Elon Musk embodies the quality that people hate most in a boss – Quartz at Work

Elon Musk is known for many things: Being bullish on electric cars and colonizing Mars; to name a baby X Æ A-12; makes a decent Wario impression. But reliability is not among the billionaire contractor’s obvious traits.

In 2018, for example, Musk announced that he had the funding to take Tesla privately to $ 420 per tonne.a shocking allegation that forced him into a $ 40 million securities fraud settlement with U.S. regulators. Also that year, Musk baselessly accused a diver involved in the rescue of 12 Thai children trapped in a cave of being a pedophile. And just this month, he agreed to join Twitter’s board of directors, quickly retired and now offers to buy the social media network for $ 54.20 per share, citing his lack of confidence in the current management.

Some Twitter employees are reportedly terrified of the prospect of Musk buying the company – and that’s understandable. Research shows that volatility and inconsistency are among the most feared traits of a boss. And those are qualities Musk has demonstrated in spades.

Stressed out working for a fleeting boss

At an internal Twitter meeting this week, employees expressed concern over Musks history of irregular behavior. According to a report in the New York Times, an employee compared it to a “hostage situation.”

“I do not think we are being held hostage,” Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal reportedly replied.

But working for a leader whose behavior is unpredictable can certainly feel that way.

A 2016 study, published in the Academy of Management, showed that people are physiologically less stressed by a supervisor who is consistently a fool than a boss who is sensible one day and unfair the next. The survey also showed that workers with unpredictable bosses are more likely to say they are emotionally drained and dissatisfied with their jobs than those with bosses who are consistently awful.

“Much of it focuses on this issue of uncertainty,” Fadel Matta, one of the study’s co-authors and now an associate professor at Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, told the Washington Post. “This notion of knowing what to expect – even if it’s bad – is better than not knowing what to expect at work.”

Does Elon Musk change his mind too often?

Previous interviews with Tesla workers have painted a portrait of the workplace that relies on Musk’s mood swings. “Everyone at Tesla is in a violent relationship with Elon,” a former executive told Wired.

Just as destabilizing as emotionally volatile bosses are those who do not do what they say they want. While it’s a good thing when managers are open to admitting that they make mistakes and change their minds when they get new information, turning positions too often can erode workers’ confidence.

Musk has a track record for failing to live up to his promises, including giving up his word to employees. In 2020, for example, he gave Tesla employees permission to stay home if they did not feel safe going to the factory during the pandemic, and then allegedly fired workers for not returning in person.

To Musk’s credit, he admits that his expectations do not always prove to be accurate. “I do not want to blow your mind, but I’m not always right,” Musk told the Washington Post this week, discussing his past overconfidence in the timeline for the rollout of fully self-driving cars.

The cultures Musk monitors at Tesla and SpaceX

There are plenty of other alleged problems with the management culture that Musk monitors: Tesla was fined $ 15 million (reduced from $ 137 million) for a race discrimination lawsuit, and factory workers have also talked about how the pressure to increase production has led to. to precarious working conditions at work. In December 2021, five former SpaceX employees came forward with claims that the company promotes a culture of sexual harassment – just a month after Musk struck out to tweet a sexist joke.

The concerns now raised by Twitter employees are a reminder of how important stability is in a leader. As Nancy Rothbard, professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, tells the Harvard Business Review: “When you’re dealing with an emotional slide, it often makes your challenges at work infinitely greater.”

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