- Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Netflix is famous in the tech industry for its well-defined work culture, which seeks to chop out “brilliant jerks” and underperforming employees.
This culture was outlined in a famous 2009 deck by CEO Reed Hastings, which summarized Netflix’s management philosophy in 120 slides.
But on Wednesday, Netflix gave its culture deck an update, releasing a 10-page prose document “seeking to clarify the many points on which people have had questions.”
In the document, Netflix detailed how it tries to put together a “dream team.”
“Our version of the great workplace is not comprised of sushi lunches, great gyms, big offices, or frequent parties,” the company wrote. “Our version of the great workplace is a dream team in pursuit of ambitious common goals, for which we spend heavily.”
In pursuit of this dream team, Netflix has its managers put everyone through a “keeper test.”Put simply: “If one of the members of the team was thinking of leaving for another firm, would the manager try hard to keep them from leaving?”If they don’t pass that test, they are “promptly and respectfully given a generous severance package.” That severance is generally a minimum of four month’s full salary, according to Netflix.
Harsh, but fair.
To put together this dream team, Netflix also won’t hire or retain so-called “brilliant jerks.” “The cost to teamwork is just too high,” the company wrote in the new document.
Beyond describing how it maintains the dream team, Netflix wrote in the document about how it tries to encourage its employees to take risks, and gives its teams the freedom to fail. “In general, freedom and rapid recovery is better than trying to prevent error,” Netflix wrote. “We are in a creative business, not a safety-critical business. Our big threat over time is lack of innovation.”
Here is Netflix’s summary, in the document, of the top points that show what is “unique and special about Netflix”:
- Encourage independent decision-making by employees Share information openly, broadly, and deliberately Are extraordinarily candid with each other Keep only our highly effective people Avoid rules
And here is a rundown Netflix gave for the type of people it is looking for at the company:
- You make wise decisions 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 are good at using data to inform your intuition You make decisions based on the long term, not near term
- David Giesbrecht/Netflix
- You are concise and articulate in speech and writing You listen well and seek to understand before reacting You maintain calm poise in stressful situations to draw out the clearest thinking You adapt your communication style to work well with people from around the world who may not share your native language You provide candid, timely feedback to colleagues
- You learn rapidly and eagerly You contribute effectively outside of your specialty You make connections that others miss You seek to understand our members around the world, and how we entertain them You seek alternate perspectives
- You create new ideas that prove useful You re-conceptualize issues to discover solutions to hard problems You challenge prevailing assumptions, and suggest better approaches You keep us nimble by minimizing complexity and finding time to simplify You thrive on change
- Joe Lederer/Netflix
- You say what you think, when it’s in the best interest of Netflix, even if it is uncomfortable You are willing to be critical of the status quo You make tough decisions without agonizing You take smart risks and are open to possible failure You question actions inconsistent with our values You are able to be vulnerable, in search of truth
- You inspire others with your thirst for excellence You care intensely about our members and Netflix’s success You are tenacious and optimistic You are quietly confident and openly humble
- Myles Aronowitz/Netflix
- You seek what is best for Netflix, rather than what is best for yourself or your group You are open-minded in search of the best ideas You make time to help colleagues You share information openly and proactively
- You collaborate effectively with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures You nurture and embrace differing perspectives to make better decisions You focus on talent and our values, rather than a person’s similarity to yourself You are curious about how our different backgrounds affect us at work, rather than pretending they don’t affect us You recognize we all have biases, and work to grow past them You intervene if someone else is being marginalized
- You are known for candor, authenticity, transparency, and being non-political You only say things about fellow employees that you say to their face You admit mistakes freely and openly You treat people with respect independent of their status or disagreement with you
- You accomplish amazing amounts of important work You demonstrate consistently strong performance so colleagues can rely upon you You make your colleagues better You focus on results over process