Using Brain Science to get the best from your people.
In order to have circle of excellence in your team, there are five steps. More importantly the need for Vitamin C(connect).
The first modern paradox: while we have grown electronically superconnected, we have simultaneously grown emotionally disconnected.from each other.
The second modern paradox: People’s best efforts often fail not because they aren't working hard enough, but because they are working too hard.
over the past 200 million years, the genetic evolution of the human hypothalamus, with its capacity for the four Fs - fight, flight, feeding and fornication - has rendered our selfish ‘drives’ only modestly more sophisticated than an alligator’s.
The goal of this step is to work at the intersection of three elements - helping your people to find:
- What they are good at
- What they like
- What adds value to the organization or world
If there is a problem with selection or fit, managers can refer to the three frameworks suggested:
- The Hallowell Self-Report Job-Fit Scale
- The framework for flow
- The Kolbe conative assessment (kolbe.com)
- You can’t sprint to peak performance.
- The brain is competitively plastic: you get better at what you practice and worse at what you neglect.
- Physical exercise builds up your brain as much as it does your muscles and heart.
- Positive emotion sets the stage for peak performance.
Create an atmosphere at work that is high on trust, optimism, cohesion, openness, permission to be real, and positive energy. Creating connection requires daily commitment, because modern life conspires to disconnect people. A few simple tools:
- Look for spark.
- Model and teach what Carol Dweck calls a growth mind-set, as opposed to a fixed mind-set.
- Model and teach optimism, a belief there is no problem as a team we can’t overcome.
- Use the human moment judiciously instead of always relying on electronic communication
- Get to know a little bit about the outside life of each person you work with.
- Treat everyone with respect, esp. the people you dislike.
- Understand, as a manager, the meaning and impact of transference.
- Meet people where they are. Don’t expect a person to be someone he is not.
- Encourage people to be real.
- Encourage humor
- Seek out the marginalized people and try to bring them in.
Create a culture that encourages free play of the mind.
- Ask open-ended questions’
- Encourage everyone to produce at least three new ideas each month and require management to evaluate and respond to each.
- Allow for irreverence or goofiness and model these yourself.
- Reward new ideas and innovation
- Encourage people to question anything and everything.
4. Grapple and Grow
As long as people are making progress all should go well. If they get stick:
- Don't pound the table and demand they work harder
- Look instead at step 1, 2 & 3 and see what might have gone wrong upstream. Then make adjustments there.
- Play what I refer to as Ping-Pong, borrowing a phrase from a man who specializes in helping
- people get unstuck. Simply keep offering ideas and suggestions and even as they get rejected, keep offering more. You are trying to provide a catalyst, not an answer.
The goal here is for everyone to feel recognized and valued for what they do, not just the stars of the show.
- Always be on the lookout for moments when you can offer a word of recognition. Don’t make the mistake of withholding compliments.
- Create a culture that is generous with praise. It becomes far easier to examine and learn from failures when success are recognized regularly.
- Recognize not only achievement ,but also attitudes, like optimism and a growth mind-set.
Play stimulates the secretion of brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF, a recently discovered molecule that triggers the growth of nerves in the brain. Play also stimulates the amygdala, which is a clump of neurons deep within the brain that helps regulate emotions and exerts a beneficial effect on the prefrontal cortex in the brain.
Read a book on creative-thinking techniques. ‘Thinkertoys’ by Michael Michalko offers many simple, practical exercise to stimulate imaginative engagement. Michalko divides the book into sections such as ‘Intuitive thinkertoys and Group Thinkertoys. The book is both fun and rich in instruction for anyone who feels stuck.
Books referred in this book:
Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone
Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness
john Ratey’s Spark: The revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
Michael Michalko’s Thinkertoys http://www.ted.com/talks/martin_seligman_on_the_state_of_psychology.html