On Thursday last I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon in Facebook’s EMEA  HQ in Dublin as part of the Best Place to Work series of events.  This wasn’t my first time in Facebook’s HQ or my first time to hear Jeff Turner who to the best of my knowledge is the originator of the mantra “the manager trumps the brand” speak.   Jeff is Facebook’s EMEA L&D Lead and what I love about listening to him is his consistency in message that unless managers are helped to understand and live the culture you value in your organisation…they will kill it!

And why is culture so important?

Well in my experience I’m with Peter Drucker on this one that culture is everything and as nebulous and as intangible and as ethereal as it is…it’s very real and is a powerful weapon which has the potential as the great man said to eat your strategy for breakfast, so mind it well.   This is what most struck me about Facebook, this is a company that really gets culture and really gets how their managers are key to either nurturing that culture or killing it.  They work incredibly hard at this and have a whole host of innovative organisational design and management processes to support the on-boarding and continuous development of their managers with performance development and feedback systems focused not just on the metrics delivery but equally on their values of “how” things are done.   And you get a real sense of that alignment of values and behaviours of “walking their talk” which is to be admired, as so often this disappointingly is not the case and company values become an aspirational exercise carried out by senior leadership teams with the best of intentions, but who very often struggle to live those values, making the whole exercise pretty meaningless beyond the possible consolation prize of a nice PR story for what that’s worth.

Biggest Competitive Advantage

This makes Facebook very refreshing and while they don’t claim to have all the answers and they don’t, especially for a company who prides itself on disrupting itself on a “journey that is 1% finished”. It is great to see  the creativity, disruptiveness and social impact DNA characteristics of their products and services equally applied to their biggest competitive advantage their people.  And that’s why for me Jeff Turner is absolutely spot on when he says ‘your manager trumps your brand.”

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