The Creepy Passive Aggressive Behavior of One of the Richest Entrepreneurs in the World

by Evil HR Lady on February 9, 2016

So, it turns out in the early days of Microsoft Bill Gates memorized the license plate numbers of employees so he could know who was in the office. He considered this part of his fanatical dedication to work, but it actually shows a serious lack of understanding about work.

Now, I’m not saying that his methods failed-obviously, they didn’t. But just because someone is successful in their business doesn’t mean that everything they do makes sense. What could he have done instead of spending time memorizing license plate numbers? Just about anything. Here’s why this is not a great business practice.

Hours in the office don’t mean a great deal.

Sure, Microsoft is full of programmers who are going to be able to do more work when they are at work then they would being elsewhere. (After all, working from home wasn’t terribly practical in the beginning days of Microsoft.) But, what can you really tell by the number of hours someone is in the office? Not much. Is their work the best? Are they producing quality work, or goofing off? What’s the productivity? Butt-in-seat time isn’t the best way to judge people.

To keep reading, click here: The Creepy Passive Aggressive Behavior of One of the Richest Entrepreneurs in the World

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Judith February 9, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Butt-in-seat time isn’t the best way to judge people – link not working…

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Jessica (tc) February 10, 2016 at 12:34 am
Evil HR Lady February 10, 2016 at 11:34 am

Thanks! It’s fixed now.

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sam February 9, 2016 at 3:25 pm

This was about 20 years ago now, but I had a friend who went for a just-out-of-college interview at Microsoft (he had been a Computer Science major at Carnegie Mellon). I remember him describing the offices there as essentially dorm rooms with desks instead of beds (2 person setups, mirroring each other) – it was like they were trying to create this seamless transition from 24/7 college life to 24/7 Redmond campus life. he thought it was a little creepy. My friend didn’t go work there. After working for a few years at a smaller regional company, he founded his own company instead and, while we’re really only facebook friends these days, he appears to be very happy and successful.

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grannybunny February 9, 2016 at 3:38 pm

It is a little creepy, but, if he was memorizing people’s license plates, it’s highly likely that he was also learning their names.

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Slippy February 9, 2016 at 6:40 pm

For context back in those days remote work was not possible so everyone had to come into the office anyways. Trying to do work over a dial-up connection is its own special brand of torture.

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Elizabeth West February 11, 2016 at 3:56 pm

This smacks of micromanagement, too. I don’t like that.

I have a new boss and our team leader has been micromanaging me (she’s not even my supervisor). Nothing makes me want to run to another department more than someone focusing on stuff like what key commands I use. Bosses who micromanage, stalk, and pick at their employees risk losing them.

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Liz February 15, 2016 at 2:31 am

Here’s another theory … it is highly likley that Bill Gates has low EQ – possibly even high functioning Aspergers. If that is the case, then what he did makes perfect sense to him. He was just checking out who was there and who wasn’t in an unobtrusive way. If he is Aspie, he would find memorising numberplates to be a very easy way to do this – rather than walking around talking to epople which he would find extraordinarily difficult. I am in HR and have a particular interest in neuro-diversity.

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