Archives for Efficiency

Think What Happened To Elon Musk Won’t Happen to You? Think Again!

Reverse Engineering Internal Sabotage for Prevention [Part 1 of 3]

SpaceX Discovery Fire

Discovery Fire Galaxy 2016

The Tesla sabotage incident Elon Musk made the world aware of last week raises a few great questions.

  1. How does somebody who would be inclined and capable of sabotaging your company get into your company, and how can you prevent that?
  2. How can you choose the right person for promotion, but still make sure that those who didn’t receive a promotion stay engaged and working in the company‘s best interests?
  3. Once you know that your hiring process allowed a saboteur to get through the screening process, how do you make sure that the rest of your workforce is on the up and up without insulting knows of higher values and morals?

All great questions, but we’re going to focus on #1 today and tackle the other two in subsequent posts.

If you took a look at Tesla’s Glassdoor profile, you’d see that they rate highly, at 3.4 out of 5 stars, but only 57% would recommend Tesla as an employer to a friend.

Overall, people are in it for the mission of disrupting the energy and transportation industries, and 85% approve of the job Elon Musk is doing. The common complaints, however, are lack of work/life balance – long hours with minimal pay and inflexible attendance policies. The benefits are not quite making up for the lack in fair pay, either. Plus, lack of procedures are making employees feel like they can’t even be efficient in the time they spend there.

Apparently, people get fired unexpectedly and are given little to no feedback on their performance. Also, one employee reports that it’s rare to be recognized, even if you’ve achieved the “impossible;” it just becomes the standard expectation from that point forward. They are letting go 9% of their salaried workforce (outside of production) to cut costs. They also are churning through people who find it hard to stay more than a couple years.

Musk knew when he decided to step up and disrupt very wealthy and powerful industries that he would become a target. However, with the workforce complaints piling up, I wonder why he didn’t see an internal attack coming.

Perhaps he isn’t familiar with altruistic punishment – a reaction embedded in our brain that gets triggered when a person believes he/she or someone else is being treated unfairly. Why did nature install this type of reaction in our brain? To promote cooperation that supports the evolution of our species.

In answer to #1, biologically, science has proven all human beings are capable of inflicting harm on someone who has treated others unfairly. It stands to reason that people have varying thresholds.

I think of Clark Griswold when I think of altruistic punishment. It hardly matters what National Lampoons movie you choose. He always had the best of intentions to show his family a great time and make meaningful memories. When other people’s shenanigans and acts of God threatened to sabotage his plans, he felt fully justified in breaking laws and violating other people’s safety and/or property to achieve his well-intentioned mission. In the end, people admitted that they were being unfair and Clark and his family got away without punishment and with amazing memories that brought them closer together as a family. Good times. I don’t see the Tesla employee enjoying such a happy ending, but maybe.

I’m sure Musk has his own justifications for keeping things the way they are – in order to be profitable, the company has to produce 5,000 Model 3s each week. People have proposed that he be stripped of his Board Chairman position. The company’s shares are worth 16% now than they were last year at this time. No doubt, Musk is under a lot of pressure to control costs and boost production to survive as a company and achieve his mission. I’m sure employee belief in the mission is the thing that Musk was depending on to get him and his over-stretched workforce through these challenges. Unfortunately for Musk and his mission, it wasn’t enough, and the costs have been extremely prohibitive, though he still remains certain that he will achieve his production goals.

Yes, Musk confessed to sleeping at the factory. I’m sure he wants his workforce to see him as a model employee, to see that he’s willing to put in every drop of his effort and time for the sake of his mission. Can he really expect them to show the same level of commitment AND perform, stay, endure with few perks to their lifestyle? Once they have been hired by any of his companies, they become premier talent for the taking.

He suspects the jilted employee was collaborating with someone associated with Wall Street or the industries he’s disrupting.

Here’s the thing: if you were losing or stood to lose millions of dollars with the widespread production and purchase of solar/electric vehicles, and you knew that many employees were unhappy with the conditions under which they work, might it occur to you to convert an employee into an accomplice?

Not all companies have such enemies, but they do (or will) have competition.

Out of curiosity, I scooted over to Elon Musk’s other companies’ Glassdoor profiles to see what was said about them. I had heard that a recent graduate I know received an offer to work for SpaceX, but turned it down because it required 70 hours per week. SpaceX is very highly rated at 4.4 out of 5 stars, and Musk’s approval rating is even higher at 97%! It seems that even though lack of work/life balance is still a very common complaint, improvements have been made since 2015. So far, though, it looks like the mission and the high caliber of talent is keeping the workforce going. It’s been rated a top place to work for 2018.

