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A study of the management style of Mark Zuckerberg

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Management of Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg was born in White Plains, New York on May 14, 1984. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 2002 where he then made the decision to carry onto Harvard University (“Mark Zuckerberg Biography” n.d.). While at Harvard, he studied Psychology until he founded the social network now known as Facebook. His family was fairly well off; his father a dentist and his mother a homemaker. He was a man of humble beginnings who was very articulate, but still had no intentions of becoming the billionaire he is today.

He was known all throughout campus as the go-to software developer. He created multiple games, in-voice programs, and other quirky software for simple entertainment around campus. Eventually, three other Harvard students sought his expertise on a social networking site that was known as Harvard Connection (“Mark Zuckerberg Biography” n.d.). This network was designed to help Harvard elite find eligible bachelors and bachelorettes that were fellow elite. Zuckerberg dropped out of the project to focus on his own network idea that stemmed from the concept of Harvard Connection. At the time, there were e-mails, but that was a task in itself to compile a decent list of e-mail usernames. Then, of course, there was the popular MySpace. While MySpace was a quality social network to some, it was filled with bugs and finding someone based on a mutual school was nearly impossible. Zuckerberg decided this needed to change, so he began creating Facebook Inc.

Facebook was released to the public in 2004 and has since grown to be a 100 billion dollar company (Ray 2011). The site has gone through a number of facelifts, but had quite the shaky start due to Zuckerberg’s ignorance of life as an entrepreneur. He made many managerial mistakes along the way, but he has since grown to a mature man with a unique management style that seems to be working.

Management Style

While many would love to believe Mark Zuckerberg is a man that spends day and night pondering over how to run Facebook, sorry to disappoint, but he does not. Zuckerberg’s management style is a charismatic, transformational manager. His business depends on high levels of communication so that goals can be met in an efficient and timely manner. While he has no objection to working alongside his fellow employees, his constant motivation and communication makes it unnecessary. All of his employees know he is the boss and that he will fire them with no hesitation if they do not provide above average work. At this point in his career, he is pretty much just riding the wave and attempting to be as innovative as possible. In Zuckerberg’s line of work with social networking and media, communication is key. This comes through quite clearly in his management styles.

Planning and Decision Making Strategies

Many people would argue that Zuckerberg has no form of planning or decision making strategies, but I believe this is not the case. His strategy is honestly to go with his gut. If he comes up with an idea or gets a thought in his head, he will act upon it immediately. He is without a doubt an impulse decision maker. After intense criticism from the media, it has been found out that Zuckerberg may be smarter than the average person thinks. The most important strategy Zuckerberg uses when making decision is that he is the boss, period.

The Boss

Since the launch of Facebook, Zuckerberg has focused on being the boss of Facebook. He wanted the newest innovations and he wanted them faster than anyone else could even begin to think of them. He worked hard, took risks, and acted on impulse. He was allowed to do this because he was the boss; he had majority rule. Zuckerberg managed to keep more than 25% of the company before he went public (Sengupta 2012). This meant that in agreements with other investors, his opinion was worth 60% of the decision. At that rate, practically anything he said went. He was willing to take even more risks and act rapidly; everyone and everything was disposable at that point. Zuckerberg had a vision in his head that he was going to achieve, even if that meant losing money in the process. While he did get an extreme amount of scrutiny in the beginning, the mood changed months later when Facebook began to flourish beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

Organizational Design and Control Perspectives

Zuckerberg’s decision-making advantage of being the boss directly influences his organizational design and control perspectives. When Zuckerberg first began Facebook Inc. he had no idea how to manage a company; that is just the honest truth. He was too young to know the ins and outs of a business structure and he fully admitted this in the years following. Zuckerberg took himself on as a project and educated himself on how to run a business properly. A couple years have passed since his humble beginnings, and he has since developed an intense organizational design and control plan for his forever growing business. Zuckerberg learned to observe the ways of other successful CEOs and create an organizational design based on their already proven, intelligent methods with his own special twists.

Listen and Learn

Since Zuckerberg was so young when entering the industry, he often listened and learned. He hired an executive coach that helped him figure out the essential skills to run a progressing company (McGirt 2012). He knew that to make the business flourish he needed to hire people that were smart enough to know what they were doing and make his business a success just as they had made their own. To do so he had to convince these perspective employees that he was the best bet, that Facebook would soon become “the next big thing.” Over time he managed to employ people that were the driving force of success behind large companies such as Google and Youtube (McGirt 2012). Without listening, learning, and processing the information these elders gave him, there is no saying if Facebook would have been the success it is today.

