Women having conversation at small table

How to Use Radical Candor to Achieve Business Goals

On the last Friday of May, we hosted the first edition of our ongoing webinar series KG Connects, “How to Encourage Better Choices in Your Team.” Van Tucker, COO of LaunchTN, joined us to discuss how business cultures founded on trust and radical candor are far better at achieving business goals.

She provided guidance on how to establish a culture that provides an optimal working environment for all team members – whether in the office or working remotely – and launches business success into hyperdrive.

As COO, Van’s job is to remove obstacles preventing her team from doing their jobs best.  

COVID-19 made this even tougher. The whole organization had to change course to help state government and startups respond appropriately. Like many, they also onboarded new employees while working from home.

Even with the pandemic disruption, their organization is thriving. Team members are even happier and more productive.

Why?

Before sh*t hit the fan, the whole team defined and fully bought into a cohesive and transparent company culture.  

Tuckman’s Team Development Model

Developing a workplace culture that drives results isn’t easy. It requires understanding what an optimal culture looks like and what to do to do to get there.

This is where Tuckman’s Team Development Model becomes highly useful. All organizations go through it, and while some only “Form” and fail, others quickly become “Performers”. For most, it requires careful attention and commitment to master.

The stages of Tuckman's Team Development Model.
LaunchTN quickly moved from Storming to Performing by focusing on personal communication preferences and a culture of radical candor.

In order to move up the maturity ladder, organizations need to actively cultivate their culture and engage the full organization.

  1. Start with team surveys to establish baseline – find perceptions of salary, benefits, and most important cultural and organizational attributes and deficiencies. These could include low mutual trust, a sense of disempowerment among junior teams, or communications and transparency gaps.
  2. Use the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and/or Strength Finder tests to better understand your own personality and communication preferences, and those of others on your team.
  3. Use the combined findings to ensure your organization leverages each team member’s strengths in the right positions to eliminate those barriers to productivity, job satisfaction and organizational success.
  4. Create a safe environment to address sensitive issues like trust, empowerment, and transparency.

Conflict Resolution

To do this, it’s critical to provide structure and opportunity for healthy disagreements to take place and for constructive conversation to take place. Host a weekly huddle and include time for a process check. Concerns can be raised on a scale of 1 to 10 when it becomes a pinch point for them.

When a team member surfaces a conflict, they take on ownership to understand the other person’s perspective and see it through to resolution. Team members who have fully bought into a Performing company culture will strive to work outside of their preferences to the benefit of the team.

Radical Candor

The only way to achieve this is to get good at having hard conversations. Telling and finding truth and moving forward cohesively requires a culture of transparency and trust. It creates an environment for people to be themselves and work together. Critically, it also enables everyone to openly and amicably resolves conflict, regardless of their personality.

This is what Kim Scott calls “radical candor”. To do it well requires clear guidelines to help facilitate it.

When and why to have a candid discussion

  1. When you observe a behavior or action that could have a potential negative impact on the wellbeing/culture and productivity of a teammate, the team, or the company
  2. If a colleague lacks self-awareness and you would like to help them be their best self
  3. To avoid feelings/situations ending up as gossip and hurting our culture.

How to have a candid discussion

The goal of a candid conversation is to understand each other, not to reach consensus. Disagreement is okay. It will foster healthy debate and help your company identify truth and deliver optimal outcomes. Importantly, you must also meet face to face. Humanizing the interaction will work wonders.

The intention is to share perspectives, not force actions upon others. Also, recipients should stay open and not take opinions personally. They should take the time to listen and thank the other person for sharing their thoughts even if they disagree

Both parties must:

  • Be grateful to the other party for having the discussion
    • Listen fully, with the intention to understand
    • Be authentic and direct, don’t wear a mask or be evasive
    • Be constructive and helpful

The initiating party, especially, must:

  • Focus on the behavior, not the person.
    • Share examples to back up any claims
    • Accept the outcome. Set a goal of understanding each other, not forcing a consensus.

At the end of each candid discussion, rank yourself against these guidelines: How did you do? What can you improve next discussion?

Over time, this process creates an overwhelming sense of team spirit, connection and most importantly, trust. When each member of the team buys in and knows that everyone else is working in the best interest of the organization – not themselves – incredible things can, and will, happen.

Take your team from storming to performing

Check out the full webinar recording for all of Van’s best advice on turning your organization’s culture into its biggest asset.

Culture always eats strategy for breakfast. So, take control of it and reap the rewards.  

