Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has issued an ultimatum to managers and directors at his company: either start coding, designing, or researching products, or you’ll be shown the door, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The directive from the higher ups at Meta (formerly Facebook) is referred to as “flattening”, Bloomberg’s sources at Meta said, and will ask managers to take on roles as “individual contributors” rather than being in charge of other people.

This flattening exercise is expected to be separate to Meta’s current performance reviews and will begin in the coming weeks.

Zuckerberg outlined his thinking about managers in a recent town hall, which was leaked to the Verge, saying the company was trying to stamp out expanding headcounts within departments.

"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,” he said.

Meta announced layoffs affecting 11,000 staff late last year and is treating 2023 as, in Zuckerberg’s words, “the year of efficiency”.

Speaking at the company’s earnings call last week, Zuckerberg expanded on his new year’s management theme.

“We’re working on flattening our org structure and removing some layers of middle management to make decisions faster, as well as deploying AI tools to help our engineers be more productive,” he said.

“As part of this we’re going to be more proactive about cutting projects that aren’t performing or may no longer be as crucial, but my main focus is on increasing the efficiency of how we execute our top priorities.”

Zuckerberg’s words echo those of fellow billionaire Elon Musk who took a proverbial axe to the headcount at Twitter by laying off around half of its staff when he began running the company last year.

Musk has said he believes “all managers in a technical area must be technically excellent” and that “managers in software must write great software or it’s like being a cavalry captain who can’t ride a horse”.

He has also described the need for a “maniacal sense of urgency” and “being hardcore” when building products like the subscription service Twitter Blue which, according to recent reports, fewer than 300,000 people were subscribed to by mid-January.

The context of Meta’s newfound efficiency focus is a four per cent drop in total revenue to round off 2022, while expenses were up by 22 per cent.

In October, Meta’s share price dropped to its lowest point since 2016 as the re-branded company failed to capitalise on the enormous research and development spend of its augmented and virtual reality arm, Reality Labs.

The latest earnings figures show Facebook lost $19.8 billion (US$13.7 billion) on Reality Labs in 2022 alone.