We’re a team, not a family

You might have heard of Netflix’s Culture Deck. It’s a simple powerpoint presentation that went viral because of its unique talent management ideas. For instance, Netflix proposed workers should be allowed to take unlimited vacation time.

A particularly interesting concept from the deck is the idea that a high performance organisation is not a family, it’s a team. It’s interesting because it seems contradictory to the traditional notion that organisations should strive to build a family like environment at work.

Here’s an excerpt from the deck regarding cultivating high performance.


A Great Workplace is Stunning Colleagues.

A Great workplace is not espresso, lush benefits, sushi lunches, grand parties, or nice offices. We do some of these things, but only if they are efficient at attracting and retaining stunning colleagues.

Like every company we try to hire well. Unlike many companies, we practice adequate performance gets a generous severance package.

We’re like a pro sports team, not a kid’s recreational team. Netflix leaders hire, develop and cut smartly so we have stars in every position.


Netflix managers are told to ask themselves a question they call the 'Keeper Test';

Which of my people, if they told me they were leaving for a similar job at a peer company, would I fight hard to keep at Netflix?

Those who don’t make the cut are given a generous severance so that their slot can be opened for a star hire.

Netflix accommodates star employees who hit a bad patch but only if it’s temporary. Likewise they expect employees to accommodate Netflix when it hits a temporary bad patch. The key word here is being ‘temporary’. There is no allowance for unlimited loyalty to underperforming employees and neither does it expect unlimited loyalty from it’s employees if it underperforms as a company.

It’s not for everyone

A high performance culture is not the right fit for everyone. It suits people who thrive on excellence, feedback and change. It doesn’t fit people who value job security and stability over performance.

Audit your team

As you look to build your own team, decide if you are truly committed to building a High Performance Culture.

If you are, use Netflix’s Keeper Test and ask yourself, who would you fight hard to keep at your organisation if they decided to leave?

Plan a respectful departure for those who don’t make the cut and start hiring A-players to take their spot.


Navin Muruga