Building Work Culture with Radical Candor
When starting a business, culture should be one of your top priorities. It’s a unique characteristic in a way that you have to be very purposeful of what you establish– because the kind of culture you start is essentially what you end with most of the time. Part of the reason why my wife Alex is also my co-founder is that she has an awesome track record of establishing a great culture in the companies that she’s been in.
Understanding Radical Candor
She read a book on a concept called Radical Candor, which is quite popular in Silicon Valley these days. The idea here is you care personally and challenge directly. In other words, you need to be extremely honest with the people you work with because you care about them. But at the same time, you need to check your ego at the door to be able to accept the feedback– this applies to everyone at the workplace at all levels.
The reason you set these guidelines is that you want an environment where people genuinely care about each other’s growth– this is caring personally. To challenge directly shows that since you want someone to grow, you give them candid feedback. To not be candid would mean that you aren’t concerned about whether or not the other person improves.
Radical Candor at Sprout
In Sprout, we are a team. Everyone wants each other to get better as a person whether it be in their career or in their personal life. To do this, each team member has to give the other honest, candid, and direct feedback.
In the Philippines, it’s a common instinct to think caring for another coworker means not challenging them or being very empathetic when the workload gets overwhelming. This stems from the non-confrontational characteristic of the culture. But the concept of radical candor urges people to challenge their coworkers by being direct at them about that work, so they know exactly what steps they need to take to improve themselves.
Part of why radical candor is such a big thing for us is that it doesn’t come naturally to the Filipino culture: people are really good at caring personally, but we need to continue to encourage everyone to challenge directly. The concept of radical candor only works with both characteristics– one or the other just won’t facilitate growth as efficiently.