Despite His Flaws, Elon Musk Has One Good Management Trick Up His Sleeve

Few public figures are capturing as much controversy as Elon Musk these days. The Tesla owner made waves after acquiring Twitter for three times its actual worth, and he has come under fire repeatedly for his exploitative labor practices as well as his confrontational and controlling management style. In spite of the fact that this is the case, Musk may have a single nugget of wisdom that may help managers to better handle their affairs.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that Musk recently sent out a Thanksgiving email to all of his employees in which he made a surprisingly pertinent point. In this email, he stated that managers need to be able to know how to code because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up helping them better assess their employee’s performance.

It is quite common for managers to only focus on the administrative aspects of their role. This often leaves them without much knowledge about the work that their employees are supposed to do. The distance between managers and employees is growing at a startling rate, and this can lead to managers making unreasonable demands of the people that they are responsible for with all things having been considered and taken into account.

It is quite ironic that such statements are coming from Elon Musk, given that he is in many ways the archetypal out of touch manager. He asks his employees to work many times more than their contracts require, and this is frequently criticized for being a bad way to do business. Workers have a limited amount of mental fortitude at their disposal. While making them work all night long may seem like it would improve productivity, in reality it only leads to employee burnout and completion times that are longer than might have been the case otherwise.

Regardless, Musks’s statement addresses a massive issue with current management culture. This paradigm needs to shift, and requiring managers to know the work can help with that.

Musk at a SpaceX demonstration / Public Domain

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