Human Resources Utilization and Treatment

For many years Facebook had lacked a human resources manager and honestly, an entire human resource department. In 2006, Zuckerberg hired a manager for human resources but after three months she left the company. In the years following, Zuckerberg hired a 25-year-old engineer to run the department (Marshall 2009). His name was Chris Cox and he completely changed around Facebook’s employee recruitment process. He believed in the company and took the proper steps to convince people Facebook was going to change the world by connecting people. Cox is now in charge of hiring new employees and briefing Zuckerberg on the company’s progress and issues. With a confident team behind him, there is no doubt that Cox is a glare of sunshine at Facebook Inc.

While it seems Cox has been treated well based on his long-standing relationship with the company, many employees are not so happy. A former human resource employee even described their prior position as, “Angst, stress and burnout” (Marshall 2009). It is no secret that Zuckerberg has no issue firing employees. While I was unable to find any sources saying Zuckerberg abused the employees in any way, most former employees seemed happy to leave the company. If a high-stress, deadline oriented, innovative position is what you desire, a place at Facebook may be for you. In Zuckerberg’s mind, as the old saying goes, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

Motivational and Communication Techniques

As stated prior, Zuckerberg has a key focus within his company on communication. The most important part of Zuckerberg’s week is a briefing from his human resource manager, Chris Cox (Marshall 2009). Zuckerberg is also known for personally evaluating the employees and frequently walking around the company building asking employees how they are doing and how things are going. While he may seem like a hands-on type of guy, his communication style in the media was a whole other story. In the beginning of his reign as Facebook’s CEO he frequently appeared ill and nervous during media presentations. He often began statements with “um…” and did not make proper eye contact with the audience, cameras, or reporters. As time has gone on, he has improved greatly, but he still admits that media is not his strong suit (Tice 2012).

Zuckerberg has one main motivational technique; incentives. Zuckerberg knows that each person needs to be motivated by what they find exciting. He gives engineers the opportunity to build the best products and he gives business executives large financial incentives. Another incentive the he frequently uses is an unusual compensation scheme (Marshall 2009). If employees exceptionally meet their goals, they are able to nearly double their stock option in a year. While these incentives may seem pleasant, employees are constantly under pressure to be the best that they can be. At Facebook Inc. if an employee performs well they are rewarded with incentives; if she/he performs poorly they are suspended temporarily or terminated.

My Impression of Zuckerberg

I admire Mark Zuckerberg in numerous ways. While I feel he was a sub-par leader when Facebook first began, it is impressive how much he was able to learn in a short period of time. He seems like a man that knows what he wants and is willing to do whatever it takes to get there; even if it does get dirty looks from media and the public. Zuckerberg’s reasoning behind his insane actions is, “When people have control over what they share, they are comfortable sharing more, when people share more the world becomes more open and connected (“Mark Zuckerberg’s Secrets to Success” 2012).” I believe Zuckerberg truly believes in his mission of connecting the world. He had a rather simple childhood that is relatable to many people in America today. He is a grand example of, “If he can do it… you can do it.”

Conclusion

While I appreciate Facebook as a whole, I do believe it has had its fair shares of ups and downs. I have been a Facebook user for about eight years now and I believe it has improved greatly, but there were some bumpy patches with bugs, glitches, and poor features. In the 21st century, “maintain one’s online presence is absolutely essential (“Promoting Privacy” 2011).” I believe Zuckerberg seems to be a fair leader with a strict bottom line. Though some may think he is outright cruel, that strict attitude is what gets things done in a large firm. I feel he is the perfect leader for the company since he believes in the vision so much. His innovation and ability to absorb lessons and information have greatly contributed to his success. Most people would think he was crazy for claiming a social network could change the world, but at the very least it has positively impacted millions of lives. In fact, “Facebook usage was found to interact with… psychological well-being… it might provide greater benefits for users experiencing low self-esteem and low life satisfaction (Bataarjav & Dantu 2008)”. People are able to share moments with their loved ones that they may not have been able to in any other way. In my opinion, Facebook is a useful business with the perfect CEO for the job.

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