21 Comments
Dec 7, 2023Liked by Wes Kao

I'm consistently blown away with how broadly applicable these posts are. Working as an engineer, every one of these points hits home just the same as if I were in marketing. Truly impressive

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Dec 6, 2023Liked by Wes Kao

What would you say to a direct report whose manager does have a culture of high standards but is also low on actionable feedback? What kind of steps can the direct report take at that point?

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I've spent a lot of time thinking abut this in my own consultancy and ran into the challenges you mention here. It's hard to raise the bar when staff think they're already operating at a high level - you instantly run into defensiveness. I've definitely been guilty of the management mistakes you mention here too.

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Dec 7, 2023·edited Dec 7, 2023Liked by Wes Kao

Thank you Wes for this post. I work in the educational leadership field; I can attest to the need to raise expectations across the board.

When considering the high standards/high feedback relationship, it's important to unpack each of the two areas.

For example, I would include within high standards:

- providing continuous improvement opportunities and relevant professional learning for staff.

- ensuring there is adequate support for staff in the form of resources, time, and recognition.

- building in systems so we are hiring talented people and retaining quality employees.

It's fine to raise the bar. When we do that, how are we helping our people achieve these new benchmarks, beyond only feedback?

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Very insightful post, Wes!

I think the disconnect of those who think they are doing high-quality work but are not is the main barrier. That defensiveness is just their brain trying to keep their parallel reality alive. Our brains fight so hard against the cognitive dissonance of the new input hinting that our work is subpar.

Besides the high feedback culture, I think bringing more and more references to real high-quality work will make this lie fall apart. We all realize ourselves we were living a lie when the evidence against it is everywhere.

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I needed this post on so many levels. 🙏

Just tagged you on a Linkedin post it inspired me so damn much.

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Dec 8, 2023·edited Dec 9, 2023Liked by Wes Kao

Great article. For me, increasing the standards is always filled with a bit of guilt. If the you push your team harder than other teams in the organization, you are afraid to be the outlier. The truth is, people burn out because of no clear purpose more than of working up to a higher standard.

Recently, I finished reading 'Amp it Up' by the CEO of Snowflake (and ex-CEO of ServiceNow). It has some great insights into the topic! This is the paragraph I liked best:

As you evaluate your own culture, ask yourself a few key questions. When you talk to frontline employees, do they seem energized, or does it feel like everyone is swimming in glue? Do people have clarity of purpose and a sense of mission and ownership? Do they share the same big dreams of where the organization might be in a few years? Do most people execute with urgency and pep in their step? Do they consistently pursue high standards in projects, products, talent, everything?

Here is the gist of it in an article:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/amp-up-frank-slootman/

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I love this. It is sad when the employees have these higher standards and when management doesn't! I work where the secretary and I complain about standards not being met, and crap work is being done, but the only people we can bitch to are the ones doing the subpar work. Ugh 😩 it is so exhausting sometimes because I would thrive in this type of environment!

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Delhi su palace 🌍❤️🙏

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My welcome to all customer 🌍♥️🙏

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Another spot-on post, Wes! As someone who has constantly been told ‘my expectations are too high’ throughout my career, I’ve often wondered if they are! But then I’ve had team members rise to the occasion and sky rocket their careers. This was helpful in so many ways: reframing, actionable ways to approach, etc. thank you!

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