Netflix is a success story across media, entertainment, and technology. Their success can be largely attributed to the talent they attract and retain, as explained by Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings and Author Erin Meyer in their book, No Rules Rules.
While the entire book is fascinating, one of the key takeaways for me is “Talent Density”, a concept which implies the abundant depth of talent and the company is densely populated with talent. Most organisations are hiring resources who possess more than one skill. However, the success of top of league organisations lies in the density of talent, which is conceptually quite different from “adequate talent”.
The key characteristics of “Talent Density” are:
- High performers are driven by high performers around them. The quality of discussions, exchange of ideas, and activities between employees can really make a lot of difference. There’s healthy competition, to the extent that excellence of one is contagious and pushes others to strive for excellence too.
- People are driven by factors beyond financial gains. Now, this is not to say that high performers do not care for money. On the contrary, the message is to always maintain financial compensation and rewards of high performers to a level that is difficult for competitors to use it a reason to poach. There are plenty of examples right from companies in the Bay Area to start-ups all over the world that have provided direct and indirect financial benefits to employees to get the best out of them. The winners have been the ones who consistently sustain this!
- “Excellence” scores over “Adequate”. Whether your company is process and/or innovation driven or has service or product offerings, the employee mix with “adequate talent” will always deliver less than the high performers. Eventually, and the top performers deliver value that helps differentiate companies from competitors who employ average performers.
- Performers drive culture change. High performers do not try to work to please their superiors but impress their fellow high performers. This creates a culture of competing to do better and it instils the urge to perform for excellence.
The companies, or business units within companies, with strong “Talent Density” consistently perform better in all aspects, have high satisfaction and productivity levels, and strive for consistency and reward and recognition.
If ‘Talent Density’ is an important constituent of success, why are organisations not following suit?
Well, think about it. It is exceedingly difficult for a leader and a manager to always have the best performers in their team, as identifying and retaining such talent can be an incredibly challenging task. It is however so easy to mix and match performers to get it moving, though many will agree that it is a very myopic view. In the long run, the average performers bring down the performance of the entire team, putting more pressure on the leader and the manager to get the house in order rather than make it a mansion.
At Simplex Services, one of the key questions that we are asked is, ‘what makes us different’? As I relate to the Netflix story, I can now smile and say that it is “Talent Density”. All our successful assignments have skilled resources as an underlying influence. We consistently strive to maintain this and have high talented employees at core of our organisation. The fact that our business expansion is driven by word of mouth, and we are considered talent-rich, says it all.
First published by Mohit Bajaj on LinkedIn