How You Can Transform Business Culture Using Neuroscience

Posted on February 10, 2016 by Shawn Friday, MEd, LPC, CEAP

This brief video series by Hilary Scarlett gives us a taste of how businesses can help improve employee mindset, capacity to deal with change and motivation using things learned in the field of neuroscience. For those desiring more than this video appetizer, Scarlett’s Neuroscience for Organizational Change: An Evidence-based Practical Guide to Managing Change is available via print or digital book.


In the three video series, Scarlett provides practical tips on managing employees, along with the neuroscience rationale for why a particular approach works. The first video addresses business culture, and a major theme here is that small things really do make big differences.  A few of the suggestions made that I like to recommend to clients as well include:

  1. Break large goals down into smaller goals and time-frames so there are frequent successes to reinforce employees’ efforts.
  2. Provide adequate information. People are wired to seek answers. If factual information does not provide this, imaginations (often through a negative lens) will. Unfortunately our imaginations will be out of line with reality in many cases.
  3. Ignoring feelings doesn’t work; talk about them. Negative feelings find a way out even with attempts to keep a lid on them. Talking about feelings while maintaining respect for others works to reduce their intensity and opens the door for productive problem solving.

The human brainScarlett presents a similar concept to item 2 above in the video entitled Why Do Our Brains Find Change Difficult? Along with the need to have adequate information, people also want predictability. With change comes unpredictability, and unpredictability can be perceived as a threat to some, sending them into a “fight or flight” mode where the logical/reasonable part of our brain (pre-frontal cortex) is overridden by the anxious brain (amygdala). The problem with being in this state is that our brains are acting as though we are in actual physical danger even if we’re not.  Any legitimate threats may get blown out of proportion and adaptability to change is greatly diminished.  Some steps that can help when in this state is to recognize it is happening, acknowledging our desire for predictability, accepting the uncertainty, and finding ways to reduce your stress.  Recalling past instances of uncertainty that ended successfully can be helpful too.  Remember that you have had uncertain and difficult events in your life before and will most likely get through this one.  Allow time to adapt to the change and give yourself a break.

We can help.

Whether you are seeking ways to help your employees perform at their best or one of those employees looking to maximize your performance and well being, VITAL WorkLife’s coaching, consulting, or counseling solutions may be a great next step for you.

Call 800.383.1908 to learn more or to speak with one of our representatives. We’re available anytime, day or night.

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