Patty McCord, the former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, is often looked to for answers, asked to gaze into her crystal ball and tell her audience how the tech and business universe is apt to unfold.
So, then, how will the COVID-19 pandemic change things? How will companies find talent? Where will people live? How will culture be nurtured and created when everyone is working from home?
“I don’t know, but we’re finding out, right?” McCord told Communitech CEO Iain Klugman in the latest episode of True North TV, a series of discussions with tech and civic leaders airing every summer Tuesday on YouTube.
In 2009, McCord and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings published the Netflix Culture Deck, a series of slides designed to reduce the company’s administrative load. The presentation has been viewed millions of times, and Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, has called it “the most important document ever to come out of the Valley.”
And yet, for all the answers McCord has offered over the years, for all the challenges she has issued to CEOs and executives over common workplace practices and beliefs, the pandemic, she says, has tipped over everything we consider “normal,” and “nothing,” she adds, “is ever going to to go back to normal.”
The silver lining?
“Let’s just say we’re past this and on the other side,” McCord told Klugman. “When people say we should try something different, remember, you can.”
McCord touched on many of the themes she raised when she spoke to a Waterloo Region audience back in May, 2017, when she appeared as a keynote speaker at Communitech’s Tech Leadership Conference. She discussed employee empowerment (leaders have taken it away, and now they have to give it back) and the performance review, which she continues to loathe, citing the time she appeared on stage with former Montreal Canadiens' coach Scotty Bowman and who described, instead, what she considers to be a far more useful way to discuss employee performance: on a casual and semi-frequent basis, and including a plan to go forward.
The pandemic, she said, has revealed some important things, one being that workers “are adults,” they don’t need constant supervision and they don’t need a manager dropping by to make sure they’re at their desk. The work will get done.
“It swells my heart,” she said.
But in terms of the pandemic, well, that’s still a book waiting for a conclusion.
“I'm recommending to people that [they] be journalists,” McCord told Klugman. “You know, you write down every day something that you learned or something that didn't go well, or something that did go well, and just constantly regurgitate that stuff all the time because we’ll get better, [just] like we do with everything else.”