As much as I'd rather be able to drive off my property (which I have not done in 5 or 6 days....<sigh>), having been a shut-in lately has done a lot for my productivity. And though there is never a "good time" for this kind of weather to strike, if it had to come, this was a good time (there's me being all optimistic again...gross).

On a personal level, I needed to rip out my kitchen and I did most of that this past weekend. I have the scraped knuckles to prove it. Yes, my guest bedroom is now functioning as a mini-kitchen and let's just say that it's really making me want to get out of the house (so I'm not living on cereal and frozen dinners). I also need to pick up the last few things for my kitchen remodel; garbage disposal, flooring (I decided last night that I HAVE to redo my floors...I can't wait).

Professionally, aside from this being the beginning of the calendar year (new planner, organizing office, etc.), there are some work activities unique to this time of year that are particularly well served by the focused attention of the doer. One thing that Microsoft employees become familiar with is the "business review". It's kind of what it sounds like' leaders of teams present their work in slide form. This being the half-way point in our fiscal year, our upcoming business review is called a "midyear business review" (MYBR). It's an opportunity to present how things have gone during the first half of the fiscal year (H1) and plan for H2. Even if it weren't for the presenting, it's great to condense some of your business thinking to some bullet points. It's not your business strategy per se, but your elevator pitch if someone asks you how things are going on your team or what you have planned for H2. It's a good exercise. I am really excited to present our H1 results to the rest of our organization.

Now that the holidays are over, I am actually filling some openings on our team. Talk about being an optimist, I have actually scheduled some interviews in the office this week. The weather folks say the snow will start melting today but more is coming. We'll see. Regardless, I am super excited about getting some new blood on the team. I like the idea of bringing fresh perspective to our work. It's happened each time we have brought someone new into the group. Unfortunately, we have had to say goodbye to 2 of our teammates but I am sure they are both going to do amazing things where they are now.

The other thing that happens at this time of year is the Mid Year Career Discussion. A few years back, we used to do reviews at mid year. The decision was made, at some point, to replace those reviews with a mid year career discussion. I think the intent was to create a stronger focus on career development (which should be part of a review discussion anyway), by pulling it out as a separate part of the performance management process. It seems there are always new tools to use to manage these conversations so I'll be using some of my weather time to dig in and understand our career models and how to best use them to help people develop the skills that will get them to where they want to be. OK, it sounds like someone in marketing just write that. But I have to say that one part of my position that I really like is this part. Also, I have had the benefit of some managers that have basically allowed me to craft a job based on my talents and what I thought would work for our business and that really worked out fantastically (in my opinion). We are fortunate to work in a space where there is a lot of flexibility. When it comes to finding great marketing talent for Microsoft, there are so many ways that we could do that...more ways than we could ever have time to try. So that allows us to identify candidate generation tactics based on our skills and interests. That works great for me because the blog is part of that. We also have a lot of interest on our team in programmatic candidate generation. So as we fill our open positions, I think we have an opportunity to expand the types of programs we do (we had some great ones this year and a few that I'd like to call experimental learning opportunities).  

 Also, this is a great time of year to check in with our recruiting partners to understand their current needs (and whether their need have changed/will change). As much as that is a challenge to do from home (though some of our recruiters are field based and we are accustomed to engaging them by phone), the fact that we have moved to building 19 will give me more of an opportunity to check in with people in person. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get out of my home and into the office soon.

Anyway, this is what I am working on as I hibernate here in Redmond. It's also part of the answer to the question "what does your team do?" for those that don't work with us.