How to Build Effective Teams Applying Neuroscience

Agustina Yasielski
19 January 2022
3 min read

For the most part, humans engage in a social tribe to better our chances of survival. Many of us have experienced isolation in the past few years due to Covid-19. Some people do well alone for extended periods, but many feel the need to connect to others. Even when we work on a specific task isolated from other people, teams need relatedness, connection, and a sense of belonging to improve performance. 

In addition, our brains have a survival/reward system that helps us solve different situations in life. When we feel threatened, our brain understands our life might be in danger and starts the fight, run or stay paralysed response.

David Rock presents a ‘SCARF’ model, which explains how different social life situations can trigger the same reaction. The model, which stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness is based on research that shows these five areas within the social domain can trigger the same reward and threat responses in the brain.1

On the other hand, our brain settles down when we feel safe, comfortable and valued. It gets the proper serotonin levels that give us more access to our brain capacity and better conversations with our team members. 

In hybrid work, you can make a difference as a leader in the way you build relationships with others and the conversations you have. It is essential to develop conversational skills and establish agreements that help our team members effectively express emotions and face different situations like feedback.

Spontaneous interactions may be far and few between, so you might consider incorporating them into agenda activities and dialogue spaces to help your team get to know each other.

The brain naturally tends to conserve energy. When you need to focus on your tasks for work, we can rev up this potential and jump into action. When we have several brains working together in a team, we need to guarantee team accountabilities and have a clear sense of the strengths of each individual on the team. We want these brains working together, not each trying to reinvent the wheel.

The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people. 
Theodore Roosevelt

How can we help our team to integrate? The work-related interactions will be more frequent if everyone understands what results can be accomplished better together.

At the same time, we need to be sure everyone knows what they should do, how valued they are and what impact they are making on the team goals. Highlight the actions and thinking patterns you want to reinforce in the team by recognising them.

How do we navigate uncertain times? Conscious values, a clear vision and team leadership can be the GPS to improve performance. When we consider team leadership, the ultimate question is: What is the team responsible for?

You can reduce cortisol levels by focusing on your team’s goals and creating an objective. When leaders make the expectations clear, we can better support those we work with. We should also focus on not just the work of others but their well-being. We can start with simple things, like sharing how we feel, what we need to succeed and how we can work together. Then, allow team members to also share these ideas. 

Allowing and encouraging practices like meditation, altering moments of work and relaxation, having meetings in different contexts and even walking or working outside can improve an individual’s performance, lifting up the entire team.

Creating an environment where every team member feels valued and accepted increases the creativity needed to find new solutions and reach goals. Research shows that cultural diversity leads to more innovation in teams and businesses, so why are so many organisations not heeding this advice?

The evidence presents a clear case. One study found that companies with above-average diversity had higher revenues related to innovation (45%) compared to less-diverse organisations (26%). Diverse teams were found to be better at driving market growth with these innovations.2

As leaders, we must ask ourselves if we are creating the right atmosphere for optimal teamwork. Are we leading by example? Do we understand the social implications? Are we listening to neuroscience and adapting our skillset to face new challenges? If we are not, then how can we ask our teams to do more?

 

Watch Agustina’s Brain-Friendly Channel Session

Topic: How To Build Effective Teams Applying Neuroscience
Language: Presented in Spanish, English subtitles will be automatically available 72 hours after the session on our YouTube Channel.
When: Jan 24 at 7PM GMT-6
Hosted by: Ricardo Gonzalez Escobar
Guest: Agustina Yasielski

 

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Citations:
  1. Rock D. SCARF: A brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others. NeuroLeadership Journal, https://davidrock.net/pu blications/ (2008, accessed 9 January 2022).
  2. Levine SR. Diversity Confirmed To Boost Innovation And Financial Results. Forbes Magazine, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesinsights/2020/01/15/diversity-confirmed-to-boost-innovation-and-financial-results/ (2020, accessed 9 January 2022).

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Agustina Yasielski

Agustina Yasielski

Certified i4 Neuroleader Practitioner
As a Neuroleader, Organizational Coach, Psychologist and Instructor, I´m curious about learning, neuroscience, coaching, HR and Technology applied. I have worked in Talent and Development for more than 9 years designing and implementing practices and processes to create experiences where everyone can find learning opportunities, develop themselves and become their best version.

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