Microsoft’s Reorganization and What Does It Means for You

Steve BallmerMicrosoft recently announced a reorganization and Steve Ballmer officially said he’s not planning any layoffs. Yeah right. Anyone who has any experience working for large corporations would know better. Taking Mr Ballmer’s own words, some people will get “remapped” – which is another term for forcibly moved out from a job you’re already good at Inevitably a good number of people will be unhappy of their newly-mapped positions and thus need to seek better opportunities from outside. From the higher ups – like what happened to Steven Sinofsky – and probably down to the janitors.

What’s worse is the reorganization will be a lengthy process – where some groups are expected to ship key products just before upper management. “Some will start sooner, some of these things won’t occur until after we’ve shipped key products,” said Ballmer. This leaves plenty of time for politicking and power struggle to occur within those groups.

Then what does all this mean for you? The reorganization could be a blessing for the most part. Here’s why.

If you’re looking for people, this could be your chance to snatch an ex-Microsoft engineer. Like many other re-orgs, there will be people who were made redundant or simply unhappy from the change. The mutually-destructive nature of classic Microsoft’s organization style that may still remain and will have a preference of the fire-then-hire approach (that is the preference of firing people first instead of finding them another job within the company and then let that other division hire their own people that they need – an approach taken by a company that I knew).

Keep in mind that these former Microsoft people had pretty good salaries and will probably looking for jobs at similar pay levels. If you’re a middle manager or recruiter for a MegaCorp, money shouldn’t be much of an issue as your company is already paying people at Microsoft’s levels. But if you’re a scrappy startup then you’ll need to look for other ways to entice these talents besides money, things that large corporations can’t possibly provide.

Likewise these super-talented ex-Microsoft engineers may display other pretty-good qualified people that you can also go after. These 2nd order people are those who were considered for a position but didn’t get the job because they hired an ex-Microsoft person instead. Chances are they’re almost as good as the Microsoftie who displaced them but has far lower salary expectations.

If you’re working at a company that’s structured similarly to Microsoft’s old structure, watch out. There’s a good chance that your upper management gets “inspired” to make a similar change. Remember the “herd” mentality and managers are known to be more prone of this. A simple way to check whether your management has the herd mentality is how buzzwords-compliant are they – the more they are then the more likely they tend to follow these “big guys” and try to mimic their actions.

If you work at Microsoft but haven’t got the boot yet, just be vigilant. Time to pile up some cash to weather the storm, brush up your résumé and brace for impact. Having a few month’s worth of living cost in the bank will be even more useful than ever. You might also want to clear up your desk and take home your personal stuff just in case. If you are made redundant, it’ll be a swift notice and you won’t have time to clear your belongings.

If you worked at Microsoft and just made redundant, cheer up. I know how you feel as I was in a similar situation myself. You can take some time off for yourself or with your family, or work on that abandoned side project of yours. Keep calm and move on.

If you’re looking to build a venture-backed startup, it’s probably a good time to dust off that old business plan of yours and start pitching. The influx of former Microsoft people or their 2nd order should jump-start your company. Who knows you probably can get some of them to be a co-founder or even investor. This applies not only to Redmond area but just anywhere where Microsoft “released” a significant amount of their talent – it’s a global company after all.

Stay sharp, be safe.

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