Elon Musk's companies, including Tesla, are rapidly growing. The 'Technoking' of Tesla currently employs about 110,000 people across all his different companies around the globe. That said, he can be pretty tough to work for — he works hard and expects the same from his staff.
So should we be surprised Musk is a demanding boss? According to Douglas Coupland in The Guardian, "people know they’re going to be working with Elon Musk, so they can’t play woe is me if he goes Elon on them... he’s incredibly smart and is used to working with the world’s smartest and most accomplished people, so if you don’t cut the mustard then you didn’t cut the mustard."
So what does it take to cut the mustard with Musk? According to a tweet last year, Elon outlined four key traits: "A super hardcore work ethic, talent for building things, common sense [and] trustworthiness are required, the rest we can train."
Jason Aten at Inc. points out, "You might think he was looking for people with expertise in rocket propulsion or any number of advanced engineering specialties. Interestingly, he wasn't." Instead, "If you find people who have these [four] traits, you can almost always teach them how to do a specific job. More importantly, however, you can't train these four characteristics, which is why it's so important [for Musk] to find the right people to begin with."
To understand what it's like to work for Elon Musk, perhaps no one knows better than SpaceX's former head of talent acquisition, Dolly Singh, who would recruit candidates for Musk. Singh says that, "Diamonds are created under pressure, and Elon Musk is a master diamond maker... he knows you will exceed your own expectations if he keeps the heat on. It's purposeful, and it's brilliant."
In short, Singh says that working for Musk at SpaceX is like joining the "Special Forces, we take on missions that others have deemed impossible." And the same, apparently, is true at Tesla.
When Autoblog got a chance to interview Elon, he explained, "the general understanding is that if you're at Tesla, you're choosing to be at the equivalent of Special Forces. There's the regular Army, and that's fine, but if you are working at Tesla, you're choosing to step up your game. And that has pluses and minuses. It's cool to be Special Forces, but... it's not for everyone."