Corporate culture: vision and execution
There is an amazing slide show available that was produced by Netflix entitled "Reference Guide on our Freedom & Responsibility Culture." Sounds as if it would be boring. It is anything but.
In the Guide, Netflix notes that most corporate value statements are meaningless, and why theirs is different. They discuss their highly unusual approach they take to management: hire and retain only outstanding people and then trust your employees. Netflix believes most rules regarding employees are counter-productive and that there are only two types of necessary rules: those to prevenet irrevocable disaster and those that involve moral, legal or ethical issues. Specifically, Netflix eschews rules that attempt to control behavior. Instead, they seek to create the context for desired behaviors, and thereby to "increase employee freedom as we grow ... so we have a better chance of long term continued success."
Sounds good as a philosophy, but how do they live by it? Netflix realized that in our "always on" society outstanding employees are regularly doing work in many places and many times other than at work. They took their direction from a staff member who once said "We don’t track hours worked per day or per week, so why are we tracking days of vacation per year?" The result: Netflix has no corporate policy for exempt staff regarding vacation days. Take the time you need when you want, and just coordinate it with your manager. They also have no policy regarding travel expenses, just "act in Netflix's best interest" and "travel as you would if it were your own money."
From concept to implementation the approach is radical, innovative and gutsy. It challenges all of us to examine why we have rules and what would happen if we abandoned them. Is there a potential downside? Netflix recognizes this could result in chaos and abuse. Their solution is simple: since they hired outstanding people then these problems will resolve themselves. (If an employee engages in chaos or abuse then it is proof to Netflix that the person is not outstanding, and that person won't be with the company for long.)
The very readable full slides are available on slideshare.
Brief descriptions appeared in two recent articles. The first, "Netflix lets its staff take as much holiday as they want, whenever they want – and it works," appeared n the London Telegraph.
The second article, "Netflix vacation policy is only the tip of a radical compensation iceberg," covers some of the same and some different aspects.
Check it all out and let me know what you think.