How to Make Friends and Fire People?

Book: Powerful – Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

By: Patty McCord


Build the team you need 6 months from now and don’t let yourself be dragged down by the team from 6 months ago.

Retention isn’t a good metric for management.

Think of your business as a team not a family. Expect people to leave as things change.

Be as good at hiring talent as knowing when to part ways with current employees.


This was a quick read and I found it more interesting than a lot of other management books. It’s worth reading again in a few months. I don’t know if I agree with some of the methods of cutting employees loose, I tend to feel like good management can help people transition to new phases and improve their performance without some of the challenges that a high level of turnover causes. But there’s a lot of really good ideas in here that I agree with.

Page 18 – People need to see the view from the C suite to feel connected to the problem solving that must be done.

Page 24 – At most companies, investors on profit sharing calls know more about the company than people working there.

Page 27 – Any employee should be able to name the top five priorities of the company for next six months.

Page 37  – Good employee feedback should be about behavior and be actionable.

Page 57  – Data should not be an end point for decision making but a starting point for understanding and interpretation

Page 62  – Make arguments for the good of the company not for ego or pet projects. Actively seek information that might prove you wrong because you’ll learn from it and make a better decision.

Page 66 – On important issues, Netflix has debates between executives attended by lots of people. Sometimes the executives have to debate from the other person’s point of view. The audience is also empowered to participate and ask questions.

Page 81 – Companies give people half a job they need done because they can’t handle the full job and management isn’t willing to part ways with the person.

Page 94 – Happiness comes from being deeply engaged in problem solving with other deeply engaged people. Not perks.

Page 97 – After their round of layoffs they had really high talent density. It was the best performers who were still around and this made the whole company better.

Page 102 – The entire culture of hiring section was great.

Page 104  – So was the entire HR must be business people section.

Page 114 – And the Account value of people working for you section.

Supplemental: For people who don’t have time to read, theres a YouTube video from Recode’s 2018 Code Conference where she talks about many of the themes from the book.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s