(The following was sampled from The Huffington Post.)
If you’re one of the many Americans toiling away at a huge corporation, here are some things you’re probably familiar with: tracking vacation days, getting expenses approved and sitting through yearly performance reviews.
These are things salaried employees at Netflix don’t have to worry about.
They get unlimited vacation. They can expense without getting approval from their managers, as long as they’re acting in Netflix’s best interest. They don’t have traditional yearly performance reviews. Oh, and they’re also paid really, really well.
Netflix is fond of saying it hires only “fully formed adults,” and the company treats them as such — bestowing on them great amounts of freedom so they can take risks and innovate without being bogged down by process.
The flip side of all this power is that people are expected to work at a super-high level or be quickly shown the door (with a generous severance package).
“Netflix assumes that you have amazing judgment,” said John Ciancutti, the chief product officer at the online educational tech company Coursera. “And judgment is the solution for almost every ambiguous problem. Not process.” Ciancutti is an engineer who left Netflix in 2012, after spending 13 years at the company.
This intense culture of “freedom and responsibility” — outlined in the so-called “Netflix culture deck,” a 124-slide presentation that’s legendary in Silicon Valley — is a key factor in the company’s success. In recent years, Netflix has reinvented its business entirely, bounced back from missteps and broken the mold on TV production and distribution with its original series — including “House of Cards,” the third season of which debuted on Friday.
Despite the legendary status of the Netflix culture deck, there’s little evidence of its mass adoption, though some companies have started to put its broad-stroke principles to use. Giving employees greater freedom and holding them to higher standards, while not sweating tiny details, are common-sense approaches that seem likely to help many companies beyond Netflix.
“If you trust and empower people and give them a chance to rise to the higher expectations, the vast majority of people are able to do it,” said Sam Stern, a senior customer experience analyst at Forrester Research.
Employees at the Los Gatos, California-based streaming video giant know that they’re not being judged by how hard they appear to be working — long, grueling hours aren’t encouraged — but by how they produce. In fact, working long hours and doing adequate work can actually get you fired from the company. Working decent hours and doing great work, in contrast, will get you a raise.