When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gives employees a performance review, he wants to know if they’re ready to be replaced.
It’s not as Machiavellian as it sounds.
In a newly released interview from February between LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Zuckerberg for Hoffman’s podcast “Masters of Scale,” Zuckerberg explains how he grew into the role of CEO.
Zuckerberg founded Facebook as a Harvard student in 2004 and began scaling it into a mature company in 2008. For context, Facebook would end that year with 450 employees, $US272 million in revenue, at a loss of $US56 million; in 2016 Facebook had more than 17,000 employees and brought in $US27.6 billion in revenue, with $US10.2 billion in net income.
Hoffman, who was among Facebook’s first investors, told Zuckerberg that he was impressed early on by the way Zuckerberg had an instinct for constantly recruiting, so that he could fuel his company’s growth.
Zuckerberg said that while transitioning from engineer to CEO, his tech experience fed his development as leader. Engineers, he said, have an instinct to build when inspiration strikes. As CEO, Zuckerberg quickly realised he couldn’t do everything himself, so he prioritised putting into place a system where someone was always ready to put an idea into action.
This led to his belief that teams throughout Facebook need to never be slowed down by the movement of employees, whether they change roles or leave the company.
“When we do performance reviews with folks, a lot of the review is just based on what they do over the period of the performance review, but do you have a good successor, are all your key positions filled, do all your key people have successors?” Zuckerberg told Hoffman.
In other words, you may perform at a high level — but if you decided to leave tomorrow, would the entire team fall apart?
“If you make that a big part of the process of what you’re doing, then you end up I think with a focus on building strong teams across the company,” he said.
You can listen to the entire interview below, in which Zuckerberg also discusses his career development and why he’s been touring the United States this year.