Interview: Microsoft’s HR chief on the company’s changing culture and new ‘growth mindset’
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Interview: Microsoft’s HR chief on the company’s changing culture and new ‘growth mindset’

When Microsoft’s high executives held their annual retreat this 12 months, they spent the first full day visiting and listening to clients, one thing they hadn’t finished earlier than as a part of that assembly.

The corporate skipped its annual worker assembly this 12 months and held a hackathon as an alternative.

Workers are going via necessary range coaching to assist them acknowledge their unconscious biases.

And in maybe the most radical departure of all, firm leaders are teaching their groups to cease interrupting one another.

“There’s been much more dialogue round staff norms, and how we will create environments the place we do hear from all people,” Kathleen Hogan, the company’s govt vice chairman of human assets, mentioned in an interview with GeekWire this afternoon. “It’s superb, however small issues like that may matter.”

These are a number of examples of the new Microsoft culture — or not less than the culture to which the firm aspires. The overarching phrase executives are utilizing to explain the culture is “development mindset,” as outlined this morning in a companywide memo from CEO Satya Nadella to Microsoft’s practically 120,000 workers.

That means “shifting from a hard and fast mindset the place your position is to be the smartest individual, to a development mindset the place your position is actually to be taught and convey out the greatest in individuals — that’s a key distinction,” Hogan instructed GeekWire this afternoon in her first prolonged interview since Nadella named her to the position last November, succeeding longtime Microsoft HR chief Lisa Brummel.

It’s a new period for Microsoft in additional methods than one. The company’s enterprise was in-built the hard-charging, take-no-prisoners type of Invoice Gates and Steve Ballmer, pursuing the purpose of placing a pc on each desk and in each house, operating Microsoft’s software program. The corporate completed that purpose, and then the world modified — Apple, Google, Amazon and others started main the manner in lots of the key platforms for computing and on-line companies.

At 40 years outdated, Microsoft actually had no alternative however to develop up. Placing the company’s culture on a new path has been a paramount difficulty for Nadella since taking on as CEO final 12 months.

“We’ve spent a whole lot of time on culture,” Hogan mentioned at the moment. “After all, there are a whole lot of different issues that I’ve been spending time on, however I’d say in all probability the No. 1 factor with Satya is actually speaking and pondering deeply about what’s the culture we aspire to have right here at Microsoft.”

As outlined in Nadella’s email this morning, the company’s development mindset is concentrated on being customer-obsessed, numerous and inclusive, and working as “One Microsoft.” The latter idea is a holdover from his predecessor, Steve Ballmer, however the broader strategy to the company’s culture may be very a lot a mirrored image of Nadella’s mindset.

“By way of watching how Satya operates, I feel that’s authentically Satya. He actually reveals a development mindset,” Hogan mentioned. “This isn’t some platitude or one thing we’re going to have on the wall. That is one thing he desires to role-model and how he desires individuals to expertise Microsoft.”

Hogan acknowledged that the company’s culture isn’t what Microsoft leaders say it’s — it’s what different individuals understand it to be. “My hope is that if we put in place a whole lot of these items and we maintain this fixed drumbeat, that in the end it’s going to be what different persons are saying,” she mentioned.

At the identical time, “development mindset” isn’t one thing that Microsoft pulled out of a hat. The corporate labored with outdoors consultants and performed intensive focus teams and research with workers and different key constituents, with executives studying from every spherical and even utilizing them to refine the language they used on this morning’s e-mail.

As Nadella wrote in his email, “I consider that culture just isn’t static. It evolves day-after-day based mostly on the behaviors of everybody in the group. We’re in an unimaginable place to grab new development this 12 months. We might want to innovate in new areas, execute in opposition to our plans, make some robust selections in areas the place issues are usually not working and resolve laborious issues in ways in which drive buyer worth.”

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