Leveraging Neuroscience to Strengthen Change Management and Lead Your Progress.
by - Alan Caugant, CEO SUPERHUMAIN™
Neuroscience is an understanding of how the brain functions and running the change process around it. It would help in bringing a better implementation, more creativity, and engagement. Let us clear it with a simple example of how would a person react if someone suddenly asked them to change their room setting without giving any reason? The first thing that comes to mind would be to oppose the change. Because this is how our brain is wired and responds negatively to change. By applying Neuroscience to change management we can solve the problem of leading through uncertainty.
Similarly in an organizational setting, the leaders who are looking forward to carrying out a re-design or initiating the change process try to immediately implement their way without keeping in mind the mindset of their employees. You cannot impose the change without changing the mind of your employees first. With the help of neuroscience, the leader can get a clear road map through the complex change management process and re-design. If as a manager, you cannot explain the change process well enough to your employees then it means that you don’t know what you are doing. Leaders need to understand the preferences for the social environment that is built-in by default in our brains. By integrating the knowledge from neuroscience into our thinking and behavior we can successfully implement the change.
VUCA and rapidly changing business environment:
VUCA stands for volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. In today’s business environment everything is changing so rapidly and to keep up with that change you need to bring a change within the organization as well to cope better with the day-to-day operations. A volatile environment demands a leader to change quickly with the changing dynamics of the industry. Sometimes even with those changes that are not predictable and out of your control. Next, you might have to make difficult decisions during uncertain times. Furthermore, the environment in which you are operating is more dynamic than ever and everything is correlated. Moreover, you are not always sure of what your expertise is in the new area and you might not be fully familiar with the new changed environment.
Changes activate the feeling of fear and stress:
If you are being asked to do the simple task of reorganizing your desk, your brain doesn’t see it as a positive sign. The brain takes it as a threat and it often triggers anxiety and stress. The brain perceives the change negatively and as a result, hinders the change management process and clouds our decision-making skills.
Four stages of change:
Change is a long and time-consuming process and while the brain starts to process the new information of change and decides that whether it is a threat or not, employees often go through these four stages of change
The first stage is the denial stage. In this stage, people often start to prove that their old way of doing things is better than the new ones.
Employees in this stage start to get angry at their peers and top management for bringing in the change management process and start to blame others for their failure to change.
The third stage is the realization stage and the employees start to believe that they can devise their solutions to sort certain problems.
The fourth stage is the acceptance stage and people accept the change process and begin working together to implement the change management process.
Applying Neuroscience to change management is the way forward:
No change can be implemented without emotions. To implement change we must understand every individual and the way they think. Every person is different from the other and we cannot bring change by applying the same formula for everyone.
1: Learn from the neuroscientist and implement the ideas in actual workplace settings
When we see the change process from a neuroscience point of view, It helps us understand the difference between fiction and facts, hope and hype. It helps in identifying the best practices according to individual needs and scientifically motivates the employees to implement change. If you don’t understand what neuroscience is, then there is no way it can be implemented right in the organization. The leaders and managers much access the behavioral data of the employees to understand their traits, talents, and their reactions in certain situations to implement the change.
2: A Clear understanding of the goals and change process
A clear understanding means clarity in every aspect. The roles of the management at every level should be clear to reduce the threat of status. 2nd the goals should be clear to avoid anxiety because most employees might not be able to comprehend when they have reached their goal. Set specific and time-bound goals instead of simply saying “be more productive”.
3: Continuity of the change management process
According to Neuroscience, the brain needs some time to process the new information. It doesn’t immediately retain all the information provided. It needs some reinforcements. If the change managers review the change after a couple of days then it might have a good chance of retention. Furthermore, continuous training during the change process is a must for effectively implementing the change process.
4. Certainty of success through change
Most of the employees resist change because their brain starts to comprehend the situation negatively that their jobs might be at risk. The leaders must provide certainty that we can together implement the change process and the employees’ participation is necessary for the change process. When the employees feel safe during the change process, It will automatically lower the threat in the brain resulting in more flexibility.
5. Consistency and change go hand in hand:
The managers when applying neuroscience to change management must focus on step-by-step implementation. Don’t state the end goal at the start because it might be too difficult to comprehend the end goal. Leaders need to make small changes at first and these small changes become daily routine and part of the habits. Don’t expect all the employees to perfectly do all the enhanced tasks. Give them some space to grow and learn gradually at their own pace.
6. Cooperation in the change management process:
Let the employees be a part of the decision-making process. They should have a free hand to choose the teams or groups of their liking. While applying neuroscience to change management, the leaders should see the brain as a social organ and it gives people comfort to have a relationship with others they can rely on.
7. Confidence is the key:
One of the main reasons for anxiety and depression at work is the lack of confidence. People might feel helpless in changing surroundings and they may feel out of control in many situations. Leaders need to instill confidence in their employees during the whole change process. Don’t go around pointing every mistake they make. Just ignore a few so they have the confidence to analyze their mistakes and correct them on their own.
8. Communicating through neuro leadership:
The most important part of neuro leadership is to communicate the change process thoroughly. Employees must feel that they are the most vital part of the organization and their voice is being heard. Leaders cannot impose the change by hitting employees on the head because that is not the leadership that is assault. Leaders must show empathy at the time of stress and understand the emotions to connect with their employees.
Leaders can perform surveys, take feedback or individually review the employee’s needs during the change process. Change is a time taking process and it doesn’t happen overnight. If leaders want to achieve a long-lasting change then they need to apply neuroscience and read the minds of their employees before implementing change because our brain is a machine with lots of friction and it doesn’t always work as fast as we want it to.
SUPERHUAMIN Neuroleadership development programs – Leading progress with the Brain in Mind.
To apply neuroscience to change management, Leaders must be prepared leveraging their cognitive potential by learning to combine social, cognitive, integrative, and biological neuroscience with their leadership style. There should be a science of leading people by understanding the physiology of the mind and brain. Through the SUPERHUMAIN Neuroleadership Institute, we have developed certified program to turning the soft skills of leaders into something more productive for change management.
When a leader goes through the same process and is trained in the manner that shows compassion and cares for the emotions of others only then they can truly be able to change their subordinates and can relate to them.
The four areas that are of great importance in Neuroleadership are:
1. Ability to make decisions and solve problems
2. Regulating the emotions
3. Collaborate and motivate others
4. Assist the change process till the end.
The Main Takeaway: Applying neuroscience to change management
As human beings, we can do one thing that animals cannot do is to self-relate. We can put ourselves in someone else shoes and think about what they might be feeling at a particular time. It is our greatest strength. Leaders must apply this rule every time they a given a task of changing the culture and structure of the organization. Because in today’s world where volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity are part of everyday life, Only the leaders applying Neuroscience in their management style can successfully implement a long-lasting change within the organizations.
Want learn more about how to speak a common language, build trust, and thrive under change? Contact us!