Neuroscience is one of the most exciting developments in the fields of change and employee engagement. At last, it brings hard science to bear on employee communication. IABC’s Director of Content Natasha Nicholson asked Hilary Scarlett, director of the U.K.-based employee communication and change management consultancy Scarlett Associates, about what developments in neuroscience mean for organizations that want to boost productivity, innovation and engagement among employees.
Natasha Nicholson: What is neuroscience and how does it apply to organizations?
Hilary Scarlett: Put simply, neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, including the brain. Neuroscientists focus on the brain and its impact on our behavior, how we think, how we make decisions, how we relate to other people, etc. There are many reasons why neuroscience is proving very useful to organizations. Here are just three:
- Neuroscience tells us about performance—what helps individuals, teams and organizations focus and perform at their best.
- There are lots of different models of employee engagement, but brain scans can show what leads our brains to be engaged or not.
- Because it is a science and relates employee engagement to performance, neuroscience is proving very persuasive with the most hard-headed of leaders.
NN: You’ve said that our brains are wired to resist change. What do you mean by this?
HS: Although our brains have evolved, we still fundamentally have the same brain as our prehistoric ancestors. Their brains were wired for survival, to do two key things: avoid threats (like a saber-toothed tiger) and seek out rewards (like shelter, food and warmth). Our 21st-century brains are still wired to do those things. We continue to be constantly on the lookout for things that might harm us. This is both useful and problematic.
To protect us, our brains want to be able to predict what will happen. But change means that our brains cannot make predictions. They...
This content is available to IABC members only. To continue reading, log in below.