“When it comes to our own biases, I think we're often much more likely to actually have a fixed mindset - I am not a biased person. Instead, adopt a mindset like - I do not want to be a biased person, but I know I have a lot of biases and I'm curious to learn what they are so that I can get better and improve.”
In this episode
In episode #72, Kim Scott tells you how to get sh*t done fast and fair at work.
Kim Scott is the author of the famous management book Radical Candor, and most recently, Just Work.
In this episode, we talk about how managers can create a culture of feedback and drive results collaboratively.
We also dive into decision-making and why telling people what to do just doesn’t work.
Kim also shares how to incorporate a growth mindset when it comes to making mistakes and why feedback can sometimes be masked as bias, prejudice, and bullying.
Tune in, you’re in for a good one!
Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.
Radical Candor at work
Building a culture of feedback
Command and control
How to root out bias, prejudice, and bullying
You’re being too sensitive
Be wide open to feedback
- Follow Kim Scott on Twitter
- Read Radical Candor and Just Work
- Learn about Radical Candor in 6 Minutes
- Watch Kim talk on Radical Candor
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 00:11
Kim, welcome to the show.
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 02:55
Thank you so much. It’s great to be here.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 02:57
Kim, we’ve been fans of all of your work. You’ve had a very extensive leadership career at companies. And you’ve advised many companies like Dropbox and Qualtrics and Twitter and you’ve worked at Google, and many other places you’ve written what I consider to be the seminal book on management, which is radical candor is a mandatory must-read. So one question that we always like to ask guests is, when you first started leading a team, what was an early mistake that you made that you have since learned not to make as much
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 03:31
This is one of the most painful stories from my career, I was the CEO and founder of this software company. And I had just hired this guy, we’ll call him Bob. And I liked Bob a lot. He was smart. He was charming, he was funny, he would do stuff like we were at a manager off-site. And it was a busy, particularly intense moment in the company’s history. And, and we were playing one of those endless get to know you games and and Bob was the guy who had the courage to raise his hand and to say, you know, I can tell everybody’s really stressed out, and I’ve got an idea, and it’ll be really fast. Whatever his idea was, if it was fast, we were down with it. And Bob says, let’s just go around the table and confess what candy our parents used when potty training us really weird but fast. And then for the next 10 months, every time there was a tense moment in a meeting, Bob would whip out just the right piece of candy for the right person at the right moment. So we all loved Bob, he was a little quirky, but he brought some levity to the office. One problem with Bob, he was doing terrible work he would hand and he knew it was bad. He would hand stuff into me and there was shame in his eyes. And I would say something to Bob along the lines of Oh Bob, you’re so smart. You’re so awesome. We are love working with you, this is a great start, maybe you can make it just a little bit better, which of course he never did. So let’s pause for a moment and think about why I would say something so banal to Bob because that wasn’t gonna work. And in retrospect anyway, obviously, and I think part of the problem was, was that I truly cared about Bob and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. That’s what I call and ruinous empathy in the book, radical candor. But if I’m honest with myself, part of the problem, there was also that Bob was popular on the team, everybody loved Bob. And Bob was also kind of a sensitive guy. And I was afraid that if I told Bob in no uncertain terms, that his work wasn’t nearly good enough that he would get upset, he might even start to cry. And and then everybody would think I was big, you know what, and so the part of me that was worried, not too much about Bob’s feelings, but about my reputation as a leader. That was what I call radical candor, the manipulative insincerity bucket, you know, so so both of these things were going on at the same time without me even really being aware of them. And this goes on for 10 months. And eventually the inevitable happens. And I realized that if I don’t fire Bob, I’m gonna lose all my best performers because they’re sick of having their deliverables relate. After all, his deliverables are late, they’re not able to do their best work. After all, they’re having to redo his work. And they’re fed up with it. And so I sat down, I have a conversation with Bob, that I frankly, should have begun 10 months previously. And when I finished explaining to Bob, sort of where things stood, he pushed his chair back from the table. He looked me right in the eye and said, Why didn’t you tell me? And as that question was going around in my head with no good answer, he said to me, Why didn’t anyone tell me, I thought you all cared about me. And now I realized that by not telling Bob that his work wasn’t nearly good enough, just trying to be nice. And now having to fire him as a result, not so nice, after all. But it was too late to save Bob at this point, even Bob agreed he should go his reputation on the team was just shot. All I could do at that moment was make myself a very solemn promise that I would never make that mistake again. And that I would do everything in my power to help other people avoid making that mistake because as I continued to grow and learn in my management career, I learned that that’s probably the most common management mistake that people make is not telling someone something they’d be better off knowing in the long run. And usually, it’s not because the person is a bad person that they want to be nice, but then what they’re doing is profoundly unkind. So that’s an early management mistake that probably is this if I had to say the single thing that most inspired me to write radical candor, it’s probably that mistake.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 08:07
