The Netflix Culture is not for everyone

When I joined Bilue as our dedicated Talent & Culture Manager, I wasn’t entirely sure what was in store for me.

Ruth Neech Posted 22nd June 2018
Articles, People & Culture

When I joined Bilue as our dedicated Talent & Culture Manager, I wasn’t entirely sure what was in store for me. I excitedly told my nearest and dearest about the appointment and they responded ‘ahhh…HR’.

I was quick to learn that it is so much more than this.

Bilue is a mobile and emerging technology agency, which is an industry I had no previous experience of, so it has taken me some time to figure out the core purpose of my role in this space. Part of my method to gain clarity was to read as much as possible about the cultures of other successful companies and it was during these investigations, I discovered Patty McCord and her work at Netflix.

Patty created a comprehensive document called “Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility” where she introduced the concept of the ‘Rare Responsible Person’. She characterised these people by the following traits:

  • Self motivating
  • Self aware
  • Self disciplined
  • Self improving
  • Acts like a leader
  • Doesn’t wait to be told what to do
  • Picks up the trash lying on the floor

These are the people that Netflix hire and they are open about the fact that they will give ‘generous severance packages’ to anyone not meeting the mark. Being adequate in the role, or a hard worker is simply not enough…everyone has to be a star and they have to shine. Patty is clear about the fact that Netflix operates, not as a family but as a pro sports team, where everyone plays together seamlessly and they play to win.

While there were a lot of elements I loved about Patty’s approach, it also raised some questions for me. As anyone who has had the pleasure of hiring would know, these most sought-after Rare Responsible People are not so easy to find…so, was Netflix only able to recruit this way after they had a name and a waitlist of hopefuls, or is it because they recruit this way that they earned the name from their outputs?

In a smaller service agency like Bilue, I can’t imagine turning away hard working people who do their job well. We have star performers in our business but to hire this way exclusively detracts from what individuals can gain from being in an exceptional workplace. Unlike Netflix, Bilue doesn’t expect you to come ‘fully formed’, we recognise that as a company we have a part to play too.

Within Bilue we have individuals who have an immense depth of knowledge in specific areas, such as Android and iOS development, SAP Cloud Platform and wearable tech such as Realwear. We don’t expect these people to have a breadth of experience across strategic or management principles…we’ve hired other extraordinary people that bring the breadth.

I agree with Patty that we don’t want to run our business as a family. We’re skilled professionals coming together to work, however this doesn’t mean that we can’t nurture our people. Are Rare Responsible People born responsible? I believe that it’s star leaders that make good people great. Employees might look at the Rare Responsible Person list and know they’re not ticking every box yet… but they might want to. This is self awareness and self improving behaviour, so they’re already halfway there! With good leadership, what’s to prevent them from learning to be a leader themselves, or to see the rubbish on the floor they might have been missing all this time.

At Bilue our focus is on exceptional leadership and learning. Our stars shine brightly and share their knowledge and skills with those around them, benefiting the company as a whole. We offer enviable project opportunities working with cutting edge emerging technologies and on top of that, we provide annual training budgets and paid training days. Our goal is to allow our people to gain experience, aptitude and maturity and we ensure that all staff have career development plans to guide their personal improvement.

The thing about a pro sports team is that the players burn bright for a relatively short period of time. They are great at what they do until they aren’t anymore and then it’s just a slow decline in ability. Netflix are happy with this, they embrace staff turnover and believe in moving people along once the working relationship is no longer mutually beneficial.

Upskilling, ongoing growth and personal development creates career longevity, benefiting the individual and the company that invests in them. At Bilue we don’t want great people to leave our business, we have shared goals and big dreams for the years ahead and it’s a journey we want to take together.

If you would like to know more about employment opportunities with Bilue, don’t hesitate to get in touch. With offices in Sydney and Melbourne, we are always looking to grow our network of developers, project managers, designers and sales/account managers.


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