Case study

Giving managers an unforgettable experience
“I’ve taken part in at least ten top down leadership programmes, and most aren’t memorable. Circl programmes are different - if you take part in one it’ll change the way you approach leadership.”
Julien Codorniou, Formal Global Vice President, Facebook

Giving managers an unforgettable experience

Facebook was founded in 2004 and started as a collegiate social network. It has now diversified into  messaging, enterprise collaboration, e-commerce and even virtual reality. The company has more than 52,000 employees worldwide and more than 3,000 in its London, UK office. 

As a company, Facebook invests heavily in professional learning and development for their employees. The team at Workplace, Facebook’s enterprise communication and collaboration platform, were looking to expand on its current training efforts, by providing real-life leadership and managerial experiences for their employees, to help them develop skills they could use both in and outside of the office. 

The Workplace team had attended  typical corporate leadership courses before, but were looking for a course that would help grow and challenge their managers. The aim was to give them a “mission-driven” activity to layer on top of the work they do every day. They also wanted to create a sense of community between the managers.

"I’ve undertaken other leadership programmes that were the usual typical ones, a bit boring, a top down approach. You’re expected to emulate other leaders, or simply take their version of leadership and apply it yourself. Circl doesn’t use a cookie-cutter approach, which means everyone can get something from the course."

Julien Codorniou, VP Workplace at Facebook

Be a leader. Build a leader. 

Teams from both Workplace and the wider Facebook community have taken part in the Circl Leadership Programme. The courses included a mix of levels from new starters to senior managers to C-suite execs, all of whom were looking to enhance their leadership skills.

The team at Workplace were attracted to the Circl Leadership Programme due to its unique “bottom-up” approach, where attendees listened and learned from each other.  The Workplace team  liked that participants were able to get direct experience and grow their strengths by working with young adults from diverse backgrounds. 

The programme enabled  participants to experience a different worldview and helped them directly impact diversity and inclusion of people from underrepresented backgrounds to enter the world of technology. The Workplace team was also energized by developing their own leadership and empathy skills and by having the opportunity  to help others less privileged than themselves.

The team took its first course in 2018. During the training the Workplace group worked with talented young people, who they typically wouldn’t interact with in their day-to-day work, and learned from their experiences to help them become more inclusive managers. After going through the programme, the Workplace team realized the importance and strength of reverse coaching and have future plans to implement the lessons learned from Circl in their ongoing work.  

“Our managers loved the challenge and the responsibility of being a coach for someone with a different background to their own.”

 Julien Codorniou, VP Workplace at Facebook

Helping employees feel meaningful

The team at Workplace had excellent feedback from course participants, who said they found the experience extremely rewarding and gained real-life skills they could implement immediately. They also saw that those that had participated in the training had evolved their  personal and professional skills to become better communicators and managers. Equally, the team developed a deeper sense of empathy, allowing them to become more dynamic and thoughtful leaders. 

The shared experience fostered closeness between course participants and created a community between managers in the company. It also enabled Julien and his team to identify the next generation of talent. Originally some of the participants had felt that they were not suitable to be managers, often due to shyness or fear of managerial responsibility. After the experience of coaching and being coached by young adults, they had grown in confidence and their leadership potential was clear.  

The Circl Leadership Programme has now been integrated as part of the ongoing learning and development strategy at Facebook and Workplace. 

“Such enthusiastic feedback from employees as well as the happy sparkle in people’s eyes is not something you normally get from a traditional coaching course. Circl is a different approach. I think my team will remember this experience for a long time. “

Julien Codorniou, VP Workplace at Facebook