Update on Radical Candor Dilemma #1

The reader who wanted advice on Being Radically Candid With a New Team that’s Demotivated wrote in with an update, which I thought was worth sharing. Here it is:

I’ve had about half of the conversations, and I feel like they are going well. I’m definitely getting some nuggets that I would have never thought of before. Here are a couple of examples:

  • When they were hired, they were very under the radar, but as they became more and more successful, way more money was allocated to their work. We never changed our process to align with an increased investment. So they went from a place of being pretty independent to all of a sudden have a ton of eyeballs and increased expectations because of the amount of money being pumped in. Leadership never seemed to prepare them for how to handle and update processes to reflect this new level of expectation so it always seemed like they were falling behind.
  • While there is a common sense of frustration, they are not banded together in that frustration. There are a couple that seem to be consistently dragging the group down. There are themes, but it’s not a mob mentality which is helpful. It also means that I need to really work on each person very individually I think. Overwhelming, but excited for the opportunity.
  • While they are all very busy with “busy work”, they all feel under-utilized, under-challenged and with no passion project. HOW TERRIBLE. We have no time for people not feeling challenged. We can most likely outsource a lot of the busy work for much less money and really use them for more strategic work. This thought killed me in particular: I asked one person what part of his job challenged him. His response was basically explaining that the challenge existed on navigating politics with key stakeholders.
  • I’ve spent time going to meetings with them and partners definitely talk down to this team.  I need to meet with some partners to understand why this is, but it’s a problem that needs to be addressed at a higher level.  They shouldn’t be seen as order takers and it seems that they feel like no one ever stands up for them.

I’ve had all of these conversations out of the setting of my office which I believe is helping so much. I’m also noticing my tendency to jump in and try to finish their sentences and interrupt. WOAH. It has been revealing on some of my opportunities as well. I’m really trying to spend about 10% of the time talking and 90% listening.

As I finish up the conversations, the hard part really starts: addressing some of the easy things so they see progress and putting together a plan for the bigger things.

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.