Radical Candor is one of the most impactful articles I read last year. It’s one I foresee revisiting frequently. Here are several of my key takeaways:
Focus on guidance.
The single most important thing a boss can do, Scott has learned, is focus on guidance: giving it, receiving it, and encouraging it. Guidance, which is fundamentally just praise and criticism, is usually called “feedback,” but feedback is screechy and makes us want to put our hands over our ears. Guidance is something most of us long for.
Aim for radical candor.
Picture a basic graph divided into four quadrants. If the vertical axis is caring personally and the horizontal axis is challenging directly, you want your feedback to fall in the upper right-hand quadrant. That’s where radical candor lies.
Avoid ruinous empathy.
The vast majority of management mistakes happen in the quadrant that I call ruinous empathy
Being critical is a moral obligation.
Challenging others is difficult for many people; saying anything short of positive feels impolite. But once you become a boss, it’s your job to do be equally clear about what’s going wrong, and what’s going right. […] I would argue that criticizing your employees when they screw up is not just your job, it’s actually your moral obligation.
HHIPP: “Radical candor is humble, it’s helpful, it’s immediate, it’s in person — in private if it’s criticism and in public if it’s praise — and it doesn’t personalize.” That last P makes a key distinction: “My boss didn’t say, ‘You’re stupid.’ She said, ‘You sounded stupid when you said um.’ There’s a big difference between the two.”
Care personally, but be willing to piss people off.
Caring personally makes it much easier to do the next thing you have to do as a good boss, which is being willing to piss people off.