Radical Candor in Product Management by Facebook Product Leader, Irena Lam

“Radical Candor is the ability to Challenge Directly and show you Care Personally at the same time.” Kim Scott

As a product manager, you not only manage the product, but also lead your team, and one of the most important skills of a team leader is communication.

The matrix of communication how to become someone who cares and who challenges: 

  • Ruinous empathy. You care, but you don't challenge.

  • Manipulative Insincerity. You don't care and you don't challenge.

  • Obnoxious Aggression. You're challenging, but you don't care how that person feels.

  • Radical Candor. You care and challenge directly.

This is not easy!

Societal, Cultural, and Gender Norms.

“If I tell them, they won't like me or want to work with me.“

“If I don't push hard on them, the team might think I'm weak.“

Our Patterns are informed by experiences.

“Growing up, we just swept stuff under the rug.“

“Instilling fear worked last time!“

Radical Candor can feel uncomfortable but the outcome is worth it, especially compared to the alternatives.

Try this:

  • Talk about it with your peers and manager: Set the expectation that you will practice this and invite them to do the same. Radical Candor ultimately builds trust and creates stronger teams.

  • Map out a past or present situation: Where on the matrix do you find yourself instinctively leaning toward? Why? Do you need to show more care or do you need to challenge more directly?

  • Find someone who practices Radical Candor well: They may not know/use that term, but are strong care + challenge communicators. Ask for time and learn from their experiences.

Hypothetical situation exercises.

  • You need to tell Sales you will not build feature X that client Y wants.

  • The new intern you're mentoring is underperforming.

  • Your Engineering Lead's communication style is really not meshing with yours and it's creating tension.

Irena Lam, Facebook Product Leader

source https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26nsigWrqPI