Bonus episode: The gross Salesforce Slack message

Bonus episode: The gross Salesforce Slack message

Asking for a friend. 😇

As we said back in the day: eww, grody.

Marc Benioff of Salesforce sent the following Slack message to employees on 12/16:

How do we increase the productivity of our employees at salesforce? New employees (hired during the pandemic in 2021 & 2022) are especially facing much lower productivity. Is this a reflection of our office policy? Are we not building tribal knowledge with new employees without an office culture? Are our managers not directly addressing productivity with their teams? Are we not investing enough time into our new employees? Do managers focus enough time and energy on onboarding new employees & achieving productivity? is coming as a new employee to salesforce too overwhelming? Asking for a friend. (Im leaving this open ended to get the broadest level of response.) -from CNBC

I sort of expect Maximus Decimus Meridius to pop up from Gladiator and shout, “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!”

Is this the beginning stage of the hybrid hell-of-half-measures model transitioning to full on RTO?

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Transcription by  Please forgive any typos!

Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online anytime at And now, here’s your host, Sara Causey. I told you so. Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. Just having a little fun there at the very beginning of the episode, because I mean, a, there are many things that I predicted earlier this year that have either already come to pass, or they’re now starting to happen. So, you know, here we go. And I wanted to take this example from an article I read recently about Salesforce and a, in my opinion, gross Slack message that was sent. Because when I read this, my first thought was, here we go. This very well could be the indication of trouble in paradise for the hybrid work. Now, even though we’ve heard this propaganda about, oh, hybrid work is now the best of both worlds. And in fact, hybrid workers are the most loyal workers, even though we’ve heard all of that garbage, which in my opinion, that’s exactly what it is. It’s trash. And it’s propaganda. I think now, we may be seeing cracks in the foundation. I really believe this is an early warning sign. Like Dennis Miller says, this is only my opinion, and I could be wrong. But when I read this article on CNBC, I was like, Oh, here it comes. This is going to be the beginning of the end. This is where we start to transition away from oh, let’s all seal clap. And say how great hybrid work is to hybrid work is just inefficient, is not getting the job done. You need to come on back. Now, is that likely to happen at Christmas time or at the New Year? No, no, I’m not saying it’s going to happen in the next two weeks. I’m saying come q1, one more out of the Christmas and New Year point in time. Oh, yeah. The times they are a changing. So a little backstory to the hubbub around Salesforce before I get into this article from CNBC. That’s really the focus. I want to update you in case you’re not aware of what all has gone on. Let’s have a little update time. on TechCrunch. There was an article published on November 30. Brett Taylor steps down as co chair and CEO of Salesforce, I’ll read. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride for Brett Taylor over the last year. In one week. Last December, he was named board chair at Twitter, and CO CEO at Salesforce. One year later, he doesn’t have either job. Taylor lost the job as Twitter board chair when Elon Musk took over last month and dissolve the Twitter board immediately. Today, he stepped down as CO CEO at Salesforce in a stunning announcement that appeared to come out of the blue. After a lot of reflection, I’ve decided to return to my entrepreneurial roots. Salesforce has never been more relevant to customers. And with its best in class management team and the company executing on all cylinders, now is the right time for me to step away. Taylor said in a statement announcing his resignation in quote. So there you go. There’s a there’s a little backstory on some of the tumult and turnover that has happened. Now, interestingly enough, also on TechCrunch on December the eighth, another article appeared sort of like maybe there’s a little bit more to the story here. This one is titled report indicates friction prior to Brett Taylor’s resignation from Salesforce, and there’s a picture here, I suppose of him and the co founder and CEO Marc Benioff, wearing bunny ears. They’re like in suits without ties and rabbit ears. I have no idea why and I don’t really care. But it’s sort of like this particular picture tells me everything that I need to know. Already, it tells me that I as an introvert would hate being there. Because I suppose this kind of crap is presented as fun if the CO CEOs come out to a meeting in suits and rabbit ears, that’s supposed to be look at how much fun we’re having. Which tells me Oh, God, no, nothing about that as fun. So when we read from this article, we find it seems that maybe Salesforce co founder and CEO Marc Benioff was protesting a bit too much when he gave what seemed like a genuinely heartfelt goodbye to his protege Brett Taylor last week, insisting to anyone who would listen that he was heartbroken to lose his friend and mentee. That might not be the whole story. