Netflix Executive Explains How to Fire People

Business Insider
Analyzing the top news stories across the web
July 14 2013 8:45 AM

Netflix Executive Explains How to Fire People

If CEO Reed Hastings has his way, Netflix will be doing more hiring than firing.

Photo by Hector Vivas/Latin Content/Getty Images

This post previously appeared on Business Insider.

By Max Nisen


Netflix Chief Talent Officer Patty McCord, author of Netflix's famous management and culture presentation, argued in a First Round Capital CEO Summit talk that many managers are too lenient and willing to give second chances to underperformers. 

Employers should just suck it up and fire the underperforming employee rather than drag it out over months. 

Sheryl Sandberg once called McCord's presentation “the most important document ever to come out of the Valley.”

McCord's core advice is to think six months in advance, about what the company can and should do better, which will highlight the people who don't have the skill set or drive to get there. Most places, when people underperform, put them on notice, give them a plan to improve or metrics to hit because they're afraid of seeming mean or getting sued. McCord argues that that's often a waste of energy.

“I tell an employee I’m going to put you on a performance improvement plan, but the truth is they don’t actually know how to do what I need someone in their job to do,” McCord said. “I did my six months out thing and realized she wasn’t qualified, and I put her on a plan even though it’s not an issue of performance, it’s an issue of skill set.”

The result of such plans isn't usually an employee who completely turns things around, but a series of meetings that make the employee feel bad, the manager feel bad about hurting their feelings, and wastes everybody's time. Usually, the employee gets fired a few months later, and everyone resents everyone.

McCord offers an alternate plan: Just come out and say it.

“Instead, I could have told the employee, ‘here’s what I’m going to need six months from now, and here’s the talent and skills I’ll need,’”she says. “Then you tell her, ‘It’s not you. I don’t want you to fail. I don’t want to publicly humiliate you.’”

Her point is that offering someone real feedback, a reference, and maybe some paid time to find a new job is far more helpful, and better for both parties than dragging things out for six months. Be generous, but be honest.



Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?


“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.


The Right to Run

If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 6:30 PM The Tragedies That Have Shaped Canada's Gun Politics
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 4:10 PM Skinny Mark Wahlberg Goes for an Oscar: The First Trailer for The Gambler
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.