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Dont fire your Employees…Fire their Mirror Neurons!

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

Lethargic managers breed lethargic employees, ever wondered why?

A neurological reason for this is “MIRROR NEURONS”

When any action or emotion is observed the mirror neurons inside our brain get activated and the result is mimicry or imitation. “All is Well” the famous line from a Bollywood movie named “3 idiots” was nothing but mirror neurons at work! By saying “All is well” Aamir Khan (the protagonist) was fooling the brain into believing it, mirror neurons get fired up or activated by what we see and what we do. In the above example. When the manager displays a lazy attitude these mirror neurons get activated in the employee who then imitates this laziness resulting in the formation of the same attitude, thus, the employees’ brain is wired into the action that he just observed. Mirror Neurons influence various aspects of the organization including both managers as well as the employees. 

In order to make sure that the employees are aligned with the organization’s goals, ideologies and beliefs, organizational culture should be promoted from the time the employee enters the organization. It is important because the culture of the organization dictates the way in which employees will interact, adjust and perform. Mirror neurons are very helpful in creating and promoting positive workplace cultures.

We all know that observation is the most basic form of learning and mirror neurons only prove this true. For instance: from the first day itself an infant interacts with the people around and quickly learns to smile. Similarly, when the newly hired employee enters the organization and interacts with the other employees, mirror neurons in his brain are firing (active), if he is welcomed with warmth, he inculcates the same within him throughout his journey with the organization.

A simple act such as starting a meeting on time talks way too much to the employee as his mirror neurons are active and the same behaviour would be portrayed in future by him. The employee internalizes those set of values that he experiences.

 Managers have a greater influence over the behaviour of their employees. An employee tends to imitate more from individuals whom they perceive as influential. Thus, managers can use mirror neurons as a tool to facilitate their goals and objectives. If a manager wants to emphasize a particular goal, instead of verbally communicating he could show some personal involvement in the task, ask for constant updates etc. Acts of managers get attuned with the moods and behaviour of their employees. When a manager displays clarity, open-mindedness, creativity and so on, these same neurons are activated inside the employee’s brain. In order to bring the team on the same page, managers can provide a sense of direction, trust and support which will light up the same for the entire team.

Along with analysing the challenges, they can show belief in the team or the employee to achieve a stretched goal. Recognizing after the achievement of the goal will not only help the employee feel important but also reinforce them to achieve such goals again in future with greater confidence. Thus, what you show to your team, that’s what the team will show back to you! Just by the knowledge of mirror neurons, managers can be conscious about their actions, they can reflect on their way of work and in turn influence the employee’s behaviour. 

Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, in 2013, ordered her employees to return to the office and work side by side with each other. Doing this would foster communication and collaboration. This is because humans are capable of understanding each other’s thoughts as well as emotions. When the employees see each other, they are also noticing the facial expressions. Some may feel pressured others may feel ambitious after getting a task. While reading these facial expressions employees are capable of understanding their co-workers and this facilitates empathy which in turn is a powerful indicator for employee well-being and engagement. In the wake of this pandemic, it is difficult to meet in person, however, simple gestures such as turning the camera on during a meeting, allowing the space for the employee to talk and produce deeper and meaningful communication has a greater chance of culminating into collaboration. 

Not only managers but the peers around the employee are a great tool for learning. Employees as well can use mirror neurons for their growth. In their work-life employees are bound to encounter conflict. Awareness about the functioning of mirror neurons proves to be very effective in this situation. During a conflict, if a particular employee protects his interests and won’t budge towards a common ground, oftentimes the other employee involved would react in a similar manner. However, if the employee communicates a behaviour that supports the agreement, chances of the employee shifting for agreement increases. Thus it can be an effective tool to manage conflicts and foster a positive environment. Having all the peers come together and learn would fire multiple mirror neurons each of them translating itself into learning which ultimately affects the organization’s productivity.

Organizations, wiring their employees, tend to face lesser instances of firing them.

Connect with and let us help you, wire your employees! 

#employeeengagement #mirrorneuronspeerlearningemployeeengagement

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