January 23, 2020 Last updated January 23rd, 2020 1,560 Reads share

How Neuroscience Can Help You Manage Your Employees Better

Image Credit: DepositPhotos

Neuroscience is a science field that studies how the nervous system develops and works the way it does, what its structure is and how different triggers can influence our behaviors. Practically, it is everything related to the brain. Scientists are making fascinating discoveries every day about how the brain works.

There are strategies that can work as a loop pedal and this analysis of strategies will help you effectively manage your team’s performance and work environment.

Over the last two decades, there have been many breakthroughs in this field due to the fact that technology has evolved so much that we can literally see what parts of the brain are activated while performing any type of activity. This is how scientists are trying to explain how the brain works and how it influences us and our behaviors.

What Negative Distortion Is and Why It Matters

Our ancestors’ brain has evolved to be able to recognize the danger in a relatively short period of time so that they could protect themselves from a tiger or an enemy. That is why, throughout history, humans’ ability to detect danger was kept as a survival mechanism. It’s like pushing a red button that enables our fight or flight mechanism.

Even though we do not need to protect ourselves from tigers anymore, we still have this button that is prone to be activated whenever we perceive danger. That is why people are more susceptible to notice a negative headline in the newspaper or to spot unfriendly faces first. It’s the brain’s defense mechanism.

This way of the brain to spot negativity first is called negative distortion. Negative distortion is important in the management of our employees because they, as human beings, are prone to see danger and negativity first and that creates a state of uncertainty and permanent fear, especially now when we live in an anxiety era.

The Dopamine Effect

Unfortunately, there is no green button that can be pushed to make people observe the good things first, but there is a reward system in everyone’s brain that can be a good tool for leaders to activate so that their employees feel safe in their environment and, thus, be more productive.

The brain is an interesting organ that always craves rewards. This is because when we get rewards there is a flush of neurotransmitters that make us feel good.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has the effect of making us feel good about ourselves but it also has the effect of generating desire and making us expect a reward. Expecting reward is a good driver that makes employees more engaged in the activities they have to perform and makes them more enjoyable.

Therefore, if your employees expect rewards, they will be happier at work. It’s like a closed circle, dopamine generates happiness and it generates the expectation of rewards that, also, generates happiness.

The SCARF Model

The most important thing a leader has to know is what generates the happiness of his team members so that he can give them that reward. The SCARF model, developed by David Rock, gathers all of the employees’ most important needs.

Status. Status refers to how an employee feels that he is important compared to others. This does not mean that you have to create a fake sense of value, though.

Certainty. Your employees have to be able to think of the future in a safe and reliable way, so you have to be able to eliminate uncertainty from your team’s environment.

Autonomy. Even though the people working for you have to follow your vision, it’s important for them to be able to have a sense of control and to feel like they can make their own decisions and feel like they have the capacity to influence the decision-making process.

Relatedness. One of the most important things to keep employee engagement is to make them feel that they are a member of a group. This will give them a sense of acceptance which is essential for their happiness.

Fairness. Making employees feel that they are treated in a fair manner is the best you can do to reduce their fear.


Keeping your team engaged is not as difficult as it had been decades ago. Now, neuroscience can help develop new strategies for improving our team’s performance and it’s fair to say that, this way, we can keep ourselves, as leaders, happy and engaged as well.

brain model -DepositPhotos

Robert Hortingson

Robert Hortingson

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