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that there was tension between the two executives over Taylor’s role as CO CEO and his other job as Twitter board chair, a role he held until the end of October when Elon Musk took over as owner and dissolve the board. Certainly the oddest part of the report was that people told The Wall Street Journal that Benioff was upset that Taylor wasn’t spending enough time on engineering, and too much time with other CEOs and customers a role that you would think Benioff would want his co CEO to take on. This was precisely the kind of thing that former co CEO Keith block brought to the job before he left the company in 2021. would think that if the reason for Taylor’s departure was frustration at being unable to build something, engineering would be where he’d spend, he’d be spending the majority of his time. The report went on to suggest that people were confused about which co CEO to report to, which throws into focus the whole idea of the the CO CEO role as former Salesforce executive and current founder and CEO of sky flow, and Xu Sharma told TechCrunch earlier this week, it’s not really a roll at all, what the f is a co CEO and why do you need one? Well, I mean, you have a CEO and four other CX O’s, what does a co CEO wake up in the morning and do that’s not already being done by a CEO? He asked? It’s a fair question. And if the Wall Street Journal report is accurate, it seems that people inside Salesforce including Benioff himself had trouble figuring it out. It also begs the question of whether those were just crocodile tears from Benioff at the announcement last week. It sure sounds like Taylor’s decision to leave wasn’t just because he had a hankering to return to building as we had been led to believe. We saw a comment from Salesforce but the company did not respond to our request by the time of publication, should that change we will update the post and quote, so trouble in paradise differences of opinion amongst leadership. Mm hmm. Interesting. Now published on Friday, December 16. on CNBC, an article that caught my attention. Marc Benioff tells Salesforce workers that new employees are facing lower productivity and the little TLDR he points we find Marc Benioff, co founder and CEO, co CEO, so many codes and codes and codes. Marc Benioff, co founder and CO CEO of Salesforce said in a Slack message to employees on Friday that the company’s newest workers weren’t productive enough. Are we not building tribal knowledge with new employees without an office culture? Benioff asked in a message viewed by CNBC. The message triggered a range of responses. Oh, I’m sure it did. Whenever I read the message, I just kept thinking about russell crowe’s character Maximus in the movie gladiator where he’s like, are you not entertained? That’s sort of like the tone that I read this in. Yep. All right, so we’ll get into the article here. Salesforce co CEO Marc Benioff told employees in a Slack message on Friday that the company’s newest hires aren’t being productive enough and he asked for feedback as to why that’s the case. Are we not building tribal knowledge with new employees without an office culture? He asked in a message viewed by CNBC, he he said he was asking for a friend, a phrase people often use on the Internet to humorously reveal their curiosity about a topic. The message included an emoji showing a smiling face with a halo hovering over it suggesting innocence jako I’ll continue to read. benioff’s company wide message addresses what’s become a hot button issue in Silicon Valley. Since the arrival of COVID sent workers home almost three years ago, companies have been trying to reimagine a future workplace that allows more employee flexibility than in the past. Some businesses have allowed employees to work from anywhere permanently. Salesforce, the biggest private employer in San Francisco was among the first tech companies to tell its workforce. They didn’t have to come back. Last year, Salesforce acquired communications app slack and Benioff said people can work very efficiently from their homes. Salesforce said it would let teams decide how much time they would be in the office. But here we go. But Benioff may be recognizing some of the challenges remote work presents. On Friday he highlighted an issue that he said was affecting employees who joined Salesforce worse this year and last, Salesforce has headcount grew by 32% in the past year, and last month it cut hundreds of jobs. A Salesforce spokesperson declined to comment on benioff’s message but sent a statement on the company’s policy. We have a hybrid work environment that empowers leaders and teams to work together with purpose the spokesperson wrote, they can decide when and where they come together to collaborate, innovate and drive customer success. Benioff is contending with slowing revenue growth as the economy weakens, and a thinning of the upper ranks within Salesforce. Last month the company said Bret Taylor would be stepping down from his position as CO CEO in January, he just been promoted to share the top job with Benioff in your earlier and days later, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield announced his departure. Here’s the full text of Benioff slack post. How do we increase the productivity of our employees at Salesforce? New employees hired during the pandemic in 2021, and 2022? are especially facing much lower productivity? Is this a reflection of our office policy? Are we not building tribal knowledge with new employees without an office culture? Are our managers not directly addressing productivity with their teams? Are we not investing enough time into our new employees? Do managers focus enough time and energy on onboarding new employees and achieving productivity is coming as a new employee to Salesforce to overwhelming