I headed over to SolarCity, which has been part of Tesla since 2016 and is being led by Lyndon Rive. As you might expect, lack of work/life balance is the #1 complaint, but other common complaints are also poor training and lack of communication from executives. It also seems that background checks are quite extensive. One employee waited 12 weeks for verification. This was while the company was part of Tesla, and before the saboteur came out with his confession. I wonder if the saboteur made it through the same comprehensive and stringent background checking, yet still wound up wanting retribution.

So, should you tweak your hiring practices to include measuring the altruistic punishment threshold of potential employees, or should you address workforce complaints to the best of your ability?

It seems to me that sound, fair workforce cultures and policies are the best way to prevent internal sabotage. These are fixable problems!

If I were a shareholder, I’d be highly skeptical that the company could become profitable by cutting the workforce outside of production while doubling production.

I wonder how the costs of attrition, lack of efficiency, quality issues, and extensive internal sabotage rack up against the costs of more flexible work days, increased monetary incentives, improved feedback and communication, and career planning. Could Musk have avoided quality issues, delayed launches, sabotage and having to do a workforce reduction if he invested in solving the issues affecting his people?

As much of a visionary as I can agree Elon Musk is, it seems his eyes are on the prize and not his people. This is a strategic failure I hope doesn’t result in the combustion of his company, especially as new competitors emerge regularly.

One employee already stated that he feels everyone fears that the company is one disaster away from imploding. Could it be?

Is your company at risk of a similar fate?

If you answer yes to any of the questions below, then your company is at risk.

Please nominate your company for a workforce audit (all submissions are confidential!) by e-mailing us with your company’s name and the name(s), direct e-mail address(es) and direct phone number(s) to any and all contacts who would be the most logical point(s) of contact. C-level executives are logical points of contact, but so are majority shareholders and Vice Presidents empowered to make workforce investments.

  • Does your company put profit above people?
  • Do your executive leaders seem inaccessible and lack transparency?
  • Would you consider the working conditions to be inhumane and/or counter-productive?
  • Do they fail to acknowledge achievements?
  • Are your performance evaluations lacking in clarity on what you can improve or how you can grow?
  • Do they fail to give you feedback or deliver it harshly?
  • Is unprofessional behavior tolerated?
  • Does it seem certain kinds of people always get the promotions?
  • Are initiatives lacking in funding while executives take home healthy salaries and bonuses?
  • Does your boss play favorites?
  • Is communication one-way or non-existent
  • Are you fearful of what will happen if you make a mistake based on a history of punishment vs. development?

Beastie Boys – Sabotage

Music video by The Beastie Boys performing Sabotage. (C) 2009 Capitol Records, LLC

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.

A Winning Job Search Day: What It Looks Like to Be In the Groove

Weekly Goals Setting by Cloud Planner of Flickr

Weekly Goals Setting by Cloud Planner of Flickr

What does your typical job search day look like?

Usually when I ask that question, the answer is, “Searching and applying for jobs online.”

We have all heard by now that networking is the number one way to land a job, but still, the siren call of the low-hanging fruit is too tempting to resist.  Forming new habits is already a challenge for our brain, but what I have found keeps most people from moving into JoMo (Job Momentum) is that they do not have a clear picture of what a day looks like when you are truly in the job search groove.

Below is a sample schedule of a job seeker who most likely has multiple viable job opportunities in progress, or will very soon.

I guarantee that if you spend even three of five days a week executing this schedule, as long as you have an effectively branded résumé, LinkedIn profile, and call to action, within two weeks you will have opened the door to an opportunity that you could consider to be the next great step in your career.

As we have stated many times before, it is not about the QUANTITY of time as it is about the QUALITY of time.

jobsearchschedule01

 

Are you working full-time and wondering how your day would look if you were WINNING at job searching?

That is actually a very common question. Again, even if this is your day three days per week, with the right tools and conversations, you will soon find that you are building JoMo.

jobsearchschedule02

Most importantly, I want you to know that it is okay when life happens. This guide is meant to serve as a model and is not intended to make you feel guilty. As we shared last week, studies prove that the worse you feel, the worse you will perform and vice versa.

Do what you can. The point we really want you to take away is that it is not how much you do or how hard you work that makes the difference in your results, but what you do when you have the time to give to your job search. Job boards may seem easy, but they too often lead to a spiral of frustration and disappointment, time wasted on anti-user interfaces, and a lack of response that seems to mean that you are not wanted or valuable.  Also, people seem to underestimate the number of viable opportunities that are available by depending too heavily on job boards to uncover opportunity.

You do not have to be the victim of a broken hiring system. You CAN make things happen, and when you do, you realize that your EPIC future is yours to design.

 

So, your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to try this schedule three days a week for two weeks. Report back to us with your results.

If nothing has happened for you, let us evaluate your résumé, LinkedIn profile, and campaign.  We will help you diagnose what may be holding you back and propose a roadmap to get you back on track.

