Question: netflix treats workers like adults when patty mccord talks about...
Netflix Treats Workers “Like Adults”
When Patty McCord talks about human resource management at Netflix, she refers to treating people “like adults.” McCord, until recently the company’s chief talent officer, means the company hires people who are mature enough to take responsibility and then simply gives them responsibility. The result, McCord insists, is that employees live up to what is expected of them. If not, the company feels free to find someone else. That direct approach makes sense to the knowledge workers who populate the results-oriented, data-respecting world of information technology.
When McCord was at Netflix, she and CEO Reed Hastings settled on five principles that would direct the company’s approach to human resource management:
Hire, reward, and keep only “fully formed adults.” For McCord and Hastings, such employees use common sense, address problems openly, and put company interests ahead of their own. People like this need not be managed with endless policies. Rather, the company can trust them to take off time when they need it and spend money appropriately. The employees also are literally adults; Netflix favors hiring experienced workers over recruiting at colleges.
Tell the truth about performance. Managers are expected to make performance feedback part of their routine conversations with employees. If an employee is no longer working out, managers are supposed to let him or her know directly, offering a good severance package to smooth a dignified path to the exit.
Managers are responsible for creating great teams. The manager of each group is expected to envision what that group should accomplish and what skills are necessary. If the manager needs different skills than the ones already on the team, the manager is supposed to make changes. To keep workers on the team, Netflix is open about paying salaries in line with the labor market—what employees would be offered if they considered leaving for a competitor.
The company’s leaders must create the company culture. Netflix executives are supposed to model behaviors such as truth-telling and treating people like adults.
HR managers should think of themselves first as businesspeople. As chief talent manager, McCord focused on the company’s financial success and products, not on employee morale. She assumed that if employees, as adults, were able to make Netflix a high-performance organization and be compensated fairly, that would improve morale more than anything.
To put these principles into action, Netflix rewards high-performing employees with fair pay and a flexible schedule. Employees who do not perform up to standards are asked to leave. Rewarding high performance, in fact, makes it easier to allow flexibility and empowerment, because managers do not have to police every action and decision. It also creates an environment in which employees do not assume they have a Netflix job forever. Instead, they are responsible for doing good work and developing the skills that continue to make them valuable to their employer. Netflix’s approach to talent helps the company stay agile—perhaps agile enough to withstand the shifting winds of entertainment in the digital age.