Yeah, that that is a very apt example. And you’re right, it is probably a mistake that a lot of people make. And radical candor is a great kind of platform and roadmap for people to try and start to build a culture of feedback within their organizations. There are three things that you talked about in radical candor, around big, you know, responsibilities of a manager, you know, one is around, creating a culture of feedback, understanding what motivates each person on your team, and then obviously, driving results collaboratively. Are there things that you know, quick takeaways are things that you think managers can do so that they can build a culture of feedback within their organizations? Like what have you seen works well on the field, there’s
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 08:56
A definite order of operation to build this culture of feedback. You want to start by soliciting feedback through this shit out until you prove you can take it, the simplest thing to do is to book save five minutes at the end of your one on one meeting to solicit feedback, mostly the one on one meetings that managers have with their employees should be listening exercises, let the employee set the agenda. But say, five minutes in the end to solicit feedback. There are a few things to remember when you’re soliciting feedback. One is to think about how you’re going to ask for feedback. Because if you say Do you have any feedback for me, You’re wasting your breath. I can already tell you the answer. Oh, no, everything’s fine. Nobody wants to give anybody feedback. And people especially don’t want to give their boss feedback. So you want to think about how you’re going to ask a question that I like is what could I do or stop doing that would make it easier to work with me? But don’t just adopt my question because then you’re going to sound like Kim Scott. Not yourself. People won’t believe you genuinely want to know the answer. So you want to think about what is your question? Now, no matter how good your question is, people are still going to be uncomfortable when you ask them to give you feedback. And there’s nothing you can do to eliminate that discomfort. All you can do, the only way out is through. And so you’ve got to just embrace the discomfort after you ask your question. the simplest technique for that is to close your mouth and count to six. Right? All those no one can endure six seconds of silence. So now you’ve dragged this poor soul out on a conversational lamb that they never wanted to go on. You must listen with the intent to understand not to respond, because people, even after you ask for feedback, you’re probably going to feel defensive. And that doesn’t mean you’re a lesser mortal. It just means you’re human, it’s natural to feel defensive. You don’t want to go into these conversations, thinking about how you’re going to manage your defensiveness. So a simple technique, where if you feel defensive, is to make sure that you’re asking some follow up questions or repeating back what you heard, for example, my daughter at breakfast the other day said to me, Mom, I wish you weren’t the radical candor lady, immediately, just huge. I thought I knew what she meant this huge wave of parental guilt washed over me, and I thought I’m spending too much time at work. She wants more time with me. And then I thought, well, I should make sure I understand what so I said, well, who do you wish I were. And she said I wish you were the lady who minded her own business. So it was quite a different form of you know, I didn’t spend more time at work as far as she was concerned. So you want to make sure you ask some follow-up questions, you are listening with the intent to understand not to respond. Then last but not least, you want to make sure that you’re rewarding candor, the radical candor, when you get it if you agree that what was brought up is indeed a problem, then fix the problem and ask to say, this is what I did, did I go too far? Did I overcorrect did I not go far enough. And if you disagree with the feedback, and I think this is why people especially new managers are often shut down to feedback, because they feel like they have to agree and you don’t this is radical candor, you don’t have to agree with feedback you disagree with. But you do have to sort of identity, listen to what was said and identify that five or 10%, of what was said, that you can agree with. And just to demonstrate that you’re not shut down to feedback, and then say, you know, as for the rest of that, I want to think about it and get back to you. And then you got to get back to the person, then you’ve got to have a respectful explanation of why you disagree. It’s tempting to feel like, you know, disagreement is is dangerous for your relationships. But what’s dangerous for your relationship is when someone gets up the courage to give you feedback, and you say thank you for the feedback, they can tell you that what they hear is, you know, a major brush off and that ignoring someone’s feedback does not help a relationship, what happened, what helps is to engage. So had that respectful conversation. You know you don’t have to argue endlessly. At some point, you’ve got to listen to challenge commit. But you do want to make sure that that you show the other person that you’ve heard by disagreeing if you disagree and explaining why, but respectfully, and in a way that invites more criticism. So that’s just a sort of a snippet on how to think about soliciting feedback and making sure that you’re giving it and I spent a bunch of time on that. Because I think very often people think that building a culture of radical candor begins with giving feedback, and it doesn’t it begins with soliciting. So we can talk more about giving if you want but start by soliciting.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 14:03
Yeah, you know, I think that makes a lot of sense. And lots of good tactical advice there like holding back for six seconds. You’re right, very few people can resist that. One very tactical thing here, though, is, as you know, you’re having one on one too often. Are you asking that same question during every one on one and I know this is a silly question on my part, but what does it shift towards? Like, if you want to keep leaving that five minutes in the end? What can you tactically do to constantly be getting feedback without asking the same question?
