If you're a startup founder, you most likely manage people, which means that you're faced with giving feedback nearly daily. If you're like most founders, it's also something you likely struggle with.You may recall a time when you avoided giving feedback because you couldn't figure out the best way to do it. Or a time you lied to direct reports because you didn't want to hurt their feelings and told them something they did was “good" when in fact you thought it was terrible.
Most of us have tried to employ the old “compliment sandwich" at some point—negative feedback sandwiched between two compliments—but what feels like an effective tactic still falls short of a comprehensive strategy.
Giving feedback can be tough, but as Kim Scott, co-founder and CEO of Candor Development puts it, “It's your moral obligation" as a manager of people. To help managers give more effective feedback, Scott has developed a framework she calls "Radical Candor," which she breaks it down into this diagram:
Building a culture that embraces feedback is critical for attracting and retaining talent and creating a healthy team environment for people to grow and learn. In addition to the helpful diagram above, here are five tips to keep in mind when giving feedback:
1. Do it. Not providing constructive feedback is a faux pas akin to not telling someone they have food stuck in their teeth at a cocktail party. Most people crave feedback. If you don't give feedback, it sends a message that you don't care about your team.
2. Praise publicly, critique in private. Everyone likes positive reinforcement and social validation. Giving praise publicly motivates people. When you have feedback for performance improvement, it will be received better in private. Doing it privately demonstrates that you care enough to let them know they need to improve. Sharing privately also lessens any embarrassment your colleague may feel.
3. Don't wait to give feedback—do it in the moment or as soon as possible. This tip may be seem self-explanatory, but it's worth stressing that feedback is more effective when it's given in real-time. Waiting a week for your next one-to-one meeting can sometimes add a level of awkwardness, or the person may not remember the context around the feedback. Just remember to keep critical comments private.
4. Feedback must be clear and specific. Don't beat around the bush or leave room for interpretation when it comes to feedback. As Scott's Radical Candor diagram shows, you can provide straightforward feedback without needing to be a jerk about it.
5. The best medium for giving feedback is in person. If you can't give feedback in person, use video or at least have a phone conversation. Avoid email and definitely do not text, particularly if the feedback is not positive. Remember to praise in public discussions and to only critique in a one-to-one conversation.
People don't quit jobs, they quit managers. Keep these tips in mind so you're not the manager responsible for your company's brain drain.
Check out this video below to learn more about Scott's framework for Radical Candor: