Tesla: Now the Most Interesting Workplace Culture in The World...

Forget Google, Apple and if you're into pain, Uber.

Tesla is now the most interesting workplace culture in the world.  Here's 4 reasons why, my friends:

1--For starters, they've got a founder who is brilliant and unreasonable all at the same time. 

You've heard of Elon Musk, so he really doesn't need an introduction.  From a unauthorized biography I just read on him....

"When Musk came into the meeting room where I'd been waiting, I noted how impressive it was for so many people to be at work on a Saturday.  Must saw the sitaution in a different light, complaining that fewer and fewer people had been working weekends of late, 'We've grown f***ing soft", Musk replied, 
'I was just going to send out an email - we're f***ing soft'"

Founders.  Always a fun time.  There's 100 examples of this stuff in the book.

2--Tesla's under immense pressure to get production of it's newest car model, the Model 3, up to scale. And they are behind.  More from Bloomberg:

"Tesla said it built just 260 Model 3 sedans during the third quarter, less than a fifth of its 1,500-unit forecast. The company has offered scant detail about the problems it’s having producing the car. The vehicle’s entry price starts at $35,000, roughly half the cost of Tesla’s least-expensive Model S sedan.

A delayed ramp-up risks the ire of some of the almost half million reservation holders who started paying $1,000 deposits early last year." 

3--Tesla's at the intersection of manufacturing and automation with the ramp up of the Model 3 - here's an Instagram post shared by Musk late last week to respond to people reporting that there was limited automation at this point on the Model 3 line (email subscribers click through if you don't see the post below.  It's good):

4--Embedded in the founder driven culture is... wait for it.... people being fired after lackluster performance reviews!  And the company is saying that's the reason!  More from Bloomberg:

Tesla Inc. has fired an undetermined number of employees following a series of performance evaluations after the company significantly boosted its workforce with the purchase of solar panel maker SolarCity Corp.

 The departures are part of an annual review, the Palo Alto, California-based company said in an email, without providing a number of people affected. The maker of the Model S this week dismissed between 400 and 700 employees, including engineers, managers and factory workers, the San Jose Mercury News reported on Oct. 13, citing unidentified current and former workers.
 
“As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures,” the company said in the statement. “Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.”
 
An interesting founder still running things.  Big innovation.  Production delays.  Saying you're trimming the bottom performers aka Jack Welch and stacked ranking.
 
Tesla is the most interesting workplace culture in America right now.  It's not even close.

The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach...

I saw this one last weekend.  I think you'll enjoy it.  Here's your set up.

Alabama's football team is coached by Nick Saban - did a post early this week after what a control freak he is.  The thing is, if your system gets great results, you have the ability to be a complete control freak.  If you're not a world class leader, you can't be a micromanaging control freak, because people you manage won't take it - they'll revolt.

Most of us aren't good enough at what we do to be complete control freaks.  Nike Saban, however, is good enough.

Here's a new thought to add to that post earlier this week:

The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach

Video clip below (click through if you don't see the clip).  Talk about what to look for after the jump. 

Alabama is playing at Texas A&M.  The outcome was never in doubt, BUT... Texas A&M scores and is kicking off, and IF they recover an onside kick, they could throw a hail mary with 5 seconds left to tie it, etc.

So the onside kick is cleanly fielded by one of Alabama's best players - in a roster full of 5 star recruits - Minkah Fitzpatrick.  

Here's where it gets interesting.  Average players field that onside kick and collapse like they've been shot. Minkah Fitzpatrick. is not average, so he fields it cleanly and runs it back.  That's what stars do, right?

Ultimately, he gets pushed out of bounds, celebrates with his teammates and then at the :23 second mark of the video, puts his hands over this face like he's just seen a ghost.  

He saw Nick Saban.

Flash forward to the :27 mark of the video. Minkah Fitzpatrick. comes to the sidelines and takes a tongue lashing from Nick Saban before an assistant grabs him to explain things more calmly as Saban walks off.  The coaching is obviously that if you fumble as you run it back, there's a chance we lose this game.

What's interesting to me with this one is that Micah Fitzpatrick looked over at the sidelines after the celebration and thought, "oh no" - I screwed that up.

He's one of the best players on the best team in the country, and he just made a great play.  But the devil was in the details, and when it saw the sidelines, he realized the coaching that was coming.

