What we can learn from Elon Musk and the Twitter Fiasco.
The Elon & Twitter Drama
In case you missed the trending news last night over at Twitter, I can break it down. There's also some valuable lessons in what's transpiring that many leaders in the post-covid workplace can take away.
After laying off half the company, changing the remote work policy, and implementing new changes to the platform, Elon sent a note out to the company yesterday with an ultimatum.
Either commit to "hardcore" work by 5PM that day, or take a 3 week severance package. Elon has spoken to hardcore work meaning longer days, mostly in office work, and less flexibility. Prior to his attachment to Twitter, there has been speculation of the company having employees working less than 30 hours a week making well north of $500,000 / year, overstaffing and excess spending problems, all while maintaining relatively moderate levels of innovation over the past decade.
Elon's message was not well received by Twitter employees, with the majority of respondents not accepting the terms sent out.
Rather than succumb to the new terms laid out by the new Twitter CEO, employees decided in droves not to take the deal.
In a time where we are seeing massive layoffs in tech, Twitter employees who were fortunate enough to remained employed were willing to give up their role and take their severance rather than work on the conditions outlined by Musk.
Reports coming out this morning from Bloomberg are showing Musk may be considering softening his stance on remote working policies in an attempt to retain some of his employees.
There's still plenty more drama to play out with Musk and Twitter, and I don't see this as any sort of real resolution. But there is some important lessons to be taken away from Elon's attempt of leadership.
The future of leadership, remote work, and the battle for talent.
Elon's attempt to bring Twitter back to the office is a microcosm of what is happening largely in corporate America currently. Employers are fixated on having their people return to the office. But that does not align with what many employees value today.
Although the immediate lay-offs and twitter trolling did not make Elon a fan favorite at Twitter from the start, his biggest mistake with his leadership at the company has been his lack of candor or understanding of what his people value. In order to get the most out of your people, you must understand what motivates them and what they value. Forcing your own values blindly and expecting your team to align to them does not work.
The pandemic and shift to remote work let the toothpaste out of the tube. We learned that we can be just as productive at home as we are in the office. The recent fear of a looming recession and tighter RTO (return to office) policy has given more power to employers to force employees back into the office. It's also given companies opportunity to win talent.
As a recruitment consultant, when I work with clients one of the most important questions I need to ask when helping a client hire for a role is what their office schedule is like. Firms that are on 3-5 days in office are much less likely to win talent than those that are still mostly remote or flexible.
In many instances, I've seen candidates willing to take substantial pay cuts of 20-30% to either remain remote or seek an opportunity that adds more flexibility. The cost of commuting, and the lost time from home have clearly taken precedent than the increase in compensation.
The challenge for employers who are back in office will be keeping their people.
The challenge for employers who are remote will be building and sustaining culture.
But in the case of Twitter, and any company that does try to go against the values of their people, they may not have any people to be able to build a culture around.