Tesla recently fired scores of employees after annual performance reviews.
A former Tesla employee told Reuters “about 400 people” in a range of positions were shown the door. As Business Insider’s Bryan Logan reported, Tesla declined to confirm how many people were fired. The dismissals happened just after Tesla CEO Elon Musk said there were “production bottlenecks” on the Model 3 car, Logan reported.
If your reaction on hearing this news is to freak out and to wonder whether your own job is at stake, don’t. Business Insider spoke to experts who said the firings at Tesla are hardly indicative of a trend in the workplace.
As national workplace expert and bestselling author Lynn Taylor put it, the possibility of being fired when you work for a company like Tesla “kind of goes with the territory.”
Taylor explained that because Tesla is a uniquely innovative and disruptive company, “there are going to be probably more shifts in employment levels” than at, say, a century-old company.
“The opportunities are so great there,” Taylor said of Tesla. “You can choose another industry that makes lightbulbs for the automotive industry for the last 50 years, with slight tweaks, or you can be in an industry that reinvents itself every year.”
Taylor also caveated that we don’t yet know whether the firings were preceded by a paper trail that revealed evidence of poor performance. In other words: We shouldn’t necessarily assume that the employees who were let go were completely surprised.
Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “The Humor Advantage,” pointed out that many companies – including some Fortune 500 companies – are ditching traditional performance reviews entirely. As Business Insider has previously reported, IBM is moving toward more regular feedback and “coaching,” as opposed to managing, employees.
Tesla’s firings en masse after poor performance reviews are “not even close to a trend or starting a trend,” Kerr said. “I don’t think anybody should be worried – unless you work for Tesla.”
That said, Kerr added:
“If it does make employees nervous or concerned, then I think the obvious thing to do is to make sure you sit down with your boss right away and just have an honest, candid conversation.
“Say, ‘Look, I saw this story. It’s a little disconcerting. Do you think that anything like that could happen in our company? Do I have anything to be worried about? What can I do to make sure I continue to be a valued asset in this organization?'”