Back to blog

Radical Candour: A New Approach to Performance Management

Motivated happy business people achieving goals and clapping.

Could this per­for­mance man­age­ment trend turn your com­pa­ny around?

A lot has been said about rad­i­cal can­dour’ — an increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar per­for­mance man­age­ment trend that is gath­er­ing sig­nif­i­cant media cov­er­age. Rad­i­cal can­dour has been described as a harsh but true” approach to feed­back and has been tipped as the key to busi­ness suc­cess. It is a com­mu­ni­ca­tion and feed­back style utilised by Google and Twit­ter, but what exact­ly is rad­i­cal can­dour, how can it impact our work­places and how can we incor­po­rate it into our per­for­mance man­age­ment processes?

Rad­i­cal can­dour is direct, authen­tic communication

Rad­i­cal can­dour is a term coined by Google exec­u­tive Kim Scott. As an exam­ple of rad­i­cal can­dour, Scott points to an inci­dent that hap­pened to her fol­low­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion. Her boss approached her and Scott antic­i­pat­ed overt praise for her per­for­mance. Instead, her man­ag­er cau­tioned her about umming’ and ahhing’ dur­ing her speech. Scott waved off her con­struc­tive crit­i­cism, stat­ing that in the grand scheme of things, the issue was hard­ly press­ing. Her man­ag­er tried a few more times but to no avail. Final­ly, Scott’s man­ag­er blunt­ly told her that drop­ping the word umm’ every three words made her sound stupid.

Though this might sound harsh, Scott states that this feed­back was the kind­est thing her man­ag­er had ever done for her. Scott states, If she hadn’t said it just that way, I would have kept blow­ing her off. I wouldn’t have addressed the prob­lem. And what a sil­ly thing to trip you up!”

Scott’s manager’s blunt words showed her that she cared and respect­ed her enough to speak direct­ly and hon­est­ly. The forth­right­ness of the feed­back not only made it sim­ple for her to put her mis­take right, but it became a phi­los­o­phy she incor­po­rat­ed into every sin­gle pro­fes­sion­al relationship.

Rad­i­cal can­dour is firm, but not cruel

One prob­lem that might be encoun­tered with the rad­i­cal can­dour approach is that it is alto­geth­er too easy to cross the line that divides hon­esty and rude­ness. Pro­fes­sion­als shouldn’t use rad­i­cal can­dour as an excuse to do and say what they please. At all times, employ­ees and man­agers should con­sid­er whether their feed­back is clear, con­struc­tive, objec­tive and action­able. Scott insists that rad­i­cal can­dour main­tains a spir­it of gen­eros­i­ty. Done right, those who are giv­en rad­i­cal can­dour should be more con­fi­dent in their abil­i­ty to solve prob­lems as they arise.

Mil­len­ni­als are eager for rad­i­cal candour

Mil­len­ni­als, now the major­i­ty of the active work­force, want reg­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion about their per­for­mance. They crave authen­tic­i­ty and trans­paren­cy and it is only fair that they are giv­en this stan­dard of feed­back. The alter­na­tive is a com­pa­ny of indi­vid­u­als who aren’t quite cer­tain what they are doing or how they are per­form­ing. Com­pa­nies that insist on stick­ing to old-fash­ioned meth­ods of deliv­er­ing feed­back are going to find it increas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult to retain qual­i­ty employ­ees who are seri­ous about improv­ing their performance.

Mod­ern com­pa­nies have already begun to adapt to this grow­ing demand for real-time feed­back, with the slow erad­i­ca­tion of the annu­al per­for­mance review and the intro­duc­tion of con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment. Man­agers need to go one step fur­ther and stop tip-toe­ing around the feel­ings of mil­len­ni­als, who are far bet­ter at accept­ing neg­a­tive feed­back than pop­u­lar stereo­types would have us believe. The key to get­ting employ­ees to take con­struc­tive crit­i­cism on board and imple­ment rel­e­vant sug­ges­tions is to be direct. Man­agers should avoid falling vic­tim to ruinous empa­thy” — the fail­ure to have the courage to say what needs to be said.

Rad­i­cal can­dour must work both ways

It should be not­ed that rad­i­cal can­dour must work both ways. Employ­ees need to feel free to give con­struc­tive feed­back to man­age­ment when need­ed. Man­agers shouldn’t get indig­nant when this occurs, but should instead accept the trans­paren­cy, know­ing that it will help to encour­age real improve­ments in terms of work processes.

Intro­duc­ing rad­i­cal can­dour into your per­for­mance man­age­ment system

If open and hon­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion isn’t already part of your com­pa­ny cul­ture, intro­duc­ing it will require care­ful plan­ning. This approach might need to be worked up to grad­u­al­ly and it will be infi­nite­ly eas­i­er if per­for­mance dis­cus­sions are reg­u­lar. Begin by intro­duc­ing reg­u­lar check-ins with your employ­ees and encour­age real-time feed­back to be giv­en between these dis­cus­sions. Per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware can stream­line these process­es and save every­one time. Dur­ing check-in meet­ings, encour­age open com­mu­ni­ca­tion and hon­esty in rela­tion to goal progress, strengths and areas for devel­op­ment. In time, you will be reward­ed with a more pro­duc­tive and bet­ter per­form­ing organisation.

To find out how Clear Review enables you to embed Real-Time Feed­back into your per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem, use our online book­ing sys­tem to book a per­son­al demo now.