A large company without any rules seems like a recipe for chaos. But in the case of Netflix, it’s been a significant contributing factor to its incredible success and innovation.
Netflix is known around the world for its flexibility and innovation. And that’s no accident. Founder Reed Hastings intentionally built its unique culture to foster high levels of talent that move and adapt quickly. At Netflix, adequate performers don’t survive. But what could be seen as a cutthroat environment actually breeds a culture of freedom, collaboration, and innovation.
Netflix is honest about its culture and doesn’t try to hide behind false pretenses about what it’s like to work there. It’s a breath of fresh air in a world where many companies try to hide behind vague values and put up a false front of their true culture. Netflix’s culture isn’t for everyone, but the unique structure encourages flexibility and creativity instead of getting weighed down by processes.
Here are the three pillars of Netflix’s culture:
There’s no room for middle performers to hang around. Giving freedom without limits and policies requires a high-performing team. Netflix leaders regularly perform “keeper test” exercises where they consider how hard they would fight to keep an employee if they came to them today and said they were leaving. If the leader wouldn’t fight for that employee to stay, then that person likely isn’t the best person for the job.
Netflix leaders encourage candid feedback between all groups–from employees to leaders, leaders to employees, and employees to coworkers. The key is having guidelines to the feedback called the four A’s: aim to assist, it has to be actionable, show appreciation, accept or decline.
With talented employees and honest feedback, Netflix can openly provide freedom. If employees want to go on vacation, they go. If someone wants to make a purchase, they do. Employees are given freedom and expected to act like adults and in the company’s best interest.
Not every company can follow the Netflix model of autonomy. Still, there are lessons that apply to every organization: trusting and empowering employees can lead to an engaged workforce and amazing success.
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