Facebook Owner Meta Axes Another 10,000 Jobs Worldwide
On Tuesday, Facebook owner Meta announced a new round of layoffs as part of the company’s “year of efficiency,” as the US tech sector continues to contract due to Biden inflation.
In an email to employees, Mark Zuckerberg stated that Meta would cut 10,000 jobs over the next few months, focusing on middle management, with 5,000 other positions remaining unfilled. The layoffs follow an 11,000-job cuts announced by the company in November.
“This will be difficult, and there is no way around it. It will imply saying farewell to talented and passionate colleagues who have contributed to our success, “According to Zuckerberg.
Meta’s recruitment department will be the first to suffer as the company officially ends the hiring spree that occurred when big tech ramped up operations to meet high demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
The tech and business departments will be affected, and “in a small number of cases, it may take until the end of the year to complete these changes,” according to Mark Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg warned analysts in January that the company’s “management theme for 2023 is the ‘Year of Efficiency,'” and that he would focus on making the company “a stronger and more nimble organization.”
Meta had a difficult 2022 due to a deteriorating economic climate, which forced advertisers to cut back on marketing, and Apple’s data privacy changes limited ad personalization.
The company is also under fire for betting on the metaverse, a virtual reality world that Meta believes will be the next online frontier.
The company’s share price dropped by an astounding two-thirds in a year due to the problems last year, but the stock recovered in 2023, with investors satisfied by Zuckerberg’s pledge to run a leaner company.
Following the announcement of the latest job cuts, Meta’s stock price increased by 5%.
Meta’s CEO and founder stated that he “will flatten our organization by removing multiple layers of management,” implying that many managers will be ordered to become “individual contributors.”
Zuckerberg said he was pleasantly surprised by the advantages of running a more tightly organized operation where “many things have gone faster” due to eliminating lower priority projects.
“A leaner organization (sic) will complete its highest priorities more quickly. People will be more productive, and their jobs will be more enjoyable and rewarding, “He stated.
Facebook, Meta Axing Middle Managers a Big Mistake
Few jobs in corporate America are more thankless — or more mocked — than middle management. They’ve long been derided as petty, powerless, thumb-twiddling bureaucrats who enforce the rules, crack the whip, and stamp out any vestige of creativity or self-initiative. Middle management, so the thinking goes, is for mediocre people.
However, as businesses prepare for tougher times, the assault on middle managers has gained momentum. Mark Zuckerberg is removing layers of management at Meta, demoting many supervisors to the ranks of the supervised. Shopify is also restructuring its corporate hierarchy, resulting in fewer managers. In addition to their supervisory duties, Elon Musk has directed Twitter’s engineering managers to begin writing “a meaningful amount” of code themselves.
CEOs claim they are laying off employees in the name of efficiency. Mark Zuckerberg explained his decision: “I don’t want managers managing managers, managing managers, managing managers, managing managers, managing the people who are doing the work.” His rhetoric is part of a decades-long effort to reduce the number of middlemen in corporate America’s sprawling bureaucracy. Reduce your overhead. Dismantle silos. Remove the red tape. Create a “more fun place to work,” in Zuckerberg’s words. Isn’t it all wonderful?
Except for one thing: Middle managers are the ones who make large organizations function. According to studies, they have a far greater impact on a company’s overall performance than senior executives and a greater impact on the bottom line than the teams they supervise. Businesses are cutting the people they need to weather the economic uncertainty by eliminating middle managers amid an unprecedented shift to hybrid work. They make it more difficult for the remaining managers to succeed. And they’re sending a strong message to talented would-be bosses: Don’t be one.
“You can have a great vision and a great strategy, but if you don’t have managers who create the culture you want to be, none of that stuff will get done,” says Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief scientist for workplace management. “It’ll be all uphill the whole way. Leaders’ jobs are made much easier by effective managers.”
The Big Flattening
There are two archetypes of management structures: hierarchical and flat. Tall organizational trees cascade down ever-descending layers of management in hierarchical organizations. Flat organizations have shorter organizational trees with fewer intermediaries.
Because they must establish a clear chain of command, large corporations tend to be more hierarchical. However, over the last few decades, large corporations have attempted to become flatter — and some, like Zappos, have attempted to do away with hierarchies entirely. According to a study of 300 large corporations, the number of managers layered between CEOs and division heads decreased by more than 25% between 1986 and 1998. Meanwhile, the average number of people reporting directly to the CEO has nearly doubled. The Great Flattening had begun.
The war on middle managers appears to have yielded some of the desired results: According to one study, companies with fewer organizational layers delivered products to customers faster. However, the trend resulted in a culture that dismissed middle managers as useless, despite extensive research showing that the good ones make significant contributions to their organizations.
