Netflix’s culture manifesto is world-famous. And astonishing, remarkable, or even shocking when you read it without context. But it works. Culture expert Erin Meyer examined it. That’s why we invited her to the Amsterdam Business Forum 2023. She’ll be there! Here are 3 lessons we share in advance, for a culture that attracts top talent like Giethoorn attracts Chinese tourists.
Together with Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings, Erin Meyer wrote the book “No Rules Rules” about Netflix’s culture of innovation. “You need talent density, candor, and context,” Erin summarizes the key to success. Let us explain.
Performance is contagious. Erin and Reed call this the “rockstar principle”: every team performs as well as its worst employee. If you want the very best team, you fire an average employee. Yes, even if they were a witness at your wedding.
That sounds harsh. But Reed Hastings says, “At Netflix, we’re not a family, but a team.” The more top colleagues within the company, the more freedom you can give. And freedom? That leads to maximum job satisfaction and maximum innovation.
Action: the keeper test. Ask yourself once a year about each employee on your team: if they said today that they have another job, would I try to change their mind?
● YES? Clear, this employee is a perfect fit.
● MAYBE? It’s time for feedback: what can the employee improve?
● NO? Give a generous severance package and find another talent.
Only candid feedback is valuable. For that, you need frameworks. Because feedback with kid gloves is useless. And the blunt axe leads to a runaway primitive brain (Fear! Flight! Fight!)
Action: the 360-feedback dinner. Organize a dinner with your team members every year. Everyone gives and receives feedback. Do it with the 4A method.
For the feedback giver:
● Aim to Assist. You provide feedback not for yourself but to help the other person. So don’t vent your frustrations and don’t deliberately hurt the other person.
● Make it Actionable. Give concrete feedback that clearly states what the receiver can do with it. 25% of the feedback can be positive, 75% should be focused on improvement.
For the receiver:
● Show Appreciation. Ignore your primitive brain: don’t defend or explain your behavior. Receive the feedback as something valuable. Say thank you.
● Choose to Accept or Discard. Listen to the feedback and think about it. Then decide what to do with it. You know which feedback you truly need to act upon.
Let these two sentences sink in:
Exactly. That’s why Netflix sees its organizational structure as a tree. The leaders are the roots: they make the organization strong and provide direction. This allows the branches and leaves to make decisions without asking for permission. Try doing that in a pyramid.
Action: provide context, not control. Set a good example. Toss out your vacation policy, expense protocol, and work-from-home rules. Truly good employees don’t need them. In fact, they thrive on freedom.
One warning though: don’t try this if you make Cessnas, bungee cords, or ready-to-eat baby food.
Want to know more? Mark September 29th on your calendar. Erin Meyer is one of the keynote speakers at the Amsterdam Business Forum 2023
Melati Wijsen is a young changemaker from Bali. In terms of personality, she is best characterized as a blend of Greta Thunberg, Bojan Slat and Barack Obama. At the age of only 12 (!) Melati and her sister managed to get single use plastic bags banned in Bali. Melati is the founder and figurehead of Youthtopia, a network of young changemakers around the world. A film about her and this movement launched in 2022: Bigger than Us. Melati is one of those speakers you may not know upfront, but will never forget after September 29.
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