asking for a friend. I’m leaving this open ended to get the broadest level of response. The message prompted a variety of comments. Some reacted with an emoji stating this alongside an up arrow. Others chose emojis that read work from home or citation needed. Dozens went with a standard emoji known as the thinking face. Benioff chimed in again in the responses. asking hard questions of employees and customers and each other, for their answers is one of the most effective ways to get answers as a leader today, he wrote, it’s why we bought slack because there is no better way to ask questions and crowdsource answers quickly. Already today, we have almost 500 replies to these questions. amazing and incredibly useful exclamation point. He was displeased. While I’m sure he was displeased, that his message found its way to the press ultimately ending up on Twitter. I hope you will agree it is also disappointing that our private conversations here were almost immediately given to the public media he wrote, I wonder how do we reinforce that trust and he’s capitalized trust as though we’re speaking German. You know, in the German language, you capitalize your nouns in English, you don’t? I wonder how do we reinforce that trust with a capital T is our highest company value? How do we demonstrate the power of trust and transparency now there he’s capitalized both trust and transparency. Without an immediate public disclosure, it gets to the heart of who we are at Salesforce. His responses were shared with CNBC. That ends the article. Oh, do somebody tattle? Shame shame you somebody’s going tattle on you? She Oh, baby. I’m sorry. I’m not sorry. No, I think it’s fabulous that we’re getting to see this, we need to see the inner workings. There are so many different things that I could say about this. One is, I really, really believe that this could be the beginning of the end for hybrid work. Because I mean, look at what he’s saying. Are we not building this knowledge? Are we not creating an environment for these new hires to be productive enough? Whatever the hell that means. You’ll notice he doesn’t actually define what this productivity is. He doesn’t say anything about here’s where new hires are missing the mark. There’s no specificity there. It’s just all vague. But the idea is, well, are we not getting enough knowledge? Since we don’t have an office culture? Where do you think this is headed? Seriously, because Okay, so here we go. Salesforce, the biggest private employer in San Francisco was among the first tech companies to tell its workforce they didn’t have to come back. Last year, Salesforce acquired communications X app, Slack and Benioff said people can work very efficiently from their homes. They aren’t going to let their teams decide. Hmm, sure. Yeah, you have to be so careful. So careful. If you are a W two employee If you’re not freelance you don’t own and operate your own business, you are not a mover and shaker that gets to make the decisions. You have to be so careful about any employer who says, Don’t worry about it. We’re gonna be worked from home forever, we’ll be worked from anywhere forever. We’ll be 100% remote forever. Do you have it in writing? Not that that’s an ironclad guarantee. But I mean, it’s kind of better than nothing. But these hot air and Okay, in my opinion, hot air and hopium and Bs promises of Oh, don’t worry about it. We’re gonna be work from home forever. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it. They can change their mind at any point in time. And they will use a variety of excuses to justify the behavior. You need to come on back because and then insert a variety of corporate buzzwords that are hollow and meaningless here. I mean, look, the spokesperson said, collaborate, innovate, drive customer success. But again, that’s all vague. What does collaboration actually look like? Because so often, it’s forced corporate fun that most people don’t enjoy, like the viral tick tock about a company happy hour where one person showed up. Not even the Suzy cream cheese, in my opinion, who organized the deal showed up? I mean, doesn’t I kind of say it all. I as an introvert have felt like the forced corporate fun has always been a nightmare. And for some people with neurodiversity anxiety issues, it can cause a lot of turmoil. I remember at one such corporate forced fun event that I had to attend. I went in the ladies room, and there was one of my colleagues, I’m going to I’m going to try to be as unnecessarily vague as I possibly can, because I do not want to betray this person’s privacy. I went in the ladies room, and I found one of my colleagues crying in the bathroom. And I asked her what was wrong? My immediate thought was death in the family illness. I mean, I’m just oh my god, you you walk in and you find someone crummy. She was crying, not, you know, like, a small amount. It was a sob. And I’m like, Oh, my God, something, something’s happened. So I asked her if I could help her was everything. Okay? And she told me, I have been having panic attacks all morning about this event. I don’t want to do it. I feel like it’s humiliating. But I can’t lose my job right now. I have too much on the line. That’s inhumane. You should not be putting people through such absolute and utter BS for the entertainment of management or the entertainment of ownership. Oh, we want the feudal serfs to come up here to the castle, or the manor and play for us. We want you to sing songs and do skits and play musical instruments and amuse. Oh, How droll nobody should be put through that. Now that frickin picture of these dudes in suits with no ties