Microsoft's Plan: Hire from Without

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2007-10-01 Print this article Print

When a company needs to hire, they've got two places to look: inside their ranks or outside their organization.

Human Resource experts will tell you that the first option is the favorable one, and not just because it may seem more convenient: hiring from within is seen as a huge boost to employee morale. In workplaces were employees continually see managers and directors brought in from outside company ranks, employees are more likely to feel stagnant and find themselves looking toward the door.

"The highest levels of workplace retention are in environments where there is a clear investment in the career track of individuals. It brings people in when you can see what development roles are laid out for people," said Kevin Young, vice president of EMEA Sales for SkillSoft, a provider of content and technology for IT professionals, told eWEEK in February.

However, an article in the Wall Street Journal on Sept. 26 discusses how chief executive of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, as he tries to expand the company into new areas from online music to video games and advertising, has determined that he must tap outsiders, rather than rely heavily on homegrown managers as the company has in the past.

In fact, how Brian McAndrews, Microsoft's new senior vice-president for advertising and publisher relationships, fares at the company is being seen as a test of if the Redmond, Wash. software maker is becoming a more hospitable to outside talent.

McAndrews is one of six executives that Ballmer has hired from the outside since 2005, a list including Don Mattrick, senior vice president of interactive entertainment business in 2007, Steve Berkowitz, senior vice president of online services in 2006, Chris Liddell, chief financial officer in 2005, Kevin Turner, COO in 2005 and Ray Ozzie, chief software architect in 2005.

The Journal paints Microsoft as a company that has difficulty integrating new executives due to its insular culture, sheer size and the exalted status of its engineers, a point that has not been lost on the recruiting team behind its JobsBlog.

A recent entry also responds to concerns by employees who feel that the company is wrong to bring people in from the outside, when it could be promoting from within its ranks.

"In order for an organization to continue to be at the top of its game, you need people who know this place like the back of their hand. You need college hires, you need people with 10+ years of experience working in 10 different groups. But, you also need people who have seen how the other half works, including our competitors and people from other industries. This balance allows a company to thrive," writes technical recruiter Janelle Godfrey.

"Therefore, I think it's a good thing. I'm glad my company is willing to look elsewhere to hire top people, and I don't see it as a last ditch effort to make an impact. I think it's very strategic."

But the question is: do the workers, some of whom might feel passed over for these promotions, agree? |

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