Tesla’s Elon Musk: Corporate communication style is ‘incredibly dumb’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told
employees that they’re always free to talk to

AP Photo/Jack

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is no stranger to tackling
challenges — his companies work on everything from
space suits
self-driving cars
to miles of
tunnels under Los Angeles

They also work on communication.

In an email from Musk to Tesla employees published by
Inc’s Justin Bariso
, Musk encourages employees to buck the
traditional chain of command found in most companies, in which
messages always flow through managers.

“The problem with this approach is that, while it serves to
enhance the power of the manager, it fails to serve the company,”
he wrote.

He continued

“Instead of a problem getting solved quickly, where a person in
one dept talks to a person in another dept and makes the right
thing happen, people are forced to talk to their manager who
talks to their manager who talks to the manager in the other dept
who talks to someone on his team. Then the info has to flow back
the other way again. This is incredibly dumb. Any manager who
allows this to happen, let alone encourages it, will soon find
themselves working at another company. No kidding.”

A better way, Musk wrote, is to speak to whomever you need,
whenever you need, however it best serves the company.

“Anyone at Tesla can and should email/talk to anyone else
according to what they think is the fastest way to solve a
problem for the benefit of the whole company,” he wrote. “You can
talk to your manager’s manager without his permission, you can
talk directly to a VP in another dept, you can talk to me, you
can talk to anyone without anyone else’s permission.”

In fact, he wrote, in the spirit of “ensuring that we execute
ultra-fast and well,” employees should consider themselves
“obligated to do so until the right thing happens.”

Bariso reports the email was sent to employees “a few years ago”
and that Tesla confirmed its authenticity.

When your company is at the forefront of technology and space
exploration, communication might seem like an afterthought. But,
as Musk apparently recognized, poor communication can set
everyone back. How are you supposed to accomplish anything

if you’re misspeaking
your colleagues don’t respect you

If diverging from the traditional chain of command doesn’t work
on clearing up communication, perhaps we should wait for Musk’s
next project — he raised $27 million with the aim of
linking human brains with computers

Get the latest Tesla stock price here.

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