My first session today was listening to Jeff Turner from Facebook where he was billed to talk about ‘Developing Managers with essential skills to embed learning’. What followed was a really interesting and fascinating insight into the approaches and methods that Facebook have used to develop management effectiveness.
The challenge was that I don’t think that the session actually did what it said on the tin. It didn’t highlight for me how the initiative gave the managers the skills to embed learning.
Let me be clear, I found the session really interesting, useful, thought provoking and relevant. It just didn’t do what it said it would and that annoyed me.
This leads me to an interesting thought about how we as learning professionals manage expectations and the emotional responses to this. How often do we write some blurb, create an outline, say what we will do and yet it doesn’t deliver and live up to the billing we gave it. Let’s be honest, we want our content to be interesting and great and yet how honest are we being. Maybe that’s a blog post for another day.
For now, let me reflect on the session we had this morning (although it didn’t quite meet expectations).
There were three key themes that stuck out for me:
1) Developing effective management in Facebook is about much more that developing mangers
2) Active consideration and crystallisation of themes, approaches and methods to innovate into something new that would fit for Facebook.
3) Having a route of management and individual specialism that are equally weighted are vitally important.
Let’s look at those some more:
1) One thing that Jeff outlined was how their strategy included development solutions for the direct reports of managers, the managers themselves and the bosses of the managers. It included outlining things like, as a direct report you have a huge part to play in the success of your relationship with your manager and therefore your performance.
This is an interesting one as across the generations and individuals how will that work for them? I like the idea and there is something here about how will people feel about this. If you have always held on to the identity that as a direct report ‘I am like this’ or ‘I do these things’ by saying actually this is your responsibility too may cause people to feel anger (at not being able to fulfil their chosen role) or sadness (at the loss of identity).
It would be interesting to explore how Facebook actively planned to support people on that emotional journey.
2) This is such a hot topic for me. Taking the approaches, methods or concepts and changing and customising is so important. As a profession we are really good a copying stuff, often without really understanding it and/or researching it. Using the ‘it worked for ……’ approach.
It was great to hear that this level of thought and reflection had gone in prior to use and implementation. For example, here’s the principles that FB used pulling on work by Gallup (strengths), Marcus Buckingham and Dan Pink
3) It was when talking about this theme when Jeff talked about asking those that currently manage if they really wanted to and used the phrase, (for those that do continue to manage) ‘get out of the way (of the people you manage) and they will flourish more than you ever expected’.
I agree with that and it needs something else too. It needs to have a culture of compassion, support and curiosity. What keeps people ‘in the way’ is fear. Fear that if they let the person so they might: get it wrong, mess it up, annoy other people, make them (the manager) look silly.
The final line from Jeff was ‘great managers trump your brand’, they do and it sounds like the approach Facebook has taken (and crudely summarised by me here) has the potential to do that.
What I can’t shake is the feeling that I none the less felt cheated by this session.