Tag Archives: Employees

Elon Musk Sent an Email to Employees at 1:20 in the Morning, and It Just May Signal the End of Tesla
January 23, 2019 12:23 pm|Comments (0)

Have you ever gotten an email from your CEO at 1:00 in the morning?

And let’s just say the email…wasn’t pretty.

After highlighting Tesla’s numerous accomplishments over the past year, Musk got down and dirty, announcing another round of job cuts–this time reducing the number of full-time employees by about 7 percent.

The job cuts are necessary, Musk argues, to help the company meet the unique challenges it faces. Challenges like, “making our cars, batteries and solar products cost-competitive with fossil fuels,” products that Musk admits “are still too expensive for most people.”

Musk also acknowledges that since Tesla is competing “against massive, entrenched competitors…[employees] must work much harder than other manufacturers to survive.”

All of this hard work is worth it, Musk says, to support the “mission of accelerating the advent of sustainable transport and energy, which is important for all life on Earth.”

It’s hard not to be inspired by this message. 

Everyone–including the world’s major car manufacturers–knows the continued use of fossil fuels is not sustainable. And no one can deny that those companies probably wouldn’t be as vested in clean energy as they currently are, if it wasn’t for Tesla leading the charge.

But while I’m a fan of much of Musk’s philosophy, it’s the next part of the memo that worries me:

“There are many companies that can offer a better work-life balance, because they are larger and more mature or in industries that are not so voraciously competitive. Attempting to build affordable clean energy products at scale necessarily requires extreme effort and relentless creativity, but succeeding in our mission is essential to ensure that the future is good, so we must do everything we can to advance the cause.”

“We must do everything we can to advance the cause.”

Musk’s personal goal to save the planet may be admirable, but what he’s implying here is not. 

Treating people like people

We generally think of emotional intelligence as a positive quality, one that can help you manage conflict or establish deeper relationships. But in my book, EQ Applied, I describe how one could also use their knowledge and understanding of emotions to motivate or even manipulate others with the sole intent of strategically achieving a goal.

Once that goal is reached, or when individuals are no longer helpful to pursuit of the goal, they are discarded with little or no concern for their well-being.

While it’s likely that Musk truly believes his own rhetoric, what he’s trying to achieve–namely, getting people to buy into the mission of “saving the world” by working themselves to the bone–simply isn’t sustainable. 

And it’s hurting Tesla employees in the process.

In contrast, the most effective mission-driven organizations encourage balance and taking care of one’s self. They realize that anything other than that is foolish and will hurt the cause in the end, in the form of damaged workers and, subsequently, damaged culture. 

Yes, the best organizations use their messaging to inspire their people and reach them on an emotional level. But they do so while keeping their individual needs in mind.

The best organizations encourage their people to get enough sleep, by not sending emails at 1:00 in the morning.

The best organizations encourage their people to take time off, by providing an adequate vacation policy–and encouraging company leaders to set the right example by not working on their own vacations.

The best organizations set a pace their people can maintain indefinitely. Because they realize that long-term success is brought about, not necessarily by those who are the fastest or who work the longest days, but by those who are steady and reliable.

By keeping the big picture in view, and treating their employees as real people–as opposed to disposable commodities–the best organizations inspire company loyalty.

The sooner Musk faces this reality, the greater Tesla’s chances of truly changing the world.

Tech

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Google Is Paying Employees for Six Months of Charity Work
January 17, 2019 12:49 am|Comments (0)

Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, has launched a new program that will pay its employees to do pro bono work for nonprofit groups for up to six months.

Google announced the new program, called the Google.org Fellowship, on Tuesday. The purpose is to let Google employees take on full-time pro bono work for the organization’s nonprofit partners, which include groups like the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Girls Who Code, and Amnesty International.

The company aims to achieve 50,000 hours of pro bono work this year.

