Facebook has been having a rough time. It wasn’t long ago that founder and CEO mark zuckerberg announced his grand vision for the metaverse, and said the company would spend $10 billion to make it happen. Since then, however, things haven’t gone very well.
It turns out that just because you change the name of your company to Meta, it doesn’t mean that people will forget all the bad things they already knew. The company had already been dealing with a string of issues ranging from the controversy over how it handles user data to Apple’s changes in iOS that require developers to request permission before their apps can track users.
That change had a huge impact on Facebook, which said it could cost the company as much as $10 billion in revenue. As a result, the company’s market cap dropped $230 billion in one day–the most ever for a publicly traded company. It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Facebook, er, Meta, now says it will slow down its metaverse plans.
This week, in a call with employees, Zuckerberg said the company would slow hiring as it tries to cope with what he called the “worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history.” According to reports of the callZuckerberg told employees to be prepared to work more with fewer resources.
For anyone not interested, Zuckerberg told employees that “some of you might decide that this place isn’t for you, and that self-selection is OK with me. Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here.”
To be fair, Zuckerberg is probably right about the latter part. There probably are a lot of people who work at Meta who would be a better fit somewhere else. Perhaps they are underperforming, or they aren’t passionate about what the company is doing and are just holding on until they find another job. That’s true in just about every company.
The thing is, assuming that some of the people who work for your company don’t belong is a terrible way to lead. It’s also a pretty lousy way to motivate your team. Instead, you should always assume the best about your team. If you find yourself thinking there are people working at your company who shouldn’t be, that’s a failure of your leadership.
Look, I’m sure Zuckerberg is under intense pressure. He has literally bet the entire company on his plan for the metaverse. If it doesn’t work, there’s no going back to the good days when the company could just scoop up more user data to use to show more personalized ads. Facebook users dropped earlier this year for the first time in a decade. There’s just nowhere else to grow.
It’s not that Facebook is experiencing “tough times.” For most of the past five years, Facebook has been able to print money. Last year alone, the company made $40 billion in profit.
Now, however, the company is no longer experiencing the kind of growth it has come to expect. That’s true for a lot of tech companies. Sure, part of that has to do with the current state of the economy, but a lot of it is simply because once you get big enough, it gets harder to grow.
In Facebook’s case, a lot of it has to do with the fact that its entire business is based on tracking users to feed its advertising machine. That’s getting harder as users become more aware of what is happening, and platforms like the iPhone give users a choice.
Of course, if your business model falls apart because you have to ask users for permission before you gather up all of their activity and use it to target them with ads, your problem isn’t that your employees aren’t working hard enough. Your problem is your business model.
Telling your employees that they need to do more with less because your cash cow stopped giving milk isn’t exactly a shining example of leadership. It also seems to miss the most important point.
Your job is to make your team’s job easier — not harder. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t motivate them to work harder, but it’s up to you to provide the resources they need for success. If you can’t do that, it isn’t their fault. It’s on you.