How Tesla step-up its HR game?

In a casual conversational tone, Tesla's Anti-handbook Handbook teaches business leaders and HR professionals how to be more engaging with the employees and how can an organization drive its HR policy.

Only a few companies in the world have gained so much attraction and adoration as Tesla. The automotive company has a long reputation for being unconventional. Maybe it’s the reason why Forbes has named the company as the “Most Innovative Company.” But other than its mainstream business, Tesla has a lot of things going on inside the company that makes the news. 

Recently, Tesla’s handbook for employees got leaked on the internet, surprising many about the company’s work ethics and culture. Written in a conversational tone, Tesla’s Anti-Handbook Handbook is just a 4-page document that briefs the employees about the company’s expectations from them. The handbook has positioned Tesla as an outlier in the auto and tech industries. 

The handbook begins with, “We’re Tesla. We’re changing the world. We’re willing to rethink everything. We’re different and we like it that way. Being different allows us to do what no one else is doing; to do what others tell us is impossible.”

When it comes to handbooks, a lot has changed over the years. From being a long and dull document with a lot of legal mumbo jumbo to its transformation as a storytelling tool, handbooks have become a collection of the company’s spirit, ethos, goals, and culture. And, Tesla is just winning this game. 

In just four pages, the anti-handbook explains everything about the company policy. The text is written as if the handbook is talking to you like a friend, informally and without being condescending. Talking about the attendance policy at Tesla, the book says, “If you’re the kind of person who holds yourself to the highest standards, our ‘attendance policy’ is exactly what you’d expect it to be: Be the kind of person your team can rely on. Be here when you’re supposed to be here. We need you. We can’t get things done when you’re not here.”

The book brings out the classic Elon Musk out. Bringing the communications hierarchy to an end, the book says, “Anybody at Tesla can and should feel perfectly comfortable emailing or talking to anybody else — including Musk himself — about a problem they’ve encountered and what they think the best and fastest way to solve it is.” 

The book separates itself from a typical employee handbook. It is less focused on the details of human resources policy and it is more inclined towards the company expectations that employees should be self-reliant. The main concept of the document lies around the idea that a Tesla employee will do everything to maximize their performance. 

“Your #1 job – everyone’s #1 job – is making this company a success,” the document says. “If you see opportunities to improve the way we do things, speak up even if these are outside your area of responsibility. You have a personal stake in Tesla’s success so make suggestions and share your ideas. Your good ideas mean nothing if you keep them to yourself.”

The handbook also lays down a lot of pointers for the leave and vacation of the employees. Commenting on the “No Show Policy” of Tesla, the document says, “Our assumption will be that if you don’t call and don’t show up for work, you’re a jerk. You better have a really good reason for not letting us know why you didn’t come in or you’re out of here.”

The company even mentions in the handbook that they have no issues with people having employment outside of Tesla as long as it doesn’t hamper with the productivity of the employee. 

“You may hold a job with another company as long as you perform your job here well and you aren’t compromising anything confidential or proprietary. We won’t cut you any slack because you have another job – you will be judged by the same standards as everyone else. If your job interferes with your performance, you may be asked to terminate that job if you wish to remain with Tesla.” 

You can access the full document here:

In addition to this unconventional handbook, Tesla has even increased the bar in employee engagement for its employees by opening up an “Answer Bar” at its headquarters. Inspired by the Genius Bar in Apple stores, where you can ask any question about Apple products and services, Tesla’s Answer Bar, however, allows employees to meet and greet HR staff and get answers to any and all questions, like benefits, or to provide feedback. The idea behind this is that the company wants to have an open dialogue with its employees, to foster their relationship – and thus boost employee loyalty – and to empower employees with knowledge.

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