Monday, March 6, 2017

Powered by Teamwork

Friends and Colleagues,

Move over business leaders, the scientists will show you how it works!

I can’t tell you how excited I was this week when I received the March issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR) and on the cover was “The New Science of Teamwork.” In fact, the last two issues of HBR have included several articles linking science and business. 

In an interview with Helen Fisher, a biologic anthropologist (who has spent her career doing functional MRI research on brain systems that drive human emotions, personality and attraction) summed it up nicely by saying “If you understand how the brain works, you can reach anyone.” Fisher and others are now using their scientific findings to improve the workplace.
One article that really caught my attention was, “The Neuroscience of Trust: Management Behaviors that Foster Employee Engagement.” In it, the author describes how wild animals are known to have a higher level of oxytocin to signal when another animal is safe to approach and how stress will inhibit oxytocin release. This makes sense because when you are stressed out, you rarely want to interact with others. The author postulated that the same may apply to humans so they did a series of tests measuring oxytocin level in different scenarios. The results were fascinating. The experiments showed that having a sense of higher purpose stimulates oxytocin production, as does trust. Trust and purpose then mutually reinforce each other for even higher levels of oxytocin, which produces happiness.

Applying this to the workplace, joy on the job can come from doing purpose-driven work with a trusted team. This scenario leads to high engagement with a strong connection with one’s work and colleagues, being a real contributor to the team and enjoying ample chance to learn.
And there is more! The author shows that we can act on this data to make our workplace better. There are several effective ways to increase oxytocin levels: 1) recognizing excellence, 2) giving people discretion in how they do their work, 3) sharing information broadly through good communication, 4) building relationships and, 5) helping people develop personally and professionally. However, in order to know which of these areas to focus on, associates needs to provide input, advice and feedback. Well, the timing for this article could not be better.

The bi-annual MedStar Associate Survey just launched and asks your opinion in the following categories: Career Development and Training, Communications, Engagement, Leadership and Direction, Performance Management, Patient First, Supervision, Total Rewards, and Teamwork. This survey is online and only takes 10-15 minutes to complete. Visit now to voice your opinion.

Together, we will build a future at MHRI and MedStar Health that is focused and powered by you. And together, we will raise all of our oxytocin levels to new heights! Thank you for all you have done to advance health and for your input on how to do this important work even more effectively and enjoyably!


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