Microsoft, management lessons from my students…

In one of the last post, we have discussed about Microsoft and its Performance Management System. This topic raised an incredible and unexpected interest and so I have decided to transform the article in a part of the final exam for my students at the Faculty of Engineering. What was even more surprising was the level of the answers… Here you can find a summary of the main points:

1) introduce Emotional Intelligence inside the company – probably this point was stressed because they know my passion about neuroscience and people-centred methodology and to have an higher score they are capable to do things like that but I have to say at least they have chosen the right reasons… 🙂
– If you want to understand the people behaviours you need to use both the rational and the emotional perspective
– Leaders need to be in charge of the emotions (their own and others’ emotions) inside the company.
– Emotions drive people, people drive performance. Unpleasent emotions for example have a huge impact on learning and innovation!

2) Cancel rankings – the ranking is dead, each person is a unicum, an unique human being!
– Discover and use the strengths of people, it’s the easiest and fastest way to performance
– Support the development of people to Mastery is one of the most important goal for a Leader
– Match people’s potential (strengths, passions, expectations) with organizational challenges

3) Shift the focus to Teams – innovation in complex situations is a team activity not a solo effort.
– High performance Teams are the ones with an high level of Divergence (in terms of brain styles, backgrounds and strengths)
– The Leader is in charge of the quantity and quality of connections between team members, not always quantity means quality…
– The harder the team challenge, the easier is the failure. We need to establish a culture of exploration where we evaluate not only the final results but an overall set of paramethers because we want the brightest people to embrace the hardest challenges without trying to be conservative.

What is interesting is that you can measure Emotional Intelligence, you can measure the people strengths, you can measure the Divergence inside a team… They are not asking to change the actual ranking system with a touchy feeling method but with a different set of paramethers and as usual what you measure is what you get!

Not so bad as free consultancy, isn’t it? In the reality my students would like to have free Office’s licences… If someone in Microsoft is reading the blog post… 🙂

Do you know what are the drivers of performance?

I was a bit tired about a new theory about companies performance every day! More or less, in any new book about management you find the inner secrets of performance (look at amazon to have some exampleson what I am saying…). The problem is that the majority of the times these inner secrets are based on just one company’s case or on the perception of one person. That’s could be great because you can find some insights or ideas but, you know what, I am a quantitative guy and if there are no numbers or real serious analisys my brain is not working properly. And BTW it’s not my perception, is how my brain work. You can see it in the image below, this is my Brain Brief Profile (if you want to learn more about brain style click here)

So considering my brain’s needs, this year we have analyzed data about more of 100 companies and 10.000 people to understand the drivers of performance. Today, I had the time finally to look carefully at the numbers and I am really excited about the results. The analysis confirms that trust, motivation, teamwork, execution and capability to change are the 5 most important factors… let me add fortunately because in the last year we have created a model called the Vital Signs where these factors were the base for an interesting model… To know more about that, click

What is even more important is that the 60% of performance is explained by these Vital Signs factors!! Isn’t it cool?
And now a question for you: what is the most impacting factor in your opinion? In one of the next blog post I will say “the winner is…”