February 7, 2024
How We Work
When Netflix was about the same size (~200 people) as Greenleaf Trust in the early 2000s, Patty McCord, former chief talent officer at Netflix, and Reed Hastings, the founder of Netflix, thought they should be more articulate with their culture if their rapid growth plans materialized. So, they sat down along with other members of the management team and began writing down the behaviors they admired most in teammates. They were purposeful in making a distinction between behaviors and values. They felt that values are aspirational, but behaviors are what people actually do.
What came out of their meeting became known as their Culture Deck. The Culture Deck originated as a PowerPoint presentation that spelled out the key principles of Netflix’s culture. The internal document was primarily meant for review by new hires but also to guide discussions about their expectations on conduct and performance as their growth began to pick up pace. It was to become a living breathing document meant to evolve as the company evolved. As they grew, the deck became thought of as their “operational framework” around the belief that culture is a strategy about how you work.
The story behind the creation of the Culture Deck intrigued me and caused me to reflect on our workplace culture. Our workplace culture is the air we breathe every day at Greenleaf. It is literally how we work together. It exists in our behaviors and how we treat each other. We can all speak to it, but it’s not written in a document. What if we asked our teammates what were the behaviors they admired most in teammates? Would they collectively describe how we treat each other and how we actually work together?
At our company-wide strategic planning meeting last November, since I had everyone in the same room, I decided to ask them about the behavior they admired most in teammates. Their responses were written down on sheets of paper that were then held high for all their teammates to read. The responses validated what we all can feel at work every day.
The adjectives used transcended across office locations. They had foundational roots in our drives and values, relationships, and work styles. They described how we value each other, how we support each other, how we connect with each other, and how we rely on each other. Most of all, they described how we work. The top five most common adjectives used by teammates to describe the behavior they admire most in teammates were kindness, honesty, supportive, reliable, and helpful.
That’s a workplace culture I am proud to be a part of.