The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach

Success brings a lot of positives to your organization.  One of the things we don't think about is how open talented people are to coaching.  But ff you're losing as a company, it's harder to coach the great ones.  If you're winning, it's easier.

The more you develop a culture of success, the more open all employees - even the great ones - are to coaching.


Social Loafing - Do People Give Less Effort When You Add More Resources To a Team?

Social Loafing -the phenomenon of a person exerting less effort to achieve a goal when they work in a group than when they work alone.

Hmmmm....

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From a book I'm reading...

One of the first scientists to explore the dynamics of group effort was a guy named Maximilien Ringelmann.  In 1913, Ringelmann conducted an experiment in which he asked Social loafingstudents to pull on a rope, both individually and in groups, while he measured the force they exerted.  The conventional view was that people in a group would have more power collectively than they did alone - in other words, adding people to the pulling group would have a multiplying effect on the force.

But the results were surprising - While the force applied did grow with every new person added, the average force applied by each by each person fell.  Rather than amplifying the power of individuals, the act of pulling as a team caused each person to pull less hard than they had while pulling alone.  Later researchers coined a name to the phenomenon.  They called it social loafing.

A later Fordham study decided to look at whether social loafing could be overcome.  They wanted to see whether one person giving a maximum effort could incite other to improve their performances. The scientists grouped their shouters in pairs and, before they began shouting, told them that their partner was a high effort performer. In these situations, something interesting happened. The pairs screamed just as hard together as they had alone. The knowledge that a teammate was giving it their all was enough to prompt people to give more themselves.

Is social loafing real in the workplace? I'd say 100% it is.  While high performing teams can do amazing things, the question is what does it take to be a high performing team?

You know some of the answers, right?  Goal setting, consistent feedback, task and role clarity within the team, etc.  Read deeper on social loafing and you'll find that the lack of clarity related to individual expectations causes many team members to assume/rationalize that other team members will do certain activities - so there's no need for them to act.

The impact of a reported high performer in the Fordham study is interesting as well.  Let's say you're at your company (ACME) and while you're a talented gal, you've had it on cruise control for awhile - the work is mundane, the people are mundane and even though some of your work teams aren't producing stellar results, you're still considered a high performer.

Why work harder? You're in a rut. 

Suddenly, a new hire shows up and you're told they're from a progressive company and are considered a key hire.  They're inserted into 2 of the 4 work groups you participate in at ACME and damn, they start trying to shake things up and get more done - even if it means doing more themselves than others are doing.

What do you do in those circumstances?  Deadbeats who are already long gone from an effort perspective might let them do it.  But anyone who still has ambition and a desire to be a high performer is forced to step up their game.

Social loafing exists in your company until you create some type of competition to wake people up.  

What type of competition is required?  Depends on your culture and your team.  Could be a key new hire, could be a project chart showing what people are working on or an overall scoreboard that puts the team in direct competition with others - or simply with themselves.

If you want to stop social loafing, introduce competition.  Competition is not a dirty word.  Don't let a sleepy culture at your company tell you otherwise.

 

 


Why Is This Manager Riding Your ### In The (NFL) Workplace?

Capitalist Note: Please make it stop.  This slow season on the sports front is killing me. Can football go ahead and get here so we have some meaningful programming?  No, baseball doesn't count - sorry - at either the pro level or the Little League World Series level.  BTW, while I'm ranting, when did Little League games at the sub-regional level become ESPN fare?  Do I really care about Lansing, MI vs Kalamazoo, MI in the sub-regional qualifier?  Why is that on ESPN?  Shouldn't kids be in school?

Related - get off my lawn.  Below is a post on coaching skills in NFL training camps and the connection to your talent - to get you through this trying time on television.

Greg williams_6

Some of you are NFL fans. Remember "Bountygate" in New Orleans, where the team was paying bounties for vicious hits and knocking opposing players out of games? Read up here if you need a refresh - the whole scandal caused coach Sean Payton and his defensive coordinator to be suspended for an entire season.

That defensive coordinator?  It's a guy named Gregg Williams, and last year he was Defensive Coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams, the team featured on the HBO series "Hard Knocks", which basically puts 100 cameras in training camps and then crafts a show around it. It's a great series, check it out if you haven't.  (note - Williams is in Cleveland this year and Hard Knocks is in Tampa, where I just saw them cut a kicker they wasted a draft pick on two years ago.)

