Apply neuroscience principles to foster peak performance
Understanding just a few key principles of neuroscience can help managers motivate their teams to better performance, says EnHansen Performance senior coach and facilitator, Kristen Hansen.
Create a safe placeManagers who want to motivate their teams must first ensure that people feel "safe", Hansen says. They can do this by adopting what neuroleadership expert David Rock calls the SCARF model, which comprises:
Brain-based coachingAnother way that managers can improve motivation and performance is through solution-oriented questioning, Hansen says.
"Basically, brain-based coaching produces action. Allowing people to have questions around their thinking can help them relax and reflect, which will then allow them to have insight."
Asking an employee questions such as, "How important is it for you to resolve this?" and "How long have you been thinking about this"? helps their brain not just to try and solve the problem, but to reflect on their thinking.
"That space quietens the brain to allow for insight," Hansen says. "And insight in itself produces some action, some potential.
"If I suggest, 'You do this', you're just going to do it. You don't have any insight to what you think the next step is, and you're not overly motivated, compared to if you came up with the idea yourself, which could be way more creative than what I suggested you do."
Help workers find "the zone"A third way managers can motivate their teams is by helping them work in their "zone".
"Helping people get into the 'zone' allows people to be at their peak motivation level," Hansen says.
This comes about when they have the right balance of challenge versus skill in their work.
"If somebody has enough challenge in their role and just enough skill to do it, they're most likely to be in the zone.
"If the challenge is too high or the skill is too high for the challenge, they're not in the zone. Essentially, the brain wants to be excited by challenge, because we get a hit of the neurochemical dopamine when we are excited by a challenge or something novel. When it's not the same old repetition or the same old job we've done 100 times, we're more motivated to perform.
"But if the job is way too challenging, we're actually experiencing adrenalin, which then releases the hormone cortisol through our system and that impacts negatively both our motivation to perform and our ability to perform."
Hansen adds that new developments in neuroscience, which allow people to use biofeedback and neurofeedback to "know whether they're in the zone, and what it takes for them to get into the zone", are proving extremely useful for organisations keen to foster peak performance, particularly at the executive level.
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