Lessons from the book - Radical Candor

4 am

I completed four years at Gojek on April 1st. I have been leading a team of my own since late 2018. I inherited a well-functional team, essentially one running on autopilot.

I created a team with one of my friends to just abstract out a bunch of ambiguities for our stakeholders.

And, I was suggested this book, Radical Candor sometime back.

I am mostly too humble to criticize. I am the nice guy they talk about. I love pairing on stories and tasks. I am the nice guy who doesn’t let the criticism even take ground in my head let alone in my words.

Am I stressed at work? Yes. I want more clarity from people that I look up to, and at the same time, a bunch of folks have started looking up to me now.

In one of my performance discussions, my manager educated me about four quadrants from the book and put me in the Ruinous Empathy category.

I just finished reading this book. I was not an avid reader. I am a wanna-be avid reader. This is a habit that my team has helped me build.

Now, out of the four quadrants, Ruinous Empathy is only the 3rd best. It comes a bit short to being the worst where Manipulatively Insincere wins.

My goal is to be radically candid at work and in my relationships in general. What do I do?

The book gives a two dimensional perspective to relationships. 

Care Personally & Challenge Directly

I do care deeply about my team members. I help them get context around things and get stuff done. So I am not that bad at this one, to begin with.

Challenging directly is what doesn’t come very easy to me. I care so much that another person has to like me that I don’t dare to tell them my honest opinion about them or their work.

Fear takes over honesty. And thus, it feels I was correctly put in the Ruinous Empathy section.

To challenge directly,

  • Set high standards
  • Insist for criticism
  • Cultivate culture of guidance
  • Situation Behavior Impact feedback
  • Delete code written without spec

Rockstars and Superstars is this great theory from this book. To understand a team better, another two-dimensional perspective is given. Performance Growth

How high or low performing individuals are and the other one denotes how inclined towards promotions are they.

Another way to look at it is, to think of people who keep looking for new challenges to work on, finding better problems to solve, hunters.

Now think of folks, who do their job diligently given the scope. They are consistent but not so much outwardly boasting about their work, they don’t want limelight. They don’t seek promotions proactively.

It talks about striking a balance between the two.

And find other place for people who are poor performers and not inclined towards getting better either.

As a closing note, I would like mention that in an ideal team of size 6, I prefer have 3 Superstars and 3 Rockstars.

What is your configuration?