I was at the CIPD conference yesterday, and many of the seminars and discussions touched in some way on mental well being or neuroscience. In particular, how making mental well being a priority, and understanding how our brains work can help us to create happier and more effective workplaces.
I don’t profess to be anywhere near an expert on these things, but I do have some knowledge and (largely due to my active involvement on social media) have been aware of the key concepts and benefits for some time. I suspect that many HR and training professionals are in exactly the same position. Yet, as I sat in a seminar about the importance of neuroscience in HR yesterday, a worrying thought hit me: “It’s all very well the HR/Training team knowing about these things, but almost everyone else in the organisation is completely unaware of what this is, let alone how important it is and how to use it”. It’s like this is a big secret we are keeping to ourselves…and I can understand why.
- Many senior managers are still resistant to ‘soft stuff’ so unless you can link it directly to hard and fast results, they will dismiss it as a fad (a bit like social media!)
- It can be hard to explain in simple terms to people whose roles are highly operational. Things like this tend to come across as a bit academic and are so put in the ‘too difficult’ box, or considered ‘not relevant to me’.
- Most HR and Training people still spend most of their time dealing with transactional stuff: Recruiting people, handling disciplinaries, running inductions, and arranging mandatory training. They don’t have the time (or energy) to start talking about this really important stuff and educating their colleagues.
I think it’s a shame, because the better we understand ourselves, our behaviour and what’s driving that behaviour, the more effective we can be. From this point, we can start to better understand the way that our colleagues and customers work (and why). Then we can make better choices about our behaviour, which will affect our relationships, which will affect our results.
I’m not sure how we can change this. Maybe one answer is to outsource the more straightforward aspects of the role, or push them down the line. Maybe it’s to subtly introduce these concepts into everything we do. Maybe it’s to fiercely protect some time for working on that ‘important but not urgent’ stuff, or maybe it’s simply to stop going to everyone’s rescue and using our knowledge to push back and coach others to deal with more things, more successfully, themselves.