3 of the biggest takeaways from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ new book, like why thinking of your company as ‘family’ is a huge mistake

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Reed Hastings

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As the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings has built one of the most iconic companies — and corporate cultures — of our lifetimes. 

Working with the author Erin Meyer, Hastings unpacks his leadership philosophy in the new book released Tuesday, “No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention.”

Founded in 1997, public in 2002, Netflix has grown to a $227 billion market cap as of this writing. Today, Netflix is a staple of the media and entertainment industry, with over 180 million paid subscribers and original productions from “Orange is the New Black” to “Roma” to “The Crown.”

Netflix (and Hastings) have made waves for their approach to a culture that’s powered all that growth. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said that Netflix’s culture deck, or set of slides outlining the company’s core values, “may well be the most important document to ever come out of Silicon Valley,” and a 2018 survey announced Netflix as the company tech workers wanted to work for most. Some of the organizational systems have proved controversial, like the practice of sending emails around when employees are fired about why they were let go.

After digging through the book, here are three details of Netflix culture that stood out. 

Think of the company as a team – not a family 

Colleagues at a company are often compared to a family unit, but this can be a faulty metaphor, Hastings wrote. While families are often seen as a lifetime commitment, Hastings approaches Netflix as a sports team, where the coach can swap and trade players periodically to make sure that they’re all the best fit for their positions. 

That’s why one of the most controversial parts of Netflix’s pitch deck reads: “Like every company, we try to hire well / unlike many companies, we practice: adequate performance gets a generous severance package.” As in: If an employee is simply adequate, rather than exemplary, they’re cut from the company and replaced with someone who can perform even better. 

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It seems like such an approach would prevent employees from feeling safe enough at the company to take risks. But this has been a pillar of Netflix’s ethos since the internet bubble burst of 2001, when the company had to lay off a third of its workforce. Hastings found that, after cutting the less-than-stellar performers, the best workers were able to spur on each other’s best work. Performance, after all, is infectious, and adequate performers could encourage adequate work from other employees.

By contrast, the authors say, at companies like Wal-Mart, people greeters are primed to think of themselves as part of the “Wal-Mart family.” And a former National Public Radio employee said in the book that NPR employees who stayed longer than three years were usually there for life. 

But this also means that when employees begin to fall short or lose their excitement about their jobs, they still stay on at the company and do less-than-stellar work – and their attitudes can spread to their colleagues. 

“A fast and innovative workplace is made …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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