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Managewich on the Run

“Stuck Inside These Four Walls, Sent Inside Forever, Never Seeing No One Nice Again Like You…”

Oops, sorry.  That’s “Band on the Run.”  But it could describe the managewich’s office, yes?

Whenever I hear about the “Fight or Flight” Response, I wonder….  is it really either or?

The answer is for the most part, yes.  According to David Rock’s article “Manage With the Brain in Mind,” when we encounter something out of the ordinary, like the CEO from the corporate office 1000 miles away walking down the hallway or a reduction in force on a Thursday morning in the middle of the month, the limbic system in our brains activate.  When this happens, our brains activate the neurons and hormones that help us to decide whether this new thing is going to result in a reward or threat.  If the brain perceives threat, that triggers the fight or flight response, and in extreme cases we get what’s called the “amygdala hijack” (that’s when all rational thought ceases and the screaming crazy person takes over).

For those of you who read my blog regularly, this is not news.  The part of this that is news is that the social threat seems to be more intense and longer lasting.  Per David Rock:

“The threat response is both mentally taxing and deadly to the productivity of a person – or of an organization. Because this response uses up oxygen and glucose from the blood, they are diverted from other parts of the brain, including the working memory function, which processes new information and ideas. This impairs analytic thinking, creative insight, and problem solving; in other words, just when people most need their sophisticated mental capabilities, the brain’s internal resources are taken away from them.”

What does this mean for those of you in the sandwich generation of managers?

When you receive a social slight, you’re very likely to get into “fight or flight mode.”  In this economic environment, I’m seeing more “flight” because of the fear that “fight” might end badly.  The fear doesn’t help the flight, by the way.  A good way to nip this in the bud is the Stop-Think-Choose method.  Email me if you’d like an explanation of this.

Here’s the real productivity killer.  When managewiches make people feel bad in meetings, they create that stress response for almost everyone in the meeting.   Their brains shut down.  Since we pay most of the people in our organizations for their ability to think to create new products and services and/or to solve problems, creating fear isn’t the best way to get the results you want.

So what can the manager stuck in the middle do?

  • Don’t be an a$$ at work.
  • Protect your staff from others who want to make them feel bad.  Trust me, most people feel bad enough at work.  How has that worked so far?
  • Reward what you want.
  • Spend more time with your stars than your problem children.

Finally, be your best you.  It rubs off.

Be Your Best You Today,

Carolann Jacobs

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