Last week I woke up in California and found I could barely open my eyes. I thought maybe I left my contacts in overnight but clearly remembered taking them out. Allergies maybe? When I opened my eyes and looked in the mirror, they were bloodshot red. I picked up some drops and got on with my day.
Later in the day, I noticed my eyes had gotten visibly red again. In fact, I was shooting videos for LinkedIn, and we had to stop filming. The director said my eyes had turned insanely red.
I found myself going throughout the day with a lack of clear visibility. My eyes were cloudy, and my vision was blurred. I had to work a lot harder than normal to see the things that would have been clear to me on any other day.
I’ve noticed something similar in many of the prospects I’ve visited over the past few months. Their vision is cloudy and blurred, and everyone is working a lot harder than they need to try to see things clearly.
Here’s one thing that can help clear up blurry vision for many companies.
On the plane, I finished reading Ray Dalio’s wonderful book Principles, and he talks about the idea of radical candor. Ray advocates an organization and management team built on candor, ultimate transparency, and honesty.
This isn’t necessarily just because it’s better to be open and honest in some metaphysical way – the benefits of an organization that’s built on radical candor, where people feel safe in voicing their concerns, their failures, their troubles, and their complaints, are clear. Things just get done more quickly in those types of organizations.
When working with clients as an advisor, one of the things my clients often tell me is they love having someone that can be candid with them.
For teams and companies, embracing the ideas of radical candor can be tough and challenging at first. But there’s an easy way to start.
A question I’ve heard (and since started incorporating into my client work) is to end a management meeting, or board meeting, or other high-level discussions by asking the question, “What’s the one thing you don’t want to tell me right now?”
Here is it again: What’s the one thing you don’t want to tell me right now?
Now, let’s be clear. If you get something that’s open, honest, and radically candid, you can’t immediately jump across the table and gouge that person’s eyes out. Use this as a learning opportunity, an opportunity to see things for how others see them, and a chance to freshen up your company culture
As someone who acts as an advisor and coach to many organizations, one of the most critical components of my work is to be radically candid with my clients.
There have been many times when clients have been upset by my candor, disagreed, or had to let it digest before they could take action. I remember one scathing set of recommendations delivered to a client years ago with numerous suggestions for positive change, but also factual-based evidence of where the problems where. It was a hard pill to swallow, but eventually, it went down.
It was hard for everybody involved – people were fired, departments were reorganized, but within a very short period, the company was in a much better position.
Your challenge for this week: Try the question this week – “What’s the one thing you don’t you want to tell me right now?”
You might ask your entire team, or during a discussion with a direct report, or during an interaction with a sole employee.
Ask the question, give them time to answer, and explain that you want nothing less than radical candor.
Try it out and let me know what sort of response you get.