Facebook's HR chief recommends this business book to all new managers

Lori golerJonathan Leibson/Getty ImagesFacebook’s VP of People Lori Goler speaks at the 2016 AOL Makers conference.

When Facebook’s VP of People was starting out as a manager for a startup in 1999, she picked up a copy of the newly released guide to management, “First, Break All the Rules.”

It didn’t take long for the book, by Gallup analysts Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, to become a bestseller, but as Goler told Business Insider, “it really struck a chord” with her.

She joined Facebook as its head of HR in 2008 and immediately adapted Buckingham and Coffman’s teachings to the company, turning it into a “strengths-based” organisation.

Buckingham has since become a private consultant, and his consulting group TMBC told us that it has “extensively consulted” with Facebook. And when an employee becomes a manager at Facebook, “First, Break All the Rules” comes as highly recommended reading.

Buckingham and Coffman based their book on 25 years of Gallup studies of 80,000 managers across 400 companies. They found that the best-performing companies had managers who “broke all the rules” by flouting convention in four key ways.

From the book, here are the authors’ four keys to great management:

  • When selecting someone, they select for talent . . . not simply experience, intelligence, or determination.
  • When setting expectations, they define the right outcomes . . . not the right steps.
  • When motivating someone, they focus on strengths . . . not on his weaknesses.
  • When developing someone, they help him find the right fit . . . not simply the next rung on the ladder.

That is, the best managers don’t hire and promote with the intention of shaping employees. Instead, they give them more opportunities to develop what they have proven they’re already good at.

The authors argue that organisations that aren’t strength-based promote employees to their level of incompetence, making them unhappy and less effective in the process.

It’s why, for example, the job of manager isn’t seen as a promotion at Facebook, but rather as an alternate career path. Goler said the company selects managers who actually want to be managers. “It sounds basic, but it’s harder than it sounds in an organisation that’s scaling quickly” to find these people, she said.

The fundamental takeaway of Buckingham and Coffman’s book is that organisations need to find people who truly care about their job’s purpose and are given opportunities to grow their strongest talents.

“People want to have an impact; they want to know that what they’re working on matters,” Goler said. “And they’re going to stay at a place where they feel like they have an impact, [where] they’re learning and growing and doing work they love.”

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