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 14:37
That is a great point because if you always ask the same question, it might start to feel stale, or like some kind of, you know, routine that people aren’t paying attention to. I also think it’s important to adjust your question for the person who you’re working with. So for example, I started this company called radical candor with Jason rose off and after we had been working together for about a month he said to me, you know, cam, I hate your go-to questions to open-ended for me, like no. So you want to you’re going to adjust for the other person and you’re going to wind up working on like when COVID first started, Jason, gave me some feedback that it was frustrating for him that all of a sudden, I was unable to finish a lot of meetings because the kids were at home. And he said I’m I want you to be with your kids. And, and I want to be supportive, but we got to figure out how to manage through this. And I appreciated him that his support because now I had been feeling sort of guilty about it. And now all of a sudden was we were able to sort of I was able to ask him at the end of a meeting like was I fully present, I was also able, we were also able to agree to have fewer meetings and shorter meetings, to adjust our work schedule in a way that accommodated the fact that I now had two middle schoolers at home all day, every day for a long time,
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 16:09
Some good advice on changing it and directing it, I mean to who the person is and, and customizing it for them. Just want to also touch on this driving results collaboratively, what does that mean to you to make sure that you are driving results collaboratively as a manager I
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 16:28
I’m a firm believer that telling people what to do doesn’t work that command and control do not do not achieve the best results. And it certainly doesn’t foster innovation. So what do you do instead? I think there’s the way in the book I call it the get stuff done or get shut down if you prefer we’ll so you want to start by listening to people, you don’t want to start by telling people what to do you want to start by listening. And then you want to make sure that you’re taking time to help them clarify their thinking. Because very often people come to you with problems. I remember at one point in my career, people would come to me with problems. And I would say bring me solutions, not problems. And somebody said to me, Kim, when do you help us solve the like that doesn’t seem quite fair. And I realized that I wasn’t giving enough time and one on one meetings, for example, to help people clarify their thinking to nurture new ideas. But then you want to make sure that you’re opening up for debate that when someone on your team has a new idea when there’s a decision to be made, that there’s an explicit time set aside for debate, and then you want to make a decision. And as the leader, every time you’re making a decision, you’re robbing your team of building that decision-making muscle you want to push decisions into the facts and simple technique that I found. At one point when I was working at Google, I realized that my staff meeting was the place where everybody who was in it was irritated that it was taking too long. And everybody who was not in my staff meeting felt sad and bad and left out. And I realized part of the problem is that we weren’t pushing decisions into the facts we were we were making my staff and I was making too many of the decisions. So we set aside a separate meeting. And the relevant people were invited. And they knew whether it was a debate or a decision, it’s very important to remember that there’s a huge difference between having a meeting where the purpose is to debate something and having a meeting where you want to come out with a decision. And very often a lot of conflicts emerges on teams when half the people think they’re in the room that the debate and the other half think they’re there to make a decision and then they frustrate each other. And that can be though that whole conflict can be very easily solved by a leader who’s who is very clear about this is a debate meeting or a decision meeting or you’ve decided right now you’ve made this big decision that you’re going to do this thing as a team. It’s tempting to think now we can start to execute. But there’s a step in the middle, you’ve got to persuade the broader team that the decision is the right one. And I think very often leaders give short shrift to the persuasion or they leap to persuasion too quickly. So you want to make sure that there’s a persuade, persuade step, and then you can execute. And then you have to learn whether you made the right decision or the wrong decision or whether you’re executing well and then you got to start all over. That’s why it’s a wheel so so I learned this shortly after I joined Google. I had three out of five of my managers quit the same week. I remember driving to the shore thinking watching the waves thinking oh my gosh, I’m gonna be fired. I just moved to California. I was it was hard it was a hard week. And I went to talk to my boss about it. And she said, you know, you got to remember when you’re the boss, it’s like you’re spinning a rope, and you don’t feel like you’re doing anything so dramatic, you’re just, you know, flicking your wrist a little bit. But if you’re at the end of that rope, it feels violent and scary. And so you need to make sure that you are creating a process in which you’re bringing everyone along, and then which you’re getting input from the whole team. And that’s sort of why I came up with that get stuff done meal.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 20:31