About LaunchTN

Launch Tennessee is a public-private partnership, guided by a vision of making Tennessee the most startup-friendly state in the nation. Their mission is to empower a high-functioning network of resources focused on core priorities that support Tennessee’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Partnering with Entrepreneur Centers in seven regions of the state, LaunchTN creates collaboration among entrepreneurs, the private sector, capital sources, institutions, and government to offer entrepreneurs what they need to succeed and stay in Tennessee to build companies and create jobs. 

Person reviewing printed survey results at computer

How to Create a Research Survey Press Release That Gets Results

As part of our new webinar series, KG Connects, we recently invited Jeffrey Henning and Tony Cheevers of Researchscape to give attendees an overview of the types of PR surveys and custom research they have been working on during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as their best practices for conducting newsworthy surveys.

As PR practitioners, we know that some of the best media coverage is powered by data that can tell a unique story. In other words, it’s a PR goldmine if you can find those one-of-a-kind nuggets of data that will generate the publicity you are looking for.

According to the Researchscape team – and PR people all over the world – stories that can place a company in the larger context of sweeping changes, backed by recent data, will resonate best with journalists.

There is never a bad time to field a PR survey. In fact, Researchscape has conducted 21,000 surveys since March 1. Three out of four research surveys today have a COVID-19 angle.

But, how can you ensure that you are putting the right information from a survey into your press release or proactive pitch? Better yet, what are the best practices for setting up your survey for long-term success?

According to Researchscape, focusing on the following five processes will set you on the right track:

Set Goals

As with any PR and communications campaign, setting a goal focuses your efforts and saves time and budget that might have gone to extraneous details.

Companies should develop long term goals such as building brand awareness, generating leads or developing content for a content marketing strategy. Executing a PR survey should also have short term goals such as providing support for a product launch or leveraging a holiday or trending story/event for coverage.

Remember this critical first step or risk losing the overall vision of your campaign.

Design and Field the Survey

Now that you have your goals set, the next step is to brainstorm possible headlines that you would love to see – kind of an “in a perfect world” exercise with your team! Researchscape suggests you “let your team’s imagination go wild, envisioning the results that would best drive coverage.”

Once you come up with your dream headlines, now is the time to come up with the questions. This is where academic discipline and a little bit of art in surveys comes to play.  According to Researchscape, the main problems that lead to inaccurate survey results and will reduce credibility with reporters are asking leading questions or encouraging acquiescence bias.

A good rule of thumb: a well-designed questionnaire can provide material for two or three news releases. As outlined in a Researchscape whitepaper, the average survey news release typically reports the findings from five questions (not including demographic questions).

A 15- to 20-question survey can easily provide content for three or four news releases.

Develop Campaign Assets

Most survey news releases simply include a summary of key findings of the survey, without commentary or context. But, with additional effort and detail, you can get far better results.

How to get survey results covered by media:

Include:

  • Exhibits: These include high-quality charts and graphs that can be used by reporters. Don’t forget to put your company’s name in the graphic!
  • Topline Results: These should accompany the press release and include the full list of complete questions and the answers selected for each question. As one reporter says, “I want to see what the questions are and what order they are asked in.”
  • Methodology FAQ: Don’t push the methodology summary to the last paragraph of the release. Create a methodology document or section in the release that answers the questions that journalists are trained to look for in surveys.

Write the News Release

Once you develop campaign assets, it’s time to write your killer press release(s) and make your push to key media.

Rule of thumb: Journalists prefer timely content. Announce your findings as soon as you can.

When writing your survey press releases, pay attention to these common mistakes as reported by Researchscape:

  • Overgeneralizing
  • Being overly precise
  • Claiming a margin of sampling error
  • Reporting on questions with too few respondents
  • Failing to disclose the basics
  • Not linking to resources
  • MISSING THE POINT!

Adapt and Re-Use

You’ve drafted a strong press release, pitched it to your key media targets and have secured press all while building brand awareness and generating leads – now what?

Do it all again next year, of course!

At Ketner Group, we have had clients conduct the same survey for consecutive years with great success. It allows us to do year-over-year comparisons so we can give reporters “trend reports” that provide more than just a snapshot in time. This is one of the best ways to become a go-to expert and thought leader on a given topic.

For more information about the process of creating newsworthy PR surveys, I encourage you to read the Best Practices for Newsmaker Surveys whitepaper from Researchscape that analyzes more than 3,000 surveys done over seven years.

Put Your Ideas in Motion

If you need help designing or getting the most out of your next PR survey project, connect with me at [email protected] to set up a free 30-minute consultation.