Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People

Psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell explains the science behind human motivation to bring out the best in people,allowing them to “shine” in their everyday work. People seem disconnected and they don’t need to be. Employee’s need for connection is real, and fulfilling it is essential to their productivity.

Hallowell invented the “Cycle of Excellence” that managers can use to improve performance with five steps: find the right job, connect, encourage play, commit to work and reward excellence.

Scientists believed that children could learn better than adults, but recent discoveries show that the brain is “remarkably plastic”: It can “grow and change” throughout our lifetime. For people to shine at work, you have to acknowledge them and their efforts. This recognition can range from just saying thanks to a bonus or a celebration.

Start with the basics: Praise people instead of focusing on errors and mistakes. Then move to simple observation: simply pay attention to what your people are doing well and acknowledge it verbally. This builds connections. It also makes unethical action less likely.

Research says that one in six workers feels “unrecognised and generally disconnected.” Use rewards and integrate everyone more fully into the workforce. Once you’ve created this base, make a big deal out of acknowledging workers, at least once in a while. You can make this process highly individualized or add it to a systematic recognition program, but use it wisely to honour excellence.

This book reminded me of ‘how to train a dragon: how a leader can influence the people around him/her. When the right things are rewarded people will be staying true to you and to their peers.

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Cindy Crijns

My passion is combining technology and marketing to reach potential clients & retain current customers. Specialities: B2B, B2C, SMB, Social media, demand generation, brand management, analytics & customer insight.

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