Radical Candor – July’s Book Brief

As you know, the Betties team reads an enticing new book each month in order to share our notes and takeaways with you. This month, we read Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott.

This guide to being a better boss offers a simple ideation that you have to both challenge and care. Without one or the other, your management style is severely lacking and not nearly as effective as you hope to be. Kim Scott has a reputation of leading at Google as well as Apple, where she developed a class on how to be a good boss. Her real-life stories and insightful advice truly round out her expertise in being an effective manager to give us this fabulous book.

Some of our most valuable takeaways include:

1. Every team needs rockstars and superstars.

A rockstar is like the Rock of Gibraltar and you can always lean on them and depend on them. They are steady and brilliant at what they do and they are not gunning for the next promotion. A superstar does an equally great job but they will go absolutely crazy if they are still in the same job a year from now. Use this to build a strong team that will grow with you.

2. Create a path for growth for frontline workers.

Give them a path that comes with better wages and opportunity, without having to be a management path. Make it more attractive than the management path, because people will often gravitate to that thinking it’s their only choice. This is how to nurture your superstars.

3. Avoid a shit sandwich.

This goes against everything we have always been taught but there is no good bad good balance that should be sought out. Praise the good and be candid about the bad. When you force yourself to package something like the s*** sandwich, it’s insincere and people will see right through it.

4. Encourage discussion of problems.

This is where creativity is at its finest. When you tell people to bring you solutions, it shuts down the creative process of having that discussion around the problem. Create a process for suggestions with something like a vote up or down, then provide feedback to your staff on what happened to their idea.

5. What can I do (or stop doing) that will make it easier to work with me?

Ask this of your subordinates, and during skip meetings, ask team members the same question of their manager. Always work to improve in the way you manage your staff.

6. Make it your personal business to find out the hopes and dreams each of the people who work under you.

Whether it’s business or personal, if you find out what they want to do and then can coach them or somehow tie that into what they are doing now, it gives them purpose. For example, a girl at Google wanted to run a spirulina farm (which is a far cry from her work at Google). Her manager listened to her dream and offered to mentor her on being a leader. When she’s ready to leave and start that farm, she will be a capable leader.

Have you read Radical Candor? 

How has it helped you improve your management style?

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