Although the idea is not completely new, Netflix approach is easy to understand. They outline these seven aspects of their corporate culture:

  • Values are what we Value
  • High Performance
  • Freedom & Responsibility
  • Context, not Control
  • Highly Aligned, Loosely Coupled
  • Pay Top of Market
  • Promotions & Development

The company values judgment, communication, impact, curiosity, innovation, courage, passion, honesty, and selflessness and they address in general terms what each of those mean beginning on slide 10 (http://www.slideshare.net/reed2001/culture-1798664).

How can a company succeed with such loosely defined policies?

The answer is simpler than you might think: they trust their employees to make good decisions. They can do this because they focus on hiring and retaining high-performing employees. Performance matters. The values permeate the Netflix culture from hiring to promotions or firing.

Netflix understands the value of top performers.

Netflix asks the question: “who would you fight hard to keep?” The answer identifies high performing employees, whom they reward based on quality of work and effectiveness rather than the number of hours they log. Employees who don’t contribute much or who resist challenges are essentially dead weight: they drag the team down and better serve the company by moving on than by hanging on. The Netflix example emphasizes the importance of providing context so high performers have enough information and knowledge to make good decisions; the alternative – establishing control – leads to bureaucracies and red tape that bog down progress and stifle growth.

How to align top performers with company values and strategy.

Generally, top performers have can-do attitudes and get things done regardless of whether their job description includes the task. How do you measure autonomy and results? A strategic performance management system like BLOOM provides tools to track education, talent reviews, and most importantly it provides a means to align an organization’s strategy – including initiatives, objectives, goals and action steps that are directly tied to employees. BLOOM even integrates the company values into talent reviews to assure employees are aligned to the culture.

When an organization enables top performers to operate by values rather than requires them to adhere to strict rules, it enables the adaptability, purpose and creativity that lead to company growth and innovation. It instills a sense of trust and ownership.

Think about the values your organization has. How do they and their resulting processes contribute to your culture? How do they detract? What motivates each – a desire to innovate or a need to control?

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