusion of inclusion, diversity, growth mindset, and feminism. Further and if you bring problems to HR’s attention that shine your management in a bad light, then they may even try to twist it around as if it is your problem while pressuring you to take disability or quit instead. My experience isn’t an outlier either, it is the standard. After all, what’s a Good Ol’ Boys club without a Good lil’ Girls club to scratch their back and run damage control for them? Why else do you think that their internal team only finds 10% of harassment and anti-diversity claims made by women, all highly educated I might add, to have merit.

Class Systems

From their age, level of education and job title, not all employees are treated equally and the pay, offices, and even the hardware available to developers, support and operational staff seem to vary wildly. Support and operations were often kept in humped out cubicles in remote offices, dev, sales etc had prime real estate. While in CSS, where we cleaned up the mess that our developers often created, we couldn’t even engage developers directly unless we were spoken to first. It was hard to feel valued as an equal while working there, especially when they’re working above a Neiman Marcus.

Embarrassment
As of late and even for the most Windows Phone advocating, sandal sock wearing, kool-aid drinking zealots working for Microsoft can often be a face-palming experience. From resorting to having to distribute Windows 10 like malware, their laughable Surface products, and dropping almost 30 billion dollars on LinkedIn, watching them try to innovate or buy innovation reminded me of the parents from Footloose trying to breakdance. They have been a venerable write-down combinator for years and it would be difficult to make worse acquisitions or strategic decisions than they have without actually trying to. Even though they’re called “Microsoft”, they have found a ways to repeatedly trip over their own dick; it’s facepalm o’ clock all day. Needless to say, it can be difficult to be proud of your work outside of your paycheck at Microsoft.

Leadership

Satya is boxed up by so much plausible deniability that he cannot even check his own email. Functionally, he is little more than an ineffectual and socially awkward figurehead. No one can seem to name a thing that he’s accomplished prior to taking on the CEO role at Microsoft and even his wikipedia page doesn’t seem to define his accomplishments outside of the positions he’s held. He seems to be nothing more than Manchurian candidate or a vendor for the status quo while functioning as lipstick on a pig.

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