I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

An opinion column for developers.Brutally honest, no pulled punches.

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  • Blog Post: It’s not going to be okay

    Eric Aside This month I cover a touchy subject—getting a 4 or 5 review rating. Please know that all opinions expressed in this column (and every Hard Code column) are my own and do not represent Microsoft in any official or unofficial capacity. Also know that plenty of employees improve their...
  • Blog Post: Permanently high plateau

    A friend asked me recently about one of his reports. He had a few concerns going into annual review calibration. His employee was a smart, strong, consistent contributor, well beyond entry level and independence (see Level up for reference), but he had plateaued. My friend was concerned that his employee...
  • Blog Post: A change would do you good

    Few Microsoft engineers change positions between mid-May and mid-August—they don’t want a role change to adversely impact their annual performance ratings, which lock around mid-August. Of course, managers shouldn’t allow position changes to unduly impact ratings. Then again, eating...
  • Blog Post: Individual leadership

    Want to create a noxious gas? Combine ambitious yet clueless engineers, a flat functional organizational structure, and the upcoming midyear career discussions. Soon toxic fumes will emanate from individual contributors (ICs) in response to impotent explanations of upward mobility by overwhelmed managers...
  • Blog Post: Making the big time

    Review time is almost over. Maybe you got promoted. Maybe your head is filled with thoughts of making it to the big time—calling the shots, getting paid, and having everyone hang on your every word. For entry and independent ICs, that means being a senior or principal engineer (manager or architect...
  • Blog Post: Level up

    If you’re not a Microsoft® engineer and you’re not interested in finding a new reason to bash Microsoft, save yourself some time and skip this column. If you want to know how to build your skills and systematically grow your career as an engineer at Microsoft, read on. I’ve been...
  • Blog Post: The new guy

    “Hey, you’re the new guy!” Marvelous. You’ve transformed from a useful, relevant, sought-after authority to a roadside attraction. Whoever you were before, whatever value you used to embody, whatever accomplishments you might have achieved, now amount to nothing more than marketing hype. Your new co...
  • Blog Post: Opportunity in a gorilla suit

    It's annual review time at Microsoft. We differentiate pay between high, average, and low performers in the same roles. Thus, it's time to calibrate those who've made the most of their opportunities in the past year with those in the mainstream of solid engineers and those who haven't quite kept pace...
  • Blog Post: Get a job: Finding new roles

    It's the end of review season: time to reflect on your career and current situation. Some people have a career plan, know where they're at, and already have their next move lined up. I call these people "wise, successful, and yet, disturbing." Perhaps I'm jealous. After all, I should have a multistep...
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