The Missing Manual for the Human Being
You wanted to be an entrepreneur, a leader, not a psychologist, counsellor and agony aunt rolled into one. But you went and employed some staff, and now you spend half your day dealing with problems caused by people. It’s a problem; we’re not taught how to understand human behaviour at school, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to make up for that oversight.
We like to think we’re pretty rational. We have huge brains, stuffed full of complex concepts. We can analyse pretty well anything, and if there’s a species on the planet that’s brighter than us, it hasn’t showed its hand yet.
So why is a great deal of human behaviour so hard to fathom? Why do we spend a significant part of our lives worrying about things we can’t change, or worse still just feeling tense for no identifiable reason? And why is it so hard to fix workplace problems, even when there is an obvious, rational solution?
The answer is that nature rarely throws anything away - evolution has gifted us a rational exterior, but underneath we are running much older systems. Some of these date back a mere six million years to before we split off from the chimpanzees. Others are much older - our core survival routine, the fight-or-flight mechanism, is organised by a piece of brain that’s so old we share it with lizards.
So we have a number of different brains, handed down from different eras, with very different priorities. They are all trying to do things that meet their different needs, some of which date from when sabre-toothed cats roamed around.
We’re not really aware of this - we may feel unhappy when things ‘aren’t right’ at work, but we probably won’t know why. The underlying mechanisms aren’t really discussed in our culture, and we don’t even have words for some of them. In a complex social situation like an office the results can be, well, unhelpful...
Meanwhile, what you probably want in your people is intelligence, but sadly this is not a fixed commodity. As people become more wound up they become progressively less intelligent, less communicative, more insular and more concerned with themselves as the focus of control is handed back to progressively earlier brain routines. When things get tough enough our only concern is survival and we become selfish and angry.
But when the conditions are right the opposite can happen - we can link together and form a group brain which is larger than the sum of its parts, and then we can communicate, cooperate and do things we could not achieve individually.
Our job at Performance Review Pro is to add to people’s leadership and management skills so they can facilitate that happy, engaged, productive state. There are two vital steps: you need to know about the cognitive, emotional and behavioural conditions in which your people operate. Then you can facilitate the necessary learning so their scores in these areas improve and their capacity is no longer being lost.
Underpinning the Leadership and Development ethic of the MDHUB ,you may have already met us and been introduced to our ideas through the MDHUB Academy sessions we have been running in 2013 and 2014. Well-known MDHUB members are, of course, ahead of the curve and using these ideas already - Nixon McInnes, VW Heritage, Achieve Intelligence ,Oyster Healthcare and Propellernet have all recently run the service. If you’d like to have the underlying nature of the human being working for you rather than - well, who knows? - you might like to download our ebooks.
We call the first one The Missing Manual for the Human Being, because it contains all the stuff that would have saved us so much time and angst if they had told us about it back in school. The second ebook is a toolkit for leaders and managers, packed with practical techniques and ideas you can use to manage your people problems and help your team work more productively. They’re free, and they’ll get you on the road to happier, more engaged and more productive team.
Do please drop Piers a line if you have any questions.