NEUROSCIENCE IN SUPPORT OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE
When we talk about Organizational Culture, we refer to the set of habits, beliefs, values, and norms that guide the behavior of all employees of an organization. It reflects the ethics and morals that the organization has, and it is the fundamental key for employees to feel motivated, engaged, and aligned with the business strategy.
For this to happen, leaders must create an environment that provides, among other factors, security, trust, and a sense of belonging between employees and the organization. As simple as this may seem, the guarantee of these factors is much more complex, and involves a systemic collaboration of all the agents that compose the organization.
Creating a safe and reliable space
When a person is in a safe environment, he/she can relax and enter a status of mind that inspires innovation, creativity, ambition, and social engagement. All of this occurs thanks to a region in our brain called the amygdala.
When we feel threatened, we reduce our brain activity in our limbic system, responsible for coding and interpreting emotions, and we reduce it to the executive function of the prefrontal cortex, inhibiting any rational activities such as creativity and the search for excellence. With that, we concentrate our brain activity in a region known as the reptilian system or basal brain. This region is characterized by the guarantee of the individual's survival, in addition to being responsible for the regulation of primary functions and sensations such as hunger, thirst, sleep, among others.
When the amygdala perceives these threatening emotions, it releases certain hormones into our bloodstream, putting us in a state of alertness, which will result in fighting, flight, or freezing behavior. However, we can train our bodies to relax instead of being defensive in times of high stress.
Thereby, ensuring that people are feeling safe and confident in the environment in which they find themselves, is essential for them to perform well and strengthen feelings of empathy and social engagement. In a safe environment, teams become more productive and proactive, offer better customer service, and show higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment to other team members and the organization.
Creating a feeling of connection and belonging
Humans have always lived in a society. We need each other to achieve personal needs. Group life, in an evolutionary aspect, for example, increased human’s chances of survival in a world surrounded by predators.
Also, the sense of connection and belonging can affect productivity and emotional well-being. According to research published in Exame magazine, emotions in the workplace are contagious. People can feel emotionally drained and influenced by poor performance just by watching unpleasant interactions between coworkers.
If we are inserted in an environment that we do not feel safe, we will not automatically establish a feeling of connection and belonging with the other members of the group. Therefore, the quality of our work might be compromised.
According to neuroscience, when we feel safe, we register this sensation in the reptilian brain. But we also need to feel cared for. This feeling of attachment and zeal stimulate our limbic brain, responsible for interpreting and recognize our emotions. Therewith, the superior functioning prefrontal cortex is stimulated, and our capacity for logical reasoning, innovation, creativity, and social connection is activated.
Some simple actions can promote this feeling of belonging, such as smiling at people, calling them, and recognizing them by name, remembering their interests and personal details, among other actions that have a significant emotional charge. Using a song, motto, symbol, song, or ritual that uniquely identifies your team can also strengthen that sense of connection.
If you want to inspire the best of your team, defend them, support them, and create a space of trust and mutuality. In an environment of security and respect, people will feel respected, welcomed, and valued, and these feelings will revert to performance and organizational development.
Desenvolvimento de Talentos,
INSTITUTO MAURINO VEIGA.
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What is organizational culture? And why should we care? S. l.: Harvard Business Review, 15 maio 2013. Disponível em: https://hbr.org/2013/05/what-is-organizational-culture. Acesso em: 11 dez. 2020.
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