Sometimes bringing people in from different departments
can give an area a new perspective and reshape productivity …
SEPTEMBER 10, 2007
How To Make A Microserf Smile
While Google was turning heads with its employee perks, an unlikely manager took on morale in Redmond
Steven A. Ballmer had an epic morale problem on his hands. Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT ) stock had been drifting sideways for years, and Google envy was rampant on the Redmond (Wash.) campus. The chronically delayed Windows Vista was irking the Microserfs and blackening their outlook. So was the perception that their company was flabby, middle-aged, and unhip.
Ballmer decided he needed a new human resources chief, someone to help improve the mood. Rather than promoting an HR professional or looking outside, he turned to perhaps the most unlikely candidate on his staff, a veteran product manager named Lisa Brummel.
No one was more stunned than Brummel. The 47-year-old executive is about as un-HR as you can imagine. She shuns business books (her taste runs to historical nonfiction); she takes the bus to work (using the 20-minute ride to zone out); and her wardrobe (shorts and sneakers) is in flagrant violation of the HR fashion police.