If senior executives treated their employees in the same way that CEOs in manufacturing companies treated their production equipment, their organizations would be much more innovative, productive and profitable. In manufacturing operations, there is a significant focus on maintaining the effectiveness and efficiency of the machines that produce hard goods. Typically, such companies pay 12% of the cost of the equipment to ensure that it is well serviced and maintained. Senior managers are fully aware that, if a machine malfunctions and production stops, no revenues or profits are realized. There is a sense of urgency in management ranks to ensure that equipment is running smoothly and, additionally,that funds are spent freely for upgrades that can make any machine run faster and better.
While CEOs state that employees are their most valuable assets, they tend to know more about the company’s equipment than they know about its human resources. While they’re willing to spend 12% of their machines’ cost in service, they’re reluctant to pay anything close to that percentage of payroll on their people. While they’ll spend funds to increase the productivity of their machines, they are very hesitant to invest in training programs that will increase the productivity of their workers. The disconnect is glaring and inconsistent with the belief that people are the organization’s most valuable assets.
Just like a machine’s motor is the guts of the equipment, a person’s brain is the source of an employee’s behaviours, motivations and actions. And just like a machine’s motor has service maintenance requirements, a person’s brain needs to be maintained and kept in top shape. The problem is that, until recently, while we know lots about machine maintenance, we know little about maintenance of the human brain. That’s all changing as research in the field of neuroscience is giving us important knowledge that can increase the mental health of an organization’s workers – resulting in higher productivity, output, morale, engagement, commitment, innovation and employee retention.
David Rock, executive director of the Neuroleadership Institute and Dan Siegel, executive director of the Mindsight Institute, have created a model called The Healthy Mind Platter , that is very helpful in understanding how to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the human brain. This model reveals that the brain works at peak capacity when it:
- is focused
- is allowed to enjoy novel experiences and play
- connects to other people
- is in good physical shape
- is allowed reflection time
- is allowed down time , and
- gets sufficient rest and sleep
This an excellent prescription for our organizations’ leaders to start paying attention to the brains of their employees in much the same way they have been conditioned to focus on the motors of their machines. It is incredible to me that the above is not included in any Management or Leadership 101 program. It’s about time that leaders start to change their paradigms.