‘I’ve let down everyone I’ve managed’

Radical Candor front cover

Ten minutes into our Book Club discussion of Radical Candor one of our Directors shared the following perspective…

‘I feel that I’ve let down everyone I’ve managed’

The Director in question is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Spend five minutes with him and you’ll learn more about Performance Marketing than most marketeers can tell you in five days. So why did he present such a strong negative perspective?

In short — because he’s probably right.


Radical Candor

In Radical Candor Kim Scott sets out a simple and compelling argument…

‘There are two dimensions to good guidance: care personally and challenge directly… when you do both at the same time it’s Radical Candor.’

Diagram explaining Radical Candor

During our Book Club discussion we asked the question — are you more comfortable with caring personally or challenging directly? Approximately 80% of our team stated that they find it easier to care personally than to challenge directly.


Why is this an issue?

Because if you care personally but don’t challenge directly you’re heading down the path of Ruinous Empathy…

‘Ruinous empathy is responsible for the vast majority of management mistakes I’ve seen in my career. Most people want to avoid creating tension or discomfort at work. They are like the well-meaning parent who cannot bear to discipline their kids…

Bosses rarely intend to ruin an employee’s chance of success or to handicap the entire team by letting poor performance slide. Yet that is often the net result of Ruinous Empathy.’

As we scale Journey Further at speed it’s really important that we encourage all members of the team to challenge directly. We often talk about the importance of our four core values and pride ourselves on delivery against our desire to be more ‘open’. That said, it’s not lost on me that we’ll fail to create the business we want to create if the usual candidates (I’m throwing myself into the mix here) are overly direct whilst others aren’t direct enough.

There’s certainly been times in my career when I’ve been guilty of not showing the teams I manage how much I personally care. It’s clear that across the business we all need to care personally and challenge directly — let’s always look to strike a healthy balance.


So what are we going to encourage our team to challenge directly?

Every Friday we run ‘learn together’ meetings, the whole agency already comes together to discuss and learn something new — from the latest in Performance Marketing to how to brew Mead (I kid you not). In these meetings everyone now also shares direct feedback they’ve received (importantly both praise and criticism).

We’re also going to double down on our efforts to implement ‘The Immediate Review’.

We’ll keep you posted on how our radically candid culture grows and share a blog in the New Year on how feedback has consciously helped our team members develop.