Implying Neuroscience for Better People Management

July 20, 20158:00 am1097 views

While many leaders and organisations take pride in upgrading their systems to the latest technology available and devote significant resources to ensure that their employees are using state-of-the-art infrastructure, processes, methodologies and systems, do these really help in better people management? How can implication of neuroscience help in better people management?

It is baffling to understand that most organisations continue to use their employee assets to work on outdated concepts, bad thinking and really old-school beliefs. With data gathered from neuroscience analysis, it aims to seek why crucial evidence-based information continues to go widely overlooked by recruiters and hiring managers?

While some leaders might argue that effective utilisation of this neuroscience data is simply not possible, because of lack of understanding of human dynamics. Many organisational leaders continue to rely on old management philosophies with discredited theories to justify their actions for mismanagement.

The old school thinking on management that psychology is irrelevant to business continues to hold strong imprint on the minds of business leaders of reputed organisations. Supporting this further, are our cultural views and policies on mental health that reflect a deep down reluctance in accepting the primacy of psychological health for employee’s overall well-being, happiness at work, success and increased productivity levels.

Through years, there has been unremitting neurological research on how our brains function, which is not arbitrary but factual. The studies reveal importance on how our brain structures work, impacts perception, emotions, reflect on ideas and conscious thought. Below are some core areas, wherein neuroscience plays a pivotal role to be implied in workplace people management practices:

  • Motivate Employees and Manage Expectations

Neuroscience helps understand how a human brain works and its response to changes unexpected or unperceived. When humans are thrown into challenging unexpected situations, the brain reacts differently and this impacts employee behaviour and motivation levels at workplace. It is important to understand the threat drivers that enable people to design and formulate interactions to minimize the impact of threats.

According to Harvard Business Review analysis in a report titled, Neuroscience and Work, it says, “The neuroscience of emotion shows us that although hunches are fallible, it’s worth exploring them more than we do. Particularly in situations involving risk, negative gut feelings can prevent leaders from making overconfident or overly optimistic decisions.”

See: How Philosophy Makes You a Better Leader

  • Cautious Spread of Emotions at Work

Leaders play an important role in their ability to influence the spread of certain types of emotions over others. While all emotions are contagious in nature, negative emotions have the power to influence. The prevailing thinking held by businesses even today is “emotions have no place in business.” This notion is despite in agreement with the fact, that we as humans cannot be devoid of emotions in all what we do.

Our brain tries to draw an emotional connect with things by which we experience happiness and instant sense of gratification. While the costs of emotional suppression at workplace to call it “professional” denies employees of the real experience of connecting with their own self, thus taxing cognitive functions and wasting precious brain fuel in the entire process.

  • Creativity needs encouragement and motivation at work

While most business leaders emphasise on the need for creativity to thrive in workplaces, the old notions continues to hold strong, wherein leaders are either “born creative” however they cannot be “made to think creative.”

Power nap is still a rare concept followed by most organisations, but sleep has the power to rejuvenate cognitive abilities and make the brain think at much faster speeds. After a brain drain exercise probably in a discussion or meet, power nap helps boost employee productivity levels at work. While seldom may agree to what we opine.

Dr. Jeffrey Ellenbogen, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School explains, “There is a cultural bias against sleep that sees it akin to shutting down – or even death. Most people think of the sleeping brain as similar to a computer that has gone to sleep. Wrong. Sleep enhances performance, learning and memory. Most unappreciated of all, sleep improves creative ability to generate aha! moments and to uncover novel connections among seemingly unrelated ideas.”

“Increased workloads and cyber overload all contribute to a general sense of overwhelm and exhaustion.  It’s not uncommon for people to work 12 hours a day. Some people think this is the new normal (hope not).  Some managers model it and many companies expect it.  But findings in neuroscience signal that an entirely new mindset needs to inform how and how long people should work to perform optimally.”

  • Practicing mindfulness

While researches have proved that meditation offers a wide range of benefits to promote employee growth, it also enhances cognitive abilities in a number of ways. A small example of mindfulness at work could be to “slow down on one’s thought examination process and learning to live in the moment.”

Mindfulness means paying close attention to one’s thoughts, body sensations, and emotions without passing judgement or reacting. Mindfulness can be effective antidepressants, and offer significant benefits in response to stress and anxiety.

In conclusion

As the mystery of how a brain works unfolds, every study brings with it a potential side of information that often gets ignored or overlooked by humans, not just in personal life but at workspaces as well.  As we begin to understand how neuroscience can help brains rewire itself in remarkable ways, do we still need to cling to old systems of organisation and people management? This simply does no good but only impacts maximizing human performance optimally.

Also read: Top 5 Tips for Effective People Management

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