The Neuroscience of Organizational Culture

The Neuroscience of Organizational Culture

While this process is designed to be applied individually and privately, as Wexler (2006) notes, that interconnections between and among neuron assemblies only occurs with specific stimulation and the nature of the interconnections depends on the nature of the stimulation, and the most impactful stimulation comes in the form of “interaction with other people”.  Not only is this most impactful in the workplace, but behavioral problems can only be solved through this interactive process with others. For an intact work team, or even two individuals working together, the process would operate as follows and includes one additional step:

* As with individuals described above, a team needs to clarify the behavioral stimuli that produce negative behaviors and poor performance. This is obviously a more challenging task in the workplace than privately with a therapist, and there needs to be a collective understanding and acceptance of this process. Often a coach or expert facilitator help this process greatly, particularly in the early stages. Again, there is a need to be specific about the stimulus (for example, a particular behavior that exhibits a negative response) and the writing down process is important.

* The team then discusses a more suitable response in this “re-framing” step. In this case, both the stimulus behavior (for example how a manager might behave) and the response behavior (how employees respond to the manager’s behavior) needs to be reframed in a more productive manner. This discussion should be couched in a positive and mutually beneficial way (because it is easy for this dialogue to devolve into a blame game scenario).

* This reframing must then be practiced like a sports team would practice drills. The most effective example I have witnessed this process working in company was with a safety focused ritual. These rituals were practiced by the CEO down to contract workers. The introduction of these activities can be more difficult with a team because there can be a sense of awkwardness, particularly at first. But if the team handles this process in a constructive manner, they can positively hold each other accountable to be successful and to be mutually reinforcing.

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Kevin Weitz

Kevin WeitzKevin is Principle Organizational Consultant with Intel Corporation working with their leadership team to optimize Intel’s culture to support its business strategy into new markets. For over 25 years Kevin has consulted with organizations like Chevron, Levi Strauss & Co, Wells Fargo Bank, Pacific Gas & Electric, British Columbia Hydro and Standard Bank of South Africa on large scale organizational transformational projects. These transformational initiatives are almost always extremely challenging for these organizations, especially for employees and other stakeholders. Kevin’s transformation work focuses on engaging leaders, employees and stakeholders on becoming more adaptable and resilient to constant and disruptive change. Kevin has a master’s degree in business administration and is currently pursuing his doctorate in organizational psychology at the Professional School of Psychology in Sacramento California.

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