Consider a series of Gallup studies on employee engagement—a measure of how involved and enthusiastic employees are about their jobs, linked to higher profitability, lower turnover, and lower absenteeism. Across more than 50,000 teams, Gallup’s researchers honed in on a perplexing finding: Even within the same company, some teams performed significantly better in engagement than others. The findings suggested that team-specific dynamics, rather than organizational-wide ones, were key to how employees felt about their jobs.
So the researchers dug even deeper. They were surprised to discover that direct supervisors accounted for 76% of the variation in team engagement, while executives accounted for only 11%. “Your immediate manager has far more influence on your engagement than senior leadership,” Harter says. “It was astonishing how much variation there was across these manager-led teams and how much managers influenced organizational engagement.”
Top executives may be surprised to learn they are worth less than middle managers. However, if you consider your own experience as an employee, it probably makes sense. The person with the greatest impact on your day-to-day work life is not the CEO, who is unlikely to know your existence. Your immediate boss knows to be gentle with you right now because your marriage is crumbling, who tailors their feedback to you in a way that makes you open to change and reshapes assignments from higher-ups to match your strengths and ambitions.
Middle managers, however, underappreciated, frequently make or break how we see and do our jobs. That’s why, according to a recent survey conducted by UKG, a workforce-software provider, employees said their supervisor had just as much of an impact on their mental health as their spouse — and even more than their therapist.
Consider another study that examined middle managers’ impact on business performance. Wharton management professor Ethan Mollick examined two jobs in the gaming industry: designers and producers. Designers are the innovators who create, invent, and build games. Producers are the suits who ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget.
Mollick expected to discover that the innovators’ creative output was more important than the managers’ bureaucratic work. However, the opposite was true: producers accounted for 22% of revenue differences across games, while designers accounted for only 7%. (According to another study, top executives were even less important, accounting for less than 5% of the total.) “High-performing innovators alone are insufficient to generate performance variation,” Mollick concluded. “Rather, individual managers must integrate and coordinate the innovative work of others.”
Managers overseeing managers
It’s a message worth remembering, especially in Silicon Valley, where brilliant coders are worshipped as gods. According to studies, a top programmer can produce as much work as 20 average ones — a statistic that is frequently used to justify paying exorbitant salaries to attract the best engineers. That’s why the tech industry established a separate advancement path for programmers: to provide a way for superstars to earn raises and promotions without becoming managers.
However, by idolizing top performers so much, Silicon Valley devalued the less glamorous role of managers — the people who get the genius coders’ work out into the world. When Elon Musk was asked to name the most “messed up” aspect of Twitter last October, he replied, “There appear to be ten people managing for every one person coding.” Similar disdain can be heard in Zuckerberg’s words. When he mentioned not wanting “managers managing managers,” he left out the most common middle-manager trope: that, unlike employees who are “doing the work,” middle managers aren’t doing anything.
It’s an assumption that an experienced management consultant I spoke with immediately recognized when she accepted a supervisory position at a tech firm. Even though she was in charge of a team, she was told almost immediately that she should spend most of her time working on her projects. Her performance reviews focused on her work rather than her accomplishments as a manager. When she was laid off a few months ago, she wondered if it was because she prioritized developing her team over grinding out her work.
“I believe that spending your time coaching, leading, and developing people is a worthwhile pursuit in and of itself,” she said. “If you want to do those things well, make time for them. People management is a job. But I don’t believe the company’s leadership recognized or valued that. That is not well received in the tech industry.”
People management takes far more time than corporate leaders realize. According to Gallup, the maximum number of direct reports most managers can effectively supervise is ten. Any more than that, according to Harter, it becomes difficult to have meaningful weekly conversations with employees. (At Tesla alone, Musk reportedly has 28 people reporting to him.) Companies like Meta risk burdening their remaining supervisors with teams too large to manage effectively as they shed middle managers. For the time being, the companies may save money on overhead. However, they will struggle with retention and lose revenue in the long run.
Burnout is beginning to show up in the ranks of middle managers. According to the UKG survey, 42% of middle managers are frequently or always stressed, a higher percentage than either frontline workers or C-suite executives. More than half of those polled said they wished they had been warned not to take their current job. That’s because they’re under increasing pressure from their bosses above, who want them to increase productivity while laying off employees, and from their employees below, who are irritated by having to return to work.
Companies would do better by giving middle managers the recognition they deserve and assisting them in becoming more effective in the emerging post-pandemic workplace rather than eliminating them or burdening them with additional work. According to Harter, businesses that unlock the hidden value of middle managers are more likely to weather the current economic turmoil. “It’s something businesses can use, especially in these more difficult times,” he says. “A lot of it will depend on how they upskill managers.”