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Make Your Firm's Team More Effective Using Neuroscience

You know your firm better than anyone else. Take stock of what's going on, and don't be afraid to make changes to enhance psychological safety.

Nov 12th 2019
Deputy Editor AccountingWEB
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Take a moment and think about how well the team at your firm works together. Chances are, there are likely more than a few ways everyone could work together more effectively. But what exactly are the drivers behind this goal of performance-driven firm leaders everywhere?

The answers might surprise you, says Abbie Louie. She's a leadership expert who went from working with Boeing to helping team leaders use neuroscience to enhance productivity at work. She began her talk at this year's QB Connect in San Jose by referencing Project Aristotle.

In case you've never heard of it, some background: Google keeps data on everything, including the inner workings of their own organization. Over the years, they've tried a couple of unique ways to improve their company. Some have been more successful than others: One measure that involved removing managers, for instance, was quickly reversed after just a couple of months.

This new project looked into exactly what drove effective teams, and the results were, to say the least, surprising.  However, they were also incredibly useful. First, they revealed that it's not really who's on the team; rather, it's how the team works together. Louie also noted Google came up with five specific drivers: impact, meaning, structure and clarity, dependability, and, the most important: psychological safety.

What exactly is that? Well, it's pretty simple, says Louie. People want to come to work in a place where they feel mentally safe and accepted. They want to feel like they can show both their strengths and their flaws, ask questions when they need to, and feel relaxed.

So, how healthy is your firm? Is it one where employees generate and voice ideas often, or are they relatively quiet and fearful of criticism? Louie says it's wise to do inventory of what's going on, since employees who are not in a psychologically safe workplace are less likely to be able to be creative and productive. There's a biological reason for this, she adds: The brain actually shuts down when it's in "fight or flight" mode. 

You know your firm better than anyone else. Take stock of what's going on, and don't be afraid to make changes to enhance psychological safety.

 

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