Originally published on Annex VE.
Recently, Inc. Magazine got his hands on an internal memo from Elon Musk that was sent to Tesla employees. Much has been said about Musk’s ability to disrupt Big Auto with Tesla’s supercharging grid, the battery advantage of EVs, solar boost / storage, and the vehicle’s range prowess. That said, this memo describes a much more mundane point of differentiation: improving internal communication between Tesla staff.
|Tesla CEO Elon Musk CleanTechnica|
While a memo like this might seem typical of a traditional business executive, Musk’s memo is shockingly atypical and fits his disruptive nature perfectly. Find out below …
Subject: Communication within Tesla
There are two schools of thought on how information should flow within businesses. By far the most common medium is the chain of command, which means you always pass the communication through your manager. The problem with this approach is that while it serves to empower the manager, it does not serve the business.
Instead of a problem getting resolved quickly, when someone in one department talks to someone in another department and does the right thing, people are forced to talk to their manager who talks to their manager who talk to the manager of the other department who is talking to someone on his team. Then the information must flow again in the other direction. It’s incredibly stupid. Any manager who allows this to happen, let alone encourages it, will soon find themselves working at another company. No kidding.
Anyone at Tesla can and should email / talk to anyone else based on what they think is the fastest way to solve a problem for the benefit of everyone. ‘business. You can talk to your manager’s manager without their permission, you can talk directly to a vice president in another department, you can talk to me, you can talk to anyone without someone else’s permission . Plus, you should consider yourself obligated to do this until the right thing happens. The point here is not to randomly chat, but rather to make sure that we are performing well and super-fast. We obviously cannot compete with the big automakers in size, so we have to do it with intelligence and agility.
A final point is that managers need to work hard to ensure that they don’t create silos within the company that create an us versus them mentality or hinder communication in any way. Unfortunately, this is a natural tendency that must be actively combated. How can this help Tesla for departments to erect barriers between themselves or view their success as relative within the company rather than collective? We are all in the same boat. Always see yourself as working for the good of the company and never for your department.
Could Tesla’s communications protocol challenge the heavy, bureaucratic culture of the Big Auto board? Communication experts from Daily RP thinks Musk’s motto is: “the chain of command be damned.” In addition, “the concepts expressed in this [memo] are controversial to say the least. By allowing – even encouraging – workers to bypass their bosses if they have a problem or an idea, Musk is making ground beef out of middle managers, at least in some eyes. Such a bold strategy could also wreak havoc on communications. “
|Elon Musk. Screenshot of Tesla video, edited by CleanTechnica|
On the other hand, it might be refreshing if more workplaces had “an environment of open and equal communication… It requires unusual levels of trust, empathy and teamwork. As Musk notes, everyone at Tesla is “in the same boat,” but workers often feel pitted against each other. Silos, competition and fear prevent productive dialogue and collaborative problem solving … [Musk’s] the exhortation to cut red tape and reject heavy notions of top-down decorum may have merit. So maybe he’s right. After all, Elon Musk himself is a communications wizard.
Reprinted with permission.
Featured Image: Tesla Supercharger by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica
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