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Submitted by 14000 Feet on


I think I'm referencing an internet topic that's already come and gone, but I'm wondering about your reaction to the Netflix employee retention strategy. NPR did a show on it a while back, it's thought provoking ( In addition, there's the Netflix HR Slides ( Slide 24 says, "Netflix leaders hire, develop, and cut smartly, so we have stars in every position." Slide 26 has 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? The other people should be given a generous severence now, so we can open a slot to try and find a star for that role now."

How do you respond to this in the context of the manager's second responsibility to "retain team members"?

shelleyrueger's picture
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I always mentally restate "retain team members" as "retain the right team members". There are people who should not be retained. Requirements change and sometimes the people you have aren't the people you need - and they aren't equipped to become those new people or someone's performance degrades and it isn't recoverable for some reason or you inherit someone who was just a bad hire. 

All that said, my experience tells me that in most companies, it's not possible to hire stars at every position. Your budget may not be sufficient to attract stars. Or something else about the company may make it difficult or impossible to do so. It's also hard to structure a department so that every single role gives stars the visibility and responsiblity that they may crave. I try to hire the best I can with my constraints and look for people with potential.

Just my 2 cents. 

Kevin1's picture

I'm in agreement with Shelly above.   There are often practical limitations on attracting enough 'stars'.

You also have to be a 'star recruiter' else you will replace mediocre with mediocre only at great cost to the company in terms of cost of hiring and lost productivity getting new hires up to speed.

If you have stars at every single position, how will you keep them?  Most would be looking for career advancement and it can be very difficult to find every increasing opportunities to increase responsibilities.  Many of your stars are going to walk out the door because you can't keep them.

Why not become a 'star manager' and get more out of the team you have?  In my experience, if you have hired well, and managed well, there is usually very little reason to move people on.   Other people's milage may vary.

Hope that helps