Netflix Culture: Freedom and Responsibility.Netflix
For a growth oriented company in the modern era, the employees are the most valuable asset. That’s why you will see that world class companies give quite a bit of importance to hiring employees. These are not only considered employees, but partners in a company’s growth.
To start off, these points are not even from me. I have taken these from Netflix‘s CEO presentation in the year 2010. And they are still quite relevant.
I like this organisation, not because I am a subscriber! But because what they have been able to achieve. They have singlehandedly (is this even a word!!) disrupted an industry. They pivoted their business model to dominate a sector with sheer creativity and innovation.
Their revenues and their stock market performance is a proof of this:
Well, we are not here to discuss about their financial performance. I am here to point out to you the unique qualities that make Netflix what they are. Reid Hastings, the CEO has made this presentation available. Reading this one document, filled me with such motivation that I had to write about it.
Netflix particularly values following Nine Behaviors and Skills in their employees / colleagues:
Fortune truly helps those who are of good judgment.Euripedes
Every business thrives on good judgment.
- Should we get into this business?
- Should we get into this product or service?
- Should we hire him / her?
- Should we take up this project now or in the future?
It all depends on your daily micro as well as macro judgment. And if your organisation is a sizable one, you would delegate these responsibilities to your senior employees. And it is on the judgment of these people that your company’s future is depended.
Netflix mentions this:
- You make wise decisions (people, technical, business and creative) despite ambiguity;
- You identify root causes and get beyond treating symptoms;
- You think strategically and can articulate what you are, and are not trying to do;
- You smartly separate what must be done well now, and what can be improved later.
Within these four sentences, Netflix summarizes what kind of decisions you will take, your importance to the culture fit. The most important part is that you must be a culture fit. An employee who is better and making judgments with available information is highly valued. Further, an employee who is able to make better decisions with past experience is valued much more as they will directly impact the bottom line of the company.
When you select your employees, make sure they have a pedigree of good judgments.
Communication works for those who work at it.John Powell
I believe communication skills is one of the most under-addressed aspects in selecting an employee. Ya, you have all interview round. But you have misunderstood communication.
Communication is not about verbal communication. It also includes written communication, non-verbal communication, writing effective emails and many other aspects. Good luck with judging your employees based on an interview!
Netflix expects their employees to have following communication characteristics:
- You listen well, instead of reacting fast, so you can better understand.
- You are concise and articulate in your speech and writing.
- You treat people with respect independent of your status or disagreement with you.
- You maintain calm poise in stressful situations.
How do you treat people below your designation? Do you have empathy for someone below your position? Or do you have empathy in general? Do you differentiate based on culture, language, gender? Do you get stressed at an email or someone giving you straight feedback? Do you take constructive criticisms in good spirit?
For me personally, these are all very important aspects I’d expect from my superiors. As an employee, you must strive to be a better communicator; verbal, written or any other form.
The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.tony robbins
As an employee, what impact do you have on the company? Are you just another employee? What have you done that is beyond your job description?
These are the qualities that Netflix mentions under Impact. What’s the difference of having you in the position or someone else? What positive change would you bring to the position?
I receive a good amount of CVs through a blog that I run. But the sad thing is that most of the CVs are a copy of the previous CVs. I mean, there is not much difference is skills or achievements. Most CVs are for mundane Admin kind of work.
To make an impact in your position, be proactive with your approach to work. Get things done before you are reminded. Don’t wait for your superiors to knock at your door. Finish the work and let them know. Add new skill and let them know. Take an online course and add it to you CV. Keep moving.
Netflix expects their employees to have following:
- You accomplish amazing amounts of important work.
- You demonstrate consistently strong performance so colleagues can rely upon you.
- You focus on great results rather than on process.
- You exhibit bias-to-action, and avoid analysis-paralysis.
The new age economy requires people with set of skills that suit the new age. Your yester-year skills will not yield same results. So, skill up and move on. Do not get stuck where you are.
Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.William Arthur Ward
Personally, I am a curious type. This lead me read a lot of blogs, listen to podcasts, watch good videos on YouTube, network with people and so on. It helps me a lot. I learn a lot of things. I stay ahead of the curve. I am able to see take right decisions and these are evident.
While hiring for a position, look for curious types. These are the most innovative, creative. Having curious employees makes your company stay ahead with new strategies i.e. if you are receptive of new ideas! Hire someone who is actually smarter than you. This is the secret to the success of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and so on. They have great, curious, clever employees.
Hierarchy sometimes cripples a company from growing. It’s my personal experience. Managers sometimes do not like their subordinates to be smarter! Bad move.
Netflix expects their employees have these qualities:
- You learn rapidly and eagerly.
- You seek to understand our strategy, market, subscribers and suppliers.
- You are broadly knowledgeable about business, technology and entertainment.
- You contribute effectively outside your speciality.
