Facebook recently surpassed one billion members.  No small feat for a company that has its genesis in a dorm-room computer program for Mark Zuckerberg and a few friends.

Different people may have different views about the secrets to Facebook’s success.  Obviously, the wise application of social media to connect people based on their relationship needs and desires is the fundamental reason for Facebook’s success.

Nevertheless, I suspect on the internal side of things, the company’s success involves how Facebook treats it employees, especially as they come onboard.  Ashlee Vance describes some important characteristics of Facebook’s onboarding process (called Boot Camp) that lead to strong employee engagement (“The Making of 1 Billion” Bloomberg Businessweek 10/8/12–10/14/12, pp. 64–70):

“During Boot Camp, the Facebook hires see the company’s entire code base.  They’re asked to work on Timeline for a bit and then to try out the Mobile app and familiarize themselves with the inner workings of News Feed.  At the end of the process, they choose which product team to join.  ‘We don’t assign you to a team,’ [Mike] Schroepfer [president of engineering] says.  ‘We want to make sure you are working on something you are good at and passionate about.’  At Facebook, he says, you can come up with a new idea today and ‘half a billion people will use your product tomorrow.’” (pp. 68–69)

I see several winning strategies Facebook incorporates into its onboarding process:

1—Let the new-hire see the big picture.  By showing the new-hire the entire code base, that person has the opportunity to understand the total programming behind Facebook.  Anytime you help a new employee appreciate the larger landscape, employee engagement increases.

2—Play to the new-hire’s skills and passions.  By ensuring the new-hire is doing something that matches his or her abilities and interests, that person will naturally be more motivated.  Internal motivation will always be better than external motivation.

3—Help the new-hire understand the customer connection.  By enabling the new-hire to know how fast his or her contribution can affect the external customer, that person will be thinking more about the customer’s perspective.  That new-hire will be putting the focus where it needs to be to make the company successful.

Facebook is not perfect.  Nevertheless, as with so many other things at Facebook, the company certainly knows what to do with their new-hires.  Perhaps all of us can learn some lessons.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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