Billionaire Tesla boss Elon Musk has a stark message to boost business: walk out of poor meetings.
The charismatic leader of the electric vehicle revolution says staff should be encouraged to vote with their feet if meetings are unproductive.
In an email to workers, Musk says: “It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.”
The communication, obtained by website electrek, was sent as his company struggles to boost production targets for its Model 3 car.
He offers seven top tips for workers to get more out of their day:
- Large meetings – Musk says “excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time”.
- Limit how often you hold meetings. “Meeting frequency should drop rapidly once the urgent matter is resolved.”
- Don’t be afraid to walk out of a meeting or quit a business calling “as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value”.
- The use of acronyms or “nonsense words for objects, software or processes at Tesla” only inhibits communication. “We don’t want people to have to memorize a glossary just to function at Tesla.”
- If it’s better to bypass a chain of command to get the job done, then do it, he urges. “Any manager who attempts to enforce chain of command communication will soon find themselves working elsewhere.”
- On a similar theme, Musk rails against poor communication between departments. “If, in order to get something done between depts, an individual contributor has to talk to their manager, who talks to a director, who talks to a VP, who talks to another VP, who talks to a director, who talks to a manager, who talks to someone doing the actual work, then super dumb things will happen.”
- Rules are there to be challenged. Use your common sense, he argues, so if a company rule is “obviously ridiculous”, then that rule should change.
Although valued in the tens of billions, Tesla has yet to turn a profit. Production issues have dogged the flagship $35,000 Model 3 and Musk has taken the decision to temporarily halt production at plants in California for upgrades aimed at increasing output from 2,000 to 6,000 cars per week by the end of June.
He tweeted last week that pushing automation at his company at the expense of human expertise was “a mistake”.
Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 13, 2018
Musk also said he was well aware critics were pointing to the fact Tesla had yet to turn a profit.
Therefore, he said, there would be a renewed focus on saving money. To that end, the email says, the finance team will be combing through every detail of every expenditure to ensure it is delivering value for money.
He also took aim at Tesla’s contractors – likened to be a “Russian nesting doll” of layer upon layer of contractor, sub-contractor and so on.
“This means a lot of middle-managers adding cost but not doing anything obviously useful,” he said.
“There is a very wide range of contractor performance, from excellent to worse than a drunken sloth.”
Contractors have been given a week, he said, to prove their excellence or their relationship with Tesla will be over “on Monday”.
Musk has good reason to push Tesla on to the next level. His pay is linked to performance in such a way that unless the company grows tenfold to $650 billion over the next decade, he won’t receive a penny.
Should it reach certain performance targets, however, he is set to pocket $55bn.