A leader can’t lead if followers won’t follow, or if all the followers are fired. Here is how Elon Musk made a mistake in ignoring EX.

by Phyllis Drucker
Date Published December 21, 2022 - Last Updated January 20, 2023

A picture of a phone with a Twitter iconWe asked HDI thought leaders the following question: What lessons, if any, can the IT service management community take from the Twitter-Elon Musk meltdown? ITSM expert Phyllis Drucker had to say.

Employee experience matters, yet Elon Musk did everything he could to destroy Twitter’s employee experience during his first week as owner. ITIL’s guiding principles can help new team leaders avoid his mistakes.

Focus on Value

The Twitter takeover appears to be more of a wholesale gutting of the company than a drive to value. While the company must provide a better financial return, the place to start is by looking at how the platform will create value for its customers and how that can be monetized. This is the first step to building a vision for Twitter that can bring employees along, aligned with Musk’s vision.Start where you are.

The first thing a new leader should do is observe and get to know their team. Broad strokes that inspire fear are the opposite of the environment needed for innovation and achieving new outcomes. A leader who wants to make visionary changes must get their team on board first and then begin making changes to the team. The changes should follow a positive pattern as well.

Begin by communicating the new vision and see who comes on board quickly.

Find ways to increase their role within the team to grant them more impact on the future.

Don’t assume the old guard will all fight the changes to come and fire them all.

As individuals determine their future, some will need to be asked to leave, but doing so individually is better than mass layoffs with no opportunity for leaders to succeed. It’s important to remember that each leader has loyal followers, so unless you’re ready for all of them to leave or revolt, think carefully before laying them off simply because they may disagree politically.

Discover who can work in the new environment but may be in the wrong role and get them into the proper role.

Chances are, getting them to a role they are more suited to will increase their satisfaction and begin to buy their support

Progress iteratively with feedback.

Make small changes and get feedback from team members on how they work. People don’t want to work for a dictator who says they should buckle down and prepare to work 80-hour weeks just because. They want to work for someone who values their opinion and will work 80 hours because they want to.

Collaborate and promote visibility.

Continued communication is critical here, as people begin to work together towards the vision. This is where the team starts to make traction and where people who will not be part of the new team will start to show up. Now is the time to begin culling the team. Feedback related to what’s needed to achieve the vision is appropriate here, while a noticeable lack of alignment to the new vision will become a problem. Acting individually rather than using mass layoffs to trim the team is still important.

Keep it simple and practical.

Twitter has a reasonably simple vision, even if it has changed. Keeping the messaging clear makes it easier for people to understand and align.

Optimize and automate.

Once the continuing team is on board, it becomes easier to see roles that are no longer needed or ways technology can improve operations. A leader needs their team for this, the people who know things. Alienating and losing the team from the get-go will result in a longer time frame before optimization can occur. Looking at Twitter today, instead of being able to observe and optimize, keeping the lights on is now a concern.

COVID taught us that people will no longer work in a hostile workplace. It’s counterproductive to walk into an organization (ownership aside) and begin mass layoffs and edicts. At the end of the way, Musk’s initial steps were a great way to thoroughly clean house, but now there’s no one left to keep things running.

Phyllis Drucker is a Professional Speaker, Blogger, Writer and an ITSM expert.

Tag(s): supportworld, best practice, IT service management


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