Office Hours: We’re Kim Scott & Trier Bryant, the co-founders of Just Work, where we help organizations have productive conversations about workplace injustices and inclusion. Ask us anything!Featured

Hi everyone! We’re Kim Scott and Trier Bryant ( @trier) , the co-founders of Just Work, where we help organizations implement the Just Work framework to support productive conversations about workplace injustices and inclusion.

Kim: I’m the author of the leadership book “Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity” and co-founder of the company Radical Candor. I’ve been a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and other tech companies.

I was also a member of the faculty at Apple University and, before that, led AdSense, YouTube, and DoubleClick teams at Google. I’ve also managed a pediatric clinic in Kosovo and started a diamond-cutting factory in Moscow.

Now, I live with my family in Silicon Valley.

Trier: I’m a strategic executive leader with over 15 years of leadership experience in tech, Wall Street, and the military.

I’ve previously held leadership roles at Astra, Twitter, Goldman Sachs, and proudly served as a combat veteran in the United States Air Force as a Captain leading engineering teams while spearheading diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives for the Air Force Academy, Air Force, and DoD.

I advise leading companies like Equinox, Airbnb, SoundCloud, Alto, Rockefeller Foundation, and others on their talent and DEI strategies.

I enjoy spending time with my family who taught me to live by our motto “...good enough isn't.”

Ask us anything about creating productive organizations, dealing with workplace injustices, leveraging radical candor as a leader, or anything else!

