Amy Brann is the founder of Synaptic Potential working with organisations to strengthen their strategy, culture and performance. She is the author of three books: ‘Make Your Brain Work’, ‘Neuroscience for Coaches’ & ‘Engaged: The neuroscience behind creating productive people in successful organisations’. Amy is a visiting lecturer to Manchester Metropolitan University teaching the neuroscience of leadership on the Master of Sports Directorship programme.
Intentionally shape your brain for high performance
Your employees are your most important asset. They are the source of your best ideas. They can overcome difficult challenges with resilience and they create the high performing success stories which cumulatively lead to organisational greatness.
Your employees create the high performing success stories that cumulatively lead to organisational greatness
But employees like this can’t usually be obtained “off the shelf”. They have to be developed, created and nurtured within your organisation and to do this effectively you have to understand how they operate. What makes them tick? What motivates them? This doesn’t mean just asking them about their strengths and weaknesses or sending them on countless training courses. It means getting inside their head. Or more specifically inside their brain. Because it is their brains that are powering your organisation.
Understanding how to get the best value out of this unique biological utility (much like you might do for the other more mundane forms of power which keep your offices switched on) means knowing how to optimise it. It means knowing how to prevent unwanted wastage and it means knowing where to strategically invest to add the most value.
This can only be done if you have an understanding about how the human brain works. What makes it emotionally resilient? How does it solve problems, makes decisions or comes up with creative ideas? Why does it procrastinate or get distracted? What kind of rewards are particularly effective for motivating it to succeed? Where are its weaknesses and what can you do to compensate for them?
Luckily the brain isn’t a black box anymore, it is a colourful array of insights that can answer these questions, and more. Answers that can be directly applied to improving your organisation’s brain power.
This is because the brain isn’t fixed during adulthood (like scientific researchers once thought) but is highly malleable over time. It can therefore be rewired to work at its most efficient with the appropriate engineering. Preventing wastage and low productivity. Encouraging motivation, resilience and innovative thinking.
The brain can be rewired to work at its most efficient with the appropriate engineering, preventing wastage and low productivity.
So, what does this process of brain engineering look like? Here are 5 examples of ways to boost the brain power of your employees:
- To get your employees to be more creative or innovative, don’t encourage creativity. Encourage curiosity. By becoming more curious they will feed their brain with snippets of new information which, when integrated and juggled into existing knowledge, can lead to that next big breakthrough idea.
- One cause of mental fatigue in your employees is intense and sustained mental focus over time. Taking short breaks from work in the natural environment (e.g. listening to nature sounds, taking a walk in green space) is an excellent way for them to refocus and restore their attentional capacity over the longer-term.
- Get your employees to stop ‘putting off’ tasks or decisions by creating a clear reward structure which avoids irrational biases to slip in and use appropriate nudging strategies to prevent procrastination. Long-term rewards are irrationally discounted so make the reward tangible and in the near future, whilst streamlining choices prevents loss-aversion (the irrational fear of rejecting options).
- Research has shown that your employees really can ‘be on the same wavelength’ as their co-workers. Encouraging them to make eye contact, pay attention to where the other person is looking, work on the same page at the same time, and be comfortable with the person they are working with during group sessions, will help get their brain waves aligned.
- Encouraging prosocial emotions in the workplace such as empathy, kindness and gratitude can strengthen resilience, reduce stress and improve motivation in your employees. They can learn to become a better “mind reader” by picking up on the subtle emotional cues given off by their co-workers, whilst acts of kindness rapidly propagate through teams.
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