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Radical Candor at Prodigy

Yad Dhaliwal

Prodigy Careers Blog

Here at Prodigy, as we grow, we stay rooted in our core values that maintain and strengthen our culture; guiding what we do, why we create, and who we hire. One of our core values at Prodigy Education is Radical Candor.

What is Radical Candor?

Radical Candor is a style of communication that advocates for caring personally and challenging directly at the same time. Kim Scott, the author of Radical Candor, describes the four quadrants of communication that are most prevalent in workplaces: 

  • Obnoxious Aggression
  • Manipulative Insincerity
  • Ruinous Empathy
  • Radical Candor. 

I won’t do a summary, but I highly recommend you watch the video below and learn more about her book here. It provides a lot of perspective and examples to highlight why Radical Candor is the only option for successful collaboration. 

Radical Candor at Prodigy

What always comes to mind when I think about Radical Candor at Prodigy is feedback. Throughout my career, there have been different dynamics at play when it comes to communicating with a team member senior or junior to me.. This often meant that saying something other than what my boss wanted to hear wasn’t going to personally benefit me. 

The nice thing about Prodigy is that this level of transparency is expected. You simply can’t be the type of person that goes along with a decision even though you have doubts. 

When it comes to team decisions, direction and even role expectations, the expectation is that you communicate your perspective. If you disagree, why do you disagree? Your feedback kicks off a conversation that can either change an earlier decision or at least make sure everyone understands why we need to do something that isn’t ideal for all parties. It really creates a team that is bought in, even when things aren’t perfect. 

“Here at Prodigy, one of our core values is all about being able to receive and provide open feedback to all levels of the organization. This really encourages and promotes open communication, employee recognition, and personal development and is something I’ve highly valued during my time here so far. Since joining, this concept of Radical Candor has gone both ways in my own relationship with my manager as well as other leaders, and it’s something that I’ve been able to bring into my own team relationships now as well. The openness to feedback is accepted company-wide, which fosters trust & transparency.”  - Josie Cramarossa. Manager, Talent Acquisition

Outside of team dynamics, a crucial element is your relationship with your manager. We have a lot of structure at Prodigy, and one of those places is regarding feedback. Every month there is a formal check-in with your manager with the expectation that they’ll use the time to provide clear, actionable feedback to you. If you’ve been doing something well, what was it? How did that positively impact Prodigy? How can you demonstrate more of that behaviour? Instead of just saying “Great job!” — which might be nice to hear, but doesn’t actually help — you can work together to maximize the work you’re doing.

On the flip side, you’re also expected to provide feedback to your manager. What could they be doing that could help you, the team, the department, or the company? Maybe there is something specific they need to stop doing so you can be more effective. Examples of constructive feedback that I’ve been able to give to my manager in the past include:

  • Can you please provide notes about the subject of a meeting at least a day in advance? It allows me to pre-read and be prepared with thoughts.
    My manager agreed and started doing that. They also made a point to let me know when that wasn’t going to be possible because of time. 
  • We need a larger team to be able to hit the goals that have trickled down to us. 
    As a team, we went through the budget and realized we hadn’t worked with Finance early enough to get an additional headcount. We were, however, able to spread out the workload and drop some ad-hoc projects that weren’t urgent in the short term.

I’ve also noticed that when people first get introduced to Radical Candor, it sometimes gets confused with basically saying whatever is on your mind, regardless of your audience and how it will make them feel.  That isn’t the case, and it’s really important to remember that being radically candid means that you care personally and challenge directly. Because of how Prodigy has approached communication from the beginning, we’ve been able to create a culture where providing feedback is a safe and highly valuable practice. 

What Radical Candor means to us

“One of the most appealing things to me when I first joined Prodigy was the fact that they had Radical Candor as a value. I believe a lot of problems between people are the result of misunderstandings. And those misunderstandings continue when you don't resolve them. If resolving a misunderstanding for the sake of moving forward involves uncomfortable confrontation and boundary setting, I would rather do that than let them go unsaid — whether that's talking with a partner, sibling, parent, grandparent, manager or CEO." - Thuy Doan. Full Stack Developer

Ultimately, it allows people to be themselves at work. The focus is on what we’re trying to accomplish, not  “Should I say something?” Radical candor allows us to drive results collaboratively, help team members reach their full potential and be really clear about what is and isn’t working. Instead of internal politicking, at Prodigy, we get to talk about what matters — and we get to do it with Radical Candor.

Want a chance to practice Radical Candor in your workplace? Check out our open positions to find a role that's right for you.

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