Apparently I’ve been promoted by mistake all these years


A few years ago, this posting on the secret to getting promoted caught my eye.

After several years at Microsoft, I had an epiphany today. I came to the realization that the best way, rather the only way -- to get promoted is to demonstrate the ability to hire and retain top talent. Other factors do go a long way but without the ability to hire, you are going to reach your glass ceiling sooner than you think.

I have done absolutely nothing to demonstrate this ability, and if I managed to hire or retain anybody, it was purely by accident and for that I apologize.

As far as I'm aware, I've never done anything listed in the article as "the only way" to get promoted. I must have been promoted by mistake. (And I suspect Mini-Microsoft might have a thing or two to say to the claim that the only way to get a promotion at Microsoft is to hire, hire, hire.)

Yes, I know that the phrase "the only way" was written for rhetorical effect and is not to be taken literally. I'm making a joke, people!

And as it so happens, I also took the text out of context. The target audience for the remarks was senior management, not dorky programmer types like me. So, strike two.

Aftermath: After reading this entry in my "upcoming entries" blog queue accessible only to Microsoft employees, a fellow employee emailed me to say that this Web site was a factor in deciding to come to Microsoft, so my claim that I have done absolutely nothing is incorrect. I wrote back, "Well, maybe so, but it's also the case that I haven't been promoted since you were hired."

The response: "I guess I must not be top talent."

Comments (7)
  1. Ian says:

    It seems that empire-building is suddenly a good thing.

    "You will also prove to your boss that you can easily be moved into another role" – Maybe that is desirable if you don’t like your current job…

    I just can’t get into the mindset of people who think like this. I want to take what I do to as high a level as I can. I can’t do that if I keep changing jobs or spend my time coordinating a lot of other people to do my work for me.

  2. Ryan says:

    It’s simple. You look at your job as doing a task (Writing code, designng features, whatever). So do the other people. They’ve just defined the task as "Get promoted." Everything they do is in support of their primary task. Anything that doesn’t support it doesn’t get done.

    Don’t ever assume the people around you share your goals.

  3. Here’s some classic Raymond Chen: "Apparently I’ve been promoted by mistake all these years".

  4. pingpong says:

    Your quote fits nicely into recent comments on minimsft blog regarding Indian empire-building at MS.

  5. MiniGo says:

    Raymond, the fact that you are not a higher level is a key reason I left Microsoft. No joke.

    I’ve personally seen your work, you are not just a blogging wind bag who looks good on paper. Any team would kill to have someone of your knowledge, skills, work ethic and clarity in communication.

    I’ll admit this kind of GAL analysis is faulty, you probably have been rewarded far past any given title from options and otherwise. And I’m not actually a great fan of some of your humor posted internally.

    But in the end if a programming demigod as yourself doesn’t get a higher technical rank just because you make things work and people smarter rather than building an architectural folly as some others have been richly rewarded for, well I don’t want to be there because such a company does not reward (anymore) work that I respect. That fact that you stay is apparently a quirk of your personality as you know you could leave at any moment.

    Sorry if this is too direct, but you have had a huge influence internally as well as externally, I hope you feel richly rewarded and not just a cog in the machine, because a cog you are not.

  6. Yuhong Bao says:

    >”upcoming entries” blog queue

    I wish I could access this queue before suggesting a topic to see if the topic is already in this queue.

    [Even if you could, it wouldn’t help, since the suggestion box is closed. -Raymond]
  7. Where do you see yourself in five years?

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