HR and Recruiting

How to be a great manager, according to Facebook

Written by Michael Hoon

Tons of managers are fine and get the job done, but merely “okay” doesn’t inspire people to do great things. If you’re a manager, are you putting your all into your job, making sure that your direct reports are blossoming under your direction? In an interview with Glassdoor on February 27, 2018, Facebook VP of Human Resources Janelle Gale detailed the qualities she’s experienced that makes a great manager. She also discussed what makes certain managers merely “meh” at their jobs. Let’s take a closer look at what sets both manager types apart.

Great managers aren’t controlling

Some managers tend to take the reins and pull them too tight. They become fixated on certain ways of doing business and do not give their employees an inch of leeway. According to Gale, these are not the very best managers. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg agrees, actually insisting that the “real art” of management is being so un-controlling that managers allow employees to do things they don’t agree with, but may lead to greatness.

Great managers promote growth

Great managers also never allow their employees to stagnate or rest on their laurels. They promote growth by giving employees opportunities to learn new skills and serve as daily mentors to their direct reports. They reward strong performances and make sure that they, too, find new ways to grow in their own upper-level jobs so they can meet new challenges and accomplish increasingly complex tasks.

Great managers like their jobs

One of the most important qualities of a great manager is being happy in the leadership role. Those who feel stuck in their jobs will exude a stagnant air that employees will not miss, undermining the manager’s effectiveness tremendously. A manager who is happy to be a manager will exude an aura of positivity and productive spirit that will be downright infectious.

Great managers are supportive

Another positive managerial trait is supportiveness. As Gale says, “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.”

“Okay” managers are supporters

Not all managers have mastered the art of management as Gale described it, though that doesn’t mean they are necessarily bad at their jobs. We’re talking about the adequate, the acceptable, the merely okay. These are the managers who could use a great deal of improvement, and Gale says that a main issue with the okay manger is that he or she functions more as a supporter than a manager. Now, this is distinct from being supportive, which is a positive trait. However, when a manager works too closely with employees, micromanages, or practically does employees’ work for them, that manager has crossed over from being a manager to being a supporter. At Facebook, a more hands-off management approach is a major element that contributed to making the company such a raging success.

The okay manager can easily transform into the great one by recognizing her or his own negative or just-okay methods and bringing them in line with Gale’s recipe for great management. If you are too controlling, break that bad habit to manage with a lighter touch. If you are not sufficiently supportive, try to be more mindful of how you interact with your employees. If you notice that your employees are stagnating, promote their growth with rewards programs, mentoring programs, and opportunities to learn new skills. And if you are miserable being a manager, find a new line of work or find a way to enjoy what you do.

About the author

Michael Hoon