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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Here’s what Bill Gates did to track Microsoft’s employee attendance; but it can be counterproductive

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Early Microsoft CEO Bill Gates tracked staff attendance with license plates. Employee involvement might backfire. Measurement drives action. Measure what you want done. If you only require compliance, measure the three levels of employee involvement. If you desire dedication and contribution, measure something else.

Early at Microsoft, Bill Gates tracked employee attendance via license plates. According to his BBC Radio interview, I knew everyone’s license plates so I could watch the parking lot for arrivals and departures.

The corporation got too large for that. He had already developed a workaholic culture. Bob Herbold joined Microsoft from Procter & Gamble years later. Herbold understood cultural differences. He arrived casually. No coat. No tie. Just pressed khakis and a dressy, open shirt.

He greeted his new secretary at 7:30 a.m. and enquired about work attendance. Flexible, yes. Some will arrive about 10:30. Others later. Herbold was stunned. Daily attendance at Procter & Gamble was 8:30. You’re missing it. All workaholics. The latecomers presumably worked until 5:00 a.m. and took a snooze and shower.

Nobody departed Coca-Cola Japan before their boss. If lower-level employees were to sleep, executives had to leave by 6:30pm to start the cascade. Worse, we accidentally created an incentive to remain till 11:00. The corporation provided food for those working after 9:00 and transportation home after 11:00.

Follow this:

Nobody considered going till 6:30. Dinner was ordered at 7:30. (So, everyone there at 7:30 certainly stayed for supper.) 9:30 dinner break. Because eating and running was unfair, back to work at 9:30. To obtain the free trip home, someone working until 10:00 should stay until 11:00.

This “free ride home” was significant. My manager worked till 11 p.m. every night. $200 for his cab home. Taxis cost $50,000 a year. He told me if he rode a train, he had to spend $10 for a cab from the station to home. (It’s true.)

Measurement drives action. Incentives work. Make sure your measurement and reward systems don’t backfire by being clear on what you want. Employee involvement might backfire. Employee involvement has three levels:

Committed – “Good for others” folks are the best. They teach to self-actualize and care for the company.

Contributing – Contributors are “good at” things. They collaborate and assist to find belonging and self-esteem.

Compliant persons “do no harm” at the first level. They arrive. They look. They focus on what’s “good for me” and meet the minimum biological and physiological demands. Tracking license plates is sufficient for compliance. Collaborate and coach for contribution. Goals and assists.

Measure organisational purpose impact for commitment. Yes. Tracking this is tougher than hours spent, forms filled, etc. It’s worthwhile.

Taushif Patel
Taushif Patelhttps://taushifpatel.com
Taushif Patel is a Author and Entrepreneur with 20 years of media industry experience. He is the co-founder of Target Media and publisher of INSPIRING LEADERS Magazine, Director of Times Applaud Pvt. Ltd.

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