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Elon Musk: Revolutionising The World While Destroying His Workplace Culture

Elon Musk: Revolutionising The World While Destroying His Workplace Culture
January 20, 2018 Carly

Elon Musk. It is no secret we are obsessed with him as an innovative and entrepreneurial powerhouse. But while he is famous for his awesome achievements, he has also experienced serious criticism over the years.

It is this side of Elon Musk that we want to discuss in this article.

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How does one of the most successful men in our era revolutionise the world while destroying his own business’ culture?

Elon Musk is famous for his unrealistic expectations, perfectionism and ridiculous work ethic. Arguably, without these traits he would not be the success story he is today. But these traits are cause for concern, especially as it results in constant employee turnover for both Tesla and SpaceX.

Take a moment to think about how frustratingly tedious hiring, onboarding and training new employees can be. Now imagine that you were THE leader in space and land transport innovation. At any given time, both Tesla and SpaceX are running multiple highly complex, decade long projects. Hiring and onboarding new members is nowhere near as simple as introducing your new accountant, Richard, to the office team.

Now just think, where would SpaceX and Tesla be with a positive, encouraging and uplifting workplace culture? And where would space and land travel be?

But hey, don’t listen to us. Take it from his current and former employees.

“I regularly struggled with the culture and am extremely happy I am no longer there.”
former Tesla engineer, Brett Foster (he now works for Samsung)

“Tesla is where it is today because of Musk, but his “relentless perfectionism” made some people’s jobs — and lives — extremely difficult”
former Tesla CFO, Ryan Popple

“[Musk] is very, very demanding, and it’s not the right speed for a lot of people… He pushes really hard, and it’s mission driven. It’s constant activity. He used to say that he wanted only ‘special forces’ working for him. No normal people.”
Tesla’s VP of PR, Ricardo Reyes

According to an unnamed engineer, even the brightest and hardest working members of the SpaceX team would often feel “defeated” after meeting with Musk. Defeated is a strong word and something you never want to make your employees feel.

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Key Takeaways for You and Your Business

If you want a positive workplace culture, which you definitely should as studies show that unhappy, disengaged employees have a 37% higher absentee rate, are 49% more likely to be in an accident, cause 60% more errors, affect productivity by 16% and are 18% less productive. Should we continue or can we all just agree that workplace culture is really freaking important?

The Elon Musk Guide To Destroying Your Business’ Workplace Culture:

  • Work 100 hours a week and expect your employees to do the exact same. That way not only will you be burned out and miserable to be around, your employees will be too!
  • Let the desire to be ‘perfect’ be prioritised above anything and everything else. Because 99% near perfect is for losers and your employees don’t need to be congratulated or see any results from years upon years of state-of-the-art innovation and engineering.
  • Do not under any circumstances take some time to smell the roses. Your employees have spent years to do the impossible and successfully launched their project. After all their hard work the last thing they want to do is high five each other and pop the champagne bottle. No no, they want to get straight back to work and start a new, challenging project.

While Elon Musk is an inspirational and fascinating member of the entrepreneurial world, he also gives us a perfect example of how to absolutely ruin your workplace culture.

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