The fellowship extends Google’s community service outreach and adds to a growing list of volunteer-based initiatives offered by tech companies. It also helps Google accomplish two goals: aid the community with the company’s expertise—as well as motivate employees and help them sharpen their skills, according to the company’s blog.

The launch of Google’s fellowship came after the company piloted a six-month program in which it sent five Googlers to work with Thorn, a nonprofit founded by Ashton Kutcher that develops technology to protect children from sexual abuse. Through the partnership, Google employees helped build tools to find patterns in data that would assist law enforcement in identifying and locating child victims faster.

Since then, seven Google.org fellows, including software engineers and data scientists, started working with Goodwill Industries International, to which Google.org gave $ 10 million in 2017. Googlers will help the organization get better insight about what works best in their job training programs.

Prior to this program, Google had already offered employees volunteer hours, though a much smaller number, for community service projects.

Google launched GoogleServe in 2008, aiming to encourage employees to participate in community service projects for a day in June. The program also helps match employees’ skillsets to nonprofits’ needs and allows them to spend up to 20 hours of work time volunteering. Last year, more than 5,000 employees volunteered more than 50,000 hours across 400 project, according to Google’s website.

Along the same lines, Salesforce.org, the philanthropic arm of business software company Salesforce, has a Pro Bono Program that offers employees 56 hours of paid volunteer time annually. Between the program’s debut in 2014 and October 2017, Salesforce employees had volunteered 166,000 pro bono hours with 5,700 organizations.

Twitter also offers a community service day. The #TwitterForGood Day, a biannual event at the company, gives employees the chance to do community service at partnering organizations.

Apple premiered its employee volunteer program in 2015. The Apple Global Volunteer Program helps employees organize and support organizations and events in their communities. The program offers training and tools to help them create and promote volunteer events.

Tech

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STEM Candidates Can't Deliver Everything You Need. Success Requires Employees From the Arts.
October 26, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

I love STEM. Without STEM students, there wouldn’t be doctors, or the engineers who put together the Inc.com site. Big data has revolutionized the way business is done, and it would be impossible without STEM skills. But when young people ask me what they should study, I always encourage them to consider liberal arts.

Businesses will need people to translate computer language into human language. When big data analytics uncovers a hidden pattern, someone needs to draw conclusions from the information and develop an action plan. If a robot breaks down, someone needs to explain to management why it happened – and why it won’t happen again.

Here are more reasons why you should hire someone from the arts:

1. Fresh Perspective

Hiring an artist is like getting an injection of creativity. Leaders can use this to better market to their customers, and to better connect with their employees. Artists aren’t afraid to be unconventional, but they have no time for inauthenticity. Having these elements as part of your company culture is a great way to attract high quality candidates, and will appeal to the right kind of customers.

2. Agility, with Mission Focus

3. Budget Management

The arts are chronically underfunded. If you’re looking for an employee who can stretch the value of a dollar, the arts are a great place to look. Artists use their creativity, open-mindedness, and pain tolerance to make it work. They’re able to stay on course no matter the budgetary constraints, and produce something that looks and feels like money was no object.

4. Personality Tolerance

The arts are full of people with personality – and the spectrum of personality is wide! Imagine putting together a theatre production. You have to work with an idealistic writer, a Method actor, a union stagehand, and a theatre director trying to keep donors happy. People in the arts are used to handling a variety of personalities and balancing competing interests while keeping everyone happy and working together. It’s a skill any office can benefit from, and can help keep your company humming.

5. Content Over Medium

This is perhaps the most important reason you should hire someone from the arts. With constantly changing technology and evolving tastes of customers, it can be difficult for business to find the right way to connect with employees and consumers. But here’s what many business leaders forget: the method of communication doesn’t matter if the content is garbage. To reach your desired audience, your content needs to make an impact. Artists are expressive, and know how to use humor, trauma, and beauty to make an emotional impact on the audience. No matter the medium, artists can effectively communicate your message, helping your culture blossom and your business grow.

