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(May 24, 2006)  Given the widely publicized internal moves at Microsoft (including bringing back the towels), it will be a surprise if you are not at least a little aware of the following news:

Along with the new perks, Microsoft said it was rejiggering its compensation and evaluation system. The moves were widely seen as efforts to improve morale and keep up with competitors such as Google Inc. who also offer enticing benefits. Microsoft executives have said that one key to battling companies such as Google effectively is being able to get - and keep - talented workers. (BusinessWeek)

The trouble at Microsoft involves growing pains. The once entrepreneurial high risk tech stock is now a moderate performing retirement portfolio standard. The older workers (over 35) who were part of the company's meteoric rise are having a hard time managing the new crop of younger workers.

The hard work/hard play culture made sense when everyone had a shot at riches. The older crowd lived through an era that brought wealth as a perk. It was well worth it to put in long, dedicated hours for the company. These days, it's just a place to work.

As noted in the Business Week article, Microsoft is figuring out that talent is a key competitive variable, Unfortunately, talent gets money and the culture survived for years on offsets from a high rising stock and its options. As a middle aged firm, Microsoft is going to have to do something better than overcompensating brute force. You have to be young and recently stock rich like Google to play that game.

Microsoft is a mature company facing competitive talent pressures from younger and more agile bedmates. Going back to the old approaches isn't going to work. The Microsoft contractor work force is being squeezed at the same time the W2 crowd is getting a little attention.

Tensions in the workplace between the enfranchised and the disenfranchised will continue to mount. The union organizers who have been targeting Microsoft are rubbing their hands in gleeful anticipation. The older managers who think that everyone should work for the good of the company have not been retrained.

Whether or not Microsoft wins in its various competitions with Google, the game has changed. While we're going to enjoy watching the middle aged guy compete with the fraternity brothers, the outcome of that game is inevitable. Meanwhile, Microsoft's real future is in the management and development of the real workforce with its real problems.

If you look closely at the quote from business week, Microsoft says that talent is "one" of the keys to success. They'll have figured out their destiny when they understand that it is the only key to success.

Right now, things don't look so hot.

List of Microsoft Bloggers (current and former employees)

We've been researching and updating the blogroll. It currently contains 131 listings. The most interesting recent discovery is Advanced Online Recruiting Techniques, a down and dirty, nuts and bolts technique blog for sourcers. Well worth dipping into.

 John Sumser . - .  Permalink . - . Today's Bugler

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