Back to Gregg Williams - as you might expect, a guy who's been suspended for a season for being inside a bounty system (something that was common in the NFL in the past and not limited to the Saints, btw) is a little salty when talking to his players.

Here's a great highlight from episode 3 of Hard Knocks in 2016. The scene is a film breakdown of the first pre-season game and head coach Jeff Fisher has warned the team to prepare for real talk when they break up into their various units for the film breakdown.

Enter Gregg Williams, who begins his film breakdown with the following gem to the team:

"Now, you’re saying, ‘There it is, Gregg’s being a dick again.’ No, I’m f**king trying to figure out how I can f**king help you make this team,”

Translation - if you listen to what I say and make adjustments, you'll have a better chance of not being cut.  If you choose to focus on the fact your performance is being criticized and don't hear what I'm telling you, you're missing an opportunity.

I loved this clip because while harsh, it underscores what everyone who manages people has to accomplish before coaching for improvement can begin - asking for the focus of your coaching to assume you have positive intent in coaching them.  You're not trying to be an ass, you're trying to help them.

Can you accomplish that in a softer way than Williams? Yes.

Will a lot of you go too soft and invite the recipient of your coaching to view the feedback as optional?  Also yes - which is not good.

Conveying a sense of urgency when coaching is art, not science. There are a lot of ways to get it done.  You may hate the way that Gregg Williams does it.

Just don't assume, because you're more professional, that your coaching is more effective.


ASSESSMENTS (With Video): Your Best Feature Is Also Your Worst Feature...

Short post today with a "coaching others" slant.  Let's say you've just taken a behavioral assessment.  Which one?  Doesn't matter, because as the video below alludes to, almost all of them are based on the same science.

Anyway, you took the assessment.  On some of the dimensions you're a part of the crowd, lumped somewhere in the middle of humanity.

But wait - there's a couple of things where you really stand out!  Examples:

--You're high assertiveness...(you deal with things that need to be dealt with)

--You're high people....(you engage with others easy and are seen as approachable)

--You're low sensitivity...(you take feedback easily - and make quick adjustments based on the feedback with little emotion)

See what I did there?  The brackets tell you why your outlier score in the areas mentioned can be considered a super-strength.  

But for every interpretation of an outlier assessment score as a positive, there's also a negative.

Turns out, when it comes to assessments, your best feature is also your worst feature.

High assertiveness can bite you in the a$$ when you don't understand a situation where it will be perceived as highly negative. High people individuals tend to talk more than the listen, which often limits their effectiveness/results.  Low sensitivity people are often low empathy and don't automatically understand how others feel.

So celebrate your outlier scores, or those of your direct reports.  Then coach on a daily basis on where that super-strength is best deployed, and what situations the super-strength needs to be muted for best results at work.

Your best feature is your worst feature.  Video below of me talking assessments at Disrupt HR (email subscribers click through if you can't see the video)...

Lies, Damn Lies, and Using Assessments | Kris Dunn | DisruptHR Talks from DisruptHR on Vimeo.


HARVARD B-SCHOOL: 50% of Grades Are Based on Classroom Participation - Should You Do More of That?

Here's an interesting business school item to compare to the business world - at Harvard Business School, it's common for 50% of someone's grade to linked to the frequency and quality of their class participation.

That creates a dynamic in the "case-study" method of teaching that includes a couple of things:

--People having to prepare more diligently for the material to be discussed.

--People being under pressure to participate since they know they'll be graded on it. Hbs-mbaclassroom (1)

--A wide variety of quality and quantity of participation, which the instructor must figure out in order to assign a grade.

Are you grading your direct reports for their participation in corporate America?  Should the managers you support do the same?  Should more of the performance management rating be tied to active participation in corporate conversations - meetings, project teams, etc?

In short, are you allowing team members to hang back and not participate actively in conversations meant to get better outcomes for your company?  For those that do participate, all are equal or are you probing as a manager/leader for logic and perspective in a challenging way that might get better conversations rolling and better business outcomes?

