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

A new report suggests Microsoft has picked COO Kevin Turner to run the company as CEO for the next two to three years, and then hand the reins to Nokia CEO Stephen Elop
Microsoft's board has picked Kevin Turner, COO to replace Steve Ballmer as CEO, but he will only hold that role for two to three years before abdicating it to Stephen Elop, CEO, Nokia.

This bizarre scenario comes from a 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 Alan Mulally, CEO, Ford and Stephen Elop, CEO, Nokia, 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 are hoping the company does not pick Turner.

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 is not 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," Lisa Brummel, HR Chief, Microsoft 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 would not be a good CEO choice is that he's closely aligned with Ballmer, which means his appointment as CEO would not 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.

Turner is one of three internal employees on Microsoft's short list of CEO candidates, Bloomberg reported Friday. The others are Satya Nadella, Head, Cloud and Enterprise Engineering Group; and Tony Bates, who leads the Business Development and Evangelism Group.

Turner is certainly qualified for the job. He knows more about the vast scope of Microsoft's business than anyone besides Ballmer, overseeing worldwide sales, services, support and channel partners, software licensing and retail stores.
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