This is the third of three blogs jointly authored with Deborah Hulme of Minerva Engagement in which we discuss our approach to Brain-Friendly Change. Join us as we unpack Brain-Friendly Change in the forthcoming webinar at 12:30 on 22nd June – click here to reserve your place.
In the first blog, we drew on recent neurological discovery to outline how lack of connection, wellbeing and psychological safety, all much exacerbated by the pandemic, reduce our people’s capacity for change, causing change initiatives to fall short. Our current change methodologies just don’t address this. In the second blog, we highlighted emerging tools and techniques that we deploy to measure and understand psychological safety and protect capacity levels, to equip leaders to create safe environments for their people, and to enhance team and organisational resilience, wellbeing and connection. In this blog, we’ll talk about 3C’s for Brain-Friendly Change; Create, Craft, and Continue.
First, you’ll want to Create a different climate – one that provides a context in which change capacity grows, and in which change is more likely to be embraced. You’ll do this by recognising the reality and importance of factors such as felt psychological safety, wellbeing, anxiety, and resilience - and then doing something about them. We’d suggest you first assess and measure these. Once you’ve assessed levels of psychological safety, you can begin to address them. You can do that in ways that include shifting the language used in your organisation or teams to make it more ‘biological’ (organic, human) alongside the ‘mechanical’ (process, systems) - something more Brain-Friendly. You should work to create safe space, model behaviours that respect capacity, and focus on learning. Enable your people to be their best, rather than looking to get the best out of them. And as you change the climate, and enhance change capacity, you’ll start seeing your people more able and willing to embrace and embed change.
Second, Craft a change approach that integrates into your normal business change methodology tools and techniques to enhance wellbeing, connection and resilience, alongside established change management tools. You’ll have your own preferred change approach – and each change initiative will be different – but for us this means (as examples):
Including a baseline assessment of felt psychological safety as part of understanding the change landscape, and linking that to change benefits
Integrating an exploration of the impact of the proposed change in terms of perceived threat, connection, and felt wellbeing: what anxieties does this change introduce to different roles, how does it energise, and more? This enables us to design interventions that will be ‘Brain-Friendly’, enhancing change capacity, resilience, and connection on the change journey
Ensuring that communications and broader activities to engage around change recognise what we’ve learned about teams’ mindset and their capacity for change as well as the critical role that our use of language plays in enabling brain-friendly change
Casting change vision with line of sight to organisational purpose, incorporating something around enhanced wellbeing – perhaps highlighting connection and the ability to bring one’s whole self to work
Coaching leaders in creating safer and more connected teams, and providing learning to their people around resilience, managing stress, and calm as part of equipping for change.
Finally, Continue with activity to equip and embed resilience, connected and enhanced psychological safety in the organisation. This, as with any change embedding activity, can’t just end when a programme closes. Rather, it’s a critical ongoing leadership task. You’ll want to embed into your team / organisation culture ongoing ‘pulse-checks’ and regular learning for leaders and teams.
So, Create, Craft, and Continue - how to approach Brain-Friendly Change. It brings a holistic approach to change, one that’s needed if we are to engage with and address the very real human issues that reduce capacity for change and stop it landing well. We think it’s time to do change differently, making it truly people-centric, rather than just doing more of the same but better. Brain-Friendly Change – book on to the webinar on 22nd June and talk to us about how we can help you introduce it.
Deborah Hulme is founder of the Neuroleader Academy™ and Minerva Engagement, consultants and practitioners of applied neuroscience for high performance and wellbeing. Her passion for leadership and organisational wellbeing has been fuelled by a career in which she’s been instrumental in delivering sustainable change and engagement strategies across multi-national organisations. Deborah works hand in hand with organisations to deliver high performance and to create environments in which trust and wellbeing flourish.
For more about Minerva Engagement, please visit www.minervaengagement.com