Managers play such a crucial role in a company's success that six years ago Facebook decided to identify what differentiates a "great" manager from an "okay" manager, says vice president of HR Janelle Gale in an interview for job review site Glassdoor's Best Places to Work Tour.
After analyzing an internal workplace engagement study, Facebook found that great managers at the company are those who aren't managing in the traditional sense, says the HR exec. "[Great] managers at Facebook are not command and control. They don't lead from the front," explains Gale. "It's not about directing work."
Notably, the social media giant took the top spot on Glassdoor's Best Places to Work in 2018 list, which is chosen by employee reviews of the company.
The HR exec says that using the word manager to describe their roles at Facebook is misleading in a way because "great" managers aren't actually managing and controlling those under them.
"That is really not what they do," says Gale. "At Facebook, the great managers are supporting, they're taking care of people, they're reinforcing people's strengths, they're trying to make sure they get the opportunities to learn and grow in their jobs."
Unlike "okay" managers, great ones work "side-by-side" with their employees. "It's almost like [they're] supporters, not managers," explains Gale.
This hands-off management style is one that Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg uses himself as CEO. Zuckerberg said last year on LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman's podcast "Masters of Scale" that he gives his engineers the freedom to experiment because it promotes risk-taking and leads to innovation.