The new developer in the office encountered a development issue today, and he posted his question on Slack. The CTO stepped in and helped. But the new developer repeated the problem again and again. The bug seemed like it an issue with the deployment made by the CTO.

The CTO kept up with his questioning. It seems like he was rude with his incessant nitpicking with the developer's questions. But really, what the CTO was doing was that he refuses to accept a lower standard. He would persist until he could get the developer to ask his questions the right way -- by defining the problem clearly and with context.

To elicit performance, I tried to be nice.

For a few years, I would play the part of a person with schizophrenia and I donned the personality of a nice guy in the office. Because I wanted to treat people the way I want to be treated -- nicely and with respect. But that did not work. See this post, this, and this.

So I decided to just be myself both at work and outside of work. That means I will no longer be artificially nice anymore. And somehow, I noticed a change in the performance of my employees.


Instead of spending my excess energy checking on my employee's well-being on a day to day basis, I spent my energy writing out clear specifications for every task. I spent energy providing prompt and detailed feedback on their work. And more importantly, I no longer accept subpar work. If the work is terrible, I will return it to them; and have them fix it. I will repeat this back and forth because I choose to prioritize the quality of work. And just like that, everyone was serious about work.

If you are a manager, ignore all that mambo jumbo about employee welfare, company vision, or anything fluffy for the most part. Insist on excellence first. The fluffy stuff can come later.