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The reality of software development is a huge company like Microsoft-it employs more than 48,000 people- is that a substantial portion of your work involves days of boredom punctuated by hours of tedium. You basically spend your time in an isolated office writing code and sitting in meetings during which you participate in looking for and evaluating hundreds of current employees and potential employees. Microsoft has no problem in finding and retaining software programmers. Their programmers work for very long hours and obsess on the goal of shipping product. From the day new employees begin at Microsoft, they know they are special. New hires all have one thing in common-they are smart. The company prides itself on putting all recruits through a grueling “interviewing loop”, during which they confront a barrage (an overwhelming number of questions or complaints) of brain-teasers by future colleagues to see how well they think. Only the best and the brightest survive to become employees. The company does this because Microsofties truly believe that their company is special. For example, it has high tolerance for non-conformity, would you believe that one software tester comes to work everyday dressed in extravagant Victorian outfits? . But the underlying theme that unites Microsofties is the belief that the firm has a manifest destiny to change the world. The least important decision as programmer can have a large importance which it can affect a new release that might be used by 50 million people. Microsoft employees are famous for putting in long hours. One program Manager said “In my First Five Years, I was the Microsoft stereotype. I lived on caffeine and vending-machine hamburgers and free beer and 20-hour work-days……I had no life…..I considered everything outside the building as a necessary evil”. More recently things have changed. There are still a number of people who put in 80-hour weeks, but 60 and 70 hour weeks are more typical and some even are doing their jobs in only 40 hours. No discussion of the employee life at Microsoft would be complete without mentioning the company’s lucrative stock option program. Microsoft created more millionaire employees, faster, than any company in American history-more than 10,000 by the late – 1990’s while the company is certainly more than a place to get rich, executive still realize that money matters. One former Manager claims that the human resources’ department actually kept a running chart of employee satisfaction versus the company’s stock price. “When the stock was up, human resources could turn off the ventilation and everybody would say they were happy. When the stock was down, we could give people Massages and they would tell us that the Massages were too hard.” In the go-go 1990’s, when the Microsoft stock was doubling every few months and yearly stock splits were predictable, employees not only got to participate in the Microsoft’s manifest destiny, they would get rich in theprocess. By the spring of 2002, with the world in a recession, stock prices down, and the growth for Microsoft products slowing, it wasn’t so clear what was driving its employees to continue the company’s dominance of the software industry.


Questions 1. If you were the programmer, would you want to work at Microsoft? Why or Why not? 2. How many activities in this case can you tie into specific motivation theories? List the activities; list the motivation theories, and how they apply. 3. As Microsoft continues to get larger and its growth rate flattens do you think Management will have to modify any of its motivation practices? Elaborate. 4. Can money act as a motivator? Explain.