By Heather Daigle
2009's been rough. Difficult business decisions were surely made – cutting employee benefits and curbing anticipated promotions – leaving your talent feeling helpless in the face of changes they can’t control.
Yet, brain science reveals that the less “in control” we feel, the more inhibited the creative and productive processing of our brain’s prefrontal cortex becomes. According to the SCARF model developed by David Rock, founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, when we feel restricted, our brain interprets this as a threat, redirecting essential resources away from the area of our brain responsible for cognitive processing. In essence, when our brain goes into threat management mode, our ability to think critically is diminished. Therefore, maintaining the perception of autonomy is essential for individual productivity and employee engagement. We produce our best work when we feel as though we’re acting out of our own desire and volition.
Moving forward in 2010, resolve to let go of the reins just a little. From a strategy perspective, consider where your organization can afford to offer more choices to employees – even two choices are better than none. Moreover, encourage managers to avoid “dumping” work on their reports. Instead, inspire them to open up dialogue. What are the individuals’ goals and how do those align with strategic business objectives?
It’s instinctive to want to regulate “optimal performance” with processes, procedures and best practices. However, making business objectives crystal clear, setting parameters – not regulations – for performance, and offering up some decision-making control to employees can go a long way to restoring the engagement, well-being and productivity of your talent.
Follow the series 10 Talent Resolutions for 2010.
Heather Daigle is an independent global human capital specialist who creates learning, engagement, coaching and collaboration solutions that align with the way the mind works. Having spent over five years in Shanghai, China, Heather loves exploring cultural differences in motivation and patterns of thought as they relate to talent development and employee engagement, which she writes about in her blog Speak the Culture. She resides in Chicago, IL and holds a Master’s degree in Learning and Organizational Change from Northwestern University.