Today, too many CEOs are acting like 1922, not 2022, when it comes to the question of when and how to get back to work.
Elon Musk is one of them. As he did in the early days of the pandemic, ordering Tesla’s white-collar employees to return to the office or pretend to work somewhere, the assembly line to factory workers contrary to California’s public health orders. When forced to stay in, he entered the cave, just as the mine mogul did, ridiculing their health and safety concerns, just as John C. Osgood did a century ago. Later, he ordered his men to return to the pits.
Berlin, Germany December 1: Elon Musk, owner of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla, arrives on the red carpet … [+] Axel Springer Award 2020 held in Berlin, Germany on December 1, 2020. (Photo by Hannibal Hanshke-Pool / Getty Images)
Also, masks are not the only thing in his retrograde approach.
Earlier this year, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon ordered employees to return to the office full-time, calling it an anomaly trying to fix remote work as quickly as possible. And see how well it worked for him. Only half of his headquarters staff appeared.
This dictatorial My Way or Highway approach no longer works. Probably not, but in a world where this kind of top-down command-and-control leadership style was the norm, at least rich white men could get over it.
But, as the president who turned to General Dwight D. Eisenhower observed, you do not lead by hitting a person overhead. It’s assault, not leadership.
And if we learned one thing from mass layoffs, it means that most employees are no longer willing to put up with it. Companies and leaders who are unaware of this fact are at risk of losing talent and expertise that can be difficult, if not impossible, to replace today.
If you want to avoid that, you need to listen to them before telling them what to do.
Here’s one of the best tips I’ve received from mentor and legendary CEO Alan Mulally: Ask for understanding before asking for understanding.
It is one of his personal mantras and has been effectively practiced in both Boeing and Ford. From the current position of the board of directors of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Mulally can be confident that it continues to drive this collaborative approach.
Compare how Google addressed the issue of returning to work with the dull decree issued by Mask.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke with a student at Stanford Business School in April. Working together in the same office allows employees to foster community awareness, foster creativity, and create opportunities for collaboration that are essential to a company’s success. But so is flexibility.
I’m thinking of giving people flexibility as well, he went on to be very clear. We believe in face-to-face connections, but we believe we can achieve that in a more purposeful way and give our employees more agency and flexibility.
That same month, Google also asked employees to return to the office. However, like many leading tech companies, we chose a hybrid model that allows employees to divide their time between working at home and working in the office.
Google and others are aware that the pandemic has made it clear how many companies can do what they previously wanted to do, but they didn’t fully understand how to do it. Improve employee morale and retention as well as the productivity potential of new digital tools.
Test and learn
Other CEOs are paying more attention to finding a suitable model for the new normal.
Originally advocating a similar approach to Google, Apple is now rethinking it based on employee feedback. Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook called his company’s pilot program the mother of all tests.
At the Time 100 Summit, he said the starting point was likely to be wrong and could be the first to declare that adjustments were needed.
Last month, Musk ridiculed Apple with a more cautious approach by posting a meme of a fat, lazy dog. But when Musks weighs well-thought-out decisions, wrong starts, and a track record of breaking promises for Apple’s steady success on drum beats, the lack of adolescent humor is a mean mogul. ..
In contrast, Apple has recommended by me and other decision-making experts as a best practice in dealing with these complex issues. It’s research, detection, and learning. We set up experiments and carefully analyze the results using critical thinking. And most importantly, it’s about engaging with employees and listening to them, rather than just telling them what to do.
Mask needs to be asked when he meets a Twitter employee tomorrow, but he tells me that most of the story is hell.
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