Do good things, not easy things.

I met with Ian Perry yesterday and we had a good chat over a cup of tea. In talking, something came to mind about things I do with my kids.

I’m a lazy kind of guy, so find it easy to opt for doing easy things. Easy for me means popping the telly box on for them and watching TV aimlessly. It means passing them the DS and just letting half an hour pass. It means making a chip butty for lunch instead of a tuna sandwich with carrot sticks.

I learned quickly that although not bad things, they certainly weren’t good things.

So I changed. Telly box and gaming stuff gets limited time. Crafts, lego building, drawings, Nerf gun battles, chess playing, draughts playing all get more time. Lunch is better, though I often check in with the higher power (their mother) about what is better for them.

So the good things become and feel better and more healthy.

I made a short hop skip and a jump in my mind to organisations.

It’s easy to do easy things like increase pay, or exit people when we think we need a monetary incentive to make them work harder or we’re not happy with them.

It’s easy to criticise and point the finger.

It’s easy to save that hard discussion about performance for another day.

Easy means we cheat people of being better.

Doing good means seeking ways to make things better.

It means simple things like saying thank you for a job well done.

It means giving helpful feedback if someone hasn’t done something as you’d expected.

It means treating the team to goodies just because they deserve it.

I like being good. It helps me to feel good.

Do good things, not easy things.

UPDATE: 17:20

Earlier this morning, Doug passed a helpful challenge to me.

He’s of course right. We have to be mindful of good in the context of what we’re trying to achieve.

Equally, if we can get a ‘quick win’ which is genuine and truly helpful, then why wouldn’t we?


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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

3 thoughts on “Do good things, not easy things.”

  1. Well said, Sukh, but I’d like to attach a caveat. “Easy” doesn’t necessarily mean “bad,” just as “hard” doesn’t necessarily mean “good.”
    It’s always about what goal you’re trying to achieve. Choosing effective before working on being efficient; doing the right things before worrying about doing them right. What goal are you trying for when you give your children food? Making sure they receive proper nutrition? Then, indeed, a chip butty (as an American, I had to look that one up: gak! Do you actually eat that?!! Warning: NSFL for the uninformed: is not the right choice.
    What goals are we trying to achieve as an organization? To guide the organizations I work with to the right decisions, my favorite word is “why?” Why are we doing this? What are we trying to achieve?

  2. inthe most Retail organisations, where I’ve worked, you may not ask that question “why”, you just need to perform what is asked.
    Think critically about certain processes and the question why are we doing this so, it is not done and become punished with a negative feedback or evaluation, so what is the added value?

    1. Hi Marijke,

      Ouch. You’ve hit the nail on the head as to why many organizations are unpleasant places to work.

      There can be many reasons why thinking critically is not valued in an organization. Perhaps management doesn’t know the answers themselves and are defensive about their lack of knowledge. They might see it as a direct challenge to their authority, in which case the most common reaction you get when you ask “why” is “Because I said so, that’s why!” The problem is that the people asking the questions feel rebuffed and undervalued. This is partly explains why certain industries have a very high personnel turnover rate. The #1 motivator for people is that they feel a part of something, that they’re contributing to a cause larger than themselves. The #1 reason people leave a job is they don’t feel valued by their boss. As the saying goes “People don’t leave a job – they leave a person.”

      Can you create a supportive, valuing work relationship in retail? Absolutely! Also in food service, janitorial services, and other low-pay, high manual labor jobs. But it takes an investment in helping management to acquire the knowledge and strengthen the skills they need in order to accomplish this. Also a culture change that starts consistently at the top. A long term investment. And even though research has proven time and time again that these are the smartest investments that any company in any industry can make, most companies don’t.

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