The Keeper Test

How do you work out who your most important or best employees are?

Published on 
3 min, 403 words

Categories: work

It is that time of year where performance and salaries are reviewed. In my new role it is the first time I have been part of this. I came across a very timely article that aligned nicely with one of the steps in our process.

At Netflix they have something called the "Keeper Test". It comes down to asking a surprisingly simple question:

All Managers would ask themselves the following: “Which of my people, if they told me they were leaving for a similar job at a competitor or peer company would I fight hard to keep?”

As part of our evaluation process I was asked to give a "score" to each of the people that report into me. Now I am not a big fan of this and have made my feelings clear about this. It is a bit like the way an Ofsted rating of a school comes down to a single rating - it misses all the nuances behind it. It is the same with our score - do I score them based on their delivery? On their impact on the team? On their "value for money"? Or some subjective overall number?

I had no choice - I had to generate these numbers.

Once I had done this I came across the article and reviewed the scores I had given against the scores I would have given based on the question above. The scores I came up with were remarkably well aligned with the scores I had given each employee.

There is a second proposed question that needs to be answered:

All team members would ask their managers: “If I told you I was leaving the company to work for a competitor, how hard would you fight to keep me and try and convince me to change my mind?”

This encourages those being reviewed to ask their managers that direct question - this takes courage and they have to be prepared for the answer. Even without them asking the question it has got me trying to identify for each person what they would need to do to move into the "keeper" position.

Maybe this is something for me to ask our CEO in our next meeting?


Netflix's "Keeper Test" and Why You Need It