You don’t need a publicist

If you are a Microsoft engineer, you are receiving your annual rewards around now. You might be wondering why you didn’t get the promotion you sought or why someone else did. If you ask your manager why, she’ll provide insightful feedback and might name several reasons. Among the most common and misunderstood reasons is that…

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Life and layoffs

Eric Aside All opinions expressed in this column (and every Hard Code column) are my own and do not represent Microsoft in any official or unofficial capacity. Life and layoffs  Layoffs are a very sensitive subject. After all, they can have a dramatic impact on many people’s lives all on the same day. Even so,…

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Solving the whole problem

 The time is nearing for annual reward People Discussions. Time for employees and their managers to review Connects from the past year and assess results achieved by individual effort, contributing to other people’s results, and utilizing what others have done. It’s also a time to consider promotions. While any promotion is significant, promotions to the…

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It’s not going to be okay

Eric Aside This month I cover a touchy subject—getting a 4 or 5 review rating. Please know that all opinions expressed in this column (and every Hard Code column) are my own and do not represent Microsoft in any official or unofficial capacity. Also know that plenty of employees improve their review ratings by 2…

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Permanently high plateau

 A friend asked me recently about one of his reports. He had a few concerns going into annual review calibration. His employee was a smart, strong, consistent contributor, well beyond entry level and independence (see Level up for reference), but he had plateaued. My friend was concerned that his employee didn’t recognize he had plateaued,…

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A change would do you good

 Few Microsoft engineers change positions between mid-May and mid-August—they don’t want a role change to adversely impact their annual performance ratings, which lock around mid-August. Of course, managers shouldn’t allow position changes to unduly impact ratings. Then again, eating a taco from a roadside stand should not result in dysentery, but sometimes it does. Once…

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Individual leadership

 Want to create a noxious gas? Combine ambitious yet clueless engineers, a flat functional organizational structure, and the upcoming midyear career discussions. Soon toxic fumes will emanate from individual contributors (ICs) in response to impotent explanations of upward mobility by overwhelmed managers. Why the wanton whining from wishful workers? Because the technical leadership path is…

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Making the big time

 Review time is almost over. Maybe you got promoted. Maybe your head is filled with thoughts of making it to the big time—calling the shots, getting paid, and having everyone hang on your every word. For entry and independent ICs, that means being a senior or principal engineer (manager or architect). For senior ICs and…

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Level up

 If you’re not a Microsoft® engineer and you’re not interested in finding a new reason to bash Microsoft, save yourself some time and skip this column. If you want to know how to build your skills and systematically grow your career as an engineer at Microsoft, read on. I’ve been managing Microsoft engineers for nearly…

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The new guy

 “Hey, you’re the new guy!” Marvelous. You’ve transformed from a useful, relevant, sought-after authority to a roadside attraction. Whoever you were before, whatever value you used to embody, whatever accomplishments you might have achieved, now amount to nothing more than marketing hype. Your new co-workers may be outwardly curious and pleasant, but inside they are…

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