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Creating a culture of feedback at work helps teams thrive, companies retain top talent and individuals grow in their careers. Gone are the days when command-and-control workplace cultures rule because telling people what to do doesn’t work.
Great leaders know they can only get the best insights, ideas and innovative thinking when they create a collaborative culture of feedback using the principles of Radical Candor.
Rooted in psychology safety, a culture of Radically Candid feedback is one where everyone gets, gives, gauges and encourages praise that is specific and sincere and criticism that is kind and clear so they know how to avoid failure and repeat success.
When team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas and concerns without fear of reprisal, it fosters a sense of psychological safety. This, in turn, leads to stronger team bonds, increased trust and a collective commitment to the shared goals of the organization.
Radical Candor is not only beneficial, it’s crucial for the success and growth of individuals and organizations. If you’re interested in learning how to create a culture of feedback, here’s how to harness the principles of Radical Candor to transform your workplace.
1. Embrace Open Communication Channels
Building a culture of feedback starts with creating an environment where communication flows freely. Establish open-door policies and encourage team members to express their thoughts and ideas without fear of judgment.
Emphasize that feedback is a two-way street and everyone’s perspective is valued. Encourage the free and open exchange of ideas up, down and sideways during team meetings, one-on-one meetings, workshops and employee surveys.
2. Walk the Talk
Leaders play a crucial role in shaping the culture of an organization. Leaders who exemplify Radical Candor set the tone for others to follow. Demonstrate honesty, transparency and vulnerability in your communication with others.
Share your experiences and learnings, including moments when you’ve received radically candid feedback and how it contributed to your growth. This authenticity encourages others to embrace the same principles in their interactions.
Eimear Marrinan, vice president of culture and ESG at HubSpot, told Forbes she encourages her employees to practice Radical Candor even when it’s uncomfortable.
“Transparency and empathy and a high-performing culture often feel at odds. I would ask all of our HubSpotters to lean into feedback and make sure that we’re practicing giving and receiving feedback. It’s tough, but making sure that feedback is direct, kind and clear is the way to go.”
When team members are empowered to share their perspectives openly, the collective growth potential of the entire organization is unleashed.
Remember, Radical Candor is not just about feedback—it’s about building a culture that nurtures growth and strengthens the bonds that hold teams together.
3. Adopt a Feedback Framework
Clearly define expectations around feedback within your group or organization. Outline the difference between kind and clear criticism and obnoxious aggression. Encourage specificity in feedback, focusing on behaviors rather than personality traits.
Use the Radical Candor feedback framework as a compass to guide your conversations to a better place. You can even print out the framework and keep it by your desk.
Establish regular feedback cycles, whether through formal performance reviews or informal check-ins, to make feedback a consistent and expected part of the culture.
4. Incorporate a Growth Mindset
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Embrace the idea that feedback is a catalyst for growth, not a tool for punishment. Specific and sincere praise shows everyone what good looks like while kind and clear criticism helps everyone avoid repeating mistakes.
To do this, leaders must cultivate a growth mindset within the culture, where challenges are seen as opportunities to learn and improve. Reinforce the idea that feedback is not a reflection of one’s worth but rather a pathway to becoming better.
Tangible demonstrations of your commitment to a culture of feedback can help keep you accountable. For example, Scott worked with an executive at Apple who bought a copy of Carol Dweck’s book Mindset for everyone on his team to emphasize his commitment to having a growth mindset.
5. Foster a Feedback-Forward Environment
Remember, employees thrive when they feel their voices are heard and their contributions are valued. Radical Candor creates a workplace culture where individuals feel seen, understood and appreciated.
This sense of acknowledgment and validation directly correlates with higher levels of job satisfaction, increased engagement and, consequently, improved retention rates.
Create spaces that facilitate open and honest conversations. Ensure that criticism is given in private, allowing individuals to express themselves without fear of embarrassment.
Train team members in active listening skills, teaching them how to receive feedback with an open mind and respond thoughtfully. By fostering a culture that values and appreciates feedback, you promote a sense of trust and collaboration within the group.
You can download the Radical Candor CORE and HIP feedback guides to take the guesswork out of giving and getting effective feedback.
6. Encourage Peer-to-Peer Feedback
As Ally Love noted on the Radical Candor podcast, while leadership sets the tone, a true culture of feedback involves everyone. If you want to boss up at work, encourage team members to provide feedback to their peers.
This not only distributes the responsibility for feedback but also strengthens relationships within the team. Peer feedback often brings fresh perspectives and insights that can be valuable for personal and collective growth.
Leaders who embrace Radical Candor and a feedback culture create a positive ripple effect throughout the organization. When leaders communicate directly and with care, it sets the standard for respectful and constructive communication at all levels.
This strengthens the manager-employee relationship and creates a culture where leadership is approachable and transparent.
7. Why a Culture of Feedback is Worth it
In a world where collaboration, innovation and adaptability are paramount, cultivating a culture of Radical Candor is not just a luxury—it’s a necessity. It transforms workplaces into thriving ecosystems where individuals are empowered to grow, teams collaborate seamlessly and organizations navigate challenges with resilience.
As you embrace the principles of Radical Candor, you unlock the full potential of individuals and unleash a collective force that propels organizations toward unprecedented success.
“By fostering a culture of impromptu feedback in our team, we’ve been able to move even faster as an agile company,” tech company ZenHub said after adopting Radical Candor. “We get to the root of issues faster, but we also can mentor much more effectively. We even see interns improving the code of our most senior team members, which is unheard of at some companies.”
Creating a culture of feedback using Radical Candor requires commitment, consistency and a shared belief in the power of honest, caring communication.
By embracing these principles, organizations can foster an environment where individuals feel empowered to share their thoughts, learn from one another and collectively strive for continuous improvement.
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