Microsoft Competencies for Skilled Effectiveness


Microsoft Competencies for Skilled Effectiveness “Half of being smart is knowing what you are dumb about.” — Solomon Short

When I first joined Microsoft, I felt like I had joined an elite team of smart people that gets results.

Microsoft is a big place, and I had joined the Developer Support Team.  It was an interesting team and I was surrounded by people who worked smarter, harder, faster, and more effective than anything I had ever seen before.

There were people that built robots and people that built rockets.  There were former accountants and former professors.   The intellectual horsepower was stunning and so was the passion.

I was curious how I too could become a skilled Softie.

As a new Softie, I was assigned a mentor and a buddy.  My mentor was for technical skills and learning the ropes, while my buddy was for helping me simply get acclimated to life at Microsoft.   While it was great to have a supportive team to help me learn how to spread my wings and fly, what I really wanted was a map for becoming a skilled Softie and improving my effectiveness in this amazing environment.  After all, I didn’t join Microsoft to just hang out.  I joined it to make impact and learn the ways of successful Microsoft employees.

Success Factors
Ask and ye shall receive, right?  I was given a competency framework organized by success factors and core competencies.  This was the map I was looking for.  The success factors included the following:

  • Customer Feedback
  • Individual Excellence
  • Long-Term Approach
  • Passion for Products and Technology
  • Results
  • Teamwork

It was a simple but powerful set.  I really liked the fact that it stressed teamwork, results, and excellence.

Core Competencies
The success factors organized the core competencies.   Here is a map of the core competencies based on my old notes:

Success Factor Competencies
Customer Feedback
  • Customer Focus
    Representing Microsoft
Functional / Technical Knowledge/ Skills
Individual Excellence
  • Self Development
  • Self Confidence
  • Intellectual Horsepower
  • Integrity and Trustworthiness
  • Dealing with Ambiguity
  • Creativity
  • Conviction and Courage
  • Composure
  • Action Oriented
Long-Term Approach
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Strategic Leadership
  • Managing Change
  • Developing People
Passion for Products and Technology
  • Technical Passion and Drive
  • Innovation Management
  • Decision Making
  • Drive for Results
  • Managing Systems and Processes
  • Planning, Organizing, and Coordinating
  • Problem Solving
  • Setting Goals
  • Building Team Spirit
  • Communication Skills
  • Cross-Group
  • Collaboration
  • Fostering Diversity
  • Hiring and Staffing
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Negotiation and Conflict Management
  • Open Communication
  • Organizational Agility

While the competency map is old, I think it’s pretty timeless.  Periodically, I scan the competencies and look for areas of growth.

Photo by eviltomthai.


  1. Individual Excellence section is especially useful for me. Great map JD, thanks for sharing!

  2. JD
    I went to a very small women’s college when I left home for the first time, and this college was designed to give women a lift up into the professional world. They handed out a map like yours listed above and assigned us a “big sister” guide and a suite of buddies (10 girls from all over the world to be friends)

    It has been a life long source of strength for me to have that map in my mind and heart as I proceeded on to graduate school one of 11 women in a sea of 750 men. 9 of the women had breakdowns during the 4 year program.

    I am pulling out that map again as I work on healing the body – to maximize the resources I have for healing and to keep looking forward.

    Blogging provides a wealth of buddies….and guides – like you!

    I am thinking that right now I need an in person advocate on my team…this is proving harder to accomplish.

    Another outstanding post…Thank you

    I am working on getting my Dragon Dictate working so I can work on more comments as sitting in the chair for very long is too hard yet! and lying on the floor with laptop on my abs is the wrong kind of workout for me !!! Making progress that is what is most important right now.

  3. Hi JD .. that’s great and really useful to know that it’s posted and available to return to in the future. It’s interesting that team work concept – so often in organisations and all walks of life .. working as a team isn’t part of our psyche .. it may be encouraged, but the organisation or team sport may allow for individuality shining (rising up the job ladder etc) – and that’s not good for society as a whole. Teamwork through out our years – family, school, community, college, work, clubs, .. if we give back and support others we, as ourselves and as humanity, can achieve so much together. Thanks – great post ..

  4. @ Alik

    I always find it to be a great reminder and checkpoint.

    @ JB King

    It really is a nice, simple, effective frame and simple reminders of the skills that work.

    @ Lana

    I love how it juxtaposes dealing with ambiguity along with self-confidence and conviction and courage.

    @ Patricia

    It sounds like a great map and great approach. If nothing else, having a map at least lets you know that others have tried the path and it’s what they found to be helpful.

    I especially like the fact that you were assigned a suite of buddies. That’s a powerful practice, and a tremendous resource.

    @ Hilary

    There’s definitely strength in teams. The best teams I’ve been on have the right people doing the right things … playing to their strengths and doing what they do best. The sum ends up way more than the parts.

  5. JD, I saw this quote today and thought of you and how you also have such respect for mentorship and bringing together beautiful resources to make a smoother path! 😉 “Thank you!” enjoy! hopefully you haven’t heard this one…

    To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.
    Chinese Proverb


  6. Really helpful to organize idea. I can answer my own question “How to be a good leader”. Thanks

  7. I saw this while searching for more tool to foster better customer service skill in my trainees who are young adults staying away from trouble.

    I see all of these skills sets as a needed item and a needed article that I am going to apply within my training so that it is more visual for learners to grasp the quality of training they are obtaining in a shor period of time.

    Wow, to be within the ‘walls of microsoft’. Thank you for such a qualfied chart that will benefit others in life.


  8. @ Hamdiyatur — Some information can be just the right prompt.

    @ TRain — I’m a fan of the visual way. Thank you.

  9. @ Santosh — Thanks for stopping by.

    @ Subba — Thank you. It should be helpful as a starting point that you can tailor from there.

Comments are closed.