What Drives Tesla Company Culture To Success? Solution-focussed thinking.

What Drives Tesla Company Culture To Success? Solution-focussed thinking.

When it comes to company culture, Tesla Inc. has a seat at the table with the likes of Google, Facebook and Netflix. It’s easy to see why – for all of his perceived off-the-wall traits and ability to divide the crowd, founder Elon Musk is forward-thinking and nothing short of brilliant. His mission and drive to do things differently have been one of the disruptive forces that the world of motors, and business, has needed for some time.

The brand is clearly doing something right. It managed to triple sales in Europe while the market shrank by 8% and remained highly successful at the same time as closing many of its physical showrooms, instead moving them to virtual spaces way before the pandemic was even in swing. Tesla creates strong brand advocates because it is creating products that are contributing to a better future. It wants to solve the world’s problems and won’t be limited to doing so in just one industry.

It will come as a surprise to few that Tesla views innovation as THE catalyst to what the company sees as success. With this in mind, in order to achieve true innovation consistently and bring industry-defining products to the market, an outdated organisational structure and culture must be cast aside.

A focus on forming and changing behaviours.

Tesla wants its culture to embolden and empower its employees to think creatively and seek solutions that will continuously improve the company and set it apart from competitors across the industries that it resides in, including automotive, storage and energy generation.

Tesla has created a culture, and a management process that aims to help its employees form behaviours, which means they instinctively think creatively and innovatively. Why? Because it’s these behaviours that will contribute to, and maintain, the company’s effectiveness to provide the market with products that others are not yet thinking about, let alone offer. Tesla attributes its ability to remain competitive to these behaviours.  

There is a focus on motivating employees to create solutions to solve current and emerging problems. For instance, a focus on developing electric vehicles that will limit cars’ worsening impact on the environment has allowed Tesla to advance the vehicles they bring to market consistently.

But what started the journey was identifying each part of a car that causes damage to the environment.

Remove fear and trust your team implicitly.

How can this be done? Through fostering an environment that places a high emphasis on trust, collaboration, and learning. Tesla has nailed the approach that if you want people to truly own and be accountable for their work and decision-making process, you need to trust and empower, demonstrating confidence in their ability.

Micro-management is counter-productive and creates a culture of fear and resentment – basically, the antithesis of innovative and creative problem-solving. One of the beliefs that empower Tesla employees is the company-wide belief that there can’t be a ‘wrong’ answer when you do something that has never been done before. This thinking immediately removes any fear associated with making mistakes or the wrong decision.

It’s recognised that Tesla values the ability to collaborate and a willingness to learn over experience and qualifications. You’d think it would be a challenge to encourage collaborative working with a company of more than 40,000 employees – but through conducting problem-solving forums, Tesla can bring together the minds and thoughts of employees across the world to solve problems in little over 24 hours.

The Features of Tesla's Company Culture

In order to create a culture that keeps problem-solving at the heart of everything it does, Tesla has six pillars that underpin its culture, processes and operations.

Move Fast

Thinking and behaving with a sense of urgency is critical to Tesla’s competitive advantage. In industries that change rapidly, it is vital that those within the business can adapt and respond at the same pace.

Tesla’s structure and processes have been created to allow for this flexibility and responsiveness, meaning the team can be agile rather than seek permission and sign-off. Two elements that prevent a business from being the first to innovate when required.

However, when you couple this responsiveness with Tesla’s proactive, solution-focussed approach, it’s a compelling combination.

Do the Impossible

Tesla wants to be known for being ‘cutting edge’ and at the forefront of the industry, leading the way. This cannot be achieved without risk-taking and divergent thinking.

Tesla’s culture supports the ‘unconventional’ and even encourages it. Part of the companies training teaches its employees how to reach beyond and question the traditional way of doing things, achieving true creativity and productivity. In doing so, Tesla constantly finds new opportunities to improve its business, performance and bring radical solutions to the market.

Constantly Innovate

As we have mentioned several times in this article – innovation is key to everything that happens at Tesla. To facilitate continuous innovation, the company structure and departmental processes have been created to empower and enable innovation. Employees are motivated to seek innovative ways to carry out their roles, while it is also rewarded – it’s not just products that fall under this bracket. Tesla wants employees to contribute to the way it operates and does business – so that the entire company can live and breathe this value.

Reason from ‘First Principles’

The ‘first principles’ pillar reminds employees always to identify the root cause of the problem at hand, rather than making assumptions and decisions on top-level information. It is only by understanding the root cause in full that you can find solutions to problems. Tesla’s training programs include guidance on strategies that can effectively identify issues and gather information to gain a comprehensive understanding. By taking this approach, each employee becomes equipped to fulfil their role in the company.

We are ALL IN

Tesla company culture aims to unite all employees to think and act as one team that works collaboratively to improve the business in many ways. Rather than forcing individuals to fit a mould, each employee’s skills, values, and behavioural traits are taken into consideration to ensure they can be maximised, offering the employee and the business fulfilment.

This encourages the workforce to own their role and be accountable, knowing that their decisions are directly related to the business’s competitiveness and success. In doing so, the company can always know that its strategies, operations and processes are innovative and never become stagnated, and therefore outdated.

Think Like Owners

Like the above, Tesla encourages all employees to think like owners meaning that they always find the best way to do something, rather than going through the motions and ticking boxes.

A culture that encourages this strategic thinking will create a team that is passionate, proactive and responsible. By fostering this mindset, employees will develop behaviours influence business growth.

Tesla Core Values

As well as the culture pillars, Tesla also operates with a set of company values. The purpose is to remind each employee that they are encouraged and supported to approach their role and each task in a way that provides real value every day

Always do your best

Tesla endeavour to apply the brightest minds and the best technology to every challenge they face. We do not cut corners, and we do not settle.

No forecast is perfect, but try anyway

The team constantly strive to improve the accuracy of our forecasts as well as the reliability and service with which they are delivered.

Respect and encourage people

Tesla believes that its companies are only as successful as our clients and members. Treating them with respect and encouraging their success is the surest way to promote the companies’ success.

Always be learning

The world in which we live and the industry in which we operate is constantly changing. It is imperative to both personal and professional success that Tesla understands those changes and adapts accordingly.

Respect the environment

Tesla believes that our efforts to help industries achieve greater efficiencies help ease the strain that humans put on the environment.

Tesla wants to, quite simply, change the world. It won’t and nor will any company harness the ability to redefine its industry and achieve meaningful change without taking risks and daring to think differently. Many businesses enforce a strict code of conduct, whether intentional or through its culture, creating a fear of mistakes instead of encouraging its employees to learn this way, having the confidence to try something new and embrace innovation.

Tesla’s company culture truly empowers its employees rather than stifling them. Celebrating failure and the fact that employees have the confidence to own their role and take responsibility for finding solutions – however, that may happen. And clearly, this is changing the world; we can all attest to that– what would be the outcome if you adopted the same policy?

If this article has inspired you to adopt some radical changes to your business and create a company culture that can manifest innovative behaviours, contact me today.

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    About The Author

    Lizzie Benton is a people and culture specialist who supports organisations in developing a unique company culture and building engaged teams. Lizzie has been recognised as a millennial changing the world of work, and has been featured in the Metro, HuffingtonPost and has spoken across the UK on employee engagement. When not consulting or running a workshop, Lizzie can be found in rural Lincolnshire enjoying afternoon tea and fresh air.