I think the standard is that we let people who don't want to be active hide in the weeds.  Here's some notes from the HBS site related to classroom participation and how instructors manage it:

"Students and instructors are co-creators of class participation, and the stakes may be quite high, not only for collective and individual learning, but also for performance evaluation. (For example, at HBS participation often accounts for 50% of the total course grade.) During a class discussion, case instructors manage participation along two dimensions: who to call on and how to interact with students in the process of questioning, listening, and responding. In managing participation, instructors should strive to create a learning environment that students experience as fair, safe, and challenging.

During a case discussion, experienced instructors often rely on a variety of principles to decide which student to call on (or avoid selecting) at any point in time. Instructors might choose a student with expertise relating to the discussion topic to help clarify a difficult conceptual point or, conversely, select a student with little prior background to start off a discussion pasture. Instructors may seek to bring in less frequent participants by keeping a close eye out for their hands during the discussion and by cold-calling these students on occasion. Body language may also provide a useful guide: instructors may prefer to call on a student who reacts with excitement or confusion to a comment just made in the discussion, as opposed to a student whose hand has been up for some time. Instructors should track class participation on an on-going basis to ensure that their calling patterns are not biased with respect to certain demographic groups or individual students."

What that summary doesn't say is how participants are graded for a couple of things - namely, their willingness to participate actively without being asked and of course, the quality of their thought process, ideas and interactions once engaged.

Great conversations and sharing ideas in a proactive, credible way without crushing dissent is part skill and part art.  

If you're a manager of people, are you grading people in your head for their willingness to engage?  I'd think about this and add it to your senior-level stack when it comes to performance management.

50%? Nah.

10-20%?  Now you're talking.


When Companies Hire Above You To Make a Statement (or Force You Out)...

There's a lot of plays in the ole' Human Capital Management playbook.  There are plays for recruits, high performers, difficult team members, managers, struggling performers and more....

This play is one that's run occasionally for low/struggling performers.  It's called:

"We're Hiring Someone in a Position of Authority Above You. In your functional area"

Bigger title than you.  You report to them.  You probably didn't even know we were in the market, but we just told you, so hey - meet the new boss.   You WERE probably the boss before if this play was ran, so the Who song doesn't apply ("meet the new boss, same as the old boss..).  If you were the boss and we just hired a superior above you to run your department, well, it's pretty clear the new boss is different than the old boss.

Got that?  Good.  Let's give you an example - Sean Spicer is out as the spokesperson for the Trump administration, but his resignation didn't come until Trump just hired someone above him.  More from The New York SpicerTimes:

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned Friday after telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with his appointment of Anthony Scaramucci, a New York financier, as his new communications director.

After offering Mr. Scaramucci the job on Friday morning, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Spicer to stay on as press secretary, reporting to Mr. Scaramucci. But Mr. Spicer rejected the offer, expressing his belief that Mr. Scaramucci’s hiring would add to the confusion and uncertainty already engulfing the White House, according to two people with direct knowledge of the exchange.

If the moves amounted to a kind of organizational reset, it was not part of a pivot or grand redesign. The president, according to a dozen people familiar with the situation, meant to upgrade, not overhaul, his existing staff with the addition of a smooth-talking, Long Island-bred former hedge fund manager who is currently the senior vice president and chief strategy officer at the Export-Import Bank, which he joined just last month. His rapport with the president establishes a new power center in a building already bristling with rivalry.

The hiring of Scaramucci above Spicer is a classic example of the play outlined above -"We're Hiring Someone in a Position of Authority Above You."

Are we firing you?  Nope.  Do you have the same level of authority you did?  Nope.  Here's a couple of things anyone who uses this play is trying to say:

--You aren't performing at a high level.  That's obvious if we hired a new position above you without letting you know/apply.

--Your performance hasn't been great.  Also obvious if we did what we did.

--We don't think you can do everything we need you to do.

--BUT - and this is significant - we aren't ready to fire you.  You have some sort of value, and we'd like you to continue.

Whether you continue or not in the role is up to you.  You'll likely have to reframe how you view yourself and what the possibilities are in our organization.  Can you do that?

If you can't, then you'll probably resign.  If you can't but can't afford to resign (yet), there's probably going to be some bumps in the road with the new boss.  

Meet the new boss.  You didn't even have a boss in your area of expertise yesterday.  #deep


If I Were Starting A Union, Here's What I'd Do...

