Home' HR Monthly : December 2018 Contents December/January 2019 HRM magazine 37
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OF HELPING YOUR
WHAT THEY DO
BY DANIEL M. CABLE
REVIEW PRESS, 2018 $34
Neuroscience might be the
next big thing in employee engagement. Rather
than focusing on motivation as a catalyst for
disengagement, neuroscience examines our
biological shortcomings. It turns out that we
humans are not geared towards repetitive
work, or even routine. This is unfortunate for
most organisations, because this is what forms
the backbone of many a working life.
In Alive at Work, Daniel M. Cable points
out that the way modern work is structured
goes against human nature.
Our very beings cry out to explore, create
and experiment; and most workplaces don’t
leave room for any of that.
Using anecdotes, Cable emphasises the
importance of giving employees three things:
autonomy, mastery and purpose. A particularly
interesting section dissects the ‘seeking system’,
through author Bonnie Nardi’s experience
with a video game (World of Warcraft to be
precise) – which Cable describes as “catnip for
The seeking system is a survival mechanism
that motivates us to act. Games like World of
Warcraft activate this system by feeding into
those three aforementioned triggers. Nardi,
having never been a videogame aficionado,
became hooked in a matter of hours. She
brought her own set of skills to her virtual
team, explored a new world and had a direct
sense of purpose – getting to the next stage of
But Cable isn’t suggesting we gamify the
workplace, turning it into a programmed
environment of feedback and competition.
Cable’s tactics are simpler (and cheaper).
For instance, he recommends letting
employees re-frame their work around
a purpose that’s meaningful to them. He
cites a woman who worked as a janitor at
the Comprehensive Cancer Center, at the
University of Michigan, as an example. She
developed relationships with patients and
their families over the years, seeing herself
as a “positive force” in times of need.
She always wore a smile, understanding that
people in these conditions don’t need any more
negativity around them. This gave a meaning
to her repetitive cleaning tasks, allowing her to
get through those last 30 years of scrubbing.
It’s not radical organisational change that
Cable calls for, but smaller, achievable tweaks.
He certainly has some interesting ideas to
reinvigorate the workforce. •••
COACHES: HOW TO USE
THE LATEST INSIGHTS
FOR THE BENEFIT OF
BY AMY BRANN
KOGAN PAGE, 2017 $68
Author and coach Amy Brann applies the
technologies of neuroimaging and scientific
understanding of brain chemistry, genetics,
brain regions and systemic levels to help
coaches understand how to guide their clients
more effectively. Brann outlines her strategies,
defines essential vocabulary and offers a lot
of new information that most wouldn’t have
heard before. This makes her insights relevant
to coaches as well as to a wider audience.
If your workforce is feeling flat, chances
are their brains just aren’t into it.
THE LITTLE BOOK OF
BIG CHANGE: THE NO-
TO BREAKING ANY
BY AMY JOHNSON
NEW HARBINGER, 2016 $25
Social psychologist Amy Johnson offers a
fresh take on controlling bad habits. Rather
than encourage people with negative habits to
view themselves as sick and tell them to fight
against their habits, Johnson teaches them
simply to be mindful of their urges and forget
willpower altogether. Writing in a candid
voice, Johnson combines spiritual psychology,
personal anecdotes and neuroscience research
to offer an alternative framework for anyone
who wants to overcome a bad habit. Her ideas
and techniques can help those who are battling
addictions or bad habits to look at their urges
with fresh eyes.
getAbstract recommends Johnson’s
supportive manual to anyone looking for
suggestions about how to live a healthy, happy
life, free of negative habits.
Dead employees walking
BY CHLOE HAVA
22/11/18 4:14 pm
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