 

When Communication Drives You Crazy

Help Point by Mark Hillary from Flickr

Help Point by Mark Hillary from Flickr

My brother-in-law in Kentucky sent an email out last week to his immediate and some extended family regarding referred methods of keeping in touch.

 

It spurred some very interesting responses and some very intriguing conversation between my husband and I.

 

I know I have my own “rules” about how I think its best for people to contact me. I try my best to explain them to others so that they can accommodate me, and I ask them how they prefer to be contacted. However, there are sometimes people that just seem to refuse to indulge my preferences, and furthermore, those that insist that their preferred form of communication is better than my preferred form of communication, which can be so frustrating.

 

I really want your opinion on this scenario:

 

As a result of my outreach and posting on LinkedIn groups, I get a lot of invitations from people I do not know, which to me is evidence that my content is engaging and that my profile is inviting. However, I explain to them that before we connect, I would like to get better acquainted and give them my CELL PHONE number to give me a call so that we can schedule something. For me, extending my personal cell phone number (which is my only number) is a way of telling them that connecting with them is important to me, because it is a number I do not make public and because it is the device that I respond to with the most urgency (however I do not answer it when I am with clients, unless it is my husband or babysitter.) Most people, I am finding, choose instead to give me their number or their availability in response via LinkedIn messages. The problem with this is that now their response has lost urgency, as has the scheduling of their meeting, because I get the notification via e-mail, which is a non-urgent form of communication. Furthermore, in order to resist any “time sucking” effects that social media can have, I regiment my time, setting designated times to post group messages, respond to network status updates, and reply to messages and invitations. I perform research for clients or business development on an as needed basis. I am a reasonable person who is happy most of the time to extend some flexibility, so I had made some exceptions, logging in to LinkedIn at undesignated times to respond to these individuals and schedule a time to talk. Unfortunately, I AM NOT STRONG ENOUGH to resist the distractions that abound on these social media sites (I try to do the same for Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.) I know I am not the only one with limited time to spend on social media; however, if you could see how my blocks of time depend windows carefully planned and vigilantly protected around my kids’ schedules (as most know, I work from home and take care of them – both full-time jobs.) You can probably see how problematic it is to waste ANY time.  If I waste any time, something else has to suffer, and I cannot let it be my clients. So, it may be inflexible, but I went back to regimenting my time and decided to make repeated requests of these individuals to move our scheduling conversations OFF social media to the phone, or e-mail if need be. One individual recently never acknowledged, let alone obliged, my request, so I thought I would explain my regimenting. Still, he insisted on giving me his availability via LinkedIn message. That particular day, even if I had chosen to make an exception, I was out of the office all day for personal business (it was my mom’s birthday.) So, his message went unanswered (as I had explained that it might unless we could schedule via phone or e-mail.) He sent me a message that read as follows:

 

“Karen, I am withdrawing my invite this has gone on since Aug 27. I respect your time but you must respect mine.”

 

Who is disrespecting whom here? I wanted to make connecting a priority, which is why I gave him my direct number and urged him to call me.

 

I know I will hear from some LinkedIn and social media evangelists who think that LinkedIn invitations and messages should be a priority, but let’s get real: EVERYTHING can’t be a priority. If you want to be a priority, use my phone number. If I gave it to you, it means you are a priority. If you tell me that you are best at responding via e-mail and that happens to be an appropriate venue for our exchange, I’ll be happy to accommodate you.

 

So, what is appropriate? Does each person decide for himself or herself? I know I have my own ideas, but a lot of them were inspired by efficiency experts who I have studied, read and followed on behalf of my clients who also have to make the most of their time while accommodating the communication preferences of their audience.

 

I hope this post elicits a LOT of responses, because I am hungry for feedback!

 

Here is a summation of communication media and what I have come to determine as the best practices of using each:

 

Email – a non-urgent form of communication. It is best for things that have to be documented and referred to on a future or ongoing basis, such as instructions or directions. Can also be good for communications sent outside of normal business hours. Efficiency experts warn of the time abyss of e-mail and recommend only checking this 5 times per day.

 

Text message– immediate/urgent, short. Best for sharing critical details, scheduling meetings, short sentiments. IT is not a good forum for debate, argument or describing complicated concepts

 

Phone – Personal, implies desire to connect on a “human” level, good for leaving an explanation of moderate length or when something needs to be expressed with inflection and sincerity. It is critical any time a decision has to be made that requires much consideration of both or all parties. My biggest complaint is when people ask you to call them back at a number different from the one that they called from and they say it fast. I recommend that if that is necessary, attempt to text or email the number as well, and tell the recipient that you are doing so. In the days of smart phones, when people check their voice mail from anywhere, including while driving (not condoned,) who has a pen handy to take down a number? How many would rather just click on the number to call the person back?

 

Social Media – Great for initiating conversations or instant messaging when others are on concurrently. For any of the above, move it off social media.

