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posted by martyb on Sunday October 15 2017, @02:40AM   Printer-friendly
from the where-there's-firing-there's-smoke? dept.

Tesla has fired several hundred of its employees following performance evaluations. Tesla recently conducted the biggest expansion of its workforce in the company's history, and is struggling to increase production of its Model 3 sedan:

Tesla Inc. has fired an undetermined number of employees following a series of performance evaluations after the company significantly boosted its workforce with the purchase of solar panel maker SolarCity Corp.

The departures are part of an annual review, the Palo Alto, California-based company said in an email, without providing a number of people affected. The maker of the Model S this week dismissed between 400 and 700 employees, including engineers, managers and factory workers, the San Jose Mercury News reported on Oct. 13, citing unidentified current and former workers.

"As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures," the company said in the statement. "Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world."

The company has more than 2,000 job openings on its careers website.

The dismissals come after Tesla said it built just 260 Model 3 sedans during the third quarter, less than a fifth of its 1,500-unit forecast. The company has offered scant detail about the problems it's having producing the car. The vehicle's entry price starts at $35,000, roughly half the cost of Tesla's least-expensive Model S sedan.

Also at NYT, Reuters, and The Mercury News.

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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday October 15 2017, @01:07PM (6 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday October 15 2017, @01:07PM (#582618)

    Sometimes rank and yank is necessary, even for morale if you've got bad enough apples in the barrel.

    Most times rank and yank is a cover for a bad quarter, dropping near term labor costs to make up for a sales miss or other miscalculation.

    Either way, it's not usually a great sign for future employees considering the company.

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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by VLM on Sunday October 15 2017, @03:14PM (3 children)

    by VLM (445) on Sunday October 15 2017, @03:14PM (#582637)

    Either way, it's not usually a great sign for future employees considering the company.

    My only disagreement is over removing "usually". All game state conditions beyond its implementation are always no-win for the employee.

    Lets say the rank process is, by a miracle, the first one in the history of the business world to not be corrupt. It could happen! It probably won't, sure, but it could. Then the newest employee who just got hired will get the axe. "Obviously" someone with 3 months experience in position will lose compared to someone with 5 years in the same position, assuming recruitment isn't awful (LOL) and ranking process isn't incredible corrupt (LOL). Assuming hiring HR dept doesn't suck (LOL) as a new hire I'm not any better than the previous hires, so the rank "should" be strictly hiring date. So you end up with untouchable old timers, a giant experience gap, and noobs who only last one ranking interval. This dooms the company in the long run as no experience can build up and the old timers eventually die/retire/quit. The doomed company means more firings until really good people are getting kicked out and the company dies.

    Lets say the rank process is corrupt, as all are. Then its also always losing for the employee. If you're canned, its because your boss is shallow and would prefer different demographics employees (racism, etc) or even stupider and more unprofessional reasons like you're a fan of the "wrong" sportsball team or political party or religion. If you survive the firings, its because you're surrounded by brown nosers and similar low productivity people which means there will be lower productivity and MORE firings in the future until you're gone. A company staffed entirely by brown nosing fake number generating BSers will die in competition with companies staffed by the productive people they fired...

    I've never had to work for a rank-n-yank company and if I did I would only mark time until I can get a job at a better company with more professional management aka no rank-n-yank.

    Essentially stack ranking means management being so stupid that they think punishing current employees will fix a toxic hiring process. That MIGHT actually work if the rank-n-yank were limited strictly to HR, but strangely the people who Fed everything up are usually immune from the firings.

    A company can survive awhile if they're a monopoly or govt corruption/licensing, but eventually it catches up.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday October 15 2017, @10:23PM (2 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday October 15 2017, @10:23PM (#582779)

      Last time I experienced rank and yank, apparently I made the cut on merit. Whether that was my technical ability, social graces, or just because I was a WASP, I was last hired, had been there for a little under 2 years, and they let an Asian who had been there for 6 years go. In simple point of fact: the balance of M-WASP employees dramatically shifted upwards during that rank and yank exercise - and maybe it was all merit based, who knows? The place was too small (1000 employees, reduced to 900) for the real statistical arguments to start to take hold. Don't cry too much for our Asian friend, based on service he got 6 weeks severance pay and was rehired at his same type of job and pay level within 2 weeks.

