Be radically candid about mistakes

by Danique Geskus | Sep 27, 2023

Last year, even more organizations said goodbye to the more traditional interview cycle and welcomed The Good Conversation. One of the ingredients of this conversation is ongoing dialogue. Employees are coached by their supervisor throughout the year, receive and solicit feedback from individuals they work with daily (360 degree feedback) and hold mirrors to themselves. All with the goal of improving functioning and development. Employees learn from their successes but also from their mistakes. Hopefully, 2023 will be the year of a more manifest breakthrough of discussing and learning from mistakes.


Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

Kim Scott, former executive at Google and Apple and author of the book Radically candid, breaks a lance for discussing mistakes radically candidly. She calls this candor the intersection of love and truth in which the feedback giver shows that he or she personally cares about the recipient.

Managers who are catastrophically empathetic do not give feedback on, say, a mistake made. They repair those themselves. A common reason for this is that they want to be liked. What is the effect of this? Employees are deprived of the opportunity to fix the mistake themselves and learn from it, thus preventing the mistake from being made in the future. Employees think: no message is good message. Managers who bury their heads in the sand when they have to give feedback (manipulatively insincere) or who go in with a straight leg and play the man (obnoxiously aggressive) are also ineffective.

Also check out Kim Scott’s video on YouTube: Care personally, Challenge directly.

“Why it’s good to be honest about things that go wrong. Companies don’t want everyone to make the same mistakes because no one says anything. In addition, being open about missteps improves the team atmosphere. People think they will be laughed at, but often colleagues actually find it brave. And it’s contagious, making it easier to acknowledge mistakes. Furthermore, it relieves. Annoying emotions such as guilt and shame disappear by talking about failures.


– Frank Deuring in the article Don’t hide it when you’ve made a mistake at work, you admit. Volkskrant, Aug. 9, 2022

From the moment we learn to talk, we are taught that we had better keep our mouths shut if we have nothing nice to say. Perhaps excellent advice for everyday life, but disastrous when managers apply it.


Book tips

  • Radical candor. Be a boss by remaining human. Kim Scott (2017)


Want to know more?

Want to know how to revamp the appraisal interview? Also read our blog “The appraisal interview and The New Appraisal: tips and examples.

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