vPsychology for Business


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Volume 5, Number 5                                                            February 27, 2004


Psychology for Business is an e-mail newsletter written by  Dr. John Weaver, business psychologist and independent consultant, provided to you at no charge. It is published bi-weekly. You’ve received this newsletter because you’ve subscribed to it or it was forwarded to you by a friend or colleague. To subscribe sign up at our website, http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/. If you wish to cancel your subscription, please see the end of this e-mail for easy instructions

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by Dr. John Weaver, Business Psychologist and Executive Coach

Summary: Many critical actions that lead to success are actions that are simple, clear, and straightforward. The simplicity of the action belies its power to initiate positive effects. But despite its clarity, it can be difficult to practice simple tools and to practice them consistently.

As I mentioned in previous newsletters, I tried, many times, to get my father to write down the insights he had about supervising people while he was still alive. He never did it (he was too busy or too modest), so I am going to attempt to do it for him. The stories I will tell will be true as I remember them. They do not need to be embellished because the lessons that can be learned are powerfully present in the stories themselves.

“It is so simple….” My father used to say these words – more as he aged. I don’t remember him making that observation as much when I was younger.

What is curious to me is that I find myself starting to use that phrase more often as time progresses. I had not noticed the change in myself until I began to reflect on my father’s wisdom.

I noticed it first in the context of my professional speaking activities. When I am preparing for a presentation I frequently want to include some of the latest research or cutting edge insights that I have stumbled upon. But when I do that, I find that I am unable to explain it clearly or make applications to my audience that are helpful. The result is a confusing and frustrating segment.

If a new concept is of importance to my audience, I need to live with it for a while so that I can apply it in my life and work with actual clients to see how it works for them. Gradually, it becomes clearer to me and I am able to say it in a way the makes sense to my audience. What I say has become simple because it has been distilled down to it essence.

Many of the great truths are actually quite simple.

“Do unto others as you would like to have them do unto you.”

This simple piece of wisdom is contained in every major world religion and dates back many thousands of years. (It is sometimes stated in the negative: “Do not do unto others what you would not want them to do to you).

It is a piece of wisdom that has important implications for the workplace. I had the privilege of interviewing an exceptional company for the first Wisconsin Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award only to find that a major theme of their success was based on this principle.

As a small company (33 employees) they were not in a position to provide expensive benefits to the workforce. Instead, they developed an ability to flexibly care for each other. When a member of the workforce was ill or had a problem with daycare, co-workers stepped in to assume the duties. Repeatedly, they noted that everyone did this for each other. “It is like a bank,” one employee said, “you make deposits when you can and you are allowed to make withdrawals when you need to.” In other words, I would want someone to step forward when I have a problem or life-challenge, so I will step forward when someone else needs my help (as I would like to have them do unto me).

Never confuse simple with easy.

I often tell my clients, “what I am about to suggest is an action that is very simple. But never confuse simple with easy.”  It took me many years to grasp this concept.  The best action to even the most complex problems is not always a complex answer. It is sometimes a clear action but one that requires effort. When I came to this realization, I began to understand why many simple truths are not applied. It is simple to do unto others… it is not easy.  It is simple to do the right thing and not just do things right, it is not easy.  It is simple to exercise, eat right, treat people with respect… it is not easy.

It would be comforting to us, psychologically, to believe that the reason we have not solved the problem of poor morale in the workplace or the lag in sales is that the solution is complex and will require a Ph.D. to understand. Too often, problems are not solved because of the lack of effort rather than the lack of understanding.

Simple actions are like gardens.

Military metaphors for the workplace are very common. It can be helpful to change metaphors sometimes to understand new concepts.

The key to simple actions is to perform them regularly. Like tending a garden, simple actions need consistent watering, weeding and fertilizing. The simple action of returning phone calls within a reasonable time requires regular attention to setting aside time for the action. The simple action of treating people with respect requires the commitment to paying attention to employees and co-workers day after day, even when the pressures of work are high.

A key characteristic of individuals who are successful is that they are conscientious. The willingness to persevere is more associated with success than intelligence, according to Dr. Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence. The conscientious individual is willing to do those regular tasks on a consistent basis. These are the actions that truly produce results. Many people get excited about a new idea and are ready to change everything in the company to get in on the ground floor. Few people are willing to put in the time, day after day, to make a new idea truly work. By the time it will work it has become an old idea because, like a garden, it has been carefully tended and nurtured to grow.

I recommend taking a deep breath, sitting back in your chair, and asking yourself, “How complicated have I made my life? Is a complicated life working for me or it is working against me? What would it take to simplify my life?”

Did you know that executive coaching is not geographically limited?  Coaching by telephone is effective.  It is also an efficient use of time and resources.  You never need to leave your office to travel, nor do you need to pay travel expenses for your coach. We offer coaching either onsite or by telephone. To find out if coaching is right for you, contact us to schedule a 1/2 hour consultation at no charge.  Or request a price sheet to determine the best value for your organization.  Call us at: (262) 789-2728 or email us at mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com.

About the Author

John Weaver, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist with 25 years’ professional experience working with organizations, groups, and individuals. He has experience leading groups and creating teamwork in organizations. His areas of expertise include executive coaching, conflict resolution, coaching teams and individuals to improve performance under stress, assessing employees and potential employees to ensure the right person for the right job, and training in stress management and "The Vitamin C’s for an Emotionally Healthy Workplace."  He is an experienced professional speaker and published author.

Based in Waukesha, WI, Dr. John Weaver is available for consultation or executive coaching by phone, e-mail or in person. He may be reached at (262) 789-2728 (office) or (414) 491-8719 (cell), by e-mail: mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com or: 

John Weaver, Psy.D. 
Psychology for Business
2717 North Grandview Boulevard, Suite 303
Waukesha, Wisconsin, 53188

To order your copy of the book, MANAGING DIFFICULT PERSONALITIES IN THE WORKPLACE: A Manager’s Practical Guide, by Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass, send your name, address, number of copies desired and a check made out to Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass for $12 per book (plus $2 shipping per book).  Or order 10 or more copies for $10 per book and $6.95 for shipping (up to 50 copies).  No fluff, this book gets right to the point. Send orders to:

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Psychology for Business
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Waukesha, WI 53188   

Email: mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com

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Dr. John Weaver
Psychology for Business
2717 N. Grandview Blvd. #303
Waukesha, WI 53188

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Dr. John Weaver publishes another newsletter, co-authored by Darlene Weaver, THE CENTERED PENDULUMIt is our firm belief that lifelong patterns of “being” (personality, attitudes, emotions) and “doing” (lifestyle, adaptability, coping skills) interact with our genes and environment to create conditions of a healthy or a diseased brain.  If you would like to read previous issues of the Centered Pendulum newsletter or to subscribe, please visit the archives at http://www.centeredpendulum.org/newsletters.htm.