How Can an Understanding of Neuroscience Help HR Leaders?

Neuroscience and Human Resources do not immediately spring to mind as being deeply connected. White lab coats, mice, and images of brains – how exactly do they connect with an HR leader struggling over how to manage a big team of people? With the findings of neuroscience uncovering more about why people act the way they do, and how different stimuli affect our brains, we are starting to understand more about human behaviour; and that should be of profound interest to every HR leader.After all, without understanding people how can you manage them?

Advances in Neuroscience

The field of neuroscience is far from new. But recent advances in imaging techniques and computing power have allowed scientists to examine the brain and behaviour triggers far quicker and in more detail than previously possible.Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is able to home in on the parts of the brain that are “active” when exposed to different stimuli, and it helps to identify connections between different parts of the brain. When interpreted by qualified neuroscientists, this can help us to better understand people’s decision making and behaviour.

Reward Centres

Of particular interest to HR leaders is the subject of reward and recognition – a central concept to most leadership strategies in organisations.Studies have identified the main reward centres of the brain – that is, those that are most active when we are recognised and rewarded for our performance. For instance the ventral striatum, which is a small area in the centre of the brain, seems to be of great importance during the process of being praised and recognised for our efforts.

Neurosplasticity and How We Learn

Another key concept that has been confirmed by neuroscience is the ability of the brain to change itself. Despite what was previously thought, new neural pathways can be created at any age – so we really are never too old to learn, and you can teach an old dog new tricks! HR leaders may like to consider this when creating training and development programs.