Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Thinking about asking for a promotion?
Visier, a people analytics solution provider, set out to find the best time to ask for a career upgrade. Based on their aggregated database of 3.5 million employees from roughly eighty U.S.-based companies, Visier discovered the ideal times, and circumstances, to receive a promotion.
If you’re waiting for cooler weather to ask for a promotion, think again. The research showed summer was the best season to ask for one. In fact, employees were least likely to get a promotion in the fall.
Visier found that the best time in your career to ask for a promotion is during the third year at your company. And company commitment doesn’t always equal promotion. People who have worked at a company for more than 15 years are the least likely to receive a promotion.
If you’re looking to retain your millennial talent, Visier found that millennial managers who had received a promotion within the past two years had a 3.1 percent lower resignation rate than the average.
And millenials, you’re in luck. The research showed that employees ages 25 to 30 received more promotions than any other age groups.
Geographically, Texas tops the list for the state with the most promotions. Its 13.6 percent promotion rate was significantly higher than that of New York, California and New Jersey.
Musk sets very ambitious goals, but the problems plaguing Tesla are familiar to anyone trying to get a company running right.
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In many ways, Elon Musk is reshaping what it means to be an entrepreneur. For years, his unorthodox management style at Tesla and SpaceX has spawned a template for how people should run their businesses.
However, every time Musk gets pushed back a step, he seems to recover by taking two steps forward. Back in April, Musk sent out an email outlining the changes about to take place behind the scenes at Tesla. These changes include halting production of the Model 3 for a few days and returning to the drawing board to revamp the manufacturing process. Recently, production of the Model 3 has been steadily increasing north of 2,000 units per week. The new plan is to push this number up to 6,000 per week with 24/7 production!
As it would seem through the email, Musk has plenty of unforgiving wisdom for skyrocketing the operations taking place at Tesla. Here are a few of the major lessons entrepreneurs can learn from it.
In my favorite line of the email, Musk wrote: “Our car needs to be designed and built with such accuracy and precision that, if an owner measures dimensions, panel gaps and flushness, and their measurements don’t match the Model 3 specs, it just means that their measuring tape is wrong.”
This is perhaps the most powerful part of the email. It’s clear that Musk’s goal is to reach every employee on an emotional level and light a fire beneath them.
In the business world, you are only as good as your word. Success as an entrepreneur is all about accountability. As an owner or manager asking your crew to increase productivity, the last thing you want is to sacrifice the quality of what you offer or not deliver what you promise. If this happens, word gets around. If it becomes a pattern, you eventually have a giant problem on your hands: a cracked reputation.
The seriousness of this concept cannot be overstated. While there were a million ways Musk could have communicated this, the words he chose certainly leaves a strong impact throughout the company.
One of the major points of criticism Tesla faced this year involved their profit margins. Musk made this clear in the email: “A fair criticism leveled at Tesla by outside critics is that you’re not a real company unless you generate a profit, meaning simply that revenue exceeds costs. It didn’t make sense to do that until reaching economies of scale, but now we are there.”
He then elaborates on the details and problems that are affecting the bottom line. These include the number of contractor and subcontractor companies used to support Tesla’s output. Musk stated that the result of these practices leads to “a lot of middle-managers adding costs but not doing anything obviously useful.”
The biggest takeaway from this part of the email is that business owners must take a step back every once in a while and evaluate costs, along with the processes behind them. If things are working well, it’s surprisingly easy to get comfortable in the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mindset. However, if you let this go on too long, especially as the company is growing, you could be flushing copious amounts of profit down the drain.
As an entrepreneur, you can’t fall in love with a process. If your ongoing goal is to boost profit margins (which I sincerely hope it is) you need to accurately (and consistently) assess the ROI of each aspect of your business operations and adjust the model accordingly.
3. Eliminate productivity killers, no matter how small.
Ultimately, the main theme of this email is productivity and efficiency. Musk has no tolerance for BS. Furthermore, his management style challenges convention and the older ways of getting things done. At the end of the email, Musk gives his employees a handful of tips to increase productivity here and there.
The first one discussed meetings. “Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time.” He urged his managers to do away with large meetings unless they are certain that it will provide value to everyone. Even if this is the case, he said to keep them short.
In my experience, frequent distractions are the biggest productivity killer. Studies have found that it takes about 25 minutes to fully return to the original task after an interruption. When you call a meeting, you are separating your workers from their duties entirely. If frequent meetings are the norm at your company, you are probably wasting hours in productivity.
