Radical Candor Exercises to Encourage Team Bonding

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Radical Candor" by Kim Scott. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you trying to get your team to bond? Do you need radical candor exercises and tips to help develop these relationships?

These radical candor exercises offer strategies for team bonding. Strong and trusting relationships are essential for a culture of radical candor.

Keep reading for radical candor exercises.

Radical Candor Exercises: What’s the Best Setting?

While outside-work social events are good ways to use radical candor exercises to open up to your colleagues, learn about one another, and show them that you care about them, they’re not always the best choice. When thinking of planning a social event, keep two things in mind: optional events can feel like a mandatory burden, and you should be very careful around booze. 

When social events are organized by management, people can feel forced into taking part in them—this chips away at the “autonomy” that you’re trying to demonstrate in the organization. Radical candor exercises for team-building should not undercut what you’re trying to do. When organizing an event, remember to read the room. Ask yourself if you might be pressuring your employees into a situation that they’re not comfortable with, either implicitly or explicitly. You might feel that a non-mandatory event doesn’t feel like a burden, but keep in mind that employees feel a great deal of social pressure when it comes to events their boss is putting on—they’ll attend out of fear of missing out on an opportunity to show you their commitment. 

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your team—and what shows them that you’re really paying attention to their needs—is not scheduling an event at all, instead letting them go home. For example, setting up a fun outing to help everyone relax at the end of a 70-hour week is well-intended, but most of your employees would prefer to go home and rest. 

Overall, consider that the workday might be a much more valuable time to get to know one another with radical candor exercises. After all, you and your employees spend most of your time together at work, so it makes sense to get to know each other within that context. Additionally, people should be spending their time after work with their other priorities and their self-care, not holding themselves in the work mindset that naturally comes along with socializing with colleagues.

Radical Candor Exercises and Strategies

If your team members share their values or experiences with you, your job as a leader is to stay open to their perspective. This practice of basic respect is at the center of strong work relationships. Your “personal care” has to extend to everyone, even those who come from a different background, have a different perspective of the world, or have beliefs you don’t understand. If you mandate that people have beliefs or values similar to yours, or that they hide their conflicting beliefs and values before you’re interested in building a relationship with them, your work relationships will be weak, artificial, and void of trust. 

Beyond accepting the diverse perspectives of your employees, you can further strengthen your relationships by making a perceptible effort to create a workplace that honors their diverse perspectives. This might look like organizing a workshop on discussing race in the workplace, or a review of exclusive language in your organization’s written materials. 

Use Physical Touch Where Appropriate

Physical touch is often considered inappropriate in the workplace, but sometimes it can go a long way toward strengthening your relationships by showing that you care personally. Radical candor exercises and bonding can utilize touch where appropriate. If one of your employees experiences a death in the family, or announces that they’re having a baby, a professionally distant handshake won’t demonstrate that you care about them. A hug, on the other hand, certainly would.

However, when it comes to physical touch, you have to be attuned to your employees’ needs—ask them what they prefer. Don’t make an assumption they might be uncomfortable with. Some of your employees will be comfortable with hugging and gladly accept it, but others will prefer not to be hugged. It’s important to find another way to include these employees in expressions of care, such as a reassuring shoulder squeeze, or a note left on their desk. It’s okay to ask what will work for them. 

Radical Candor Exercises to Encourage Team Bonding

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Here's what you'll find in our full Radical Candor summary :

  • How you have to be direct with people while also caring sincerely for them
  • Why relationships are an essential part of successful leadership
  • How to create a strong team culture that delivers better results

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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