      That particular place did another 10% cull about a year later, but by then I was relocated, as was about 20 of our department of 30. I think with voluntary attrition they sunk down to about 600 employees at the end, voluntary attrition was disproportionately high in my department. After that, the man-boy CEO had taken his golden parachute away with his bestest buddies and things settled down to a more sane state.

      So, agree - perpetual rank and yank is a dismal, unsustainable policy. However, I have seen it used productively (in other places) as one-off solutions to accumulated deadwood - resulting in increased morale due to the actual workers not having to pick up others' messes so often.

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      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday October 17 2017, @12:06PM (1 child)

        by VLM (445) on Tuesday October 17 2017, @12:06PM (#583413)

        not having to pick up others' messes so often.

        At better run companies, the mess makers get fired without higher HQ coordination across multiple depts.

        That also badly hurts well managed departments, because if they fire their deadwood, then they have to fire 10% good people, whereas badly run depts will merely lose deadwood. Its a form of punishing good managers while rewarding bad managers.

        Clearly in your example the asian was a great employee if they got picked up that fast, and the manager who fired him was just being punished by having to get rid of a great employee, whereas incompetent management was rewarded in that example by only losing deadwood.

        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday October 17 2017, @03:44PM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday October 17 2017, @03:44PM (#583503)

          Oh, that place that let the Asian go was a mess on many levels - upper management had hired a whole new department full of useless sales (useless because management had failed to open the market for them to sell into), that department increased total company headcount by about 15%, but when it came time to trim back from that mistake, "10% across the board" cuts were made, keeping 90% of the useless sales, useless as all 40+ quarters since then have demonstrated. My particular department had grown quickly over the previous 3 years (including myself), and once we got there we all recognized that upper management really had no use for actual R&D - they just needed it on the balance sheet to snow the street into thinking that great things were in development, in actual practice they did things like mandate 100% audits of the product in development to ensure it wasn't going to launch.

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  • (Score: 1) by sonamchauhan on Sunday October 22 2017, @10:18AM (1 child)

    by sonamchauhan (6546) on Sunday October 22 2017, @10:18AM (#585919)

    Hmm... morale improving, even as beatings continue, implies a high degree of trust. Often, unwarranted trust.

    An interesting management book made the point that _no_ layoffs - to 'rank and file' - are _ever_ warranted; no matter how 'sick' the firm. But 'public executions' (not golden parachutes) of high-level managers most responsible are not only warranted, but necessary to improve morale.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday October 22 2017, @02:41PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday October 22 2017, @02:41PM (#585953)

      Hmmm... maybe you've never worked with deadwood? It would seem unlikely, as prevalent as it has been in my experience and the experience of anyone I have discussed the issue with.

      The single biggest management headache I have encountered is deadwood - and not the Wally themselves, that is a small problem - the bigger problem is what Wally does to the morale of people who actually try to do their job. Even when people aren't dependent on Wally to get their job done, his very presence in the environment brings down morale. It isn't even a question of "fair" - we had a Wally who everybody knew "worked" for minimum wage, while the rest of the crew was making upwards of 10x that money, but his simple presence on the shop floor was frustrating - sometimes to the point of infuriating - to the people who were working hard to get things done.

      Maybe you've only worked for tyrants? There does tend to be less blatant deadwood under tyrants, it disguises itself better if it hopes to survive there - but it still exists and still brings down morale of the people who are trying hard. Some tyrants are outright counterproductive and the organization would grow with their removal, but most that I have encountered have built a unique ecosystem under themselves and removal of the tyrant (or replacement with a more balanced, reasoning leader), would leave the rest of the company floundering without the iron-fist guidance, even if the guidance was less than optimal.

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