How face-to-face communication shaped Facebook’s future

Facebook employee engagement aided by face-to-face sessions

April 30, 2014

Facebook may have rewritten the rulebook over how we communicate socially but its internal communications are based on far more traditional methods – primarily face-to-face dialogue.

The social media giant might live and breathe innovation but it didn’t stop founder Mark Zuckerberg using tried-and-tested internal comms techniques to build employee engagement.

Ezra Callahan joined Facebook as the firm’s sixth employee and saw his product management role evolve into heading up its internal comms strategy. He was also responsible for overseeing the development of company culture and introducing new IC tools.

In a fascinating interview with IC World, Ezra revealed Facebook operated as “an open and transparent company” in line with the specific wishes of Zuckerberg and the other founders.

Face-to-face sessions helped to cultivate emotional investment in the company, Ezra said.

He told IC World: “It felt like you had access to information and the right to voice your opinions, which were going to be heard. You knew the CEO heard your opinion, because you were encouraged to say it directly to him!

“Direct line communication were very important, and employees eagerly tuned in to the company’s Q&As and all-hands meetings and engaged with our internal communications tools globally.”

Ezra added there were two reasons why the face-to-face workshops were vital for employee engagement at the San Francisco-based social network:
• A culture of debate contributed to making Facebook a leading place to work – and helped attract leading worldwide talent
• Facebook never strays far from controversy (think privacy settings and freedom of speech), so it was imperative for colleagues “to speak their mind both to steer the company in the right direction and to maintain their level of commitment.”

Zuckerberg took part in the face-to-face sessions, which were held every Friday.

Ezra added: “At Facebook, I really wanted to keep it organic and foster the culture of debate and openness rather than direct it. A big part of this was to lead internal communications by example.

“If nobody was asking questions or people were asking less interesting questions, Mark told me one of my jobs was to ask him the hardest questions I could think of every week.”

To read the rest of the article, visit IC World here….