Research into human cognition suggests that the brain optimizes more for efficiency than for accuracy. Our minds think one thing, but our brains often have us do something else. Unless someone is acutely aware of these biases (and even if they are), they are likely to be affected by them.
While the study of cognitive science is relatively new, people have been using many of these “tricks” for all of human history. Any good sales person applies many of these tricks on a daily basis to do their jobs well. There is great power in knowing a little about cognitive science and how to apply it.
Below are a few tools that can be useful for motivating your employees if applied sincerely. These tools can rarely be used in isolation, and they beg to be complemented by mentoring, a positive management style, and continued positive reinforcement.
Cognitive scientists have already identified over 180 heuristics and biases in humans. Not all of them apply to management, but utilizing the ones that do can have huge benefits for an employee’s morale, engagement, and productivity, and ultimately their career. To be applied effectively the manager must always act in the employee’s best interest, and the employee needs to perceive the manager this way. Using cognitive science in management takes time and patience, so expect results in weeks or months, not days.
Nowhere does the use of cognitive science have a greater impact than with Millennials. The omnipresent myth of Millennials being horrible workers is simply not true. They are not motivated the same way their parents were, which has caught many managers by surprise. Millennials require more of a personal focus on how they are growing and impacting the business. Cognitive science techniques are invaluable in aiding them in establishing and executing on a positive vision of themselves in the workplace.
Helping your people flourish is vital to your success as a manager, so leverage cognitive science to better motivate Millennials and older workers alike. After all isn’t it nicer to work in an environment where people are happy and driven?