- Seven current and former Tesla employees told Business Insider their thoughts on Elon Musk’s performance as CEO of the electric-car company.
- They said he’s inspiring and gave him credit for Tesla’s successes, but also criticized his management style.
- Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk is a polarizing figure. While he’s helped the electric-car maker survive and grow in an industry that is notoriously difficult for startups, he also has a tendency to make controversial statements, most recently about his desire for the US to quickly abandon the aggressive social-distancing measures that have been adopted to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Those who have worked for Musk have expressed a wide range of opinions about him, both giving him credit for Tesla’s success and criticizing his management style.
Here’s what seven current and former Tesla employees had to say about Musk’s performance as the company’s CEO. Each of the current and former employees asked for anonymity due to a fear of reprisal from Tesla, but their identities are known to Business Insider.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
Are you a current or former Tesla employee? Do you have an opinion about what it’s like to work there? Contact this reporter at email@example.com. You can also reach out on Signal at 646-768-4712 or email this reporter’s encrypted address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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He’s a good communicator
Musk does a good job of keeping employees updated on the projects the company is working on, a current salesperson who works in the Southeast said.
“He’s a very good communicator with his employees,” he said.
He needs to delegate more
“Elon’s an absolute genius, but I do believe that he needs to step aside and allow others to run the day-to-day operations and the internal processes of the company so that it truly operates like a company employees can trust and want to stay with and grow with,” said a former regional sales manager who left the company in 2019.
“Elon’s the man. There’s nothing bad I can say about him,” said a current salesperson who works on the East Coast. “He’s the reason I wanted to join the company.”
Musk has a vision, is driven to achieve it, and has proven his doubters wrong, the salesperson added.
He’s helped create a leadership void
“What I’d love to see him do is have some strong leaders within the organization, and I think unfortunately, probably from a cost perspective, the organization really had to flatten out from a leadership perspective, and I think there were a lot of voids in leadership within the organization,” said a second former regional sales manager who left the company in 2019.
But Musk deserves credit for Tesla’s survival and the company’s rising stock price, the former regional sales manager added.
He has brought out the best in his employees
“I firmly believe that Tesla would not be where it’s at without Elon,” said a former salesperson who left the company in mid-2019. “He brought out the best in everybody because he worked harder than everybody else.”
Musk has spoken about working over 100 hours a week and sleeping under his desk at times.
He should pay more attention to the concerns of his factory workers
“He’s doing a really great job,” said a former production worker at Tesla’s Fremont, California, car factory who left the company at the end of 2019. “The company is doing a really good job itself selling cars. Their stock numbers are going up, but when it comes to the people who actually make the car, I think Elon should worry about all the employees.”
Tesla could treat its factory workers better and create a safer working environment, he added.
Current and former employees at its Fremont factory have described issues with ergonomics and onsite medical care in recent years.
He’s great at getting free publicity, but can be too outspoken
“I think he does a very, very, very good job of getting free publicity without paying any money,” said a current vehicle-service employee. “He opens his mouth too much, but usually when he opens his mouth too much, he gets free publicity for it, so I’m kind of indifferent.”
“I think if Elon wasn’t here, we wouldn’t be where we are today — definitely wouldn’t have as many cars sold, definitely wouldn’t have the production numbers we do,” the service employee said.