Kim Scott is a veteran of a long career in technology, including a long stint at Google. In a presentation at First Round’s CEO roundtable, she describes how she learned to give and get feedback at Google. In order to foster an environment of growth, the culture encouraged people to get and give guidance to each other. She makes the interesting point that “radical candor” is necessary in order to communicate the full intent of feedback.

The term “radical candor” is a bit scary. The danger is that people would feel licensed to give¬†harsh, punishing feedback that fosters a climate of fear and vengeance.

The concept outlined by Scott is not quite as inflammatory¬†as the term might suggest. She makes the point that there are two aspects to radical candor – care personally and challenge directly. It’s true that when you know a person cares, you are more open to hearing direct feedback. She also points out that not giving candid feedback is not doing anyone a favor. Employees need to know how they are performing, what’s going great and what must improve.

Humanergy’s take on candid feedback is summarized as direct, honest and respectful. Combine these three facets and you’ll communicate effectively and give (and get) the guidance you need. As Thomas Jefferson said, “honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” We’d add that the prologue should be respect and care for the other person.


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Photo from Dollar Photo Club.