Reading a review by Ted Kinni on Kim Scott’s book, Radical Candor, pushed me to publish this short post on impacting workplace performance through conversation and engagement. Her book is well grounded in the nightmare of many typical workplaces and how a lack of good conversations causes such harm.

As Ted writes, “Radical candor stems from Scott’s conviction that interpersonal relationships are the currency of management. “They determine whether you can fulfill your three responsibilities as a manager: 1) to create a culture of guidance (praise and criticism) that will keep everyone moving in the right direction; 2) to understand what motivates each person on your team well enough to avoid burnout or boredom and keep the team cohesive; and 3) to drive results collaboratively,” she writes.”

To deliver that radical candor, a manager must care personally and challenge directly; it is about giving a damn and caring about impacts. It is about coaching for improved workplace performance and sharing observations and feedback.

And this meshes with my thinking in other posts about the issues around issues of personal accountability and action (see If not you, WHO? If not now, WHEN? here). People need to step up, and this needs to happen at the worker / manager interface, not just at some middle-management level or by one of the executives. The real work of involvement and motivation and performance improvement gets done at the bottom of the organization, not from some tops-down kind of communication. And a failure to execute at the bottom will not be corrected with another million dollars spent on some organizational attitude survey.

The real work gets done at the bottom of the organization, face to face, and not tops-down.

Tops-down, Big Corporate Solutions simply do not work to improve much. Sure, for implementing radical organization-wide changes, some percentage of tops-down strategy improvement initiatives are eventually successful (maybe 40% after 3 years of focus). But with my 34 years in the people and performance business, nothing seems to have worked over the years in actually improving active involvement and engagement of the front-line workers, who continue to be about 1/3 engaged. And this after corporations have spent billions on surveys and other tops-down tools and consultants and messaging.

What is needed is some chaos. What is needed is some Disruptive Engagement* at the front lines. Why not allow the people who know what they could be doing differently to involve themselves in conversations with their manager about issues and opportunities. Sure, some of those ideas might clang, or they might need some support from other departments or above to implement.

But if we are not looking for solutions or challenging the way we are doing things, we are simply dying a slow death, one that makes a workplace an insufferable environment and one that stifles innovation and creativity. Let people’s ideas count for something!

Disruptive Engagement and Radical Candor by Scott Simmerman

The Round Wheels are already in the wagon!

So, encourage your managers and those around you to have some candid conversations around issues and opportunities. Let people suggest ideas for improvement. ALLOW them to be more involved and to work together to make things better, even though there may be some disruption of existing systems and processes.

You can find some simple tools and elegant instruction at The Square Wheels Project.

Scott Simmerman's Square Wheels Project for Performance Manaagement

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
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* Disruptive Engagement can be loosely defined as allowing people to take a look at the issues and opportunities for identifying and implementing ideas for workplace improvement done at the very bottom of an organization, without the “helpful” control systems of HR or T&D or other more senior, bureaucratic groups. It  is somewhat analogous to Disruptive Innovation.

Links:

Review by Ted Kinni is here: https://www.strategy-business.com/article/Why-Managers-Cant-Skimp-on-Radical-Candor

Book by Kim Scott is here: http://us.macmillan.com/radicalcandor/kimscott/9781250103505/

If not you, WHO? If not now, WHEN?

Engagement – Think Local, Act Local