“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Good advice, right? Well – not really. Especially at work.
It turns out that following this old adage at the workplace leads to inefficiency, job dissatisfaction and, most importantly, unsatisfactory results for the organization.
OK, I can hear many of you saying right up front: “Hey, wait a minute, can being ‘the nice guy’ at work really be all that bad??”
Yes, it can.
The Usual Suspects
Whether you are the boss, or you have lots of bosses, your workplace quite possibly features some fairly common communication challenges.
Passive aggressive behavior among co-workers, frequent bouts of miscommunication, or no communication at all, seemingly out-of-the-blue negative performance reviews…these are just a few examples of common workplace communication culture issues that can greatly diminish both individual and company performance.
But the good news is that a proven strategy exists to help eliminate these usual suspects.
Kim To the Rescue
But it wasn’t a straight path to mega-success for Kim right from the start. In fact, she would be the first one to tell you that during her career, at companies like Google and Apple, she made her fair share of mistakes.
But Kim quickly progressed in her career by having a few key mentors who weren’t afraid to offer her critical but fair feedback when needed. And instead of responding with defensiveness or anger, Kim was able to accept that criticism and learn from her mistakes.
She now advises other companies like Twitter and Qualtrics as to how they can create workplaces where employees experience genuine, personal growth while producing awesome results for their employers.
Becoming the Best Version of Yourself at Work: Time For a Radical Approach!
So, what has a smart person like Kim Scott specifically learned about just what makes for a good boss, colleague, or staff member?
Two words: Radical Candor
Trust me. If you work in any type of organization – no matter what your role is – do yourself a HUGE favor and take the time to read the most excellent article linked above.
As the article explains, among other things, if you:
- Say nothing but “nice” things to those you work with about their performance, or
- Say nothing much at all to those you work with about their performance,
You are unfortunately being a bad co-worker.
In short, the concept of Radical Candor is all about giving, receiving and promoting critical feedback within your workplace.
It’s the kind of critical feedback that isn’t always “nice”. The kind that may even sting the recipient at first – bruise his ego a little (more on this in a bit).
But if it’s being done right, it’s always the kind of feedback that will both motivate and assist your co-worker to achieve an optimal result. He wins, and your company wins.
That is a true Radical Candor workplace!
Ok…So, What Do These Radical Candor Types Actually Do??
Glad you asked.
In a true, Radical Candor environment, workers both care personally for their colleagues AND challenge them directly.
They take meaningful actions that show those who work with them they are actually valued as people – that they don’t just represent a job function. And good teammates also give a damn about whether their colleagues learn or grow, and are up for the challenge of sending constructive but hard messages from time to time that help them achieve that growth.
The “challenge them directly” bit tends to be the real stickler for most of us, I know. It’s that whole “If you can’t say something nice..” concept I mentioned at the start.
Too bad – get over it.
Because if you really do care about your company and your co-workers, you actually owe them that constructive, timely criticism.
For some basic, effective tips on how to deliver those tough messages, check this out.
And as you’ll see in the handy graph located within the article, when you both care personally and challenge directly, you are securely located in what Kim calls the “Give a Damn” quadrant. And that’s where we all want to be.
Kim also created a spiffy little acronym to help us remember:
HHIPP: “Radical candor is humble, it’s helpful, it’s immediate, it’s in person — in private if it’s criticism and in public if it’s praise — and it doesn’t personalize.”
Got it? Good.
One More Thing: It’s About Getting As Well As Giving
As you’ve probably realized, Radical Candor isn’t a one way street. Good teammates not only know how to deliver tough messages to their co-workers – they also know how to accept hard but constructive messages.
And how you react to those difficult messages relates to that tiny but powerful word: ego.
There are essentially two types of ego. Good, or healthy, ego helps you want to achieve excellence, to shine in your job. Bad, or destructive, ego makes you fearful and defensive – afraid to screw up in any way and perhaps downright terrified to be called on said screw-up.
So, becoming an excellent receiver of Radical Candor means checking that useless, bad ego at the office door (and yes – I realize that’s not always easy, of course).
But here’s the thing: EVERYBODY “screws up” in one way or another from time to time! The true Radical Candor mindset is one that doesn’t run from tough but constructive criticism by your colleagues. Instead, the Radical Candor mindset embraces it.
Again, here are some basic but helpful tips worth reviewing to assist you in achieving a productive mindset the next time a hard message might come your way.
Now, changing a work environment is not an overnight job, for sure. But once that Radical Candor vibe starts permeating the workplace, you and your colleagues will feel more empowered, more effective and more satisfied. And impressive results are sure to follow!
OK – now, go be radical! (it only hurts a bit, promise)