[AD BREAK BEINGS] Hey there. Just a quick note, before we move on to the next part, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably already doing one on one meetings. But here’s the thing, we all know that one on one meetings are the most powerful, but at the same time, the most misunderstood concept in practice and management. That’s why we’ve spent over a year compiling the best information, the best expert advice into this beautifully designed 90 Plus page ebook. Now, don’t worry, it’s not a single spaced font, you know, lots of text, there’s a lot of pictures, it’s nice, easily consumable information, we spent so much time building it. And the great news is that it’s completely free. So head on over to Fellow dot app slash blog to download the definitive guide on one on ones. It’s there for you. We hope you enjoy it. And let us know what you think. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview. [AD BREAK ENDS] What did your staff meeting end up looking like at the end?
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 21:32
Yeah, so the staff meeting, I kept it short, it was always an hour. And we spent a little bit of time going over the key metrics. And and and we spent a lot of time figuring out what those key metrics were and how to how to measure them. Mike, was it blue? Was it going way better than expected was green, were we on targets yellow, were we about to miss the targets, or were they red? And so we wanted to make sure that we knew how we were doing we were and that we were measuring what could be measured. And that was about a third of the meeting was sort of going over the key metrics, then we would spend some time doing a study hall. And in this part, this and this is controversial. Not everybody loved this, but I love it. So I’ll share at one point we would go around the table and everybody would say what they were working on that weekend, invariably, there’d wind up being a discussion or a debate or an argument between two, two, or three people that didn’t involve all five or six or seven or eight people. And it wasn’t especially productive. And it could take a lot of time. And so I said, what we’re going to do is we’re going to write down what we’re working on, you know what we did last week, what we’re going to do next week sort of snippets, and I’m not going to ask people to do it in advance, because invariably, half the people will do it and half the people. So we’re just going to write it down, and we’re going to read it. And if people need to have side conversations, they can schedule them and have them later. And if there’s something that we need to address, we’ll schedule it an in in another meeting. We’re not going to stop here. But we want to make sure that we’re in sync. So that was how we kind of stayed in sync. And then we decided what the big decisions were and what the big debates work that the team needed to make that week. But we did not have those debates or make those decisions, we set the agenda for separate big decision and big debate meetings. And it was pretty efficient. And it was inclusive of the whole team because people didn’t feel excluded from the debate the big, they all knew what the big debates were, what the big decisions were, the whole team was invited to the big debate and big decision meetings. And at first, there was a little there were too many people in those meetings. But people don’t love meetings, people will opt out in meetings if they don’t. So it kind of took care of itself who
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 23:55
That’s incredibly insightful as well. It sounds like it became almost like a triage meeting of sorts, but you, you then separate it what needed to happen. And whether it was a debate or a decision meeting those started to happen after the fact
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 24:11
Yeah, and we identified who owned the debate who owns the decision. And we were pretty careful to make sure that other people on the team, not me and not anyone on my staff and those debates and decisions that we were pushing at Apple they call this the directly responsible individual the d-RI and identifying who the d-RI was our job but doing the work of the d-RI was not our job.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 24:40
Got it. Kim, I think we can’t talk about this new book that you’ve written. It’s called just work and why don’t we start with what is the Book about and why did you write it
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 24:52
