Home' HR Monthly : June 2016 Contents 24
The NeuroLeadership Institute usually finds its way into an
organisation's collective brain after being invited in by the
CEO or CHRO. Rock says they proceed by targeting three
organisational practices: one is around improving the way a
company assesses performance; another focuses on diversity and
inclusion processes in order to better mitigate bias. The final
focus is on the organisation's learning and change practices.
It is not only about benefitting leaders, says Rock. "What
happens when a staff member feels that the leader understands
them? What happens in their brain when they feel they have been
understood? How does that impact on what they do? And how do
businesses utilise this knowledge to better persuade people?"
By studying physical reactions and messaging within the brain,
Rock can show, for example, that the brain receptors that register
physical pain are the same ones that react when a person feels
excluded. Commonly held beliefs within the HR and management
fields, such as the fact that long-term innovation or 'stretch goals'
are the most effective, have also been confirmed by his research.
Equally, there has been research that led to results that contradict
conventional wisdom. Take the thinking behind unconscious bias.
Many would say that it is an awareness problem, and therefore
it is possible to train it out of people's behaviour. However,
most of today's unconscious bias education, usually carried out
as part of a business' approach to their diversity and inclusion
practice, cannot generate the desired results, says Rock, and this
is frustrating for people.
"We assume that unconscious bias is an awareness or a
motivation problem," he says. "But actually it is a biological
bottleneck. You can't train people to be less biased. But you can
take bias out of processes, not out of people."
Performance appraisals are another area -- much in the news
in the past few years -- where the NeuroLeadership Institute has
made a significant contribution.
The annual performance review has come to represent
enormous angst, sometimes an overwhelming administrative
burden, conflict and often, negative emotions, says Rock.
A movement has gathered pace, particularly in the US, to
remove the annual performance ratings process altogether and
replace it with more frequent and productive conversations.
"According to new research, we have seen a generation of
managers give feedback in completely the wrong way," says Rock.
"Giving very specific feedback might actually be a terrible idea.
In the majority of feedback situations, you should not be vague,
but you should be more general, focusing on people's high-level
intent rather than going after the specifics. Telling somebody that
they do something the wrong way sounds like you're attacking
them, as opposed to asking somebody what they're trying to
achieve by their actions or behaviour."
The NeuroLeadership Institute has worked with around
50 large organisations to change the way they appraise their
staff. It has led to the frequency of manager-staff conversations
increasing, on average, with 68 per cent moving to conversations
that took place, at least quarterly. Those discussions were less
backward looking and more focused towards goals, growth and
development, creating a positive and supportive sense of purpose.
Businesses found their administrative burden reduced as a
result of replacing annual reviews, with 30 per cent losing all need
for documentation of the process.
However, Rock agrees that there is no 'one-size-fits-all'
solution. Organisations came up with new systems that worked
within their specific circumstances. And pay-for-performance was
still alive and well, it was just customised for individual businesses
as they used the freedom of their new system to develop their own
language around measuring performance.
"Think about accounting," Rock says. "If you understand
accounting then you can find patterns in complex systems that
help you to be more effective. In the same way, if you understand
the brain then you can find patterns in complex systems, such as
people, that help you to be more effective in working with them."
For any HR professional with strategic responsibilities, that's
got to be something worth thinking about.
AT TEND A WORKSHOP WITH DR ROCK:
The National Convention will be held in Brisbane from
Wednesday 3 to Friday 5 August 2016. Attendees can choose
their experience by registering for one, two or all three days.
To register for Dr Rock's main program keynote presentation
or workshop session, please go to:
"IN FEEDBACK SITUATIONS, YOU
SHOULD NOT BE VAGUE, BUT
YOU SHOULD BE MORE GENERAL.
FOCUS ON PEOPLE'S HIGH-
LEVEL INTENT RATHER THAN
GOING AFTER THE SPECIFICS."
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