Acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest tech companies, Microsoft has famously made a number of missteps over the last decade that have hurt its stock performance. Whether it was failing to develop a smartphone that could compete with Apple’s iPhone or not being able to do search like Google, Microsoft has fallen behind in the ever-evolving technology industry. While the company is still a technology behemoth, it could be doing much better.

A good deal of the trouble can be traced back to the corporate culture that has been encouraged by Steve Ballmer and the executives at Microsoft. Instead of having an open culture that promotes cooperation and the sharing of ideas like at Google, there is an atmosphere that fosters competition among employees, individual goals, lack of communication and a high level of stress. Human Resources is charged with enforcing the policies that create such tension, and they, along with upper management, bear responsibility for the way things work at Microsoft. Instead of aiding in a culture of aggressive internal competition, the company’s HR department should have focused on providing services to employees and ensuring everyone was treated equally and with respect.

5 Things that Microsoft did Wrong

1. Stack Ranking

When the powers that be decided to grade their employees on a bell curve in order to assess their most valuable or important workers, they set in motion all types of problems. It was not so much as identifying the best of the best, but rather, weeding out the individuals who just did not contribute as much towards achieving the company’s goals. The consequences of being on the low end of the curve would be anything from being reprimanded to being terminated.

2. Creating an Adversarial Atmosphere

Put two boxers in the ring and tell them that the winner gets $10,000 and the loser gets nothing and you will see a real fight. The same is true when you pit employee against employee. When your job is at stake, the competitive spirit really takes center stage. People will resort to whatever tactics they think will help them keep their job. While there may not be actual acts of sabotage, there is certainly a lack of anything resembling a symbiotic relationship.

3. Stress Reduces Creativity and Productivity

Not many people can flourish in a work environment where you are constantly aware that if you screw up you may lose your job. People will be less apt to volunteer suggestions and more likely to just want to do their job and get their paycheck. Employees are a company’s most valuable asset and Microsoft was treating them all like a small cog in a big machine.

4. Losing Good Talent

Microsoft experienced numerous defections of many of their most talented people who just didn’t want to work in such a cutthroat workplace. Tech companies depend on the brightest and most creative minds to grow and prosper. Unfortunately, many of the best and brightest from Microsoft took their talents to the competition.

5. Lack of Passion

Passion for your job is a quality that most managers would rank up there with work skills and efficiency. Microsoft had a workforce that was not very passionate about their jobs.

Learning How to Manage your Employees

Small and mid-sized companies can learn from the giants that people are their most important asset. It’s important to have a work environment that encourages cooperation and communication. When people all feel like they’re contributing to a common goal, they will work harder and be more productive.