Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offers some management tips

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer chatted with long-time Microsoft journalist Mary Jo Foley in late November in what may be his final interview before he retires from the company. Portions of that chat have been posted this week on CNN Fortune and at ZDNet. Today, yet another part of that chat was posted on CNN Fortune, where Ballmer gave his top five management tips.

We won't reveal all of the tips here, in deference to Ms. Foley, but the article does offer some interesting insights into how Ballmer managed Microsoft since he became CEO over 10 years ago. One of the tips that Ballmer has to offer is, "Talent is only one part of success." What does that mean? Ballmer suggests that hiring talented individuals is a good thing but those people must also work well with other employees in order to be productive. He states:

It's not like you want to say, Hey, look, I've hired three of the best people, and I'm just going to leave them completely alone, and then great things are going to happen ... You have to mesh them with other people. You've got to mesh them with yourself.

Having issues with a talented employee is something that Ballmer reportedly experienced with former Windows leader Steven Sinofsky. Rumors about him not working well with others may have led to his sudden departure from Microsoft just a few weeks after the launch of Windows 8 in 2012.

Another tip that Ballmer has to offer is, "Bet for the short and long terms." He states, "Getting the big things right that make all the money, that's long cycle ...really executing in a way that allows you to do it, that's short cycle." Hopefully the reorganization that Ballmer put in motion at Microsoft in July will allow the company to be successful in its short- and long-term goals.

Source: CNN Fortune | Image via Microsoft

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Take a niche, relatively unknown product from a competitor and start making damning commercials about it so it becomes a household name and sells to people who would've never bought it.

Oh wait.

JHBrown said,
Balmer forgot to add, "do not alienate your customers and believe you know what's best for them."

This has limits when you are leading a technology company. People are too complacent, not realizing that things can be better and easier if they let go of their habits.

It was Microsoft 'pushing' the entire technology world that made possible so many things everyone on every platform enjoys and takes for granted today. (Silly simple things, like highlighting a word to change its font, or even the squiggle underline spelling. I can still remember people screaming about how distracting the red squiggles were and asking how to disable them.)

In 1995, getting users to stop saving their Word documents in the WinWord folder was a hard sell to Win95 and Office95 users. Microsoft was right that users needed to stop saving crap in the application folders and should be organizing documents based on context and not based what program/tool created them.

Every version of Windows has met with the same level of consumer resistance, with Windows 7 being the exception.

Most of Microsoft's biggest successes and technological impacts on the world was met with rejection from the technology community and their own primary user base. Microsoft never had the luxury that Apple has, where their customers and the tech media trusts their direction and changes.

There are limits, but the irony with Microsoft is that 99% of the major changes they make still allow users to stick with the older way of doing things, and keep legacy support of hardware and software longer than any other consumer technology company.

Even with Windows 8, all the Windows 7 UI constructs are still there without the help of 3rd party software. They aren't obvious settings, but still exist. Just like Win95 users could still use Program Manager as the Shell and File Manager, it wasn't an 'option' but with a modification to an INI file was still available, and never was taken away from users.


neufuse said,
every time I see that image I think it says "Imac" behind him...

I never noticed that before. WTF is that anyway? "LMAO"?

Ballmer is one of all time great CEOs. MSFT was under assault by gov't and in the marketplace around 2000. the history of business is littered with the remains of companies that "were" great. Few companies manage to bridge economic eras and adapt to remain dominant. The world depends on MSFT software. Bill left after things were difficult with the antitrust lawsuit. Steve stayed. Thank you Steve for fighting for what you believe in.

Unlike many people, I really think that he is a smart guy. He did well for Microsoft, every big company will face challenges at times after successes. But I think Microsoft managed to future proof themselves with Windows touch products, Office 365 and Cloud Infrastructure

trojan_market said,
Unlike many people, I really think that he is a smart guy. He did well for Microsoft, every big company will face challenges at times after successes. But I think Microsoft managed to future proof themselves with Windows touch products, Office 365 and Cloud Infrastructure

Ballmer is smart, but he has a different philosophy than Gates and was too profit and business minded for a innovation/technology company.

He killed too many products early that Microsoft later had to recreate to catch back up with the industry. Managers were able to get their way by offering expense based arguments that deflected from the long term technological viability.

he's definitively an interesting character that clearly recognizes his mistakes and while you may disagree with his strategies, you can't disagree that he is one of the most influential CEOs of our time. I hope he writes a book or something giving us more insight about what happens at the world's largest software company.