Yes, We Really Could Use a Little More Radical Candor in HR

One of the biggest trends in HR right now is radical candor.

Have you heard of this?

According to Kim Scott, radical candor is the moral obligation of managers to care for each team member personally and challenge ’em to grow. Managers must provide feedback that is humble, helpful, immediate, and in person.

If you’re offering criticism, do it privately. If it’s praise, speak publicly.

And if you can’t do any of it because you don’t have time, Scott advises that you just be an asshole.

Why, sometimes, it’s better to be an a**hole

Now, hey, don’t go out of your way to be an asshole. Please. It’s important to remember that you are trying to create an environment where you give good guidance because it’s both your job and your obligation.

But, you are allowed to be an asshole if you care about your colleagues but struggle to deliver important and candid messages. Being an asshole is better than being obnoxious, cruel, or (my favorite) ruinously empathetic.

Watch this video to learn more:

People must believe you really care

If you work in HR, radical candor can improve your interactions at work and help you stay in touch with your organization’s health. It shows that you care, by the way, which matters in the world of human resources and recruiting.

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But, don’t start being radically candid out of nowhere.

It might help to show people Kim Scott’s video and let them know that you’re following a new trend called “radical candor.” As you learn, teach. And remember that candor isn’t necessarily about being direct and negative.

In other words, be honest — but don’t be personal.

And one more thing: HR professionals should note that radical candor is subjective. You can’t get away with being an asshole if nobody believes you care.

In far too many organizations, the HR department is already full of assholes. Don’t be radically candid and a disengaged HR lady at the same time.

This was originally published on the Laurie Ruettimann blog.


Laurie Ruettimann (LFR) is a former Human Resources leader turned influential speaker, writer and strategist. She owns a human resources consultancy that offers a wide array of HR services to human resources leaders and executives. Check out her LinkedIn profile here. You may know Ruettimann as the creator of The Cynical Girl and Punk Rock HR (retired), which Forbes named as a top 100 website for women. You may have also read her book, I AM HR: 5 Strategic Ways to Break Stereotypes and Reclaim HR. (RepCap Press, 2014.) 


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