Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter is an HR ‘anomaly’


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Nearly everything about Elon Musk’s acquisition of social media company Twitter for $44 billion has been out of the ordinary, experts say.

From the billionaire’s solo purchase of the company to a slew of personnel changes made days after the Oct. 27 acquisition, it’s “definitely an anomaly,” said Ayesha Whyte, attorney and chief resources officer. at the law and human resources firm Dixon Whyte LLC.

Typically, there’s a leadership reshuffle after a company is bought, but those executives are saddled with golden parachutes that carry them to their next gig, Whyte said. Meanwhile, there are reports that Musk has terminated senior executives for cause, potentially stripping them of their severance packages.

If Musk is willing to open himself up to legal action from C-suite executives with the “means and means to sue,” he would likely treat other employees with fewer resources the same, Whyte said.

“That’s why there’s so much anxiety about it,” Whyte said.

Twitter could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a merger and acquisition situation, the best way to avoid employee panic is to communicate openly and frequently, said Thom Fladung, managing partner of crisis communications firm Hennes Communications.

“People panic when they think they are being lied to; they freak out when they think you don’t know what’s going on,” Fladung said.

Even if there’s uncertainty, being upfront about it and admitting what you don’t know is better than pretending “you have it,” Fladung said.

Communication must start internally and then move outward, he said. And this should be frequent with employees. Even when there’s no news to report, giving workers regular updates during a time of turmoil can “give them a little slice of certainty in uncertain times,” Fladung said.

Musk, however, on Sunday tweeted criticism of an auto-generated email from Twitter’s human resources department inviting him to attend a business management course. The email said in part: “M101 explains what it means to be a good manager on Twitter by showing you how to create opportunities for impact, help your Tweeps grow their careers and show care for your team.”

Harley Lippman, CEO of recruitment firm Genesis10, said Twitter employees are “very desirable” and likely receive offers from other companies.

“If you’re a staffing agency and you hear about turmoil at a company, you tend to go after those employees,” said Lippman, who is an investor in Musk and his Twitter business. “These are skilled workers who will arrive on the labor markets.”

Whyte said it was important not to lose the “essential knowledge of those who have been at it for years” during an acquisition.

“He became CEO very quickly, and he makes a lot of business decisions, not keeping in mind the people who have to implement those changes,” Whyte said. “Elon is in a place where he doesn’t know who is doing what in his business. If they leave, he doesn’t know how to replace them. Technology knowledge management is paramount.


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