As news broke on Wednesday that part three of Microsoft’s huge multi-phase layoffs had occurred, employees at the company are having mixed feelings.
Not surprisingly, all this change “wears on” a lot of Microsoft’s employees, said a former employee who left the company shortly before the big layoff was officially announced in July.
Remember even before it was announced, employees spent months waiting for news of a layoff as a consequence of the company’s $7.2 billion, 25,000-employee acquisition of Nokia.
But it’s not really the layoffs per se dragging employees down.
“Constant change is not healthy when have an organization of over 100,000 people,” our source explained.
“There’s a whole set of people that can’t deal with that constant change and at Microsoft there has definitely been a lot to deal with. Remember right before Ballmer left, he announced a bunch of stuff, the One Microsoft strategy, the Nokia acquisition. He had a plan that was to take us through the next few years,” the source added.
This employee describes Nadella as “awesome” but said that he’s now “putting his own plan in place and when you have these transitions and they keep continuing, that sort of thing wears on a lot of people.”
And this isn’t just about if they will keep their job or not. It’s also about if the projects they care most about will continue or be cancelled and if their teams and co-workers will change. Most importantly, it’s about if they feel their work will be important both to the company and the world.
On the other hand, other employees, particularly long-term folks are kind of happy with all this change. Some people feel that “change is good, particularly change that takes you in the right direction,” this source said.
And right now, it does look like there is a “new” Microsoft going in a better direction. Nadella is striking up partnerships with its former rivals, changing the way products are built, and trying to overhaul the corporate culture.
Competitor-turned-new-partner Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff says he’s delighted and shocked by the changes.
Although CEO Satya Nadella still has to prove he can make a new direction work, he is starting to better articulate it.
He says Microsoft’s goal is to “reinvent productivity.” That means creating new software and cloud services that work across any mobile device, as well the PC and in the living room.
He’s defining “productivity” loosely as stuff we accomplish at home and at work. So it’s a little hazy as to what our lives will look like once Microsoft reinvents it for us.
Some new products in this theme are starting to trickle out.
One example is a new tool for Office 365 called “Delve” which sifts through our inboxes and documents hoping to showcase the stuff we really need to see.
But the bottom line is that the company is changing, and for many people change is scary.
Microsoft had no comment.