rebeccale's profile thumbnail
How can one repair/improve their relationship with one or multiple leaders when they do not appreciate honest feedback? My honesty has helped me grow the company from 7 to 100 while growing myself from Executive Assistant to the Head of Operations. I have an alliance with all my engineers and CEO (for the most part. Sometimes we butt heads).It has always been me and CEO. Then he created a leadership team with me as Head of Ops, Head of Delivery, and the Chief Digital Officer. Now we have hired 2 Chiefs and 3 VPs from big named companies. The Head of Delivery and I no longer sit at the table or even in the room. I feel it is because my authenticity and low tolerance for politics. I don't particularly care to reclaim my seat, but I care for the engineers who I hired by sharing the vision of a company with policies and practices made by the people of the company. I need to repair these relationships.My attempts at radical candor do not land, because "no one ever knows what your intentions are" but I'm very clear my intention is to help support/bring happiness to everyone on the team.I want to believe my CEO and the leaders are starstruck being part of a team with experience from Google, IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, more and not because I am Asian, a mom, college drop out, or convicted felon.
kimscott's profile thumbnail
Hi Rebecca! In such a difficult situation, I find it helpful to take a step back and solicit feedback, and also to make sure that I'm giving voice to the things that I appreciate about working with the person. Start by asking "what could I do or stop doing that would make it easier to work with me?" Only say it in your words, not mine :) Then embrace the discomfort. Stay silent until the other person says something. Count to six in your head. Almost no one can endure six seconds of silence. Then, it's important to listen with the intent to understand, not to respond. Ask follow up questions. Make sure you are staying open and curious. Finally, reward the candor. If you agree with the feedback, make a change/fix the issue, and follow up. Did you correct sufficiently? Overcorrect. If you disagree with the feedback, it's a bit harder. Don't pretend you agree if you disagree. But first look for the 5-10% of what they said that you can agree with and give voice to that. You want to demonstrate that you were listening and you're not shut down. Then, offer a respectful explanation about why you disagree. It's not dis agreements that harm our relationships. It's unspoken disagreements. ..
rebeccale's profile thumbnail
Those key questions are what I needed to put in my mental question bank!Amazing! thanks!I have one more question if you can, if not I appreciate you answering all the questions here!When do you know it's time to throw in the towel?There has yet to be a time where I was unable to find/acknowledge the truth in what was said. I still respectfully explain my side but acknowledgement is never reciprocated. They quickly move to the next topic. Even if I bring it up again "hey we didn't finish the topic about..." CricketsI even address frustration at the end of call asking "how could I have expressed it differently"If I disagree or even ask a question it's seen as push back.
Hi there!I'm a software engineer who is about to start my first director-level position, part of which includes new responsibilities in DEI for our technical staff (they already have a whole HR department around this for the company at large!).I have no experience in this area, although I have done some activism in queer and feminist spaces before, but never in a position where I could actually influence anything. In short, I've always worked "from the outside". Now that I'm about to be on the inside, I feel woefully underprepared for how to go about it. My plan is to do a lot of listening and observing, and especially trying to educate myself about areas of DEI in which I have no or very little experience (e.g. mental health, racism, religion, etc.). A big problem I'm facing is that I work in Austria, and all of the DEI events, books, etc. seem to rotate around the US. Although there are (obviously) a lot of universal values, many things which are mentioned as ways to attract and retain diverse talent in the US are totally normal here (e.g. maternity leave, healthcare, and in the case of my work flexible hours, remote work, etc.). I'm wondering if you know of anyone working more in the European space on this, and ideally also in the area of tech, who would be good to either get in touch with or read more from?A second question if I may, is that some feedback I hear repeatedly is that women in tech are sick of talking about being women in tech, yet in my experience, the men in tech really don't understand why women aren't interested in the industry, and those kind of conversations are really important for getting them invested in change. Is there some way to balance educating the privileged group without unfairly burdening the historically excluded group from having to do this emotional labour over and over again? Similarly, I want to go into this new job listening as best I can, but I also don't want to be pulling people aside like "So, you're a black woman in our company: what do you think?" *CRINGE*. Any advice on these topics would be greatly appreciated. I have to say that I'm also personally feeling like a bit of an impostor, being put in this position as a white cis woman, but I'm determined to do my best to help out the engineers in my new company!
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Congratulations on the new role! I think the most important thing to realize is that the fact you feel like an imposter is an asset--it means you're self aware and humble, and these attributes will be essential to your success!I also struggled when writing Just Work. What right did I have as a cis white woman to write it. One thing I did was to invite a wide range of perspectives. Over 100 people were commenting on the draft. Also, I hired Breeze Harper as a "bias buster," a person trained in DEI. She is a Black woman, and here work goes beyond race. She pointed out a number of terms that I used in ways that were abelist or harmful to the trans community. I learned so much from her. If your company can give you budget to work with someone lie Breeze, then you don't have to ask people who are already harmed by workplace injustice to educate you for free :)I do not know of great books on DEI for the European context but I will ask around. FWIW I wrote Just Work. or at least tried to, using language that would apply to a whole host of issues. Bias, prejudice, and bullying can apply to a whole host of problematic attitudes and behaviors. So I hope the framework will be relevant. I've used it with teams from Turkey to Germany to the UK to the US. Have not used it much in Asia yet.My advice is to stare with the bias disrupters (a shared vocabulary for quickly pointing out bias in the moment, a shared norm for responding, and a shared commitment to looking for bias in every meeting) on your team--that will help you all become more aware of the issues that are most relevant to the specific people in the room. Here is a TED talk, and I explain more about this in the book Just Work. https://www.ted.com/talks/kim_scott_and_trier_bryant_how_to_reduce_bias_in_your_workplace?referrer=playlist-the_way_we_work_season_4&language=en
annajmcdougall's profile thumbnail
Thank you! That is all very useful and I will look into it 😊
kimscott's profile thumbnail
You're welcome!
LiaODonnell's profile thumbnail
Radical Candor was a game changer helping me to grow out of the gendered pattern of appeasing others at the cost of my own time, progression, and compensation. I keep the quadrant taped to the edge of my monitor, recommend the book to every person I mentor, and use the concepts frequently in my current work as a fractional chief of staff. I don't have a question, just wanted to say thank you for writing it!
kimscott's profile thumbnail
