FB: Managers to ICs

According to Bloomberg:

Meta Platforms Inc.  is asking many of its managers and directors to transition to individual contributor jobs or leave the company as it tries to become more efficient, according to people familiar with the matter.

My hypothesis is that there’s a large number of managers at Meta that don’t have a lot to do - this is by design. For non-critical parts of org, it’s possible that there are multiple teams of 3 to 5 engineers, plus one manager. At this scale, it’s unlikely that the manager has enough on their plate that justifies avoiding IC work.

When I was at Prolific, my first team was made of 4 engineers. This team worked quite well. People were productive, they knew their remit and the team understood what the problems they were facing. My job there was easy. I told my manager I was bored. I proposed to either start doing IC work in the backend - since it was something I was keen on - or manage one more team. The latter happened. This new team had some challenges and it fully occupied my time. At that point I was managing 8 people and working with 2 PMs. Not all teams are made the same. The truth of the matter is that if the second team was as easy as the first one, I could probably take a third one. When working with a highly productive team, the manager’s job inside the team is usually quite light. There are a few things they can do:

  1. Collect feedback to give during 1:1s.
  2. Help break larger pieces of work.
  3. Align the squad’s tech roadmap with product.
  4. Hiring.

The above might take between 2 to 3 days. This leaves out 2 to 3 days to work on other things. There’s alway some cross squad work to be done, but this usually doesn’t occupy more than one day per week. With easy teams, there is space to do IC work - although one should stay away from the critical path.

Based on some anecdotal stories from Facebook, I know some teams are easy. And this is not bad, quite the opposite! It means people work well together and they know what needs to be done. But it also translates into managers having additional capacity to do other things. It’s quite possible that throughout the years Facebook has accumulated a lot of managers in this limbo: not enough people to manage, but also not quiet enough time to do deep undisturbed work. In different times people might start searching for a new role. But in the current tech climate, most people will adjust to the situation.