Main image of article Meta May Force Managers to Become 'Individual Contributors'

Meta is reportedly asking managers to become “individual contributors” or leave the company altogether.

According to Bloomberg, the social-media giant is attempting to “flatten” its reporting structure. The article follows on the heels of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly telling employees that he wanted to eliminate the company’s multiple levels of management.

“I don’t think you want a management structure that’s just managers managing managers, managing managers, managing managers, managing the people who are doing the work,” Zuckerberg said during an all-hands meeting, according to the Command Line newsletter.

In November, Meta laid off 11,000 employees, or roughly 13 percent of the company’s workforce. Zuckerberg has also pressed Meta’s staff to carry out their tasks with a greater sense of urgency… or leave. “Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here,” Zuckerberg reportedly told employees in summer 2022.

For managers, shifting to an individual contributor role could come with its share of difficulties. A manager who hasn’t actually coded in many years will need to catch up quickly on the latest changes and tools, on top of readopting an engineering mindset. For those willing to adapt, however, the rewards are potentially vast—individual contributors, especially those who specialize in vital areas such as machine learning, can contribute mightily to a company’s overall goals.

As you progress in your tech career, you may find yourself at a proverbial fork in the road: should you pursue management, or stick with the “individual contributor” track? Deciding to become the latter has its perks: you don’t have the wide-ranging responsibilities of managers, and you’ll likely get to spend far more of your time working with actual technology. But managers (especially senior ones) are in a position to start and guide projects to completion, as well as determine the organization’s overall tech strategy—which represents a lot of heady opportunities.

Which track you eventually pursue depends on your own feelings, of course. But as Zuckerberg’s latest ultimatum demonstrates, there’s always room in organizations for those tech professionals who can carry out the work.