 

Snail Mail – If it isn’t a bill, it better be a thank you, an invitation, a greeting card, or an announcement.

 

Web conference/webinar – If I need to provide an introduction or more in depth instruction on a program, a service, a product, a methodology, a workflow, etc. screen sharing is an incredible asset, and being able to benefit from others’ questions and comments can be invaluable to reinforcement in learning.

My Labor Day of Labor – I’ve Come Clean

This may still be cluttered to some, but it is zen-inspiring to me.

This may still be cluttered to some, but it is zen-inspiring to me.

No, I didn’t have another baby. I spent my holiday fighting dust balls and licking paper cuts.

After 3 years of compiling papers and collecting nonsense in my office, I “clean sweeped” (I know it’s swept, but it doesn’t sound right in this context.) There were literally 60 lbs. of paper and other junk purged from my house. I have two big boxes of great fall clothes to sell on e-bay, donate or turn into crafts. I know where everything is in my office. What is most important is most prevalent and within easy reach.

The adjustment to working from home with my babies, who are now grown up enough to know when the house is messy, happened very slowly.  While I expanded my roles as primary caretaker and entrepreneur, some of my other priorities and values were placed aside. I justified that it was what I had to do because of the choice I made to stay home and work, but in the meantime, crap accumulated and inhibited my growth. That’s where I was; I had no more room to grow because I had no room in my home and most sacred space.  The choice I made was no longer empowering; it was an abyss. While I continued to learn more and teach clients about efficiency, time management, resource management, etc., I was ignoring fundamental best practices of success – simplicity of organization and accessibility of information.

Especially because I do so much on my computer, where it seems everything is at my fingertips, these fundamentals were easy to ignore for so long. Until, enter financial advisor and partner Brian Brogan.

He asked, “Where is the space dedicated to managing the lifeblood of my family and business?”

“Oh, here and over there and I can even work outside…”

“STOP!,” he pleaded. “What are you saying about your priorities if you have no place dedicated to managing the very thing that allows your family to function?”

While he has been here at our house, he never new we had an office because the door stayed shut when there were visitors. We even kept the vent closed so as to not heat or air condition it. It was, essentially, a junk room.

After reading some of The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, I had started to make a little progress on my office. I sorted unopened envelopes one day. Then another day I opened them. Then another day I took out any files older than 2009 to make room for the newer files. Then, I left the office alone for a week. I avoided it. What happened?

If my house were a factory, I think they would call it a bottleneck.

I needed to renew my car registration, but I couldn’t find the form. I had to make a return, but I couldn’t find a receipt. The CPRW (Certified Professional Résumé Writer) certification exams that I am supposed to grad within 2 weeks piled up for a month. ssential functions took 10 times longer than they should have. I was wasting time looking for things, feeling like a hot mess, and my temper and patience were getting short. Friday I had a gentleman tell me that I wasn’t able to listen to him. I didn’t even realize it, but I kept interrupting him. Instead of listening compassionately first, then advising appropriately, I was defensive and curt. This was impacting more than just tasks – my credibility with peers, my authority with my kids and my ability to effectively coach were hampered.

Enough – I had to do the work. The clutter had to be confronted, and so did my feelings about the clutter. With the exception of a break to have tea with my husband, make princess hats with my daughters, and hit up a local playground where we could all get a workout in, I pounded away – from breakfast to 2 or 3 in the morning. I finished at 4:30 Tuesday morning. The process, while tiring, was cathartic. What Brian said was reverberating in my brain and I thought very consciously about where I placed things based on how important I wanted them to be. Even choosing what size folder to attribute to a project made me process what amount of time I was committing to dedicate to that project.

Once it was done, I didn’t care anymore that I didn’t get to go the shore or the Poconos or that I didn’t see any concerts or even go out to eat. I had forgotten how much I value organization. For a while, I had been wishing I could just hire someone to find a place for everything, but I couldn’t wait for that to happen.

Now that I am in my office, and I can work in my office and find things in my office (and elsewhere,) I am able to think. I feel lighter and can breathe easier. Brian says that I have now made room for the harvest. Those books that I read, while portraying the importance of organization to taking action also echoed his sentiments: If you want something to show up, you have to make room for it. Now that I know I have room for growth and expansion, I have more confidence making strategic plans for my business. I want to spend time here. I want to show it off. Here. Have a look:

One thought leader I follow, I can’t remember which or perhaps it is all of them, says that people take action when they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Why is that? Why did I have to let it get to that point? Even though the disorganization was certainly having an impact on my family and me, I waited until other people were being impacted by my disorganized house before I resolved to get it cleaned up for good. I resolve now to be proactive in keeping order in my house, in my office and in my mind.

 

Have you ever been sick and tired of being sick and tired? Are you waiting until to feel this way to take action?