So the book is about how to root out bias prejudice and bullying. So that we can create our Kick-Ass culture of inclusivity. Part of the reason why I wrote the book is that I realized after radical candor came out that a lot of feedback is not legitimate feedback. It’s bias or prejudice or bullying posing as feedback. And in fact, I learned this was I was doing a radical candor talk in San Francisco, at a company where the CEO was someone who had been a colleague of mine for a better part of the decade, someone I like and respect enormously, and one of two few black women CEOs in tech, and she pulled me aside after I gave the radical candor talk, and she said, Kim, I got to tell you, I love radical candor, it’s gonna, it’s gonna help me build the kind of culture I want. But it’s a lot harder for me to put it into practice than it is for you. And she explained to me that as soon as she would offer people, even the most compassionate criticism, she would get signed with the angry black woman stereotype. And I knew this was true when as soon as she told me that, I realized sort of three things. The first was that I had failed to be the kind of colleague that I imagined myself to be that I want to be I had failed to notice the extent to which she had to show up at every single meeting we had ever been at together, unfailingly pleasant and cheerful. And, and I hadn’t noticed the toll that that must take on her. So I had not even noticed the kinds of things that she was struggling with. The second thing that her words helped me realize was that I hadn’t been in denial about the things that were happening to me as a white woman in the workplace, I had pretended like everything was fine, and that I had never been on the receiving end of bias, prejudice or bullying. But of course, I had them numerous, you know, daily, pretty much. And then the third thing her words helped me realize was that I had failed to be the kind of leader that I wanted to be, I had failed to create the kind of environment in which everyone could just work. And so I think it was really at that moment that I decided to write just for
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 27:11
Having gone through the audiobook, I learned a lot. And I think there were a lot of things that I was educated on. And one of the things that I thought was interesting was how you related you know, is not necessarily being accused, but being informed of a bias that you may have, and relating that to having a growth mindset. Those are two concepts that like, you know, I think are or were very interesting to relate in that way. And I’d love for you to just explain to everybody, how a growth mindset applies to learning about bias.
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 27:47
Yeah, so it’s, it’s easy, it’s easier to understand how a growth mindset applies to learning new skills like math, and not condemning ourselves, as I’m bad at math or congratulating ourselves on I’m good at math, but to sort of pay attention to I’m getting better and better and better every day. And it’s one thing to apply that mindset to learning a new skill. But when it comes to our own biases, I think we’re often much more likely to have a fixed more, I am not a biased person. And instead, adopt a mindset like I do not want to be a biased person. But I know I have a lot of biases and I’m curious to learn what they are so that I can get better so that I can improve. And, and that was what helped me I mean, it’s so tempting to feel ashamed when we it’s not just tempting, it’s practically inevitable, that when our biases are pointed out, we’re going to feel ashamed. Sometimes the shame is sort of unidimensional I feel terrible that I hurt someone and I don’t want to I don’t want to acknowledge that. But sometimes I feel ashamed when my biases are pointed out to me because I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. So now I’m ashamed because I harmed someone. But I’m also ashamed because I’m ignorant. And so learning how to adopt a growth mindset to move through that shame so that I can become the person I want to be. Even though I just made a big mistake in what I said or did has was very helpful to me in writing the book because I hired a lot of so-called bias busters as I was writing the book. And believe me, I had a lot of problematic language in the book about eliminating bias, a lot of bias language, and I had to learn about it.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 29:41
Yeah, and that’s super interesting. I think like if someone points out that you have a bias, I would go even further than just saying that you might have some shame because, you know, I attribute bias as being like a, you know, a negative trait like you’re almost like a bad person and that first You might take it like, Oh no, I’m a bad person. No, I’m, you know, and so it might hit you harder. And so I can see how people can go and say, No, I’m not like, I’m not a biased person, I’m not a racist. I’m not this or I’m not that but as opposed to just leading with, let me be educated on the topic. And digging a bit further, what you said about your bias busters was also really interesting. This is a concept that I had no idea about just around like all the different words that you can use the ableist language, I’d love for you to just tell us a little bit about that as well, and what the process was like to bust bias from even your writing.
