Article: Culture transformation through rewards and technology – The Microsoft story

#TRWC2019

Culture transformation through rewards and technology – The Microsoft story

Read to know how Microsoft is using new approaches and technology for cultural infusion in the organization.
Culture transformation through rewards and technology – The Microsoft story

The culture of an organization defines who you are and what you stand for. It refers to a set of deeply ingrained beliefs and rituals that act as a glue between every employee with shared values and attitudes that motivate and inspire them each day. In short, culture is about how we do business, how we solve problems, and how we work together.

In an insightful session by Microsoft India Head of Compensation and Benefits - Rishi Khandelwal, we get some glimpses of the ‘growth mindset’ spirit that embodies in every employee of the organization. The widespread belief that each employee can grow by bringing out the best in people through constant improvement shapes the story of this legendary organization. Let us take a sneak peek on the different approaches that had triggered a cultural transformation through rewards and technology at Microsoft.

The four Levers

Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. However, it seemed that building a mission to establish a sense of purpose was easier than creating a culture around it. Very much a people journey, the culture transformation at Microsoft was based on the four pillars i.e. behavior, symbol, systems and storytelling. With these right tools they could bring the right change needed for long.  The changes can be summarized as:

•    From a culture of ‘Know it all’ to ‘Learn it all’
•    From Forced Rating to No ratings
•    The change focus drifted from actions and results to ‘impact’
•    A shift from target distribution curve to budget accountability for each employee

Reward, Performance and Development Approach

Microsoft India’s new ‘Performance and Development’ Approach was designed to help people learn, grow and deliver results together. They believe in prioritizing continual improvement over traditional evaluation and hence optimized these three things that are aligned with their current culture.

•    Reward contributions linked to business impact
•    Delivering results through teamwork
•    Feedback that helps employees learn, grow and deliver results

Measuring and understanding the state of culture through reward and technology infusion

At Microsoft, rewarding employees was based on performances that have a business impact. The impact was not only based on individual accomplishments but also measured on how one contributes to the success of others. This was inclusive of how one builds on the results of others in their own area of work.  The organizations became more empathetic. And technology provided an aid to this practice by dispelling myths and helping in changing behaviors of employees. Apart from this, technology also served the following purpose:

•    Monitor employee sentiment through popular social media outlets to gauge public perception of your benefit offering.
•    Track reward distribution against available budget to monitor which departments are utilizing allotted funds.
•    Ensure the right employees are being rewarded.
•    Track benefits utilization beside employee sentiment to understand how benefits are matching up to employee expectations.

Technology used as the catalyst for the transformation

Culture transformation is a journey that’s never finished. No matter where you are in that journey, leaders at Microsoft help accelerate every single employee’s success through various innovative approaches. And alongside, with the help of technologies, real time dashboards are being constantly used to navigate employee behavior that’s helping in managing rewards, attrition and people development issues efficiently at Microsoft. Hence, it’s quite evident that technology is the enabler when integrated into the way of actions, beliefs and values; can have a dramatic positive effect on culture transformation. Creating a culture in which technology blends with human potential is where the real magic happens.


(This article is based on the session ‘Culture transformation through rewards and technology – The Microsoft story by Rishi Khandelwal , Microsoft India Head of Compensation and Benefits, at the Total Rewards & Wellness Conclave’19 on 16th February 2019).

Topics: #TRWC2019, Culture, Benefits & Rewards

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