skip to Main Content

How to Introduce Radical Candor in Your Organization

When we talk about Radical Candor at companies or with individuals, we see a lot of heads nodding in agreement. People understand that Radical Candor can improve performance, reduce politics and make work more fun. But how do you make sure that these ideas that resonate in the moment actually get implemented, rather than forgotten? Here’s a question from one of our readers:

As a CEO who hasn’t been practicing Radical Candor, is it advisable to transition into the practice immediately or slowly introduce it into the company’s culture?

My advice is to start right away but understand that it will take continuous practice to make a lasting change. Here are some steps you can take to ensure a successful transition.

Create a Shared Vocabulary

Start by explaining the idea of Radical Candor and the 2×2 to your company in your own words. It is important to establish the shared vocabulary so that everyone can understand the goal and feel comfortable changing their behavior.

Radical Candor 2x2

Lead by Example

Tell your company that you think you have not been Radically Candid enough, and that you’re going to try to make a big change. By communicating that you want to improve, you’ll show your team that you’re serious about the cultural shift. Prove that you mean it by asking for their help. Ask them to rate your feedback — to tell you when they feel you are veering into one of the other three quadrants. Remind them, these are not labels for people, they are labels for behavior.

By building a collaborative process, you’ll improve your own impromptu feedback quicker, and you’ll help your team see first-hand the impact of Radical Candor. When they see the improvements, they’ll also be encouraged to make the change themselves.

Commit to the Journey

You won’t become Radically Candid overnight, and it’s almost impossible to be Radically Candid 100% of the time. My experience with changing behavior is that I generally have to overshoot. In other words, if I’m convinced that my behavior is consistently Ruinously Empathetic, I’m probably going to have to feel like I’m being a real jerk before I get to Radical Candor. That is really uncomfortable. But if you’ve communicated to your team why you’re changing and asked them to rate your feedback, they’ll understand and help you improve.

The important thing is that you explain to your organization that you are going to start saying what you think a lot more clearly, and that you’re not doing it to be a jerk, or to hurt anyone’s feelings, you are doing it because you care about each person you work with personally, and you want to help them do the best work of their careers. And then walk the walk on that.

In short, go all-in yourself and continually involve your team. And remember that Radical Candor is HIP (Humble, Helpful, Immediate, In person, Private criticism/Public praise, not Personalized).

I was asked a similar question at Betterworks Goal Summit 2016. Here’s my response:

Please let me know what you think of this advice in the comments below. I’m sure I got some stuff wrong and would love any guidance readers have to offer!

Do you have a question or tricky management situation? Ask us for advice!

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Radical Candor Giving Feedback Getting Feedback
Sort by

Kim Scott

Kim is the co-founder of Radical Candor and author of "Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss without Losing your Humanity." Kim has built her career as a leader at Google and Apple and as an advisor at numerous other Silicon Valley companies. Her goal is to help people love their work and their colleagues (appropriately of course).

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Kim and Team: Just finished reading RC (for the first time!). Love it. Have already shared its wisdom with others (who have also bought your book). We can vouch for many of your strategies/suggestions. In over 30 years of guiding ceos and senior executives and their teams, we have seen firsthand that listening, humility, caring candor, seeking first to understand all work wonders! We, too, have been using “career conversations.” We are also devotees of Fred Kofman!! Met at Shambhala Institute many years ago. You’ve provided great terminology (!!), e.g., “partnership” as distinct from “absentee management” and “micromanagement.” Love the concept of the “rockstar” and the “superstar.” And the possibility of flowing from one to the other and back as determined by circumstance. Like the GSD wheel. It is similar to our “Seven Conversations with Seven Clients” approach, with the important inclusion of the when and how those conversations can be implemented for optimal results. Really like the use of the term “guidance.” The Radical Candor matrix: Care Personally and Challenge Directly is a bases-loaded, out-of-the-park home run! You go, RC Team!!!


  2. Hello and thank you for finally giving me a name and a grammar to describe the approach I have always tried my best to use but didn’t know how to describe to others except to say “Just be nice and considerate while trying to be as honest as possible”, then hearing about wildly varying levels of success and failure. Now I can just point them here. My company is moving away from the traditional annual performance appraisal process and toward a 30 x 30 process that involves a minimum of 30 minutes of direct performance feedback and career coaching every 30 days. The old process was 100% manager-initiated and guided by a corporate standard template; the new process shifts a big burden of initiating the meeting and setting the agenda onto the employee and it inevitably will bring a potential confrontation since an employee may perceive their own performance or conduct grossly different than the manager. I have been using this site and the RC diagram to coach my direct report managers in getting comfortable and improving their effectiveness in the new process. This is a great framework and is very helpful!

Leave a Reply

Back To Top