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 30:41
So the idea of, I think, often this is called a sensitivity reader. But I didn’t like that term. Because it’s not just about being more sensitive. It’s about avoiding harming with your language, words matter and choosing. I’m a writer, I care a lot about words and choosing the right words. So it’s really important to me. And so I hired several people who are amazing, incredible bias busters, so one of them is Brees Harper, who’s our critical race theorist. And she pointed out to me, there were about eight terms, I think that I was using that were either ablest or hearkened back to racist theories or racist thoughts and attitudes. And so so I was grateful to learn about them. But I also had that feeling of shame and that feeling of defensiveness. And I remember at one point, sort of realizing, I thought there’s no word that safe in the English language and then I thought, okay, let’s quantify this, how many words are there in the English language? And how many words did breeze just warn me about? You know, when I realized it was a tiny fraction of problematic words, I realized that I was that that, that was defensiveness talking that was not a rational response. And I was able to be more open to, to her feedback, there were another one of the words that breeze pointed out to me that I tend to use sort of sloppy sight metaphors. So I often would write I saw when What I meant is, I noticed or I understood, and that sort of aimless language because then it implies that if you can’t see then you can’t understand and of course, blind people or can understand things often more clearly than those of us who have sight. And in fact, one of the other people who I had helping me edit the book is a historian Zack shore, who is blind. And the last thing in the world I wanted to do was to write language that was offensive or harmful to Zach in any way. So I cared about it abstractly, but also cared about it at a very personal level, because I wanted to do the right thing by Zach. And despite all of that, I so I thought I had gotten it, I thought I had taken care of all these Fabius site metaphors, I thought I was more aware. But right before I sent the book in to my editor, I did a quick control find. And the Ctrl F. And I had used in a 350-page book, I had used sloppy site metaphors, 99 times, you know, all the time. And I realized how important it is, as we’re trying to eliminate these biases, to be patient with ourselves, but also persistent, you’ve got it because it’s, it’s often very difficult to change these habits, these patterns of speech, these habits of thought, and we, you know, we as human beings were pattern-makers, but that doesn’t mean we’re the victims of the pattern. We can make new patterns, but it can be it can require some real concerted effort.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 33:58
Yeah, and this is very interesting because I know you mentioned in the book, The story of Russ who’s a colleague of yours, and who we had on the podcast too. One of the things is that and I think this is a common thing that people say, when we might talk about some of these topics is they might say that, hey, you’re being too sensitive. And so this is a thing that people in their workplace might hear pretty often. And so what is the response to Hey, you’re just being too sensitive.
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 34:31
Yeah, it was really interesting. This happened when I had tweeted something. And it was a feedback tip about how to solicit feedback. And I said, Tell me why I’m crazy. And somebody tweeted at me and explained that my language was ablest was, there’s no reason to use the word to crazy because it’s difficult for people who have a mental illness to deal with that kind of language. And difficult for all of us it was a sloppy metaphor on my part. And so I said, Thank you for the feedback. And then I retweeted the tweet. And I said, for those of you who may use this word, you know, there’s a lot of other words I could have used and said instead, and, and immediately, people who I think we’re trying to be supportive of me said, everybody’s ever sensitive. And now, you know, it’s a little bit speaking of oversight. It’s a little bit complicated for a woman to deal with this over-sensitive accusation. And so I was very grateful when Russ jumped in on the thread, and he said, Look, for the eye for the year too sensitive crowd, let’s just do a quick ROI. How much does it cost you to change the words that you’re using? And then what is the what, you know, what do you get from doing it? What return Do you get on that investment? And the return is a more inclusive work environment in which you are making better decisions, you’re collaborating better, and everybody’s performance is better, because they’re not, they’re not feeling like they’re constantly bombarded with harmful language. And he said it’s a pretty good ROI. Like, why wouldn’t you change your language? And I thought it was a really good way to think about it.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 36:22
Yeah. And I think another topic that is, is related as well. And you kind of mentioned this, through your teachings in radical candor, and is just about how communication is perceived, which is, it’s more about how it lands at the listener’s ears versus what you intended to say. And I think like, this is another common thing that is, is constantly brought up, which is right, like, I You’re being too sensitive is one, but the other one is, well, my intention wasn’t for it to come across that way. And like what, you know, why not look at my intention versus, you know, the words that are coming out of my mouth?
