Elon Musk never hid the fact that it is not easy to be a Tesla employee. "No one has ever changed the world at 40 hours a week," the CEO has tweeted, note 120 hours of work weeks were not unusual for him.
A story in Wired today (December 13) shows the toll of Musk's deliberate obsession with building electric cars powered by clean energy, has forced his employees and sometimes put his dreams at risk, just like made them possible. Charles Duhigg interviewed dozens of current and former Tesla employees who described the chaos and the target consciousness-Musk has brought Tesla's 40,000 or so workers. Duhigg portrays a company that is just as governed by fear of the vengeful moods of Musk as his inspiring vision of the future. The anecdotes are grim.
A young engineer, grilled by Musk about whether he was to blame for a fault in the assembly line, was fired on the spot when he asked to clarify the problem. Now that Tesla & # 39; s financial situation is getting worse this year, Musk says, "I have to fire someone today," one of the managers told me. "No, no, I just do that, I have to fire someone." An applicant for a sales position was reportedly rejected because Musk hated the color of their shoes (Tesla denies this). Managers stopped skeptics from meetings or avoided his desk to avoid Musk's anger. Many came to work, for fear that every day would be their last at the company. As a former director said, "Everyone in Tesla has a violent relationship with Elon."
The routine grew so often that it got a name: "We called it" the crazy bit & # 39 ;, "a senior engineer said. "If you said something wrong or made a mistake or smeared it the wrong way, he would decide that you are an idiot and that there is nothing that can change him."
Tesla responded by e-mail and said that the production of the Model 3, the first mass market car, was "terribly difficult" for Tesla, but the story of Wired called an "overly dramatic and sensational story". It denied suppressing internal debates or firing people without cause or disagreement with Musk. "That is fundamentally illogical, because it would be literally impossible for Tesla to still be here, if that is how we operated," wrote a spokesperson for Tesla. "In order for Tesla to succeed, we have to use extremely high standards and work harder and smarter than everyone else."
Despite the departure of at least three dozen senior workers within two years, more people have been willing to join Tesla's workplace that is chaotic at best, or at worst cruel and fickle, because they say they are have a sense of contributing to a larger mission.
"It is one of the few companies that really changes the world," a former manager told Duhigg. "And everyone was so smart." The seemingly impossible demands of Musk opened up a lot of people's potential if they could tolerate it. "He is someone who empowers you to be better than you think you can be," said Todd Maron, Tesla's former general counsel. "He has extraordinarily high standards and that is why he pushes you to be your absolute best."
But several workers claim that Tesla succeeded, despite the disruptions of their CEO and self-inflicted wounds, not because of them. A former engineering firm argued that Tesla's achievement was to build the world's most admired electric car while the CEO had a public meltdown and executives left the company. "That's a real achievement," said the manager. "That is amazing."
You can read the full function here.