An analysis of Microsoft’s Organizational Culture

Corporate Culture at Microsoft: An analysis

Any organization’s culture is deeply linked with its performance. Culture is at the root of several things and not just performance and productivity. It also affects the company’s environment and then its brand image. There has been a vast amount of research focused on the effects of organizational culture and how it can be a source of competitive advantage. Not long ago, it was widely known that Microsoft had a performance obsessed culture.  However, in the last few years several things have changed about its organizational culture. Microsoft is a multi-billion dollar company and its culture was at the root of several of the issues it faced.

CEO Satya Nadella discovered it quite early and decided to root out these issues. According to him culture is everything. For any organization that has not focused on its culture, a cultural change is a must. Research has kept highlighting the power of organizational culture and how many things inside a company are influenced by it. Tech companies like Apple and Microsoft have remained notorious for their obsession with performance. Inside such organizations, the culture and employees may often go ignored before productivity. Several of the employee issues are automatically solved once the cultural issues are resolved.

The best example of cultural change is Ford where its One Ford plan helped establish a strong and long lasting culture. CEO Satya Nadella knew right from the outset that Microsoft too was in a desperate need of something similar. The most important factor was competition which had spoiled Microsoft’s culture to a large extent. So, the most essential thing was to reboot this culture. Teams were competing intensely inside Microsoft and many of the useful ideas could not find their way to the top for competition eroded their value. Such things can cause deep disengagement and can prove harmful for the brand image of the company in the long run. Just a few years into his joining and it seems Nadella has successfully solved the issue.

The Cultural mantra of Microsoft is noted in its “Mission and Culture”. “Empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. That’s what inspires us, drives our work and pushes us to challenge the status quo every day. At Microsoft we also work to empower our employees so they can achieve more. We believe we should each find meaning in our work and we ensure employees have the freedom and the reach to help make a difference in the world”. So, a key focus area for the new corporate culture at Microsoft is employee empowerment. By focusing on it Microsoft has been able to align employee’s personal objectives with the objectives of Microsoft. Employee empowerment is also the key to employee motivation and by focusing on it Microsoft has benefited none else but itself. A culture of diversity and inclusion plus empowerment means growing productivity and a harmonious environment.

However, there are several other important factors also that are a part of the new organizational culture of Microsoft.

Growth Mindset: A growth mindset is important for the employees so they remain focused on continuous learning. Curiosity, learning mindset, risk taking, innovation and learning from failure – these are some of the new elements that Microsoft has instilled into its employees via its culture.

Customer obsession: Rather than being obsessed for performance and products, Microsoft is now focused on customers. So, it is now listening and learning from them. Actually, this is a very critical area in the 21st century. Power is in customer’s hands and company’s would have to increase their focus on the customer if they want to retain them for long. Now, Microsoft has changed its obsession to bringing delightful and surprising customer solutions. Innovative customer service is also a key focus area for the Microsoft’s new CEO.

Diversity and Inclusion: Employee empowerment must be a key focus area for companies. However, without diversity and inclusion it is not possible in the 21st century. It is why Microsoft has focused on being more diverse and inclusive in cultural terms. The result has also been positive. The results have been Microsoft now has better ideas, better products and also happier customers.

One Microsoft: Even if all the things are in order unless the efforts of the entire company are geared in the same direction, results might not be positive. So, Microsoft has focused on aligning and synchronizing people and objectives. Like One Ford One Microsoft has also been able to reduce some of the unfair competition inside the organization. This can result in major benefits in long term for the company.

Creating a difference: After all everything lies in innovation. Things can become great if innovation is made a part of the organizational culture. Once it has become the part and parcel of organizational culture, innovation starts reflecting in every part of the organization. The result is always better performance and better productivity.

Microsoft has reinvented its culture to achieve important goals. Its business goals are critically linked with its culture. It becomes easier to reach its goals, once the culture and the environment have been fixed.

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.