5 Things Elon Musk Can Teach HR and Talent Acquisition

May 14, 2015

In case you missed it, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk recently launched the company’s newest product: the Powerwall home energy system.

The Powerwall is a battery that charges with electricity generated from solar panels. You can mount it on wall at your home and use as a power source in the evening or when there is a power outage.

In typical Elon fashion, he introduced this product to the world in a twenty-minute TED-style presentation:

You’ll notice he’s not perfect, in fact, he seems to fumble around a bit. He doesn’t look 100% polished. But, he does do some things that HR and talent pros can learn from when trying to increase their influence within their organization.

Here are 5 lessons HR and Talent pros can learn from Elon’s Powerwall presentation:

1. You better have some fans.

It’s immediately apparent there are people in the room who love Elon and Tesla. You need fans on your side as well, within your organization. This type of support system helps you stay confident and feel empowered about your new ideas and projects, even when others might doubt you.

2. Sometimes perfect isn’t perfect.

Elon ingratiates the audience by making them feel like he’s one of them. He fumbles with his language and word choice. He laughs at himself.  He is not what you expect when coming to see the launch of a billion-dollar product. But, it’s perfect because he takes something highly complex and makes you believe it’s as easy and plugging in a lamp. He seems human.

HR and Talent pros can do the same thing by not trying to make processes and policy to complex. HR doesn’t have to be complex to be good. It has to be simple to use, or at least seem that way!

3. Stop with the legalese.

Elon uses words and everyday language you don’t expect from an executive.  This puts people at ease, and makes them connect with him. As HR pros, we have the ablity to do this as well in how we write our policies and communications. You can still be ‘compliant’ without using big legal, regulatory words.

4. Motivate the troops.

You know why people love Tesla and Elon Musk?  He inspires them. He shows them that stuff we never thought possible is possible.  In our corporate world, our employees have that same mentality. “Well, it’s always been this way…” We, HR and Talent Acquisition, have the ability to inspire our employees that we can do things differently; that we are empowered to change for the better. We just have to lead them by example.

5. Allow employees into the circle of trust.

People love hearing what Elon has to say because, unlike most executives, he actually shares important information about his products. He will tell them what it’s going to cost and where there might be  problems.

HR needs to start telling our employees real information.  Transparency is a big buzzword in the industry, and one that HR likes to say, but not do.  But, it’s a must and build trust, owndership, and a sense of community within an organization.


Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, SPHR is the President of HRU Technical Resources, an IT and Engineering staffing firm headquartered in Michigan. He is also a popular writer in the HR and Talent space, and highly sought after public speaker. Schedule a hug at TimSackett.com.

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