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 37:00
Yeah, you know, and if you’re stepping on someone’s toe accidentally, and they said, You’re stepping on my toe, you wouldn’t say, Well, I don’t mean to, but continue to step on their toes, my intentions are, you would just get off their damn toe. And I think it’s the same thing with a lot of the language we use, yes, you probably didn’t intend to harm the person, but you did harm them with what you said or did. And so fix it, like, don’t start defending your intentions. As I was writing the book, this was important to me, you know, don’t insist that people look at your intentions if you’re the person who has caused harm. On the other hand, if you are the person who has been harmed, it can be useful to take a step back and realize that the person didn’t intentionally harm you. But I think too often when people cause harm, they demand that the other person focuses on good intentions. And that is not a user demand. It’s sort of a refusal to listen.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 38:01
Yeah, no, I think those are excellent points. And one of the things I like about the book is, it’s not just about you know, weeding out bias and building a more just environment. It also provides a lot of playbook-type tax, but also just steps on how you can build a more diverse workplace. Everything from just all-around diversity to gender diversity. And there are so many examples in the book, and so many stories that I think are super relevant. But if you were to call just one thing out to help people be able to hire a more diverse team. What’s one tip that you would call out,
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 38:43
I think it’s really important when you think about hiring a more diverse team is it’s the hiring is important. But retention is also really important. And I was working a with an executive team, and they thought, well, maybe we just need to pay people more. And I told them, I said, Look, I walked away from a grant of stock at a company that was supposed to keep me there forever. It was a lot of money. And I walked away from that grant, and I quit despite all that money they were throwing at me because I felt like I was being told to sit down and shut up. And I was not prepared to sit down shut up in my career. So I think one of the most important things you can do is adopt some we use a purple flag, but adopt some kind of bias disrupter so that everyone on the team understands that it’s not just the job of the person who’s the who’s been harmed by the bias, but in every single meeting that we have somebody is going to say or do something that’s biased and so there are sort of three things we can do to disrupt bias The first is we can adopt a shared vocabulary so the tree is Brian, who I started, just work And I use purple flag, it’s friendly, it’s not a red flag, it’s not a yellow flag, it’s a pretty friendly purple flag. Other teams use a peace sign. So when someone says peace, everyone knows there’s been some bias. There’s another team that caps are a big thing on their team and they near each other, whatever it is, that works for you. The point is that it’s shared vocabulary. So that’s number one, figure out what your shared vocabulary is two. Point number two is to teach everyone when you’re the person whose bias is being disrupted how to respond because as we started out talking about, it’s, we’re liable to act in a defensive way, when and that’s not productive. So you start by saying thank you for pointing it out. And then either you say I get it, I’m gonna work on not doing again, or I don’t get it, can you tell me after the meeting, and you don’t want to talk about it in the meeting, because now all of a sudden, every single one of your meetings is going to be about bias and we want to get stuff done, but you want to make sure that you’re interrupting it when it’s happening, and that you know how to respond when you’re the person whose bias has been interrupted. And then the third part of a good bias interrupter is is a commitment to flag bias in every single meeting, every single because it’s happening whether it’s you know, whether you’re if you haven’t flagged it, it either means you didn’t notice or nobody knew what to say. So you want to have that shared commitment. So you have shared vocabulary, you have a shared norm of how to respond and you have a shared commitment to doing this. I think that can have a huge impact on your ability to attract and crucially retrain, retain, and diverse workplace but of course there’s a lot of things you can do to measure your bias at every step of the hiring process. And also every step of the employee lifecycle which we can go into as well. Yeah,
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 42:06
no, that that’s incredible advice. We are getting close to time So one question that I’d love to just end with and it’s a question that we ask all of the guests on the show is for all the managers and leaders out there constantly looking to get better at their craft of leading teams? What final tips tricks or words of wisdom would you leave them with
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 42:30
I think the most important thing you all can do is to be wide open to feedback of any sort whether it’s feedback about your performance feedback about something that’s going on the team or probably hardest to hear but most important to hear feedback that you’ve said or done something that is bias or even worse prejudiced or bullying and so be open to don’t just be open to it but go out it’s like you’re digging for gold. It’s pure gold when you get that feedback. So go look for it. Keep follow us are on justworktogether.com or radicalcandor.com or follow me at Kimball Scott, we often tweet out tips daily.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 43:19
That’s awesome. And a great place to end it. Kim, thanks so much for doing this.
Kim Scott (Radical Candor) 43:22
Thank you. And buy the books, by the way, my publisher always gets mad at me by Just Work and Radical Candor. They’ll help you!
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 43:30
Both are incredible books, and no managers should be left without them!