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Becoming a Strengths-Based Organization: The Facebook Case Study

Becoming a Strengths-Based Organization: The Facebook Case Study

Let’s take a trip through past job interviews.  There are some where you have been the interviewee and maybe some where you have been the interviewer.  Think through the standard questions that are often thrown at us and your answers as well as candidates’ answers.   Maybe memories of excellent interviews are flooding your mind.  Or perhaps memories of not so great interviews are appearing.  Whatever the case, what if you were asked:

“On your very best day at work – the day you come home and think you have the best job in the world – what did you do that day?”

What would your response be?   In reflecting through your career…have you ever even had that day?  If you have, how frequently are you able to have it and what is it that makes you tick?  If you have not had it, what does it look like?

As noted in a recent Business Insider Article that interviewed Miranda Kalinowski, Facebook’s global head of recruiting, this question has become a staple for Facebook to find employees that are perfect fits.  Apart from being the best place to work in America in 2015 as denoted by Business Insider, Facebook is one of the most desirable employers in the world.  Its 13,000 employees span 64 offices across the globe and the company continues to set its sight on new ambitious targets.  Some of the areas Business Insider studied in employees when making this determination on best places to work included: Percentage High Job Meaning and Percentage High Job Satisfaction.  A complete description of the top 50 companies and the methodology can be found here.

Facebook seeks to identify what a candidate is truly passionate about and determine whether that innate interest fits into what Facebook is looking for.  In getting into a candidate’s visceral space regarding what makes them tick, Facebook has clearly unlocked something provocative that keeps them atop the list of best employers in America…

What is it?

In the interview, Kalinowski indicated that Lori Goler, the Vice President of People Operations since 2008, has shaped the company into becoming a Strengths-Based Organization.  In this type of organization, employees shape their own destiny through being given the opportunities to grow and develop the areas that they have proved they are good at and energized by.  In the Strengths world, this is called the Strengths Zone, which is that feeling of being in the Flow state.  In a Strengths-Based Organization, some items employees report (through Gallup’s Q12) include:

  • I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday
  • Someone at work encourages my development
  • The mission or purpose of my organization makes me feel like my job is important

So back to the Facebook question…what are they hoping to find?  This question seeks to find the genuine expression of pride and purpose.  They seek to find out if the candidate’s values, drive and motivation are in alignment with the Facebook mission:

“to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

Finding that space where a candidate has lost track of time at work, because they are truly immersed and firing on all cylinders, is a way that Facebook is able to gauge what the candidate inherently enjoys and is likely good at.  This question opens that door.    To be clear…not every interview candidate is asked this question, but through the interview process, Facebook is clearly mining for what makes the candidate tick.  Facebook is driven to give people the opportunity to be their best selves and do what they do best everyday.  Lori Goler is quoted in the Business Insider Article as saying:

“People want to have an impact.  They want to know that what they’re working on matters.  And they’re going to stay at a place where they feel like they have an impact, where they’re learning and growing and doing work they love.”

Facebook seems to have unlocked a way to figure out what makes their people feel like they are having an impact, growing and loving the work they do…before they hire them.

For all of us not working at Facebook, nor planning on working for Facebook anytime soon, what can we learn from this?

Strengths-Based Organizations are out there, and Facebook is a shining example of one.  They work on their culture as part of the interviewing process.  Maintaining a culture of high employee engagement and one where employees feel like they make a difference will be kept alive through an effective hiring process, that identifies the unique contributions a candidate can make.  Asking the right question is a critical part of this equation.

To be clear, although Facebook is a billion dollar enterprise, creating a Strengths-Based Organization is NOT a multi-billion dollar endeavor.  It starts with Leadership and a commitment to focus on what is right with your people, to give them the opportunity to bring their best everyday.  So What other questions can you ask in the interview process when trying to find the right candidate?  For interviewees, perhaps reframing this question to your interviewer can be in order as well, to find out how well your values and drive align with the organization or your potential boss.  What if you had a framework for what makes your boss tick before she became your boss…wouldn’t that be valuable?

Through this Facebook case study, we can think about other areas that we can ask questions.  Do you know what your team members uniquely contribute?  Do you know what makes them tick?  Do you know what that perfect work day looks like for them?  Do you understand how their unique talents contribute, or what the world naturally looks like from their perspective?  Do you know what their unique Strengths really are and how they are energized by using them?  Perhaps this interview question may even have some value to ask current members on your team.

(I would love to hear your comments on your experiences, or taking these questions to your team, if you would like to share.)

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Darren Virassammy is Co-Founder and COO of 34 Strong Inc. a leader in StrengthsFinder training and consulting. 34 Strong works with organizations across the United States in developing teams around talent to optimize performance and maximize results. His Top Five are: Achiever, Arranger Relator, Learner, Responsibility. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, or Twitter.

Photo credits: stockphotosecrets.com

References: Business Insider – Facebook’s favorite job interview question