Could You Work for Mark Zuckerberg? Plus: 3 Zuck-Worthy Tips

by Cathy Vandewater | January 26, 2012

A Facebook group--meta!--sheds new light on what it might be like to have what might be the world's most famous (and coveted) boss.

Andrew Bosworth, a software engineer with the social media company, leads a "Bootcamp" to get new employees caught up with Facebook's code base. But, serving as one of the new hires' first interfaces at the company, he finds himself fielding just as many questions about the famous boss as the technical stuff.

To speed the process along, Bosworth drafted a four-point guide to working for "Zuck" that made the rounds within Facebook, and has since leaked to the Wall Street Journal and Business Insider.

Though they're meant to apply specifically to Mr. Zuckerberg, Bosworth's guidelines really apply to the kinds of bosses many of us have already worked for: short on time, disinterested in details, and more impressed with results than a show of effort.

Ironically enough, those requirements are in stark contrast to everything we've been hearing about Gen Y workers, Facebook's target audience—and the group most likely kill puppies to work there. The top complaints: that young employees need lots of feedback, external motivators, and emotional warmth to thrive.

To be fair, personal attention is something all workers would want, if possible. But at a busy, high powered company with an extremely in-demand boss, you can't expect it. As former employee Yishan Wong notes, Zuckerberg "is not there to "develop" you--that's your own job."

So what's an employee to do? For starters, put yourself in Zuck shoes, and stop taking it all so personally. Here's an inside peak into the mind of Facebook's CEO, and a few takeaways for working with your own illustrious-yet-aloof boss.

1. "Zuck Expects Debate"

As Bosworth writes, those who are waiting for a formal invitation to discuss products at Facebook will never get one. As with many a high level boss, Zuckerberg won't take the time to encourage others to speak at meetings—it's up to them to chip in.

But at your own company, contribute wisely: arguing for the sake of arguing (and not pitching in new ideas or solutions) is a waste of time that won't be appreciated, in any meeting. And as Bosworth notes, take your ego out of it: "Don't necessarily expect acknowledgment for your role in moving the discussion forward; getting the product right should be its own reward."

2. "Zuck Isn't Sentimental"

Yes, it sucks working for a boss that scraps a project you've been working on for months. But the emotional attachments you form with your work aren't likely on the forefront of a boss's mind: rather, as Bosworth notes of Zuckerberg, a CEO cares more about the end goal: "He doesn't care what he said yesterday, even if he was presented with the same product. He approaches everything from first principles every time."

That kind of flexibility is surely the sign of a good leader, but not exactly the makings of a great manager. To deal, manage your own expectations, and develop emotional tunnel vision; get attached to the goal of finding the best solutions, not the labor. Your personal blood, sweat, and tears are not what your boss has her eye on.

3. "Zuck pushes people"

We've all had a boss that's demanded more from us than we knew possible. And though we may have missed the mark, it's likely we achieved slightly more than we thought we could. That's what Zucks at all companies are banking on.

If you're honest about what you think you can do, and sincerely do your best, you'll likely get along fine with a "pushy" boss. The trick, as Bosworth writes, is to "resist the urge to see it as a personal opportunity or risk" when challenged on a project. If you fudge your true capabilities, you're only damaging trust between yourself and your boss, and as Bosworth puts it, "there is always going to be a layer of editing between you, him, and building the right thing." It's not about how good you look; it's about how great the results are.

Read More:
"Working with Zuck"
"Is Mark Zuckerberg an autocratic CEO with whom no one wants to work?"
Do You Fit Into Google's Culture?

--Cathy Vandewater, Vault.com

 

Filed Under: Job Search | Workplace Issues


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