In this episode, I had the great pleasure of having Frank Jansen join Le Podcast to discuss how to deal with stars.
In a previous post, Care Personally, I touched about how Kim Scott defines Radical Candor: Care Personally and Challenge Directly.
We started the discussion referencing how Kim Scott defines Rock Stars and Super Stars in her book: Radical Candor.
Rock stars are a source of stability for the team, people very talented, and they will keep doing it for years.
Superstars are a source of growth for the team; they want to change everything; they are looking to grow at their next level.
Frank explained how he supports the growth of people in his team, how he builds diversity in the team, how he creates the conditions of a fearless organization with the goal that the team is able to manage itself, and, in the end, how the team gets incredibly great results.
I am eager to hear your feedback, so drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter or LinkedIn. You can also use those channels to propose the next question you want Le Podcast to answer. We can even record the answer together!
A book is an opportunity for learning through discussions with others. I already discussed the advantage of a book discussion club, and by offering a book, I wish to have those conversations, with each person. And yes, I am also planning a book discussion club.
When you give a book, some conversation could start surprisingly fast, like last year when I gave “Joy” to colleagues, and one of them told me immediately: “Is there a message? Do you think I make my employees unhappy?”. This conversation took me by surprise and I probably just mumbled meaningless words to try to escape it.
Sometimes it seems that the conversation will never start. So either, you can forget about it, or you can push to have it. Sometimes it is just that people don’t read, don’t read business books, have other things on their reading list, and that’s ok.
With Radical Candor, I had the first conversations quite rapidly. The first one was about the 2 x 2 matrix used in the book. You are up on the vertical ax of the matrix when you care personally. You are on the right of the horizontal ax of the matrix when you challenge directly.
Become genuinely interested in other people, is, of course, an excellent way to demonstrate that you care personally. And, as you can see in the matrix, if you are doing it without challenging people directly, you will fall in the “ruinous empathy” quadrant.
Give honest and sincere appreciation, is, this time, more tricky. If I consider that I will only speak about the positive behaviors that I can see in other people, I will fall in the bottom left quadrant “manipulative insincerity”. If I don’t care personally, and I give honest feedback, I will fall into the “obnoxious aggression” quadrant. If I care personally and that I am honest, this time I can act in the upper right quadrant.
The way you will give feedback is of course key to the success of your message. Kim Scott explain this point with reference to what Ben Horowitz called the shit sandwich in “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” another book that I enjoyed. The shit sandwich is his way to qualify a classic way to give feedback: start with complimenting, then pass the difficult message, and finally value the strengths of people. The problem with the approach is that experienced people will see you coming and each time that you will start with a compliment, they will wait for the difficult feedback.
The point is that if you care personally for people, you will develop a relationship that enables to give and to receive honest feedback without the need to give a not so nice sandwich.
Once, I was in the audience at a conference, and one of my colleagues was giving a talk. The guy is excellent, I love his way of thinking, he can present an appealing overall vision and go deep to the right level of details when it’s appropriate. The talk was ok, and I was frustrated. Why? Because he made basic public speaking mistakes that he could have easily avoided. I wait that the long line of people wanted to thank him, and to talk with him vanished, and I told him: “Great work Steve! I have some feedback, do you want them now or later?”. Steve: “Now would be fine.” Me: “Do you want them direct, or do you want me to dress them up a little bit?” Steve: “I am a big boy, go for direct.” At this stage, I would have gone for direct anyway, and I guess you understood that I cared enough for that.
I will relate another conversation I had about the book in a future article about Rock Stars and Super Stars.