Why I Want to Work on a Professional Sports Team

Netflix’s work culture: result-driven culture leads to natural selection and the mentality of a professional sports team. This is impressive and the type of environment I aspire to work in.

Listening to Planet Money’s Episode 647: Hard Work is Irrelevant excited me. For what? The work environment that I will be entering upon graduation.

Seeing this title sparked my interest because I am fascinated by how office culture is changing. When I started listening, I partially expected this episode to be about privilege and how frequently people are handed things due to “someone they know.”

I was pleasantly surprised to discover the opposite. At Netflix, an employee’s contribution is measured by exactly that, what they contribute.

Starting out with the example of a locksmith, it made perfect sense. When the locksmith is an apprentice, they take ample time to smith a lock and receive many tips because of their hard work. Yet, as they develop their trade, it becomes exponentially easier for them and often the customer does not feel it warrants the same compensation as they barely spend any time on it. The lack of time spent is also the beauty of a good locksmith; if you need something unlocked, you want it done ASAP.

The increased compensation isn’t for the time spent completing one task, it’s for the time spent training to complete that task quickly. That is the approach that Netflix takes.

They compare this to being a professional sports team, which I believe is a revolutionary outlook on production.

This summer I was granted the chance to work with Professional Speaker and Coach, Mike Sadeghpour, who introduces sports psychology into the workplace for higher success rates. Working with him opened my eyes to a new approach in the workforce: thinking of it as a game.

Growing up, I played ice hockey and lacrosse, making this incredibly relative to me. When listening to this episode it clicked immediately. Patty McCord, a driving force in bringing Netflix to have this high performing culture, said it perfectly when discussing how they do not want it to feel like a family, they want it to feel like a sports team.

A sports team is a perfect descriptor because it implies much more than the comfort of a family. While every family is different, every professional sports team has the same goal: to win.

What does winning mean? Each player pulls the weight of their position for the common goal of winning. Teammates help each other out, provide support for each other and have to be tough on each other when need be.

The idea of working in an environment that functions as a sports team excites me because it reinvigorates a competitive edge that I have not felt since I was young.

As Netflix found tremendous success with this, there’s hope that this becomes a trend. At least, I have hope.

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