The Culture of Culture

People are different.

And that’s not just marketing speak to kick off some rant about targeting messaging to various customer segments.

The people we work with are all different too. Take a good, long look around your office today. Some just show up to work and go about their business, maybe you rarely ever see them (Rares). Some are, as one of my former bosses would put it, the “perfect corporate employees” who do everything completely by the book, politically correct, neat and tidy (PCs). Some are the gossip-furtherers and water-cooler-whisperers who give the Rares and PCs knots in their stomachs (Whisps). You could get even more granular and break it down even further, yet the point is this: all the various types of people come together to make up the corporate culture. And if you’ve been through a few companies, you know that corporate cultures can be as different as the people who make them up. Hey, it’s a hot topic, to the tune of 79.3 million Google search results.

Of course, one thing that impacts corporate culture is strong leadership. And in the blink of an eye you could rattle off a few names of executives who strongly impact their corporate cultures: Richard Branson, Rupert Murdoch, Jeff Bezos, Meg Whitman. Did you ever see a robust corporate culture policy that did the same?

Well, now you can, and that’s the purpose of this post. Tell me that NetFlix’s corporate culture and policies document doesn’t do an effective job of setting high performance standards and expectations for the company. At best it’s unbelievably motivating and passionate stuff for the PCs, and at worst it makes the Whisps chatter even faster about their imposing leaders. Yet either way it’s a great example of how to define a company’s culture, in this case with specified policy instead of implied example.

Also check out Greg Verdino’s comments on the NetFlix policy, I think he illustrates some key takeaway points for today’s companies that plan to evolve into tomorrow’s leaders. Does your company show the door to non-performers in a moment’s notice? Do your finance and HR teams have simple and easy-to-follow instructions, or long lists of processes and guidelines? Would they ever dismiss tracking vacation days? Do you think this is crazy stuff, or do you think this translates into motivated employees who are passionate about their work and powerful brand ambassadors to customers?

Would you consider these kinds of issues as part of your next career move? Do you have a strong personal brand and social network that employers want to attract? Do you want to work with Rares and Whisps, or the type of talent described in NetFlix’s policy?

While some of NetFlix’s policies may be shockingly different from the norm, I bet they had the desired impact: top performers from far and wide charged ahead and are banging on the NetFlix front door.

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