Microsoft Could Face 'Employee Exodus Of Biblical Proportions' If Turner Is Named CEO


Microsoft's board has picked COO Kevin Turner to replace Steve Ballmer as CEO, but he'll only hold that role for two to three years before abdicating it to Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.

This bizarre scenario comes from a Thursday report from the Chinese Windows Phone enthusiast site WPDang, which quoted unnamed sources. WPDang may be treading into tinfoil hat territory here, but this does raise the question of why Turner hasn't been a more high-profile candidate to succeed Ballmer.

Reports surfaced earlier this month that Microsoft has a shortlist of potential Ballmer replacements that includes external candidates like Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, as well as three internal candidates.

As Microsoft's COO for the past eight years, Turner would seem to have the inside track to become CEO. But several Microsoft partners told CRN they're hoping the company doesn't pick Turner.

 

[Related: Report: Elop Would Bring Office To Apple, Google Devices If Named Microsoft CEO]

While Turner's intense focus on metrics has helped Microsoft's financial performance, his "scorecard" system of ranking employee performance is widely loathed, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Turner's scorecard system will likely be even less popular now that Microsoft has ditched its "stack ranking" system for gauging employee performance, sources told CRN. "If Kevin Turner takes over as CEO, there will be an employee exodus of biblical proportions," said one well-placed source, who requested anonymity.

In Turner's scorecard system, sales managers are measured across some 30 metrics, such as profit and revenue growth and building market share for particular products. A "green" score means good results, "yellow" shows there's room for improvement and "red" indicates the manager isn't cutting it. Microsoft also uses the scorecard to rank partner performance.

Microsoft is getting rid of the stack ranking system, in which employees are ranked on a bell curve and lower performers are often shown the door, to focus more on "teamwork and collaboration," Microsoft HR chief Lisa Brummel said in a memo to employees earlier this week.

This, Brummel said in the memo, will align more closely the cross-team collaboration goals Ballmer laid out as part of the company's "One Microsoft" re-organization in July.

Sources told CRN another reason why Turner wouldn't be a good CEO choice is that he's closely aligned with Ballmer, which means his appointment as CEO wouldn't be warmly welcomed by activist investors pushing for change at the top.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on the WPDang report or the concerns about Turner as CEO.

NEXT: Why Turner Is Qualified For The Job