Microsoft, currently ranked as the best employer according to Forbes’ 2023 list, has been in the news recently due to its workplace management strategies implemented by co-founder Bill Gates. It’s interesting to look back at Microsoft’s history, particularly during its establishment in the late 70s, when Gates was known for his micromanagement approach.
A media source revealed that Gates would closely monitor his employees, even memorizing their license plates to keep tabs on them. In one instance, co-founder Paul Allen recounted Gates patrolling the parking lot on weekends to check attendance.
Micromanagement, a leadership style embraced by some successful entrepreneurs, has been a controversial topic. Figures such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos have been notorious for their demanding work cultures. Musk’s intense work environment even led some employees to sleep on the office floor.
While this strict approach was once perceived as a hallmark of success, recent years have seen much criticism for the same. Micromanagement is where a leader excessively monitors and controls the work of their subordinates to an unnecessary and detrimental extent.
Many studies suggest that controlling bosses diminish employee morale and productivity. A study in the Asian Journal of Economics and Banking found that micromanagement adversely affected both, even if employee morale remained intact. Another survey highlighted that 73% of workers identified micromanagement as a significant workplace issue, with 46% considering leaving their jobs due to it. Additionally, these authoritative leadership styles have also been linked to reduced employee autonomy and increased susceptibility to misinformation, as revealed in a Scientific Reports paper.
Coping with micromanagement requires a combination of communication and self-management strategies. Open and honest communication with the micromanager about expectations, progress updates, and the need for autonomy can help establish trust. Setting clear boundaries and demonstrating competence in tasks can also alleviate micromanagement tendencies. Additionally, employees can proactively seek feedback and provide regular updates to address concerns.