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HR & Culture Advice From Netflix’s Most Famous Ex-Employee

Posted over 6 years ago by Rob Markwell
38662663 M

This article originally appeared in a LinkedIn Premium Tech Report and offers a fascinating insight in to the latest HR and culture thinking coming out of Silicon Valley. If you haven’t previously read the Netflix culture deck referred to below, do take some time out to read it.

It's been eight years since Netflix came out with its famed company culture deck that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg described as "the most important document ever to come out of the Valley." I recently had the chance to hear from Patty McCord, Netflix's former Chief Talent Officer who created the deck. At a company culture conference hosted in San Francisco by Zenefits, here's what she outlined as the biggest changes in tech hiring since she first wrote the deck.


It's officially time to let go of the notion of tenure

"The idea of tenure and retention is something we should probably let go. We're going to work a long time and people are going to have lots of different roles in their lives. I think we're going to start to, as companies that move fast, really appreciate employees who have a lot of different experiences at a lot of different organizations, and that's going to be collateral that's as important as tenure."


While you're at it, get rid of "empowering" employees as well

"One of my least favorite HR words on the planet is 'empowerment.' You know why we have to go around empowering people now? Because we took it all away with all those rules, all that process, all that procedure, and all that asking for permission. Your employees walk in the door every day with power. And then we take it away from them. And when people lose their power at work, it makes them cynical and weird… We [all] share an allergic reaction to policies. I mean, I don't want people to do anything illegal or immoral, but I don't like tons of policies."


"Management" needs to be reconsidered entirely

"Maybe we should retire that word, because it means that I'm going to manipulate you… What I hear in all of the companies I consult at now, the biggest difference that I can see in my lifetime is the connection we have with our customers. And social media has given us that... It used to be that management and HR knew stuff that you didn't know. Now everybody can find [out everything]. So, leadership is about putting all of that information together and letting people know where you are going and what's it going to look like. And really behavioralize that."


There's a fine line between humility, and stupidity

"Leaders are followed because of their integrity. And, so, a lot of times when I worked with young leaders… they're very proud of admitting they're wrong. One startup CEO goes, 'I'd give a bottle of champagne every time somebody makes a mistake!' I'm like, 'Well, that's stupid. So, you're rewarding screwing up.' Well, that's probably not going to get you where you want to go, right? It's not just about the humility to stand up and say, 'We made a mistake.' It's about saying: 'Here's what we thought was important, here's why we did what we did, and here's what we learned from it, because it was a mistake.'"


And at the end of the day, it's not the free lunch that makes your employees happy

"I've been doing this a long, long time. Here's what makes people happy at work: accomplishing something. And if you ask yourself, you know, close your eyes and imagine that thing that you're most proud of, that thing that you really accomplished at work, that moment that you felt like: 'This is a good day!' — you never go, 'Today we had macadamia nuts in the cookies and that was f-in awesome!'"