Netflix conquers its place in our living rooms. Will their HR-strategy also win over our managers?


How Netflix reinvented HR. (Source: HBR)

Netflix is officially available in Belgium since mid September. They adapt their online offer to the viewing habits of their clients. Customer intimacy. Which exactly fits their philosophy: 
freedom and responsibility

In 1997 Netflix was launched as a small start up in California. Today they have more then 2000 employees who all love to work there. What makes them so happy? 

Why do people love to work there?  Netflix disruptive strategy.

The seven aspects of their culture.


1. Values are what we value

Many companies have nice sounding values statements displayed in the lobby or on their website, but are rarely what is really valued. To often it’s all about power and greed.

At Netflix they are aware that the actual company values are shown by who gets hired, promoted, or let go. Because actual company values are the behaviors and skills that are valued in fellow employees

Netflix leaders encourage their people to question actions inconsistent with the values. It’s part of their courage value.

2. High performance

At Netflix they believe that a great place to work is not espresso, lush benefits, sushi lunches, parties or a nice office.
It’s stunning colleagues.
Imagine if every person is someone you respect and could learn from…

Netflix leaders hire, develop and cut smartly to have stars in every position, which they pay accordingly. Why? Because in creative work the best perform 10 times better then the average. 

They encourage their people to ask their managers “If I were leaving, how hard would you fight to change my mind?”

3. Freedom and responsibility

Responsible people thrive on freedom and are worthy of freedom.

Most companies bring in more rules as they become bigger. They find business becoming to complex to be run informally. 

Netflix however is convinced that the key to their sustained success is to keep attracting top innovative people, with a high personal responsibility level. What makes that freedom can be ensured. This works both sides. Decreasing the level of freedom (rules) equals driving talent out and not being attractive anymore to new high value people. 

At Netflix they increase employee freedom as they grow.
The Key: attract top people

An example of this freedom principle is the Netflix vacation policy. There is no vacation policy! You can take days of if you need them. They trust people to be responsible. And it works. Richard Branson of Virgin is experimenting with this as well.

4. Context, not control

Get great outcomes by setting the right context, not by controlling your people. 
High performing people will do better work if they understand the WHY. What are we contributing to? How does my work contribute to the WHY?
Be open internally about strategies and results.

Make sure every employee in every department (yes also finance, it, or every other not sales related division you have) knows the concerns and longings of your customers. Make very clear to your people how they contribute. What are they doing to ensure that client needs are met?

5. Highly aligned, loosely coupled

Be big, fast and flexible.
Make people work together. Align between departments.
Create a culture of creativity and self – discipline, freedom and responsibility. This allows you to act quickly when the market shifts due to new competitors, business models or new technologies.

6. Pay top of market

Netflix pays its employees very well for their high level or responsibility.

One outstanding employee gets more done and costs less then two adequate employees.”, they say.

To make sure they pay top of market they ask three questions:
– What could this person get elsewhere?
– What would we pay for replacement?
– What would we pay to keep this person if he was offered a job elsewhere?

7. Promotions & Development

At Netflix people only get promotion if 

– the job is big enough (we might have an incredible manager, but we don’t need a director of it if the job isn’t big enough)
– they are superstars in their role
– they are an extraordinary role model of the culture and values

Netflix helps people to develop themselves by surrounding them with stunning colleagues who help each other grow and by giving them big challenges to work on.

Please find the full strategy of the Netflix Culture on slideshare.

What do you think of this strategy? How far have you grown as a manager in applying certain parts of the Netflix strategy?

Take the free SELF TEST on Personal Leadership skills to find out!


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If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook. Thank you!
So grateful to have shared this with you!
Live on purpose,

P.S.: Would you like to transform your company culture in to a more engaging one? Read this: Don’t tell your employees it’s your job to make them happy.

Ann Baeke

Natural Leadership wants to help people, teams and organizations with their self-realization in an authentic and effective way. Self – realization brings freedom. People will feel happier and energized. Their performance increases. 

I put the mission of Natural Leadership –  finding self – realization and the freedom to unlock your full potential – to work by doing two things:

  • First helping leaders in strengthening their personal leadership.
  • Second helping teams and organizations in creating a culture of engagement.  

Both reinforce each other and transform people and organizations. Result: Increase in well – being, profit and growth.