Keep it real! How we try to establish a good feedback culture in our company.

Feedback in general is a quite complex subject and not easy to master. No matter whether we give feedback, or we receive it. An amount of openness and the willingness to communicate candid are the baseline. Feedback is not only important in your daily work with your co-workers or your manager,but also in our society in general, in our friendships and relationships it is essential to learn how to deal with feedback. It helps us and others to achieve our goals and continuously improve ourselves.

At fable+, openness and continuous improvement are central values our culture is built on and therefore being radically candid is key. The book Radical Candor from Kim Scott gives a good overview about the various forms of giving feedback. Every new employee in our company is asked to read this book to understand the meaning of being radically candid. Furthermore, as we are a very young and quite dynamic company, everyone needs to know where they stand at any given moment. Because of that managers and peers should not skirt around issues but talk about them directly and make them transparent. The alignment between managers and their employees together with the concepts of Radical Candor provide a pretty good framework for working efficiently and effectively.

But what does Radical Candor mean for us?

Author of the book Radical Candor – Be a Kick-ass Boss without Losing your Humanity is Kim Scott, formerly working for different companies in the Silicon Valley like Google and Apple. Being both an employee and a manager in her career, she experienced various forms of feedback with different kind of quality… As a result, she came up with a brilliant way to give feedback supporting building up strong relationships between managers and employees and/or co-workers.

Kim created a framework of care personally & challenge directly which can be used to visualize how to provide frequent feedback or use the framework to guide difficult conversations. The whole point of Radical Candor is to care personally and challenge directly at the same time. But, does this mean I have to tell everything to my co-workers, no matter what and directly when it occurred?
No, there is a huge difference between being radically candid and brutal honest or as Kim calls it: Obnoxious Aggression. It is bad, but ruinous empathy can be even worse, and Manipulative Insincerity is the worst of all. Let’s take a look to her schematics:

 

  • Radical Candor is kind and helpful. It provides a direct feedback, but also leaves room for emotions.
  • Obnoxious Aggression is mean but may be helpful. Obnoxious Aggression is also called “brutal honesty” or “front stabbing.” People only challenge but there is no sight of personal care within the feedback.
  • Ruinous Empathy is “nice” but ultimately unhelpful or even damaging. It’s seeing somebody with their fly down, but, not wanting to embarrass the person, saying nothing, with the result that 15 more people see them with their fly down — more embarrassing for them.
  • Manipulative Insincerity is a stab in the back. It is neither clear or kind and does not bring you forward at all.

As Kim mentioned in one of her interviews, the big difference between brutal openness and constructive criticism lies first and foremost in the fact that openness applies to both: praise and criticism. To be personally involved means to see the other person as an independent person. If the interviewer resents the openness, one should react with compassion and not believe that with the right words one can avoid this annoyance.

 

Some tips how to be radically candid:

Though it may seem like common sense, it’s not always obvious that constructive feedback should always be a private discussion. And it’s also a great reminder to focus not just on the things the team can do better, but the things they’re doing well today. Especially giving feedback to peers is difficult. A way to flatten the path could be to ask people at the beginning a simple question – I have a little feedback, are you willing to hear about it? Usually people say yes and are more open for your suggestions.

Eliminate the words “Don’t take it personally” from your vocabulary. Why? Because feedback is always something personal and telling people not to take it personal and telling them at the same time they are e.g. interrupting someone is leading the conversation into wrong directions. Try to be insightful about their feelings and show them that you are on their site because you care.

We hope this short article gave you an insight how we try to work and evolve at fable+ every day to maintain our openness and continuous improvement and never the less create all the magic things we are so proud of. For further information check out the information on the Radical Candor Website and check out the videos:

www.radicalcandor.com