Why Facebook encourages staff to ‘break things’

HRM investigates how the social media giant prepares its employees for the unexpected

Needless to say, the social media mavens at Facebook have experienced a wide array of ups and downs throughout the years. For this reason, it is critical that the website’s engineers, technicians, and web developers remain versatile, flexible, and prepared for whatever may lie ahead.
Unconventional Welcoming
The organization has instituted a number of strategies to ensure that their employees can handle a variety of challenges, even ones that may be outside an individual’s area of expertise. 

Even though any potential Facebook engineer has to undergo several rounds of demanding interviews before joining the social media site’s team, that employee still faces six weeks of “Bootcamp” training before being placed in a position.  During Bootcamp, the staff member completes minor jobs for different groups throughout the company.

The goal of this exercise is not just to determine where the employee’s skillset best matches a position’s responsibilities, but it allows the newcomer to access and work with a variety of Facebook’s technical undertakings.
Training for Adaptability
In addition to this unorthodox way of orienting new employees, Facebook also trains staff to adapt to new situations quickly. 

To achieve this, Bootcamp includes a rotation schedule that allows new employees to take turns working with different groups and understand how each team contributes to the larger goal.  While this may seem as if it may make new employees feel uncomfortable, that is precisely the point.  Facebook encourages its staff to “move fast and break things,” because the website would rather have imperfect systems that are innovative over flawless technology that’s outdated or obsolete.

Finally, after employees complete their time in Bootcamp, they are still expected to understand operations outside of their domain.   Engineers frequently participate in a yearly “hack-a-month,” where they set their own projects aside and temporarily work in another area. 
Strategies for Success
Facebook undertakes many strategies in order to maximize the talent in their workforce, including:
  • Encouraging a mindset, not just results
  • Connecting short-term projects with long-term goals
  • Fostering accountability
 Although their web operations will never be seamless, with the right employee management policies in place, Facebook has created an environment where innovation and forward-thinking should continue to thrive for years to come.
This article was adapted from How Facebook Scaled Its Workforce which was originally published in the May 2014 HRD Magazine. To read more click here.

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