Setting a Tone of Radical Candor with a New Team

I recently received this question from one of our readers:

Hi Kim,

I’m just moving into a new role at a new company, and I have a clear opportunity to set a tone for Radical Candor within my function team / direct reports on joining. I wonder if you might be kind enough to offer some advice as to how you would create the optimum conditions for Radical Candor within my new team. I’m a relatively transparent line manager, and my gut says to literally talk them through the model as I meet and get to know them in the first 90 days, but I’d love to hear your professional opinion.

– A Reader

Congratulations on your new role!

Yes, of course I’d be happy to help–I love this idea, and I love talking to people about how they are rolling it out to their teams, and helping think through how to overcome obstacles as they arise, which they inevitably will. It’s easy for me to say be Radically Candid, but really hard for you to do it. I want to hear about the hard parts, and figure out how to make it easier for you and for others.

Here is my advice: show the video from the talk at a team meeting, and then ask people for their reactions. Encourage them to say what they like about the idea, but also to be open about any skepticism they have, or to call BS if they disagree with the ideas.

If there is overall agreement with the approach, ask your team to rate your praise and criticism each week. You can either print out the 2×2 and put “praise” and “criticism” stickers nearby it and ask people to put the stickers where they feel your guidance landed after each interaction. Or, if that seems awkward, we’re building an app. More on that coming soon.

If this goes well, you can also encourage your team to give each other more guidance, and to ask their peers to rate their guidance.

Finally, here is a link to some stories and tips to help you move towards Radical Candor if you happen to find yourself in any of the other three quadrants.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Kim Scott is the author of Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity and Radical Respect: How to Work Together Better and co-founder of Radical Candor, a company that helps people put the ideas in her books into practice. Kim was a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter and other tech companies. She was a member of the faculty at Apple University and before that led AdSense YouTube, and DoubleClick teams at Google. She's also managed a pediatric clinic in Kosovo and started a diamond-cutting factory in Moscow. She lives with her family in Silicon Valley.