Sticky solutions to your everyday business challenges
Question: A new workplace trend suggests that “radical candor” is the secret to being a good boss. Can you help me find the line between blunt criticism and constructive feedback?
Answer: From an early age, we’re taught that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. But when you become a manager, it’s your obligation to give both positive and negative feedback.
Radical candor, based on the book of the same name, is a simple idea: to be a good boss, you have to care personally at the same time that you challenge directly. According to author Kim Scott, “When you challenge without caring it’s obnoxious aggression; when you care without challenging it’s ruinous empathy. When you do neither it’s manipulative insincerity.”
Make it fit
The best way to give employees feedback — candid or otherwise — is to start with a strategy that fits each individual. Get to know what makes your employees tick to better understand what type of feedback they’re most comfortable with. Some people truly appreciative a tell-it-like-it-is approach. Others are more sensitive to subtle suggestions.
Roses before thorns
In any case, make sure that your critique is preceded by compliments to make criticism easier to accept. Think about what positive things you can authentically say (roses), before launching into honest and constructive feedback (thorns).
Employees want to learn and improve. It’s your job to provide a safe space before they will be truly open to your feedback.