The chaos continued to spread as employees walked out of Twitter on November 17 following Elon Musk’s ironclad demands. He gave the workers until 5:00 pm to decide whether to leave or stay and worked “long hours at high intensity”. Meanwhile, large corporations such as CBS suspended their Twitter accounts due to the uproar over the acquisition and the uncertainty over its future. Musk has used the kind of repressive leadership strategy that creates post-pandemic workplace disruption – the opposite of what experts say to remedy workplace havoc and mental health challenges caused by the pandemic Huh.
Workplace leadership experts claim that so far Musk’s leadership style is headed in the wrong direction. In a recent Forbes.com interview, Jen Lim, CEO and author of Delivering Happiness Beyond Happiness: How Authentic Leaders Prioritize the Purpose of Growth and Impact, Told me Musk is treating people like collateral damage rather than human beings, forgetting basic human decency in the way he’s handling the layoffs. Lim’s assessment raises the question of how his inhumane actions will affect the already-wounded mental health of employees. Others worry that copycat leaders will emulate Musk’s strategy to get a bigger bang for their buck at the expense of employee mental health.
The world’s richest man’s latest strategy to return to the office flies in the face of many other leaders who also insist that remote working is the way of the future and is here to stay. Steve Black, Topia’s chief strategy officer, claims that an entirely in-office policy is a dangerous talent strategy for other companies to implement. “Getting Elon Musk’s employees back into the office full-time is a dangerous talent strategy because it will likely lead to many employees leaving for more flexible jobs,” Black said. “In our recent Adapt survey, we found that 65% of employees who are forced to return to the office full-time say they are more likely to look for a new job; 46% are attracted to jobs that focus on employee well-being, and 42% want the ability to work from home whenever they want. Musk is going directly against both of these factors and taking away all the flexibility the minimum 40-hour-per-week.
oysters gone in the wrong direction
If a motorist was driving the wrong way on a one-way street, pedestrians would flag him down. If a leader is taking a large organization in the wrong direction, people in the know will flag it up before it crashes and burns. Here are the actions that experts say corporate leaders should take in 2023 to restore post-pandemic stability to the workplace — all of which Musk is turning upside down.
- Psychological protection for employees. According to Jenny Yang, vice president of people and culture at 15 Fives, leaders need to consider the competencies they want to see in their managers and employees, such as flexibility, self-direction and embracing ambiguity. “To survive the recession, psychological safety for employees is going to be critical next year, so leaders will need skills, especially how to handle internal communication,” he said, referring to healing and managing the trauma of toxic workplaces. Honing soft skills is imperative in tough economic times. “Focusing is an important skill for strong mental and emotional well-being and being able to relate to others.”
- Increasing team productivity without burnout. Tim Hersh, CEO and co-founder of Owler, told me that the biggest challenge for leaders in 2023 will be managing through economic uncertainty and increasing team productivity without burning out. “It’s going to take clear, honest communication throughout the organization and the establishment of key performance indicators (KPIs) of quality that everyone buys into within the teams,” he said.
- Creating a stable workplace. David Hassell, CEO and co-founder of 15Five, agrees that business leaders will definitely need to stand up to the uncertainty in 2023. Hassel told me, predicting that businesses will double down on leadership and management training and that the standardization of the 9-to-5 workplace is over, “Creating a stable workplace that anchors employee trust and loyalty. It can be remote or remote.” This is especially important in hybrid work settings. Employees who feel a sense of stability, support from leadership, a sense of purpose in their work and connection with others—all of which leadership should drive—are more likely to disengage or ‘cool down’ in the next year. will be less likely to drop out.
a better way to make difficult decisions
Elon Musk’s strategy runs contrary to the recommendation of evidence-based research findings and expert opinion. Here are the essential ingredients to wreak havoc in the post-pandemic workplace, say top leaders:
- Gallup insists that a company’s most important asset is its people.
- TalentLMS reports that 78% of employees want more support from the workplace.
- A body of research suggests that empathy is one of the most important leadership skills, especially in times of crisis.
- Experts say leaders must manage with stability and certainty during times of economic uncertainty, not add more confusion and disruption.
Still, many ill-informed leaders will recognize Musk’s reckless strategy and follow in his footsteps. Steve Black at Topia points out that this is a dangerous path for other companies to take. Twitter and Tesla have been strong, well-known brands. Black points out that most brands are not in the same category. Therein lies the danger, he cautions organizations, warning, “Should these brands follow Musk’s example, they may not attract enough top talent for a full in-office mandate to be a valid strategy.” Ultimately, the ‘Tesla is doing it, so we can’ strategy will be overly risky for most organizations.
The best way for leaders to stay true to company culture when faced with tough decisions is to reverse emotionless leadership decisions, Elon Musk said. “As leaders make these difficult decisions, it makes sense to take the emotion out of it,” Jen Lim told me. “Psychologically it can be salve to soothe an uneasy conscience. But conscious leaders take the opposite course. During Covid these leaders put aside the politics of titles and office and put on their empathy caps , knowing how they are affecting livelihoods. Keep your company’s values and purpose close, making them part of the idea as you make these decisions. Leadership must begin Why? these choices are being made and then How They are in line with the company’s values and purpose. The true characters of an organization have an opportunity to show their humanity when they are being supported.