Microsoft COO Kevin Turner: The Man Who Would Not Be King

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One example is the "scorecard" system Turner brought with him from Walmart when he joined Microsoft. In it, sales managers are measured across 30 metrics, including profit and revenue growth and building market share for particular products. A "green" score indicates good results, "yellow" shows there's room for improvement, and "red" is a sign that the manager isn't cutting it.

While Turner's scorecard system helped make Microsoft's sales teams more efficient at first, it's no longer having the same effect. If Turner is named to succeed Ballmer, the prospect of an even bigger role for the scorecard would send many Microsoft employees heading for the exits, a well-placed source told CRN.

"You would have an exodus of salespeople if Kevin became CEO. He has his hand in everything, and if you don't get high marks across the board on his scorecards, you are not doing your job," said the source.

The way Turner sees it, metrics are a good way of determining whether employees are hitting on all cylinders. If they're not, Turner isn't afraid to replace them with ones that can do better.

"Don't ride a horse too long if it's not going to get you to where you need to get to. Change it out," was how Turner described his policy in a conference with small-business owners in 2006, as reported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Turner has a similar view toward Microsoft sales reps that aren't working well with the channel. One partner told CRN he's seen account executives that aren't partner-friendly get swapped out and replaced. Turner's team is also quick to act when they get wind of channel conflict in the field, the source said.

Turner's scorecard system is also used to rank the performance of Microsoft's Gold partners, so the channel has firsthand experience being held to Turner's high standards. "If you're not green on your scorecard, it's not good," one Microsoft partner told CRN. "Microsoft tracks us on how many deployments are out there and whether we've hit our product goal."

The cost-cutting mentality Turner brought to Microsoft is now putting pressure on employees and the channel, one partner told CRN.

"The biggest negative is that Turner has cut 'T and E' to the bone and forced all the Microsoft field reps to do things remotely instead of engaging clients face to face," the source said. There also has been a notable lack of launch activity around Microsoft's 2013 wave of products. "A lot of customers still think that Office 2010 is the most current version," said the source.

NEXT: Turner And The Channel

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