When I talk about the possibility of creating a culture of caring sincerity, everyone likes the idea, but worries about its implementation. I suggest you explain the concept first, then ask the audience to be sincere and benevolent with you. In other words, first ask for a return on your service, instead of giving a soap.
Then always start your own feedback with the positive, not the negative. Before approaching the criticisms, make sure that you understand the line between benevolent sincerity and unbearable aggressiveness.
Before you criticize, be open to comments
To foster a culture of caring sincerity, it is always best to ask for criticism first, for several reasons. First, you show that you are aware of making mistakes and want to be pointed out to you. You want to be challenged. Second, you will learn a great deal in this way – few people study us as much as our subordinates. This may prevent you from sending poorly structured emails. Third, the more you see what effect criticism has on you, the better you’ll understand how your own feedback affects those around you. Fourth, asking for critical opinions is a good way to build trust and strengthen relationships.
However, being open to criticism is not enough to obtain sincere and benevolent feedback from its teams. They must also be actively solicited. If someone is brave enough to criticize you, don’t criticize their criticism. If you hear someone criticizing a colleague wrongly, come forward. But if someone is wrongly criticizing you, your role is to listen to them with the intention of understanding them and rewarding that frankness.
It is also important to encourage this benevolent sincerity between teammates. At Google [Kim Scott a dirigé les opérations pour AdSense, Youtube et Doubleclick Online Sales, ndlr], the Dublin team often had the most memorable criticisms of me. His witticisms were a big help, once the initial spike had been taken. Following one of my particularly inappropriate emails, David Johnson once remarked to me: “Kim, what a velocity to press the Enter key!” ” Every time I’m about to send a message, I hear his voice ringing in warning. I haven’t seen him in years, but he continues to keep me from sending derogatory comments almost every week.
Another time, I delayed the start of a meeting with Dublin so as not to cut short the short time spent in the morning with my newborn twins. I thought everyone would understand, until a young Irish dad said to me: “You know, we have children too. “ I had, without thinking about it, postponed the meeting until lunchtime in Ireland. I was ashamed of it, but finally after a first defensive reaction, recognition gained the upper hand. The key to soliciting criticism from the Irish team was not to be on the defensive.
With another team, Japanese, the difficulty was to endure the silences. I will never forget my first meeting with the Tokyo AdSense team. I wanted to have regular meetings with these people to let me know their suggestions, concerns and progress. In other countries, if I asked in such meetings what I could do or not do to make my people happier, I would just count to 6, and someone would jump in and say something. In Japan, I counted this time to 10. Nothing. I asked the question differently. Always nothing.
Finally, I told a story about Toyota, which I learned in business school. In an effort to overcome cultural taboos against criticism from chefs, Toyota executives had drawn a large red square on the floor of the assembly line. New employees were to stick to it at the end of their first week at the company. They were forbidden to leave it before having criticized three points. The permanent improvement thus triggered partly explains Toyota’s success. I asked my team what they thought about it: do we need a red square? They laughed a lot and, lest I paint a red square somewhere, one of the trainees opened up a little. It wasn’t much, frankly (a note about tea in the office), but I greatly appreciated his frankness. I thanked this person in public, I sent him a handwritten note, I validated a budget to make sure that the tea would be better, I made sure that everyone was aware that the tea was now better, because someone had brought up this problem in a meeting… Later, we were able to cover more substantive topics.
Praise more than you criticize, but always with sincerity
If we learn more from our mistakes than our successes, and from criticism than compliments, why is it more important to praise than to criticize? First, compliments guide people in the right direction. It is just as crucial to highlight the practices to be highlighted as those to be abandoned. Second, you encourage improvement. In other words, a good compliment does more than make you feel comfortable. He directly encourages the interlocutor to question himself.
Some professionals say that the compliment / criticism ratio should be 3, 5, or even 7 to 1. Others suggest proceeding in a “sandwich”: start and end with compliments, inserting criticism in the meantime. Venture capitalist Ben Horowitz is right, however, to claim that “This sandwich is disgusting”. This technique, he says, can work on inexperienced individuals, but I have noticed that even most children clearly understand the maneuver, as do our colleagues.
In other words, the notion of “good” ratio is dangerous in this case, because it risks generating remarks lacking in naturalness and sincerity, or even totally laughable remarks. When you really have to find two kind words to frame each review, the conversation can quickly turn to ridicule. : “Great, the font you chose for this presentation.” Impressive. The content, however, was limited to the boat. In any case, it’s nice to see your office still so perfect. “ Being so flattering and insincere hurts trust and relationship as much as harsh criticism.
Almost all of us fear hurting our interlocutors by criticizing them. This is why most of the time, we are silent. In the exercise of congratulations, some on the contrary want to please and will always say a nice little word, but sometimes silly. Others are not used to compliments. Andy Grove, former Intel CEO, told me he realized he had to practice compliments the day a colleague hung up a sign in his office that simply read: “Say something nice! “ (Come on, a nice little note!).
When I’m in negative review I try not to stress, just say it. If I think too much about the form, I risk deflating to the bottom and not saying anything at all. For congratulations, I try to at least be aware of possible slippages and think more intensely about the wording.
Kim Scott is an American entrepreneur, co-founder of Juice Software. She advises many start-ups and has held important positions at Apple and Google. This text is taken from his book “In all frankness. Adopt benevolent sincerity and become a super chef ”, published by Pearson, 296 pages, 27.50 euros.