Is your leadership team getting rated on Glassdoor? If so, are those reviews where you want to see them? We all know that feedback at times is hard to get, but it only helps a person or company grow stronger once that feedback is harnessed and leveraged to one’s advantage. The book Radical Candor by Kim Scott, also known as Sheryl Sandberg’s protege at Facebook, discusses how the leadership is almost like an art form. When done well, it’s the ability to combine complete and honest bluntness with empathy. It’s putting yourself in your team’s shoes.
Why is this so radical? Because as a society, so many of us are conditioned to not say what we think. Due to that, most of us don’t have the experience needed to step into leadership levels and do just that – be honest and direct while not offending or demotivating your team in the process.
Tip #1 – When delivering feedback, start with the positive
Whenever delivering tough feedback, it’s important to do so by first addressing it in a positive light. Some examples are: “we see the value you bring and your positive attributes, however, I’d like to coach you in the process of how to get that work done.” Another example covered in the book is when critiquing a colleague’s presentation and that colleague says “um” too much you could address in a way that highlights the person’s strength. For example, “saying ‘um’ too often in a presentation could make you sound less intelligent, which would be a shame.” Point out what the employee did wrong while also pointing out the positive. When a boss humiliates an employee with only negative criticism, they can create enemies, ruin morale, and cause people to want to leave.
Tip #2 - Have empathy, but not too much empathy
It’s important to have empathy and put yourself in others' shoes as leaders, but at the end of the day not lose sight of what’s needed to get the job done and be overly sensitive with employees. The book outlines the following to beware of as leaders at your company:
- Manipulative insincerity: this occurs when a boss' laziness leads them to not point how employees can improve and coaching them how to get there
- Ruinous empathy: this occurs when a boss is scared of tough talks in general.
The book also explains that if you have the choice, it's better to be ruthlessly direct than sugarcoat what the job is and trying to solve employees existential dilemmas emphasizing value that isn't there. If the job is tedious, like the role of customer service, don't try to make out the role something that it's not.
Tip #3 - No “one size fits all” management approach will work
It’s clear that every employee is different, so no one form of management will fit all employees. Here are the types of employees to coach leaders how to manage:
- Superstar employees: give them challenges to move up quickly and reach their full potential
- Rockstar employees: give them enough challenges to reach their full potential long-term
- Falling star: firing anyone reflects on you the leader and company, so ensure you and your leaders are caring in the process, bringing us to the next tip!
Tip #4 - Fire employees the right way
It’s important that leadership is trained on how to fire people the right way when scenarios happen that don’t work out.
Here are Some Tips to Firing an Employees the Right Way:
- Do everything you can to coach for improvement without personal attacks
- Question how this employee impacts the wider team (i.e. Are they annoying or demoralizing to the wider team?)
- Bring in a 3rd party opinion once you've tried everything
Just remember if someone has a good experience, they’ll tell a few people, but a bad experience could have a wider impact to your culture or worse - your external employer brand.
Tip #5 - Be a collaborative leader
Being a collaborative leader is crucial to not only the success of a team but a business. Aligning all stakeholders to not tell people what to do, but rather working together to solve problems will go a long way. Be wary of those that view being the boss as an opportunity to boss people around. The ones that will move your organization and business needs forward are those that view it as an opportunity to collaborate with talented people. Challenge your leadership team as an organization and don't give up! No one leader (or even CEO) should have final say alone. They want to be challenged on their approach, like in recruiting - an area that’s only growing and getting more efficient. Challenge your leaders and company to not stick with the status quo.
Tip #6 - Challenge employees to speak up
With the rise in digital platforms that allow for feedback, it’s important as an organization to get on board and encourage a feedback-rich environment. The book advocates for these two ways to challenge employees and encourage them to speak up:
- Silent listening: silence to encourage employees to speak up
- Loud listening: challenging employees to speak up and be confident in their opinion.
The second technique, loud listening, is good for shyer employees to encourage them to come out of their shell and will require positive encouragement once they do speak up. The book also calls out Steve Jobs approach as a loud listener, while Tim Cook, the new CEO of Apple as a silent listener -- a skill that must be working and earned him a spot on our 2017 Glassdoor’s Top CEO’s list.
Tip #7 - Find employees’ key motivators
This brings us to our final tip from the book Radical Candor, which is easily one of the most important: find out what motivates your employees. Three ways to find employees internal motivators are:
- Life story conversation
- Dream job conversation
- 18-month plan conversation
Each will give you a unique perspective on your employees' lives, where they want to go and what’s most important to them in the near term.
In summary, the book uncovers tactical ways to bring your best to a leadership role at your company and ways to keep leaders accountable for the teams they are managing and the work they’re all doing.
3 Key Takeaways:
- Have a growth plan and approach employees individually to ensure success
- Ensure managers follow suit and have repercussions and feedback audits for all people in management
- Take in the feedback on Glassdoor to make changes and encourage employees to leave reviews
Learn more by downloading: Leadership Takeaways from Top CEOs eBook