Highlights for Radical Candor

As you probably know, for every piece of subpar work you accept, for every missed deadline you let slip, you begin to feel resentment and then anger. You no longer just think the work is bad: you think the person is bad. This makes it harder to have an even-keeled conversation. You start to avoid talking to the person at all.

The only reason it was OK for me to talk to Jared that way was because of the relationship we’d formed over the years.

The point is, rather, that if you are someone who is most comfortable communicating in that way, you have to build relationships of trust that can support it, and you have to hire people who can adapt to your style.

Twenty years ago, management skills were neither taught nor rewarded in Silicon Valley, but today its companies are obsessed with it.

They achieve these results not by doing all the work themselves but by guiding the people on their teams. Bosses guide a team to achieve results.

“Radical Candor” is what happens when you put “Care Personally” and “Challenge Directly” together.

My humanity was an attribute, not a liability, to being effective.

A good rule of thumb for any relationship is to leave three unimportant things unsaid each day.

The secret to winning, he said, is to point out to great players what they could have done better, even when they have just won a game.

They know they’ve done some things wrong, but they’re not sure what, exactly. Their direct reports never know where they stand, and they aren’t being given an opportunity to learn or grow; they often stall or get fired. Not such a great way to build a relationship.

Start by getting feedback, in other words, not by dishing it out. Then when you do start giving it, start with praise, not criticism.

Well, stop repressing your innate ability to care personally. Give a damn!

Generally, an ambition or a commitment outside of work enhances a person’s value to the team—that means you get, say, a great artist as your graphic designer, as long as you don’t insist that the artist get on the fast track at work.

What I am saying is we all have periods in our lives when our professional growth speeds up or slows down. Recreation is essential for creation.

Kick-ass bosses never judge people doing great work as having “capped out.” Instead, they treat them with the honor that they are due and retain the individuals who will keep their team stable, cohesive, and productive.

I once had a colleague who’d planned carefully so that when he had his first baby he was in a job that he’d mastered and thus could get home to be with his newborn.

Allowing transfers is important because it prevents bosses from blackballing employees who want to move on, and allows for the fact that sometimes two people just don’t work that well together.

In many ways, your job as the boss is to set and uphold a quality bar. That can feel harsh in the short term, but in the long run the only thing that is meaner is lowering the bar.

The fact is that poor performers often create as much extra work for others as they accomplish themselves, because they leave parts of their job undone or do other parts sloppily or behave unprofessionally in ways that others must compensate for.

When a highly successful person takes a job with a new company and the “fit” isn’t right, it can be painful for everyone. If neither the culture nor the individual can change, it’s best to part ways. You generally can’t fix a cultural-fit issue.

The truth is, people really do change. Somebody who’s been on a gradual growth trajectory may suddenly become restless and yearn for a new challenge at work. Or, a person who’s been on a steep growth trajectory for years may be craving a period of stability. This is another reason why you have to manage. Being a great boss involves constantly adjusting to the new reality of the day or week or year as it unfolds.

Too many bosses think their role is to turn it off—to avoid all the friction by simply making a decision and sparing the team the pain of debate. It’s not. Debate takes time and requires emotional energy. But lack of debate saps a team of more time and emotional energy in the long run.

That is why kick-ass bosses often do not decide themselves, but rather create a clear decision-making process that empowers people closest to the facts to make as many decisions as possible. Not only does that result in better decisions, it results in better morale.

The essence of leadership is not getting overwhelmed by circumstances.

The time you spend at work can be an expression of who you are as a human being, an enormous enrichment to your life, and a boon to your friends and family.

You can guide your team to get results if you’ve built a trusting relationship with each person reporting to you, and there can only be real trust when people feel free at work. The first rule of building the kind of relationship with the people that will make them feel free at work is to relinquish unilateral authority.

You already spend a lot of hours every day with your colleagues and direct reports. Use that time to build relationships. For the most part, it’s better to use the time after work to keep yourself centered than to socialize with work colleagues.

Too many managers fear that public challenge will undermine their authority. It’s natural to want to repress dissent, but a good reaction to public criticism can be the very thing that establishes your credibility as a strong leader, and will help you build a culture of guidance.

“Is there anything I could do or stop doing that would make it easier to work with me?”

Don’t let the fact that you can’t offer a solution make you reluctant to offer guidance. Think about times that guidance has been most helpful to you, and offer it in that spirit.

So let me reiterate: impromptu guidance really, truly is something you can squeeze in between meetings in three minutes or less. If you give it right away in between meetings, you will not only save yourself a subsequent meeting but also deliver the guidance in less time than it would take you to schedule the subsequent meeting. And the quality of your guidance will be much better.

Often the reason why you’ll be tempted not to deliver guidance in person is that you are trying to avoid seeing the other person’s emotional reaction. This is natural. But the quality of your guidance will improve if you’re present for these feelings.

Once people got to know him well, they realized he wasn’t a jerk, he was just super intense; in fact, he cared as deeply about his colleagues as he did about the quality of the work they did together.

Part of your job as a boss (and as a human being) is to acknowledge and deal with emotional responses, not to dismiss or avoid them.

If you find you cannot be Radically Candid with your boss, I recommend that you consider finding a new job with a new boss.

Andy Grove had a mantra at Intel that we borrowed to describe leadership at Apple: Listen, Challenge, Commit. A strong leader has the humility to listen, the confidence to challenge, and the wisdom to know when to quit arguing and to get on board.

We must stop gender politics.

And even if the ratings aren’t lower, selection for promotion and leadership roles depend heavily on “likeability.”

That wasted people’s time (a cardinal sin for a boss)

In these meetings, which need to happen only once a year to be effective, you will meet with the people who work for your direct reports, without your direct reports in the room, and ask what they could do or stop doing to be better bosses.

The more visible the change, the better. Review these changes in a follow-up to the skip level meeting, and encourage the team to tell you whether or not they made a difference. If people feel that no changes were made, or that the meeting didn’t make a difference, treat this very seriously.

The first conversation is designed to learn what motivates each person who reports directly to you.

The second conversation moves from understanding what motivates people to understanding the person’s dreams—what they want to achieve at the apex of their career, how they imagine life at its best to feel.

Once people were clear on what they wanted to learn next, it was much easier for managers to identify opportunities at work that would help them develop skills in the next six to eighteen months that would take them in the direction of at least one of their dreams.

All hiring is flawed and subjective, and these drawbacks cannot be fixed; they can only be managed.

Firing people is not easy, either emotionally or legally. At companies where it’s too easy to fire people, bad/unfair firing decisions get made, with the result that even people who are great at their jobs start to get spooked. When people feel that kind of fear, they start to avoid taking risks. They learn less, they grow less, they innovate less, they become less than they could be.

The importance of the simplest things, like thank-yous, are most often forgotten by bosses—even good bosses.

Here’s the agenda that I’ve found to be most effective:

■    Learn: review key metrics (twenty minutes)

■    Listen: put updates in a shared document (fifteen minutes)

■    Clarify: identify key decisions & debates (thirty minutes)

Most people hate to be excluded from decisions relevant to them, but they hate attending meetings that are irrelevant to them even more. With a little transparency, it all sorts itself out.

Measuring activities and visualizing workflows will push you and your team to make sure you really understand how what you all do drives success—or doesn’t.

Notice the things you don’t notice when you’re buried in work at your desk or racing, head down, from one meeting to the next. Ask people who catch your attention—ideally, people you haven’t talked to in a while—what they’re working on. Find some small problems and treat them like “the universe through a grain of sand.”

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