Your questions: "What's the corporate culture like at Microsoft?"
Stephen asks a few questions (including what I do at Microsoft)...
"What are your personal opinions on the corporate culture at Microsoft? What about the work environment: are you pleased with and what do you think could be improved? I read in an interview with fellow Microsoft employee, Chris Pratley, that the attitude at work is very results-oriented. Is there validity to this claim?"
(BTW, a disclaimer: I enjoy Chris Pratley's blog.)
There's a lot to be said about the corporate culture at Microsoft. IMO, the culture is in transition, noting that with more than 70,000 employees you're going to have some bureaucracy: a challenge is to keep the culture from becoming too bureaucratic. So far, I have seen a good balance as the management at our company makes a concerted effort to help people focus on their jobs without their enthusiasm and energy being curbed by a thousand and one processes and reports. Not to say there aren't improvements to be made. ;)
What I like: the diverse culture offers a great mix of ideas, perspectives and people. Yes, like all large companies we have levels of management hierarchy and organization, but senior management is accessible and solicits feedback and opinion: one such example is how Lisa Brummel listens to employees and takes in feedback on everything from employee compensation and reviews to towels in the locker rooms.
I agree that the attitude at work is very results-oriented. Through our annual Commitment-setting process, we set annual goals that are tracked and measures; we're in the first year of using the new on-line Commitment tool (which is certainly 1.0, but a step in the right direction) that allows employees to publish their goals for the year and track progress against the goals. That makes each individual and group's work and targets more transparent. And certainly there is a competitive undercurrent, a result of having many Type A personalities at the company. ;)
Many employees are vocal and have been instrumental in moving the company culture forward: it's not something you can implement as a policy and expect it to take hold. IMHO, employees at every level can have a direct hand in changing and shaping our corporate culture.