Radical Candor by Kim Scott

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My Rating: 6/10
Published or Updated On: 
November 12, 2022

Big Picture Thoughts

This is a great book for new managers. It covers the basics of how to give people critical feedback, which is so important for performance. It taught me valuable lessons about when to fire.

The Main Ideas

  1. Giving candid feedback is one of the best things you can do to improve someone's performance.
  2. Giving effective feedback requires you to care personally about the person while challenging them directly.
  3. Firing someone who is underperforming can be the best thing you can do for both that person and your team.

Summary Notes

Radical Candor is a framework for communicating with your colleagues, direct reports and bosses. It is built around the principal that both praise and critical feedback are essential to great results and a great work culture.

What it is:

What it is not:

Background: We’re told to be professional. We’re told “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” These two things can hurt our ability to be good bosses, colleagues and employees in important ways. Feedback is essential to well performing individuals and teams. But it can be hard to give and receive.

In order to have radically candid conversations, you must care personally about the person you are engaging with. If you don’t care personally and you give criticism, you’re going to be a dick about it.

If you do care personally but you don’t challenge directly with criticism, you are not doing that person, yourself, or your team any favors (ruinous empathy).

The same applies for praise. If you don’t care personally and give praise, it is insincere. If you do care personally but remain silent with praise, that’s bad for obvious reasons.

Giving Radically Candid feedback, when done correctly, is one of the best things you can do to improve performance, team cohesiveness, and actually demonstrate that you give a shit about someone. With criticism especially, is often easier to remain silent and more challenging to rise above the awkwardness to say something critical that would help the person.

radical candor 4 quadrant framework

How to start delivering criticism without discouraging people?

Mental trick for delivering criticism (which can be hard): approach the delivery of criticism as though you were just telling someone that their fly is down or they have food in their teeth

When people are underperforming:

How to know when to fire? Three things to consider:

Because firing people is hell for everyone, common lies managers tell themselves about firing:

Debate and criticism of ideas, plans is essential to success.

To start building a culture of Radical Candor:

Misc tip:

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