Tech

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Apple Warns Employees to Stop Leaking Information to Media
April 14, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

Apple Inc. warned employees to stop leaking internal information on future plans and raised the specter of potential legal action and criminal charges, one of the most-aggressive moves by the world’s largest technology company to control information about its activities.

The Cupertino, California-based company said in a lengthy memo posted to its internal blog that it “caught 29 leakers,” last year and noted that 12 of those were arrested. “These people not only lose their jobs, they can face extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere,” Apple added. The company declined to comment on Friday.

Apple outlined situations in which information was leaked to the media, including a meeting earlier this year where Apple’s software engineering head Craig Federighi told employees that some planned iPhone software features would be delayed. Apple also cited a yet-to-be-released software package that revealed details about the unreleased iPhone X and new Apple Watch.

Leaked information about a new product can negatively impact sales of current models, give rivals more time to begin on a competitive response, and lead to fewer sales when the new product launches, according to the memo. “We want the chance to tell our customers why the product is great, and not have that done poorly by someone else,” Greg Joswiak, an Apple product marketing executive, said in the memo.

The crackdown is part of broader and long-running attempts by Silicon Valley technology companies to track and limit what information their employees share publicly. Firms like Google and Facebook Inc. are pretty open with staff about their plans, but keep close tabs on their outside communications and sometime fire people when they find leaks.

Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg last week talked about her disappointment with leakers. In 2016, Google fired an employee after the person shared internal posts criticizing an executive. The employee filed a lawsuit claiming their speech was protected under California law.

In messages to staff, tech companies sometimes conflate conversations employees are allowed to have, such as complaining about working conditions, with sharing trade secrets, said Chris Baker, an attorney with Baker Curtis and Schwartz, PC, who represents the fired Googler. “The overall broad definition of confidential information makes it so employees don’t say anything, even about issues they’re allowed to talk about,” he said. “That’s problematic.”

Apple is notoriously secretive about its product development. In 2012, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook pledged to double down on keeping the company’s work under wraps. Despite that, the media has continued to report news on the firm to satisfy demand for information on a company that’s become a crucial part of investment portfolios, many of which support public retirement funds for teachers and other essential workers.

In 2017, Apple held a confidential meeting with employees in another bid to stop leaks. Since then, publications, including Bloomberg News, published details about the iPhone X, a new Apple TV video-streaming box, a new Apple Watch with LTE, the company’s upcoming augmented-reality headset, new iPad models, software enhancements, and details about the upcoming iPhones and AirPods headphones.

Here’s the memo:

Last month, Apple caught and fired the employee responsible for leaking details from an internal, confidential meeting about Apple’s software roadmap. Hundreds of software engineers were in attendance, and thousands more within the organization received details of its proceedings. One person betrayed their trust.

The employee who leaked the meeting to a reporter later told Apple investigators that he did it because he thought he wouldn’t be discovered. But people who leak — whether they’re Apple employees, contractors or suppliers — do get caught and they’re getting caught faster than ever.

In many cases, leakers don’t set out to leak. Instead, people who work for Apple are often targeted by press, analysts and bloggers who befriend them on professional and social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and begin to pry for information. While it may seem flattering to be approached, it’s important to remember that you’re getting played. The success of these outsiders is measured by obtaining Apple’s secrets from you and making them public. A scoop about an unreleased Apple product can generate massive traffic for a publication and financially benefit the blogger or reporter who broke it. But the Apple employee who leaks has everything to lose.

The impact of a leak goes far beyond the people who work on a project.

Leaking Apple’s work undermines everyone at Apple and the years they’ve invested in creating Apple products. “Thousands of people work tirelessly for months to deliver each major software release,” says UIKit lead Josh Shaffer, whose team’s work was part of the iOS 11 leak last fall. “Seeing it leak is devastating for all of us.”

