The secret sauce to creating an inspiring workplace culture.
Neuroscience tells us, similar to our fingerprints, that no two brains are the same. Every single person on this planet is the result of tens of thousands of years of evolution and thousands of their ancestors’ DNA. Their unique character and childhood and life experiences also greatly influence who they are and their behaviour in any given moment.
Working with teams as a team coach, it’s fascinating to witness how our biased brains love to shortcut. A common theme I’ve come across is when leaders and team members (usually high performing) approach their colleagues with the thinking, ‘they should do it like me’ and ‘they should think like me’, and ‘they should be better’. This can set them up for disappointment and the team for feeling a lack of appreciation that can affect morale.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for growth, making improvements and holding each other accountable and to a high standard. I’m also all about personal and professional development and working towards mastery but if we don’t start from the position of being whole and appreciating ourselves and each other, then we are coming from deficiency. That’s where this experience of feeling like we’re on a hamster wheel comes from, that can lead to exhaustion and even burnout.
As humans, we have basic social needs and preferences. Some of these needs include, to be seen, to feel heard and for those of us with varying to healthy self-esteem levels, we enjoy feeling appreciated and valued.
It’s impossible to feel appreciated and valued when the people we work with don’t appreciate us as we are and want us to be another way entirely.
We can get so busy and transactional in our everyday interactions, that we don’t stop and smell the roses and see the beautiful flowers (humans) around us every day.
People amaze me. In coaching sessions, I’m often touched when I hear my clients share their stories of challenge and triumph. Many have stories of abuse and survival, and of making lemonade out of the lemons they were given. I’m amazed they manage to get out of bed every day, and show up and have passion for their work and are highly functional and doing incredible things with their businesses and teams. Many are doing it while juggling family life and raising young children too. Wow! I often get off coaching sessions thinking, ‘this human is a miracle’ and actually the truth is, we all have our own hero’s journey and we are all miraculous human beings. Some of us go off the track for longer than others and I suppose those who show up for coaching are the ones who are back on track or getting on track. It’s exciting to work with these people.
When we practice appreciating this miraculous person in front of us, thanks to mirror neurons, they feel it. They feel you’re not emanating, ‘you should be different/better’. They get that you are thinking, ‘You’re awesome. I like you just the way you are.’ From there, relaxation in their nervous system can settle in and from there, their brains work better. You will never see your team perform at their peak consistently when they are walking on egg shells and not provided with psychological safety.
So if after reading this you walk away with one tip for your leadership and team, it’s this; practice appreciation. Sounds simple and easy, right? If it were easy, we could all do it, all the time but the reason it’s challenging is because our brains have a strong negativity bias, there’s a lot more neural real estate dedicated to ‘what’s wrong’ and ‘what’s not working’ that could become a threat. That’s the human condition. Our brain has an overarching scanner for threat and reward and a propensity to recognise threat over reward, therefore you need to engage your executive function or the pre-frontal cortex and look for what to appreciate in your team members. Yes, this takes practice but it’s a practice that will help your team go from being a thorn in your side to a beautiful bed of roses.
To help develop your capacity to engage your executive function more and to create an inspiring workplace culture, book your preferred coaching package or schedule your FREE 20 minute coaching conversation to discuss your options.