I have had the privelige of working with Microsoft for the past three years. Along the way I have seen things shift, subtly, relentlessy and seismically. It started for me with Mobile Devices, coaching people to sell something that sadly just wasn’t working, yet with the promise that Microsoft are good, they will come throughs. In the past three years I have seen Microsoft come through more and more and the internal drive and messaging that comes with that.
Then Satya Nadella did an incredible thing – he wrote a book, “Hit Refresh“. Raw, honest and deeply challenging to anyone in Microsoft, it is great to see on the page what I am seeing in the hotels and conference centres I coach in around the world. In his book he talks about how Microsoft must listen, to each other, to the customer, must know and tell the right stories, must have empathy and energy. As with anyone of vision, how do you translate that to the day-to-day, so it doesn’t become “Satya’s thing”, as he says. Or, how do you translate it so you don’t have to be Satya, but in fact, can be yourself and still work with Empathy and listen and care, even if empathy is a muscle yet to be learnt? How do you, as a graduate have the boldness to empathise with and challenge your manager when they have little time and little seeming emotional intelligence?
Well my very bold answer to Satya, in a letter I wrote to him last week, was “Hire us”. Here is an extract of what I said:
” I have been so struck by the Empathy you live and breathe and long to imbibe into Microsoft that I read in Hit Refresh, your passionate relentlessness to listen and the stories you tell in the book and in the videos and social media I have seen from you. When you talk about the first off-site you did with the SLT and the stories you shared, I almost jumped out of my chair. This is exactly the stuff we do with Microsoft – imagine 300 people sharing their stories in pairs and one brave volunteer getting up and being coached by us to deliver it with passion. It always changes the atmosphere in the room, always reveals people’s passions … I would like to bring what we do to all levels of Microsoft, because I see a disconnect between what you live and breathe and the day to day experience for Microsoft employees of Empathy, listening and communication …
‘I watch your interview with the Wall Street Journal and see the inspiration on the MACHS’ faces. The next minute I see the uphill mountain they face when they have to somehow land this passion and vision with their managers, knowing they have managers and they have managers. I see the top down vision from yourself but also the disconnect and the quick pace at which Microsoft moves and how easy it is for these bright young things to get lost.
‘I would love to show you what we do, with the idea of rolling it out to your SLT, the managers below and really all the way to every stratosphere of Microsoft! It seems very ambitious for a two person company, but the change we see and the practical skills people learn convinces me that this is possible”.
I know that if we can get our hands on the decision makers and the people who hit Refresh in Microsoft and teach them these very applicable and measurable skills, Microsoft will move even closer towards its goal of cultural change. I am going to keep writing until I get an answer and an invite. Watch this space ….