The impact of a leak goes beyond the people who work on a particular project — it’s felt throughout the company. Leaked information about a new product can negatively impact sales of the current model; give rival companies more time to begin on a competitive response; and lead to fewer sales of that new product when it arrives. “We want the chance to tell our customers why the product is great, and not have that done poorly by someone else,” says Greg Joswiak of Product Marketing.

Investments by Apple have had an enormous impact on the company’s ability to identify and catch leakers. Just before last September’s special event, an employee leaked a link to the gold master of iOS 11 to the press, again believing he wouldn’t be caught. The unreleased OS detailed soon-to-be-announced software and hardware including iPhone X. Within days, the leaker was identified through an internal investigation and fired. Global Security’s digital forensics also helped catch several employees who were feeding confidential details about new products including iPhone X, iPad Pro and AirPods to a blogger at 9to5Mac.

Leakers in the supply chain are getting caught, too. Global Security has worked hand-in-hand with suppliers to prevent theft of Apple’s intellectual property as well as to identify individuals who try to exceed their access. They’ve also partnered with suppliers to identify vulnerabilities — both physical and technological — and ensure their security levels meet or exceed Apple’s expectations. These programs have nearly eliminated the theft of prototypes and products from factories, caught leakers and prevented many others from leaking in the first place.

Leakers do not simply lose their jobs at Apple. In some cases, they face jail time and massive fines for network intrusion and theft of trade secrets both classified as federal crimes. In 2017, Apple caught 29 leakers. 12 of those were arrested. Among those were Apple employees, contractors and some partners in Apple’s supply chain. These people not only lose their jobs, they can face extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere. “The potential criminal consequences of leaking are real,” says Tom Moyer of Global Security, “and that can become part of your personal and professional identity forever.”

While they carry serious consequences, leaks are completely avoidable. They are the result of a decision by someone who may not have considered the impact of their actions. “Everyone comes to Apple to do the best work of their lives — work that matters and contributes to what all 135,000 people in this company are doing together,” says Joswiak. “The best way to honor those contributions is by not leaking.”

Tech

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3 Things Apple Believes It Can't Teach Employees
March 17, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

Apple is one of the most desired employers in the world. It’s been said getting a job at an Apple store is harder than getting into Harvard. If you want to work there, you might assume you need to be a total tech-expert, but that’s not true. Apple says it can teach you about technology. What they can’t teach you are the soft skills needed to represent the company well.

Online reviews reveal extensive details into what it takes to get hired.

Sites like Glassdoor offer job seekers access to anonymous reviews by people who have gone through the Apple interview process. Reading through them, you quickly see a pattern: Apple uses behavioral interviewing techniques and loves candidates who are comfortable telling stories and speaking up. In fact, one successful applicant summed it up best:

“Apple looks at how you talk more than what you know. It’s okay if you don’t know the answer to a question, but don’t just say, “I don’t know.” Apple loves stories so let your inner J.K. Rowling out! All in all, be confident, smile a lot, don’t be nervous, and stay calm.”

Moreover, if you look for patterns in Apple’s behavioral interview questions, you’ll realize they look for three things they know they can’t teach employees. Apple intensely screens applicants to ensure they already have these important skill sets.

1. Displaying confidence.

Customers don’t buy things from people who lack confidence. If you can’t appear knowledgeable and confident on the job, Apple users may doubt what you’re saying.

2. Knowing how to talk to people. 

Your job in an Apple store is to assist customers. If striking up a conversation with strangers doesn’t come easy to you, you likely won’t enjoy, or succeed in this job.

3. Being a nice person.

Maya Angelou said,

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Apple customers can feel intimidated by the technology. Store staff need to make customers feel capable and happy with their decision to invest in Apple technology.

P.S. If at first you don’t succeed…

One of the other major pieces of feedback in the hiring process reviews was you shouldn’t give up so easily. Many of the people who posted comments indicate it took several tries to land a job at their dream employer. If you want to work for Apple, you’ll need to have a gameplan and stick to it. Rejection means, “no, not today.” It doesn’t mean, “no, not ever,” unless you give up!

Tech

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