Thank you Lia! Radical Candor was kind of a guerrilla feminist text...then it occurred to me that it was weird to be clandestine in a book about candor. So I wrote Just Work :)
Thank you so much guys, happy to see this AMA here! I am wondering currently: I am in a mid management position. Known for the content and thought leadership - having deep and unique views about topics, knowing a lot around my field. Known for driving, and taking ownership. But - how can I grow more as a leader? I often see myself being went over by more strategic/“political” colleagues who somehow manage to “play the game”. How can I become visible as a leader?
kimscott's profile thumbnail
The great news is that being a get shit done kind of a manager is an important part of growing as a leader! I think the best way to start playing more of a leadership role is to look for ways to help others get things done. Put your hand up to mentor new employees, to train people new to a role where you have expertise. Also help the people on your team move on to bigger roles elsewhere at the company. Often a great way to build your bona fides as a leader is to "export" talent. Don't try to out politics the politicians. But do ask your boss to give you more roles where you can demonstrate your leadership skills. And ask your peers for help. I think one of the biggest mistakes I made early in my career was not building stronger peer relationships.
ElphaStaff's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much for joining us @kimscott and @trier!Elphas – please ask @trier and @kimscott your questions before Friday, April 29th. @trier and @kimscott may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
nancymaher's profile thumbnail
@kimscott and @trier - Adore your podcast and use episodes food for thought as part of my coaching programs. I would love to hear about your experience driving tech organizations to invite everyone to the party to build a future designed to work for all of us (Caroline Criado-Perez’s book, Invisible Women literally blew my mind). What do you feel are the elephants in the room that mean that the talk is not translating into significant movement in the stats. Google's 2020 Diversity Report stats are shocking; 5.5% of new hires were Black+ (and just 6.6% were Latinx+) and in 2020 in Microsoft reporting, Black individuals make up 4.7% of the workforce. https://kstatic.googleusercontent.com/files/25badfc6b6d1b33f3b87372ff7545d79261520d821e6ee9a82c4ab2de42a01216be2156bc5a60ae3337ffe7176d90b8b2b3000891ac6e516a650ecebf0e3f866https://query.prod.cms.rt.microsoft.com/cms/api/am/binary/RE4H2f8Thanks :-)
kimscott's profile thumbnail
Thank you Nancy! Yes, the statistics really indicate that there is a problem. And these are the organizations that are committed enough to solving the problem that they are willing to make these statistics public...It's a huge problem.A big part of why I wrote Just Work is to begin to talk about those elephants in the room. There's a whole herd!Workplace injustice may feel monolithic, but when you break it down into its component parts you can begin to solve the problem. Therefore, Trier and I break the problem down into its root causes, and the things that happen when you layer power onto that.Bias. prejudice and bullying are the root causes. Too often we conflate them. So we offer simple definitions to help us keep them straight so we can apply the most effective response to each. Bias is not meaning it. Prejudice is meaning it. And Bullying is being mean.We work with leaders to create bias disruptors so that teams can begin to disrupt the kinds of biases that over time make it difficult to get things done. We also work with them on writing a code of conduct to let people know where the line is between their freedom to think whatever they want, but not to impose their beliefs on others. And we work with leaders to create consequences for bullying.Then, there's discrimination. We tend to think of discrimination as a conscious decision not to hire or promote certain people as a result of prejudice. And that certainly happens, all too often. But even more common is "unconscious discrimination." This is when a person's unconscious biases impact who they decide to hire, how much they pay, who gets good ratings, who gets mentored, who gets promoted.In many ways I feel that one problem that causes enormous harm but doesn't get talked about enough is how unconscious bias plays out in promotion decisions. I know so many underrepresented people who have quit their jobs in frustration when people who are not achieving as much get promoted ahead of them...There's also harassment and physical violations to consider...
Hi Kim and Trier - I'd be keen to hear your thoughts on quotas/targets in DEI. Some context on my situation - I'm one of three team leads and expecting a promotion to head up the department. I've been thinking about who in my team to put forward to take my current role and the best choice is a straight white male. It would be an easy decision, except that the other two team leads are also straight white male whereas the the teams they lead are a full mix of diversity. As an ethnic minority women heading up the department, I'm torn by how much the lack of diversity should play a role in my decision for the 3rd team leadThanks for your time!
kimscott's profile thumbnail
I find it helpful to back up and think about the reasons why the best choice for all three roles "happen" to be straight white men. Take a look at your employee life cycle--measure bias in your hiring process, is there a pay gap when you look at race, gender or other areas of diversity you're trying to improve, look for bias in your ratings (do white men consistently get rated more highly than others? why?), in your promotion process. Take a look at who is getting mentored. Odds are if the most senior people are white men they are more inclined to mentor other white men. How can you interrupt this tendency. Odds are also that white men are giving better feedback to other white men. This harms the careers of people who are not white men. How can you interrupt this? There are a lot of specific ideas in Chapter 6 of Just Work. Also, Trier Bryant, who cofounded Just Work with me, and I have been working with companies to begin to quantify their bias at every stage of the employee life cycle. Learn more here: https://www.justworktogether.com/
Big fan of your book. People may think you are easy to be fooled if trying to be too nice. Any suggestions? Thanks.
kimscott's profile thumbnail
This is where the "challenge directly" part of Radical Candor comes in :) You are right, if people think you're ruinously empathetic, they lose both respect and trust. But. at least in my experience, when people know that you are committed to helping them succeed, when they know you care and that you are going to be candid about what you think (and also open to engage with what they think, you're off to a good start.
GraceNoteStrategies's profile thumbnail
Hi @kimscott - Radical Candor was a game changer for me, in that it adjusted *how* I worked and thought about work (vs. telling me what to think). What are some books or podcasts that currently inform how you think about things?
kimscott's profile thumbnail
Thank you Grace! My new book, Just Work: How to Root out Bias, Prejudice and Bullying to Create a Kick-Ass Culture of Inclusivity is one I'm deeply committed to :) (https://www.amazon.com/Just-Work-Done-Fast-Fair/dp/1250203481/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1650908404&sr=8-1). You can learn more about the work Trier Bryant and I are doing to put these ideas into practice here: https://www.justworktogether.com/ My colleagues and I also do a Radical Candor podcast which you can find here or wherever you listen to podcasts.
abbydaya's profile thumbnail
Thanks for chatting @kimscott! What’s one characteristic of an organizational design you’ve found most impacts a healthy, equitable workplace?
kimscott's profile thumbnail
Such organizations optimize for collaboration and avoid coercion; they respect individuality rather than demanding conformity. Check out this framework and let me know if it helps: https://www.justworktogether.com/framework