In 2017, Uber underwent a major executive shake-up, a Google engineer was fired for writing a controversial memo and the #MeToo movement arose in response to decades of suppressed sexual harassment. Good management and corporate culture have never been more timely.
That means it’s a good time for Patty McCord’s new book, “Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility.” McCord, the former chief talent officer at Netflix and author of that company’s famous “culture deck,” says step one in fixing your company’s culture is simple: Behave like an adult!
“You have to say what the right behavior is,” McCord said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “People can’t be what they can’t see. If they see their leadership acting like drunken frat boys, then everybody — men and women — are going to say, ‘Oh, okay, I get that culture, it’s called drunken frat boy.’ They have to see adult behavior.”
“You’ve gotta be an adult, moral, grounded, thoughtful leader in order to surround yourself with other people like that,” she added. “You just have to do that. And then other people on the team, not just HR, must have a role where they say, ‘I need to tell you what I see.’”
On the new podcast, McCord also talked about why she believes coddling employees with Google-esque perks is overrated and the common mistakes tech companies make in both hiring and firing. And she discussed how Reed Hastings, whom McCord had worked with at Pure Software, convinced her to join him at Netflix.
“I said I thought that was a terrible idea and I didn’t want to do it,” she said. “I thought the idea of DVDs in the mail was incredibly stupid. DVD players cost $800. He was the only guy I knew who had one, besides Marc Randolph, the co-founder.”
“I said, ‘Tell me one compelling reason I should do this with you,’” McCord added. “And then he said, ‘Let’s make the company we always dreamed of.’ So you know, for somebody like me — I’m like, ‘Damn.’”
Over the ensuing years, Hastings and McCord developed the culture deck as an articulation of the values Netflix’s execs believed were reflected in their behavior. And then, without warning, Hastings unilaterally published the deck on Slideshare.
“Like, ‘You did what?!’” McCord recalled saying. “I said, first of all, it’s just hideous-looking. Second of all, you’re gonna scare away all of my candidates. He said, ‘only the ones we don’t want.’ ... The interviews got instantly better. People understood, or they didn’t at all.”
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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.