and bunny ears? Yeah, like I said, that already tells me everything that I need to know. Plus the fact that they want you to be on Slack all the time. That’s another big grody for me. No thanks. I guess for me, it’s like, I don’t know how somebody could not read this. And decide, oh, it’s probably gonna be okay. Or could could read it and think, oh, it’s probably going to be okay. I mean, how can you not see the writing on the wall? I want to go back and revisit the full text of his slack post. Are we not building tribal knowledge with new employees without an office culture? Is this a reflection of our office policy? Our our managers not directly addressing productivity with their teams? Are we not investing enough time into our new employees? I mean, where do you think this is going? You know, if I were a betting woman, I would say that more than likely, this is headed towards come on back. You know, we tried remote, and we tried hybrid hell of half measures. And we just weren’t seeing the productivity out of the new hires that came on board in 2021, and 2022. So I mean, in order to make it easier for managers to manage, and trainers to train and individuals to be surveilled, you need to come on back, just come on back. It’s going to be so much easier for everybody involved if you just come on back. If we’re all but in C in the same place at the same time in the offices, and we can I’m using air quotes here, go back to normal, the way it was pre pandemic, well, you’re gonna get the most out of it. Now, that doesn’t take into account the people who don’t want to go back the people who have already built their domestic infrastructure around being work from home? You’re gonna come on back, or you can leave. You can you can do the Zuckerberg, if you want to self select out the door. That’s fine with us. My prediction is that’s exactly where this is headed. Now, is it going to happen tomorrow or next week? No, I don’t think it’s going to happen during the holiday season. my spidey senses telling me that we will see more of this in q1. But as we get into further into the economic due to storm, that will be 2023. Oh, yeah. Full on demands for RTO will be prevalent. q1, q2, q3. Oh, yeah. Expect it, buckle up? And really have some sense of is the company that you’re working for? Are they in good shape? Are you in an industry that’s dying? Do you have a job loss survival plan, you have to wargame these things out in advance. You don’t want to be blindsided by bad news. Because here’s the thing if you took these people at their word, and you thought, Well, okay, they’ve said, we don’t have to come back. You know, I’m working for a team that really values 100% remote. So I mean, I’m probably going to be fine. Reread his slack post. Where do you think this is headed? Okay. And then, when he got pissed off, that the message was leaked to the press, he’s he’s capitalizing trust and transparency. Without an immediate public disclosure, I hope you will agree how passive aggressive is that I hope you will agree that it is also disappointing that our private conversations here were almost immediately given to public media. That feels shady as hell to me. If you don’t feel embarrassed by what you’re doing, then what do you care? It’s like the old expression people who have nothing to hide hide nothing. I remember this great scene. And there are so many great scenes in this movie, by the way, in the usual suspects. When Chazz Palminteri his character says if you’ve taken three guys charged him with murder, the one that sleeping in the morning is the one who actually did it. He’s guilty, he knows he knows he’s been caught. So he’s the one that’s going to get some sleep. If you don’t have anything to feel guilty about, if you don’t want to be roasted by people in the public, then why are you saying this? I mean, hello, this is another facet of your precious slack. Anybody can take a screenshot of what you’re putting out in the company and leak it to the media. And frankly, I think that’s a deserved fate. I feel like you have to be so very careful about trusting corporate America, any of these companies that are telling you, this is permanent, you will work from home forever. They can revoke that, at any point in time. Not everybody is going to go and get a lawyer and try to sue them over it or try to get some kind of class action group together. And then even if they did, you know, I’m not an attorney, I don’t know all of the ins and outs of what that would look like. Would they win the case? I mean, if some CEO said you do not have to worry about it. You can work from anywhere or work from home forever. This is a permanent shift. And then six months or a year later, they walked it back and said oh well, oops a daisy, y’all are not being productive enough. And then the employees got together and tried to sue would they win? I mean, I have to believe at the risk of sounding very cynical indeed, I have to believe that corporate America would win. They would law your up. And they would spend so much money defending themselves. And undoubtedly they would cover their tracks, right? I mean, they would say, well, you weren’t productive enough. Here’s God 15,000 screenshots of where your Slack light went yellow, or you weren’t present on teams or you are caught on camera picking your nose and staring off into space during some meeting that could have been an email. I have I have to believe that I have to believe that that would be the outcome. I could be wrong. This is just my opinion, just my analysis and it could be wrong. I would love to see people fight the power. I would love to see people