Radical Candor Podcast

Podcast Season 3, Episode 8: The Measurement Problem—Development Versus Management

Most everyone has had a boss who failed at performance development⁠—helping people on their team grow and move forward in their careers. The way you think about developing the skills of the people in your organization and how you think about performance management must be aligned. It is a manager’s job to both help each person on their team develop and grow in their career, and also to transparently assessing the performance of each person, commonly called performance management. On this episode of the Radical Candor podcast, Kim, Amy and Jason talk about why you can’t have effective performance reviews if you’re not also practicing performance development.

Listen to the episode:

Episode at a Glance

Balancing the intrinsic desire to improve and grow and the extrinsic desire for rewards like bonuses, equity, and promotion is one of the most difficult things about being a manager. It also makes designing performance management systems and teaching development very difficult. 

If you’re not careful, you’ll design a performance management system that makes people reluctant to invest in development or a development system that is so focused on helping people improve you never do proper performance management or let people know when they are simply in the wrong job.

In Radical Candor, Kim focuses a lot on performance development. In fact, the atomic building block of Radical Candor is the 2-minute impromptu development conversation.

You don’t want to try to operationalize impromptu chats. The motivations of both the feedback giver and the feedback receiver need to be intrinsic. The motivation to solicit guidance and to act on it is the desire to improve, to grow, to do good work and then make it better, to build strong relationships and then make them stronger. “I’m listening to you because I want to develop the skills and the team I’ll need to succeed.” 

How to give feedback

The motivation to give guidance is mostly altruistic—to help another person and the team as a collective flourish. “I’m telling you this because I want to help you develop the skills you need to succeed and because it’s not fair to your peers if I don’t tell you.” 

If you tie each two-minute conversation too explicitly to extrinsic motivators like bonuses, promotions, or termination, you can ruin the motivation for them. If an employee thinks each 2-minute impromptu conversation is going to impact their compensation or future career prospects, they will be less open to hearing what was said and more prone to fight it.

If you’re having regular impromptu 2-minute performance development chats, there should never be any surprises on a performance review. If your direct reports are shocked by their performance reviews, you’re failing as a manager. 

As Kim says in the book, “A performance review process without the development conversations is like capping a rotten tooth. It will just rot faster and more painfully.”

Download our guide for having development conversations >>

Radical Candor Podcast Checklist

  1. Commit to having 2-minute impromptu Radically Candid performance development conversations with each of your direct reports as needed. Remember, there should never be any surprises on a performance review.
  2. Don’t try to force a fit. If it becomes clear that someone is not suited for the position they’re in, help them find one they are suited for.
  3. Establish an environment of psychological safety where people feel heard and acknowledged versus fearing they will be retaliated against. Establishing psychological safety, as well as cognitive and emotional trust, allows people to give candid feedback, openly admit mistakes and actively learn from each other.
  4. Get to know each of the people on your team as human beings. Learn about their career goals, what motivates them and whether they’re on a steep or gradual growth trajectory.
  5. Reward what you value, not necessarily what you can measure.


Radical Candor Podcast

Order The Measurement Problem

In this novel, Kim draws on her own experience in Russia following the fall of the Berlin Wall, where she started a diamond-cutting factory in Moscow. The Measurement Problem spans the years during the collapse of the Soviet Union, offering an insider perspective from an expat who experienced it firsthand.

Emma moves to Moscow in 1990 to write a paper on what she thinks of as “The Measurement Problem,” that capitalism is great at rewarding what can be measured, but terrible at rewarding what is most valuable. She ends up living out the thesis of her paper in her love life when she falls in love with two men, a Russian entrepreneur and an American humanitarian aid worker.

As the Soviet Union collapses and her love life starts to unravel, Emma learns about alienation. Karl Marx got it wrong, and so did Adam Smith. It’s not an economic problem, it’s a relationship problem.

Radical Candor Podcast Listeners Get 10% Off The Feedback Loop


Improvising Radical Candor, a partnership between Radical Candor and Second City Works, introduces The Feedback Loop (think Groundhog Day meets The Office), a 5-episode workplace comedy series starring David Alan Grier that brings to life Radical Candor’s simple framework for navigating candid conversations.

You’ll get an hour of hilarious content about a team whose feedback fails are costing them business; improv-inspired exercises to teach everyone the skills they need to work better together, and after-episode action plans you can put into practice immediately.

We’re offering Radical Candor podcast listeners 10% off the self-paced e-course. Follow this link and enter the promo code FEEDBACK at checkout.

The Radical Candor Podcast theme music was composed by Cliff Goldmacher. Order his book: The Reason For The Rhymes: Mastering the Seven Essential Skills of Innovation by Learning to Write Songs.


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