I want to put a ding in the universe.steve jobs
The world of tomorrow drives on innovation. Look at the top companies nowadays…starting from Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Tesla….all thriving these days. All because of one important quality: INNOVATION.
Gone are the days when you could capture a market share and sit tight for years. If you are not disruptive enough, not innovative enough, you will be a victim of new age innovation!!
Look back at Blockbuster, Nokia, Blackberry, Yahoo…they were all innovative in their own ways. But they sat comfortably and became complacent of their position. Along came Netflix, Apple, Google and took the market right from under their nose. Look at what Tesla is doing to car companies!!
Your innovation need not be world class. It can be simple like tremendous focus on customer service, focus of costs, focus on new ways to market and so on.
I recall during my time as an employee of a bank in India one of colleagues came up with a simple and innovative solution. As a cashier, when you dispense cash to your customers, you usually write the amounts and different denominations at the reverse of the check to keep a track. She came up with a plan to pre-print the checks with denominations. Wow…what an ingenious plan. This saved a lot of time. And I believe has not become industry standard at least for corporate customers. Simple, yet beautiful.
At Netflix, innovation is a guiding force and not an after-thought:
- You re-conceptualize issues to discover practical solutions to hard problems.
- You challenge prevailing assumptions when warranted and suggest better approaches.
- You create new ideas that prove useful
- You keep us nimble by minimizing complexity and finding time to simplify.
What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?Vincent van gogh
Courage is the bedrock of a good entrepreneur. If you are not courageous enough, you may not able able to take risks and make decisions. Courage comes with confidence in your ideas and beliefs.
Every company needs courageous employees at every position. Courage to take decisions, courage to address problems, courage to take actions, courage to put your thoughts forward, courage to take risks.
Here is what Netflix mentions:
- You say what you think even if it is controversial.
- You make tough decisions without excessive agonizing.
- You take smart risks
- You question actions inconsistent with our values
Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.Jon bon jovi
Having passionate employees is like half the battle won. Imagine employees that are lethargic! Besides having a draining effect on themselves, they’d also drag their colleagues down.
How to know if someone is passionate?
If someone articulates well, understands what the problems your company is solving, gets ideas across easily, has a positive body language, neat dressing….these are some of the ways to judge the passion.
But the real proof is the work they do. Do they get work done on time, do they help others, do they involve in things other than their core work, do they share openly with the team…..check for these qualities.
Netflix requires you to be:
- You inspire others with your thirst for excellence.
- You care intensely about Netflix’s success.
- You celebrate wins
- You are tenacious.
The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love, and loyalty.zig zigler
I have seen so many companies destroyed just because someone was greedy at the company and cut corners. Financial fraud is the leading cause of employee dishonesty. I value honesty highly and would not take short cuts to achieve my goals. But it is disheartening to see and read in the news about regular embezzlement of money across the world.
I see this across many companies in Dubai…people outright being dishonest. I do not want to call out any particular professions but it seems to be more prevalent than I know.
Honesty is not only about money; you need to also be honest in your feedback, in your friendship, in your relationships and so on. It’s time to be self-reflective about this including me.
Where or when have I been DISHONEST?
Once you are dishonest, with all your efforts, you will life long be termed as dishonest. And Netflix values this very highly.
- You are known for candor and directness.
- You are non-political when you disagree with others.
- You can say things about your fellow employees you will say to their face.
- You are quick to admit mistakes.
Always do good to others. Be selfless. Mentally remove everything and be free.sivananda
If at all the world was less selfish….I used to say to myself. But, then I realized that this act starts at home. How selfless am I before expecting the world to change its attitude?
Humans I believe are inherently selfish. This has led to the thriving of human race, Homo Sapiens.
In a corporate set up these would not matter. Ask yourself if you are a manager or a owner:
- Have you ever taken decisions based on your selfish instincts rather than the best option available?
- Have you ever promoted or hired someone who was personally known to you rather than a better talent available?
- Have you ever discriminated on the basis of gender, culture, language?
Then you are as guilty as a thief who stole. Thief limits up to worldly possessions! You have done this to a living person for your personal benefit!
Selflessness is hard. I’d rather be selfish than anything else. But we need to take conscious decisions on what’s best for the company, organisation.
On selflessness, Netflix says:
- You seek what is best for Netflix, rather than best for yourself or your group.
- You are ego less when searching for best ideas.
- You make time to help colleagues.
- You share information openly and proactively.
So, there you are. Nine amazing values that if you must expect every employee in your organisation to have! With these qualities in every employees, your company or organisation will rock the marketplace.
I am still amazed that only about 20 million people have viewed this presentation on Slideshare. Here is the LINK.
Entrepreneurs and Managers…if you are reading this, please make sure that HIRING at your company is the top priority. Most of the time, companies tend to keep this low key, whereas, for the growth and success of your company hiring RIGHT is the KEY! Following these will not only improve you, but your company, family, relationships.
If you’ve learnt something, spread the word. The world needs more people like you!
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