I'm spent a lot of time over the last week thinking about the challenges of the budgeted merit increases - you know the drill - 4% across the board, and you need to get "pay for performance" out of that.  Which got me thinking about this ...

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If I Were Starting A Union, Here's What I'd Do...I'd rip a page from the player's unions in the major sports leagues and focus my bargaining on the establishment of a salary cap.

Once the cap was established as a percentage of company revenue, the deal would be pretty simple from an economic perspective - members of the union would get more cash as revenue grew, and they'd be at risk if revenue didn't grow or decreased (I'd have to figure out how new headcount impacts that - there would have to be some way to protect a certain % of growth for the incumbents).

Of course, membership drives for my union would be challenged - mainly because the majority of workers in America have no interest in that kind of risk, or at least see little value in the upside. They'd rather take their 3% annually.

Which means I'd have to attempt to unionize high performers and Linchpins only.  Of course, that's problematic since this group really doesn't need representation and can increase their compensation on their own, both within the same company and via the free market.

Crap.  Back to the drawing board...


Sometimes Great Teammates Decide To Let Co-Workers Live With the Consequences of Stupid Decisions...

Sometime after your first year with your company, you start to settle in.  All the onboarding is complete, the honeymoon is over and you've accurately assessed your job as a mix of positives and negatives.  If you're still there and not on the market after a year, that generally means you're content.  Hopefully you're learning and things are starting to click related to your role and how you can have success.

Another thing happens after the one year mark - you've settled into a clear understanding of who your teammates are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and if applicable, the circumstances/topics/conditions that will make them absolutely self-destruct.

You're a good teammate - so you've likely tried to make the self-imploding teammate aware of his self-destructive, hot button issues. 

But.They.Just.Won't.Listen.

So you do what a reasonable human would do after getting nowhere.  They next time the mushroom cloud is getting ready to go up, you grab some popcorn, a Fresca and get ready to watch the show.

That's what happened to Buster Posey (catcher of professional baseball's San Francisco Giants) last week.  A hothead teammate picked a fight with an opponent, and Buster decided to take this scrum off.  If you don't see the picture below, enable pictures or click through to the site to see the setup.  Buster's the one that's standing behind home plate while the #### is getting ready to go down:

Posey

Pretty good analysis from the Mercury News in the Bay area:

Oh, crap. Why do I have to deal with this knucklehead? Whatever.

Buster Posey can say whatever he wishes with his own words about what happened Monday afternoon. He can speak out loud and put his own spin on the way Giants’ reliever Hunter Strickland’s purpose-pitch hit Washington Nationals’ star Bryce Harper in the butt and sparked a bench-clearing meltdown. But anyone who watched Posey’s body language during the play could read and see exactly what was happening inside his brain.

Really, dude? And you expect me to defend you after . . . that?

The unwritten rules of Major League Baseball decree that when an angry batter leaves the box and charges at the pitcher, the catcher is supposed to sprint out and make an effort to hold back the batter before he reaches the mound.

Posey did just the opposite when Strickland plunked Harper, who reacted with a stare and then a sprint toward the pitching rubber. Watch the video. Watch Posey. As Harper storms toward Strickland, the Giants’ catcher actually takes a half step backward, not forward. Then he watches.

You’re on your own, pal. I can’t believe this. But you deserve whatever happens next. 

As everyone knows, Posey is the center of gravity inside the Giants’ room. He has been almost since 2010 when he joined the team full time. He calls the pitches on the field. He calls out teammates when needed. He has a dry and wicked sense of humor but is a very serious man. We don’t see everything that happens when the locker room door shuts. But you get the impression that before any other Giants’ player speaks up, he at least glances over to Posey to see how he’s reacting.

Odds are you've got a couple of people like that pitcher in your organization.  They've got talent.  But they've got a hot button that limits them career-wise.  You've probably already gotten splatter on you from the fallout when you tried to help them.  Either they lashed out at you or someone else in the organization accused you of being in their camp.

At some point, you have to back away, let them implode and let nature take its course.  It's Darwinian in nature.  They've got a flaw and try as you might, you can't help - and you certainly can't fix it.  They couldn't adapt.

You're a vet now.  Sometimes you have to do what Posey did.  Just let it happen and stay above the fray.

The honeymoon is over, right?