Whilst we live in a fast paced, high technology world where businesses are constantly looking to innovate to gain an edge, the often overlooked competitive advantage lies not in the system and processes but in a highly motivated and productive human workforce. After all, it is our people who operate and maintain the high tech machines, develop relationships with clients and are responsible for a wide range of customer facing services.
But for switched on bosses who are looking to maximise business outcomes, the “holy grail” of human performance lies in a clear understanding of what drives productive behaviour. This often appears to be easier said than done and to prove the point, consider the following…
- Have you ever wondered why incredibly talented individuals in the sporting world have an occasional “shocker” where they act irrationally and have “brain explosions”?
- Have you ever considered why smart people in the business world do stupid things, bend the rules or take shortcuts seemingly implode under pressure?
- Or why highly trained doctors and professional people in high risk environments like the health system at times fail to follow procedures and best practice?
The simple and common answer to the above is that as human beings, we all have a vulnerability to act “out of character” under certain conditions where clear thinking is impeded. It’s that not we deliberately sabotage our actions but there appears to be something that interferes with the clear thinking process.
So what are the triggers that serve to impede clear thinking leading to unproductive outcomes?
Clear thinking and effective decision making are compromised when either an individual’s basic needs or their psychological needs are not being met. When these intrinsic human needs are not met, individuals compromise their behaviour and demonstrate defensive, dysfunctional behaviours in a non-conscious effort to get their needs met.
There are three levels of intrinsic human needs that must to be fulfilled if we are to stay in a productive, clear thinking mind space:
- Basic physiological survival needs: such as food, water, warmth and rest
- Basic safety and security needs: these include a safe and orderly operating/home environment as well as trusting relationships with others
- Individual psychological needs: each person has a set of psychological needs which is determined by one’s personality structure.
Let’s look at these individually…
Basic physiological needs: In an affluent society like Australia, most people are able to satisfy the basic physiological needs, although food and rest can be problematic for some people who are working or living in high stress environments. Lack of adequate sleep and a poor diet are huge contributors to fatigue which undermines the clear thinking required to achieve success in our fast paced 21st century world.
Basic safety and security needs: A safe, non-threatening home and work environment enables people to stay relaxed and focused in order to achieve peak performance (we call this an “OK” mindset). Any work or home environment that presents a physical or emotional threat to a person’s safety inhibits optimal performance and results in adaptive, sub-optimal behaviours (we call this a “Not OK” mindset). For example, if people feel threatened through a lack of trust in the workplace, they may withdraw and not share information with others, which is clearly an unproductive workplace behaviour.
In fact, low trust behaviours such as knowledge hoarding, closed rather than open communication and gossiping are widespread practices in the typical workplace. These occur because employee safety and security needs are not being adequately satisfied
In the workplace, it is the job of the boss to create an environment where employees feel physically and emotionally safe. This increases employee engagement and enables greater flow of the desired productive human behaviours.
Individual psychological needs: Whilst the above two basic categories of needs are generic to all human beings, a person’s psychological needs will vary according to their personality type.
Every one of us has a specific set of psychological needs, which, if not met in a healthy manner, will lead to a distress pattern of compensatory behaviours that are observable, predictable and sequential in nature.
If our primary psychological needs are not regularly being fed throughout the course of any given day, a person will slip into distress and demonstrate the associated pattern of behaviour, along with a “Not OK” mindset. These distress behaviours include verbally attacking others to blaming, breaking the rules, manipulation, becoming “wishy washy” in decision making and even playing a victim role in relationships. When anyone is in such a state of mind, clear thinking is inhibited and people are prone to making mistakes.
Important: As far as distress behaviours are concerned, there’s both good and not so good news!
Firstly, the not so good news. That is, most of us unwittingly slip into distress many times a day where our capacity to think clearly is significantly compromised. This not only reduces productivity in the workplace but it can also significantly affect the quality of relationships in all areas of one’s life
But there’s also plenty of good news.
Firstly, if we understand how to feed our own individual psychological needs, we can stop ourselves from slipping into distress in the first place.
Secondly, if we slip into distress and we’re able to identify that we’re in the “Not OK” thinking space, we can bring ourselves back into the productive thinking space by simply feeding the appropriate psychological needs.
Thirdly, we can help shift others from a distressed “Not OK” mindset back into the “OK space” by feeding that person’s psychological needs. This is an incredibly powerful skill for any boss, parent or aspiring leader to understand and master.
Now for the best news… there is a scientifically validated and proven body of knowledge that teaches anybody, anywhere how to maintain a peak performance “OK mindset” and it’s called the Process Communication Model (PCM)
PCM training teaches us how to stay in a productive mindset. It also provides us with the practical tools to both recognise and respond appropriately to these predictable distress behaviours and re-establish good communication, logical thinking and effective decision making. PCM training significantly improves human performance in the workplace.
PCM also has been used as a performance improvement tool for businesses over the past 30 years. The effectiveness and reliability of PCM was acknowledged by NASA and it was used for the recruitment and team training of astronauts during the space shuttle program.
PCM is the missing link in mindset, communication and peak performance training!
If you are interested in finding out more on the PCM training course I run, be sure to get in touch.