Hold and raise the bar

In a recent team meeting, someone announced we wouldn't be able to meet a project deadline and we'll have to move it to later. Not wanting to be pushy or unreasonable, I accepted and updated the date. But another colleague interjected and held the bar. He pointed out that we had slipped a few times already and rallied the team to figure out options to meet the date. 

Oftentimes, we avoid hard things and uncomfortable conversations, and try to be "naively nice". This leads to a slippery slope that snowballs into low accountability, performance, quality, outcomes, morale, and pent-up frustration. I say naively nice because ultimately this turns out to be not very nice to the team, stakeholders, managers, business, and customers. 

The nicer way is to set clear and reasonable expectations, hold and raise the bar, provide direct and timely feedback, identify and fix the problems, and work together compassionately and collaboratively to make it happen. 


1. Amazon appoints a "bar raiser" in interview panels to avoid this slippery slope. 

2. It is possible to be both kind and maintain the bar.