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This piece about integrating Radical Candor into company core values is by Jeanna Barrett, founder and chief remote officer at First Page Strategy, an award-winning, fully distributed growth marketing agency.
“No one should ever be surprised they are losing their job” is a core concept that has stood out to me since I first read Radical Candor as an entrepreneur. It marks the beginning of my journey as a leader to enhance the level of radical candor I employ with my team.
As my marketing agency, First Page Strategy, grew to more than 40 people I knew that I wanted to make being radically candid a core value of ours so that everyone at the company learned to Care Personally and Challenge Directly — and no one was ever surprised to lose their job.
Because of this, Radical Candor is our second core value and a pillar I talk about regularly at our company.
Here is how I weave Radical Candor into our core values and company processes.
1. State Your Company’s Core Values Clearly & Reference Them Often
We’ve outlined our core values in a vision document for our team that we call our “FPS True North.”
This document is linked in our team’s dashboard and referenced often in our company all-hands meetings and conversations. We all built a training called,
The FPS Way, that trains on our core values, what each of them means, how to follow them, and how the team is reviewed on them.
2. Integrate Your Company Core Values Into Your Hiring Process
We weave our core values into our hiring practice and ask two to three questions about each of our core values in the screening phase and first interview.
Here are some of the questions we ask in our interview process:
- What’s your reputation where you work or used to work? What would they say if I asked the people you work(ed) with to talk about you?
- What have you not liked within the FPS interview process, and who was your least favorite interview? (We love this question because it reveals if a candidate is comfortable being clear while also being kind.)
- How do you like to receive negative feedback (criticism)? What about positive feedback (praise)?
- How do you like to give feedback to others? Tell me about when you had to navigate giving feedback to a peer, direct report, or leader in real time and not wait until a performance review.
3. Kick-Off With Radical Candor In Onboarding
We ask them to read it within the first 90 days so that they understand the core pillars of being radically candid and what we mean when we reference tactics and language from the book.
4. Weave Radical Candor into 1:1 Meeting Templates
Create a process for 1:1 meetings between teammates and team leaders that includes opportunities to practice being radically candid! This is a muscle that most people need to practice.
We have asked our leaders to start every call with “getting to know you” personal conversation so that they build rapport with their team members and show they care deeply about their success and life outside of work.
We have also chosen specific “solicit” feedback questions that the team leader asks the team members every week in a 1:1 meeting.
We know that a leader will likely give feedback, but that a team member will likely not feel comfortable giving feedback to their leader, so we focus on training for this muscle.
Some of the questions team members are asked to share with their team lead are the following:
- What can I do better to support you/make your job easier?
- In the last week, where did I get involved that you wish I hadn’t?
- What’s one thing I could start or stop doing to make it easier to work together?
5. Reward Being Radically Candid & Following Company Core Values
We’ve built an employee recognition program that rewards people for living our core values at work, so we give out “Party Parrot” awards for teammates who are radically candid.
The entire company votes on who deserves these awards every quarter! They are recognized in monthly all-company meetings, given a custom GIF emoji in Slack, and receive a monetary gift.
6. Continue to Train Your Team (and Yourself) Through Coaching & Workshops
Learning to be a Radically Candid leader is an ongoing job. It’s a methodology that requires constantly visiting the book and revisiting it to see how you can do better. It requires teaching yourself and your team to constantly follow the pillars of the book.
A great way to make this ongoing core value that improves people’s ability to be radically candid leaders is to create a coaching program at your company with accountability groups or quarterly goals for being radically candid.
You can also invest in workshops with the Radical Candor team, which we’ve done and were successful for our team!
By following these six ways to weave Radical Candor throughout your company and core values, you should be able to grow and develop a group of people in both rock star and superstar modes who are radically candid in their growth, feedback, and relationships with each other!
Jeanna Barrett is the founder and chief remote officer at First Page Strategy, an award-winning, fully distributed growth marketing agency. Jeanna has 17 years of marketing experience at venture-backed startups, digital agencies, and Fortune 500 companies. She’s been named ‘Top 40 Under 40’ of brand marketers and ‘Best in the West’ for financial technology marketing. In 2016, Jeanna left the U.S. to build her business in Belize and has been a champion of remote work ever since. In 2023, First Page Strategy was named one of Inc.’s fastest-growing companies, and in 2022, the agency won a Content Marketing Institute Award for best blog and a HubSpot Impact Award for platform excellence.
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