Gore Vidal once wrote that “Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.” While most of us might not go as far as to actively wish our peers misfortune, we can relate to the idea of being jealous of what someone else has achieved. You may not be friends with him, but it is easy to feel that way about Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook and the world’s youngest billionaire. It would appear, however, that some of the people closest to the man who changed the world would disagree with you. Zuckerberg was recently awarded a 99.3% approval rating by Facebook employees. So what is the Silicon Valley phenomenon doing to win his employees over? Here are just ten of his secrets:
A Facebook employee commenting on the website Quora recently said, “After I joined Facebook in 2010, I worked on a secret project, ‘graph search.’ Within a couple months, I attended two Zuck reviews to discuss the project.” The fact that the CEO of one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing companies is meeting with entry-level employees says a lot about the way Zuckerberg does business. Rather than slotting people into roles based on age and experience, everyone’s ideas are valued in clear and obvious ways.
Part of doing away with hierarchies is breaking down the barriers between executives and other employees. Zuckerberg’s office has glass walls. Contrary to the conventional idea of a CEO in a private room with a secretary guarding the door, Zuckerberg wants his employees to be able to approach him. Making people feel like equals is a great way to show that you value them.
Regardless of what anyone can say about Mark Zuckerberg, the facts speak for themselves. He single-handedly took an idea and using his own skills and savvy he turned it into an empire. He changed the way we stay connected with each other. Another employee recently commented that “He built this billion user and billion dollar company from his dorm room, overcame one obstacle after another, and assembled a company with some of the most talented employees in the world.” The adoration his employees have for him is obvious.
A big part of getting people behind you is showing them a clear way forward. Mark Zuckerberg’s life’s ambition is to create a more open and connected world and his commitment to that goal is unwavering. Having a leader that is directed at an unambiguous goal gives employees something to strike towards.
To quote a Facebook employee, “What other CEO has the guts to purchase a chat company for $19B?” This was in reference to Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp earlier this year. Whether or not his employees agree with his decisions, Zuckerberg has the courage to act and the intelligence to back up his decisions. Those are qualities that command respect.
Zuckerberg shows respect for his employees by measuring the quality of their work, not by nitpicking the way they dress or decorate their desks. The CEO himself regularly wears jeans and hoodies to work, setting the example that it is the work that matters, not the minutiae.
It is hard to bash a boss who provides free lunches and a relaxed work environment. Being able to de-stress without leaving your workplace is a luxury that not many employees have. The atmosphere Zuckerberg is cultivating is paying off in employee approval.
Employees at Facebook are able to act in creative ways outside the confines of bureaucracy and tradition that exist at many other larger companies. It is a difficult thing to run a company with thousands of employees in a way that maintains adaptability at the individual level. Zuckerberg is walking that line successfully.
The “Zuck Reviews” described way back at bullet number one of this article speak to Zuckerberg’s commitment to effective and regular communication. We have all had bosses who are hard to get time with and leave you hanging while working on a major project. Zuckerberg stays engaged without micro-managing, the trademark of a great leader.
Give most people $33 billion and you will have a very hard time getting them to ever show up at work again. The fact that Mark Zuckerberg remains so engaged and deeply involved with the vision and operations of Facebook demonstrates that he is not in it for the money, he legitimately wants to change the world. It is hard to be more genuine than that.
Featured photo credit: Robert Scoble via flickr.com
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