bucked the system. Man I root for the underdog. I love that. Do I think that that would be a winning gamble? Probably not. There was a great article that appeared earlier on medium. It was published on December 14 by Cory Doctorow. And it’s titled this inflation is different. I want to read a couple of opening paragraphs here for you. Here’s the inflation story you’re expected to believe. advanced warning this story is entirely false. America gave the pours too much money during the lockdown. And now the economy is awash in free money, which made those pores so rich that now they’re refusing to work, which means the economy isn’t making anything anymore. With all that extra money and all those missing workers prices are skyrocketing. To hear goals like Lawrence Summers tell it. There is only one answer to this. We have to invigorate the pours jack up interest rates kick off a recession destroy millions of jobs until the pores are stripped of their undeserved fortunes and humbled. They returned to their labors. Yeah. Yeah. The fat cats always when they profiteer off of the misery of others, if they crash the housing market, they can go and swoop up properties for pennies on the dollar. If they wrecked jobs, if unemployment goes up, if it’s very difficult indeed, to provide for yourself and your family, they have you over a barrel, they can pretty much do whatever the hell they want. If they tell you sit down, shut up and sit in this cube, or you’re not going to be able to eat, you won’t have a roof over your head, your kids are going to go without What do you think’s going to happen? I know Believe me, I know that it’s a romantic notion to imagine that all of these people are going to rise up and say No, hell no, we won’t go, we’re not going to go back to a cube farm. We’re not going to be treated this way. If you told us that this company was worked for home forever, or work from anywhere forever than dammit, you need to you need to commit to what you’ve said, You need to be honest, you need to have some integrity, you know, for somebody that wants to capitalize truth and transparency and get so up on his high horse, about someone having the nerve to tell the public media what he had said. Yeah. Where’s truth and transparency? If you tell everybody that they can work from home forever, or that their individual teams can decide what’s best based on a sort of democratic mindset, but then later, you walk it back and say no, due to decreased productivity, y’all peons gonna have to come on back. Where’s the truth and transparency in that? I feel like what this article on Medium is saying very similar to what I’ve been telling you this whole time. Now, I would diverge a bit, because I do personally think that you cannot print up fiat currency and handed out like candy without any consequences to that. I think that’s a little bit naive. But is it poor people’s fault? Is it working class people’s fault, middle class, people’s fault? No. And I’ve told you that repeatedly, the powerbrokers, the fat cats, the Wall Street bankers, they are going to figure out some narrative no matter how hard they have to twist themselves around in a pretzel, they are going to figure out ways of making the inflation and the recession, your fault. On that point, we’re in complete and total agreement. And this whole Mitch McConnell, people are just flush with cash. Men have all turned in to drug heads that are sacked out on their girlfriend’s couches and all Millennials have moved back home. They’re all in grandma’s basement. Nobody’s working. Everybody’s playing video games and smoking dope all day. Or like super tinfoil hat aliens came to Earth and did a fan OHS finger snap and these people have been blipped off the planet. So almost like the more absurd the story the better they like it. But here we are, oh, America gave the poor people too much money during lockdown. They’re just so rich right now that they don’t want to work and that is what’s causing the problem. So we need to punish the ever loving hell out of them. So that they will eat some Humble Pie and return to their labors. Spot on. That is where this is headed. Get your butt back in the cubicle. Look at all of the markets that are crashing Do you want to be without a job right now? If your employer tells you to do whatever you better do it that mean? Yeah, I don’t know how much clearer I can make it I really don’t know how many more broadcasts I can do. I don’t have any blog posts on camera to write up and publish. Like if you haven’t gotten it by now I just don’t think you’re gonna get it. I really don’t and I think when everything the add the Omni bubble when everything crashes, what a mess and the people who get blindsided by this. God help them I mean, I really don’t even know what else to say. But in reading this article on CNBC, I’m like, Yeah, this Slack message is like foreshadowing, if we were sitting here writing a dystopian novel, this is the foreshadowing this, this is your sign that most likely, they’re going to take remote work away. They’re going to transition away from the hybrid work model and tell you you just need to RTO up yawns and plebs were not productive enough at home. So you need to come on back. If you don’t think that same thing will not Trent if you think that corporate America like okay, well maybe Salesforce and slack like they’ll do it, but my job won’t mind company won’t be naive at your own risk. Stay safe, stay sane. I will see you in the next episode. Thanks for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. We’ll see you next time.

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