The Elon Musk era at Twitter has become regular fodder for the media. And whether the information coming out is correct, partially true, or complete fabrications is anyone’s guess. However, with some of the quotes attributed to Mr. Musk, there are interesting things going on in Twitter workplaces.
While hindsight is always 20/20, there are some basic lessons anyone in business anywhere can learn from Twitter.
Lesson 1: Communication is not an optional hassle.
Like operations at Tesla, the Twitter communications team is all but gone, and communications in general are “deprioritized.” Without getting into a detailed description of the duties of a communications team and their importance, communication in general is the lifeline of an organization. Without knowing what’s going on with your customers and staff, not to mention B2B coordination with vendors, the media, suppliers, etc., the company is basically on a blind solo flight. Regardless of location, race, sex, or how much money you have, we are connected on this planet. Like it or not, people and companies need each other, and that need is even greater during transitions like buyouts, takeovers, downsizes, etc. And it’s even greater yet when the company is in the communication business. Internal and external communications are a necessary part of every business and should not be ignored.
Lesson 2: Bad news is best delivered in person.
It’s very hard to deliver bad news. It’s not something most people want to do, but it’s a part of life. Since the news is typically worse for the person receiving it than the person delivering it, most people factor that into the delivery. This is why bad news is best delivered in person. The human connection mentioned earlier comes into play here, and the ability to make a difficult situation better for the recipient. This also demonstrated the importance of communication. Focusing on how you present difficult information is as important as the information itself.
Lesson 3: Being a good employee does not mean dedicating your life to your job.
The lessons from the Great Resignation are still not resonating with some. Expecting people to commit to long hours (with no clarification) and work at a high intensity (again, additional information would be nice) in order to keep their jobs….it’s hard to find the words to describe how out of touch that is. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a high intensity work environment. This is a technology-based company, and it’s well known to be an intense field. But this isn’t about the work culture or the vision of where Mr. Musk wants to take Twitter 2.0. If it were, he’d have included it in the email/text/tweet he sent employees. This was about blind loyalty to him, which may help explain the lackluster response he received. Demanding staff work long hours and prioritize their job over everything else does not create hardworking, loyal employees.
Lesson 4: Separate the professional from the personal.
The common thread running though the entire Twitter nightmare is the concept of the ultra-wealthy man taking revenge. Whether it’s the banning of people he didn’t believe should be banned, to an Engineer daring to correct him publicly, many of the decisions being made at Twitter appear to be reparations for personal vendettas. The recent public shots with Apple also point to a man using the Twitter purchase as a means to air grievances he has. Musk is a successful businessman who has amassed lots of money, which in America translates to power. However, no amount of wealth exempts people from professionalism and maturity. Business decisions should be based on what’s best for the company and the employees of that company.
Lesson 5: Changing ownership overnight does not change the company culture overnight.
The vision Mr. Musk has for Twitter may be a ground-breaking success. Regardless, it’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s definitely not going to happen in a few weeks. You can’t simply purchase a company and fire everyone who’s not on-board with your new vision immediately. Culture change in a company simply doesn’t work like that, regardless of the industry, company size, and amount of money you have. Companies are made up of people, human beings. Each and every one is different, which is what makes everything flow. If I can’t see a way through, someone else with a different perspective comes along and sees it a different way that works. We see things differently. We process things in different ways and at different times. Forcing people to make life-changing decisions on the fly because your new vision requires instant, unwavering loyalty is a great way to find yourself with hundreds (possibly thousands) of resignations. Implementing change at a company is a process, not a demand.
Bonus Lesson: Ultimatums rarely go the way you think they will.
The media is doing its usual thing and highlighting the chaos and the drama of the ever-changing situations at Twitter. But this is not about getting eyes on your story for higher ranking and ratings. The Twitter situation has real consequences. This is a rich man buying a company that affects thousands of jobs and thousands of families, and pummeling them into chaos because he could. This is yet another sad example of the hall pass being given to the wealthy, even when they demonstrate a lack of connection, caring, and character.
Whether you love or dislike Human Resources, it’s times like this when company executives should be relying on their Human Resources teammates. It’s so important to go over the plan for the company and utilize HR and other resources available to make it as easy on employees as possible. Times of change are not the time to go it alone or wing it. I hope Twitter HR and other personnel can provide the guidance and assistance their employees and other staff need at this time.
As always, if your company needs assistance with change management or staff communications, please contact us or another HR agency.
Elon Musk image: By Steve Jurvetson – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/18659265152/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40974345