APPLYING NEUROSCIENCE TO AFFECT REAL BEHAVIOUR CHANGE IN YOUR ORGANISATION: HOW TO TRANSITION FROM A FIXED MINDSET TO A GROWTH MINDSET | DRAWING PEOPLE TOWARDS A POSSIBLE FUTURE

January 2015

Can we harness neuroscience to embed sustainable behaviour change in existing organisations?

If you have been involved in any change intervention you will have realised that the biggest obstacle to affecting change is the ability to change people’s mindsets. Management science has introduced many techniques to address this including, incentive programmes, communication techniques, performance measurement and employee engagement techniques. Research has subsequently shown that with these traditional measures only 54% of change interventions succeed.

What do you get when you consult with a Neuroscientist, Psychiatrist, Academic and Medical Doctor to seek out an exact science to affect change? You get Dr Tara Swart. With all of the above competencies in her skill set Tara is at the forefront of applied neuroscience for business performance

Enter a new science for management. She says, “In a knowledge economy people are paid to use their brains to face constant change, so learning and adaptability have become synonymous with success.” This is where the Neuroscience comes in.

In essence she describes the two types of people typically found in organisations without much, if any, overlap.

Type 1: The fixed mind set:  The people that are fearful of making mistakes. (Probably because they know they won’t be supported when they do). To fail for them is shame inducing and painful. These are the people that are wired to avoid risk and as such resist change. They are largely concerned with fear and shame which affects their cortisol levels.

Type 2: The growth mind set: The people that are fearful of losing out on opportunities. Failure for them is not bad and can even be exciting. These people would feel ashamed if they sat on the side lines. They thrive on surprises and are largely driven by joy, excitement, love and trust which affects their oxytocin levels.

So now that we know what makes the two types of people in our organisation tick and neuroscience has evidenced that neuroplasticity can shift people from fixed mind sets to growth mind sets we need to determine how leaders can apply neuroscience to affect required behavioural change. There is little point in changing the brains if they still need to operate in an environment that doesn’t encourage risk taking and innovation.

DR TARA SWART’S ADVICE FOR LEADERS TO STEP CHANGE MINDSETSFOR NEW REQUIRED BEHAVIOUR. WINNING THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF YOUR PEOPLE.

Remember leaders are like the pre-frontal cortex of the people they serve.

  1. Engage empathy from your people for the context of a problem.
  2. Support risk taking and offer support in the face of a poor result.
  3. Cherish the “aha” moments of surprise and delight.
  4. Leverage the instinctive desire of your people to co-operate.
  5. Recognise that our brains are more acutely geared towards loss-avoidance than reward seeking.
  6. Be aware of threats perceived by people in your team and apply empathy to transform the frozen state of threat avoidance into creativity and trust building.
  7. Ensure your empathy is authentic. People can detect when your empathy lacks integrity and sincerity and will mentally and emotionally disengage.
  8. Define each person’s meaning and purpose in respect of your change intervention.
  9. Guard against transmitting your threat states. People perceive them and it destabilises your organisational culture.

On the 18th March 2015, Dr Tara Swart, a medical doctor, neuroscientist, psychiatrist, MIT Faculty member and global consultant to C Suite Executives, will present her latest findings in respect of Neuroscience for Leadership at The Progress Conference at The Forum, Campus Bryanston.

For further information visit: www.theprogressconference.com or email angela@brg.co.za