Another highlight Musk brought up dealt with communication. “Communication should travel via the shortest path necessary to get the job done, not through the ‘chain of command.’ Any manager who attempts to enforce chain of command communication will soon find themselves working elsewhere.”
As a business owner with a team in India and the United States, this one hits close to home for me. Over the past two years, it has never been more clear that communication makes or breaks a company. Being as how the international teams work on complete opposite schedules, any lapse in communication can stop productivity and delay a project for days. The greatest lesson entrepreneurs can learn from this part of the email is to get rid of unnecessary rules for communication. Productivity thrives on good back-and-forth. If there is a question, what is the point of requiring a path through multiple gatekeepers to get the answer? We are living in the age of constant connectedness, for crying out loud. There should be no barroers whatsoever in going to a department head or even the CEO to communicate a problem. Plain and simple.
You need to understand the ripple effect of every single snag and how it impacts the big picture to achieve the productive company culture you want.
Musk has no problem pointing out flaws in the status quo. and he famously makes bold claims about how he will improve it. It remains to be seen how this plan to improve Tesla’s production levels will pan out. Regardless, the email he sent out is jam-packed with lessons and takeaways you can apply to your own practices, in some form or another.
Virgin Voyages wants to make cruising cool. The new Richard Branson venture is aimed at travelers ages 18 and older — “sailors,” as the company calls them — who would normally never set foot on a cruise ship. As Virgin Voyages builds its hip new ships, complete with a lounge called The Athletic Club that will be home to the largest daybed at sea, it’s also building a brand-new culture at its headquarters in Plantation, Fla. The office, designed by IA Interior Architects, draws on Virgin tradition — lots of purple and red accents, especially in the enormous glass “red room” where employees gather for company-wide meetings. Neon signs and a bathtub full of (plastic) flamingos keep the nautical-inspired space fresh and fun, and when the first ship sets sail in 2020, this crew will be ready to see it off.
“No matter what your rank is, you can talk to the highest-ranking person in here, and it’s like you’re talking to your neighbor. On one of my first days working here, I was encouraged to ask anything and ask anyone. And management is very true to their word.”
Senior manager, voyage services
“Prior to joining Virgin, I was with another cruise line for almost 19 years. In the year and two months I’ve been with Virgin Voyages, it’s felt like, Where have you been all my life? We do business with integrity while keeping people in mind. And the group we’ve assembled so far? We’re awesome. We get along and collaborate, which is what we need as a startup trying to put ships in the water.”
Business systems analyst
“We’re a Richard Branson company, so we’re all about the people. Just yesterday, we had a 100th-crew-member celebration. We gathered everyone in the café, and had 100 written out in strawberry-frosted doughnuts and a big balloon to match. It was a great way for us to come together and welcome that new person.”
“We’ve done a nice job finding a great combination of people who have experience with the Virgin brand and who have experience with the travel and cruise industry. One of the foundations of our success moving forward will depend on how those groups collaborate and benefit from the diversity of thought they all have. We can create something that’s greater than the sum of its parts.”
Billy Bohan Chinique
Partner marketing and engagement manager
“Our mantra here is ‘Make ship happen.’ I used to work at Uber, and it’s interesting to see how we’re thinking differently. We’re really thinking about what we want to build for our sailors, and we’re merging technology and travel, integrating that into the experience right from the beginning, rather than trying to fit it in as an afterthought.”
Senior manager of brand partnerships
“With our sailors, we’re looking to tap into these tribes that already exist shoreside. How do people like to socialize? How do they gather? We’re trying to replicate those experiences onboard the ship and make sure we’re luring new sailors to the seas. So we’re thinking not just about how we’re different from other cruise lines but how we can stand out as a lifestyle brand.”
President and CEO
“We wanted to create an environment that was open and airy and broke down traditional barriers. We don’t have corner offices — everything is open, so everyone can experience the beauty of the windows and south Florida and take it in as they collaborate. I’m partial to our shuffleboard table myself. Some had never played before, so we’re all learning together.”
“If I try to make a plan for my day, it never goes exactly that way — no day resembles the next. There’s definitely a sense of support from the company, a real caring about our well-being. It’s not just about how many hours you put in or how much work you get done. It’s about an overall approach to wellness and productivity. If you’re at your best, you can do your best.”