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Elon Musk Called ‘Unapproachable Tyrant’ in Tesla Employee Survey


Shortly after Elon Musk officially bought Twitter on Oct. 27 for $44 billion, the Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Free Report CEO took the company private and began cutting staff.

He fired Twitter’s CEO, CFO and other executives. His vision for the company involved a much smaller workforce, so mass layoffs began. Some 3,700 people were let go, about half of the company’s employees.

Many Twitter workers found out their jobs were gone in unceremonious fashion. Some were simply unable to log in to their laptops while others received the news by virtue of being locked out of their Slack accounts.

Then, on Nov. 16, Musk continued the purge by offering Twitter employees an ultimatum. He sent an email to all employees and told them to expect “long hours at high intensity” and to consent to these conditions. If they did not consent, they should receive three months of severance, they were told.

“Going forward, to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be extremely hardcore,” Musk wrote in the email. “This will mean working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade,” the billionaire wrote.

“If you are sure that you want to be part of the new Twitter, please click yes on the link below,” he continued. “Anyone who has not done so by 5pm ET tomorrow (Thursday) will receive three months of severance.”

Musk’s management style is undeniably aggressive, and to some observers, short-sighted and mean-spirited.

It is with this background that a 2018 employee review at Tesla has now emerged.

An ‘Ugly Part of Tesla’s Culture’

The survey, which was referenced early November in a lawsuit filed by a Tesla shareholder over Musk’s $50 billion pay package, shows that employees formally lodged complaints about the culture and leadership at the company.

“Tesla is hemorrhaging highly talented, ferociously driven people who truly believe in the company’s vision and continue to hope for its success,” wrote one worker in the survey which was revealed by Insider.  “Elon is a technical leader of the highest order, and yet is widely seen as an unapproachable tyrant who devalues the contributions of the staff, and may fire them on a whim … we treat people, the fundamental unit of a company, like any other expendable resource.”

Insider reported the worker added that Tesla “fails to distinguish between technical leadership and people leadership,” and called this an “ugly part of Tesla’s culture.”

The survey also revealed results of employee favorability ratings in response to a number of questions. The weakest favorability scores were in areas of compensation and trust in Musk and his executive team to balance employee interests with those of the company.

Tesla is an ‘Extremely Toxic Environment’

The employee survey revealed a number of additional comments expressing concern. These include the following:

“Elon needs to take ownership of the position he has put the team in. He and JB need to take that on themselves. They need to immediately stop firing everyone that reports to them and remove any threats from how they are doing business. I feel at any point I or anyone around me will be fired, and I am not planning on sticking around much longer in that extremely toxic environment.””… the blame placed by Elon and the Exec team on lower level engineers without owning any accountability to the poor level of design review, non-reality based scheduling and insufficient resource allocation has led me to lose all trust in Elon as a leader of this company.””… empower people to not be bullied by Elon into making unrealistic commitments.””I think that there needs to be more effort put into the culture here at Tesla. I know that the work is incredibly important and that we all need to work hard, but we also need outlets to express and enjoy ourselves on a more personal level … There are also few communications from Elon Musk and the executive team … I think it’s important [they] reach out to the company from time to time with exciting updates so we feel more of a sense of community and belonging.”

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