At some Netflix team dinners, employees go around the table and criticize people’s work to their face

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  • The Wall Street Journal’s Shalini Ramachandran and Joe Flit spoke to more than 70 current and former Netflix employees for a report on the company’s radically transparent work culture.
  • They reported that some teams at Netflix have dinners or lunches where coworkers take turns giving feedback or criticism to others sitting at the table in “real-time 360” sessions.
  • This practice is a part of the company’s commitment to transparency.

Netflix’s 5,400 employees are encourage to give blunt feedback to each other online, in person … and on occasion, over dinner.

The Wall Street Journal’s Shalini Ramachandran and Joe Flit spoke to more than 70 current and former Netflix employees for a report on the company’s radically transparent work culture.

Not much is kept under wraps at the company. Higher ups at Netflix, like directors and executives, have access to view salaries of every employee and their pay history. To give feedback, employees use a software called “360” for an annual review of any employee at the company, including CEO Reed Hastings. Some executives choose to share their 360 feedback with their teams.

And sometimes, teams do a version of these reviews in person.

Ramachandran and Flit report that some teams at Netflix have dinners or lunches where coworkers take turns giving feedback or criticism to others sitting at the table. Executives call it “real-time 360.”

“It can be intense and awkward,” Brandon Welch, a former talent executive, told The Wall Street Journal.

Employees are encouraged to be as forthcoming as possible with feedback, and managers are expected to be honest about whose skills are needed. One of the most intense examples of this transparent culture is the “keeper test.” In Netflix’s online culture memo, the company writes: “We focus on managers’ judgment through the ‘keeper test’ for each of their people: If one of the members of the team was thinking of leaving for another firm, would the manager try hard to keep them from leaving?”

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Business Insider’s Nathan McAlone previously reported that those who don’t pass the test are given a severance package and dismissed. The Wall Street Journal report said that Hastings even used the keeper test to decide to fire his product chief and friend after 18 years at the company.

Some managers disclosed to the Journal that they feel pressured to fire people or risk “looking soft” to other executives. In 2017, Netflix had an 8% firing rate, which is more than the 6% average. However Netflix had an 11% turnover rate, lower than the 13% average for tech companies, the Journal reported. Netflix disagrees that its culture is harsh, noting to the Journal it ranks second on Comparably’s “Happiest Employees” 2018 list.

In response to The Wall Street Journal article, Netflix gave a statement to Business Insider’s Travis Clark:

“We believe strongly in maintaining a high performance culture and giving people the freedom to do their best work. Fewer controls and greater accountability enable our employees to thrive, making smarter, more creative decisions, which means even better entertainment for our members. While we believe parts of this piece do not reflect how most employees experience Netflix, we’re constantly working to learn and improve.”

Source: Business Insider

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