What Your Employees Need and Can't Tell You - Deepstash
What Your Employees Need and Can't Tell You

instructor Hood's Key Ideas from What Your Employees Need and Can't Tell You
by Melina Palmer

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What Your Employees Need and Can’t Tell You

  • You can only be a good leader if you understand the human brain.
  • To change people’s attitudes, focus on subconscious drivers.
  • Cognitive biases underlie people’s behavior, choices, communication and decision-making.
  • Manage at the level of the moment, using nudges to support people in making sound decisions.
  • By reducing people’s cognitive load, you can make it easier for them to absorb change.
  • Carefully prepare people for news about a change and avoid negative primes.
  • Consider each team member’s specific context and motivations.
  • Build motivation by fostering unity, transparency and trust.

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You can only be a good leader if you understand the human brain

Behavioral economics, a field combining traditional economics and psychology, illuminates the rules of the brain – the cognitive biases and fallacies that can explain why people act and think the way they do. Knowing about how the brain works can help managers excel in their role and, in particular, help them lead teams through change. Gallup research suggests only 10% of managers possess the natural talent needed to perform well in their roles.

“Behavioral economics…is built on the rules of the brain that help us predict what people will actually do instead of what we think they should.”

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To change people’s attitudes, focus on subconscious drivers

Change doesn’t have to be difficult. People adapt to some kinds of change naturally and seamlessly, when those changes are introduced properly – such as adopting new smartphones and other technologies. The key to making change easier is to work with the way the brain works – its rules – and not against them. Managers who understand this will waste less time trying to change people’s conscious thoughts and instead focus on subconscious drivers.

“When you understand how to look at change and properly align it with the rules of the brain, change becomes easy and natural.”

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Cognitive biases underlie people’s behavior, choices, communication and decision-making

Researchers have identified more than 200 cognitive biases and are discovering more every day. The following powerful biases can have a significant impact in the workplace:

  • Naïve realism – The belief that you see reality exactly as it is, objective and unbiased, and other people should see things the same way and agree with you. This bias is foundational to every other bias.
  • Naïve cynicism – The belief that other people are more biased than you are, leading to the expectation, for example, that they will fail to recognize your contributions.

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  • The egocentric bias – The tendency for people to overestimate their own contributions and downplay the contributions of others.
  • The false uniqueness bias – The tendency for people to believe they’re more different from others than they actually are. People tend to underestimate the number of others who share their positive traits and overestimate the number who share their negative traits.
  • The following biases often underlie misunderstandings and conflicts:
  • The focusing illusion refers to the brain’s tendency to select certain things, focus on those things and ignore others.

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  • Confirmation bias is the brain’s desire to prove itself right by confirming its assumptions.
  • In the IKEA effect, people value things more when they put effort into them.
  • The fundamental attribution error happens when people judge others based solely on their actions and fail to consider external factors.

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Manage at the level of the moment, using nudges to support people in making sound decisions

People’s days are made up of individual moments that leave a cumulative impression: either stressful, busy and sometimes meaningless or, at best, full of joy, fun, growth and positive influence. Managers can help their teams experience more positive moments by giving them clear goals, building trust within their teams and using nudges to subtly support people in managing their time well and making sound decisions.

“The everyday changes that seem small are critical moments of opportunity. They are the snowflakes that come together to form a snowball of change.”

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By reducing people’s cognitive load, you can make it easier for them to absorb change

On average, a person makes 35,000 decisions daily, half of them work-related. The psychological effects of these small decisions accumulate over time and can work either for or against change initiatives. Being under time pressure can also stress the brain, and this stress can hamper decision-making and cause people to resist change. You can compare this to a person riding an elephant.

“Reducing the cognitive load by being thoughtful is your key tactic for calming the elephant.”

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Carefully prepare people for news about change and avoid negative primes

Priming refers to the use of subconscious influence to affect people’s perceptions of information. Imagery, verbiage, video, emojis and even scents and tastes can act as primes. For example, when a bakery allows the smells of fresh bread and cookies to waft out onto the sidewalk, they’re priming people to think about purchasing baked goods. A well-chosen prime can place people in a receptive frame of mind for a proposed change, while the wrong prime can make them rebel.

“Change doesn’t have to be hard, but it does take thoughtfulness, consistency and focus.”

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Consider each team member’s specific context and motivations

Imagine walking down a street and you suddenly smell the delicious scent of cookies baking. You follow the scent to the store and go in. Someone gives you a sample and tells you there’s a special deal today – buy three and get one free. Before long, you’re leaving the bakery with a bag of cookies, enjoying one as you walk out the door.

“Using the right concepts in the right order is necessary for change to flow naturally.”

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Build motivation by fostering unity, transparency and trust

Teams work together when people remember that they’re on the same side and working toward a common goal. To promote unity, managers need to be aware of biases that can get in the way, practice empathy and focus on building trust and understanding. Transparency and fairness will promote trust and motivation. Cognitive biases such as the endowment effect, loss aversion and status quo bias also play a role in how people perceive fairness.

“Your investment in giving the gift of transparency and trust to your team can help them establish autonomy – one of the key factors of intrinsic motivation.”

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IDEAS CURATED BY

sliceofhood

Industrial Mastery, Mentor, Light Worker, Nutritionist, Gymrat

CURATOR'S NOTE

Adapting to Change with the Science of Behavioral Economics

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