Let’s Face It – Your Business Runs on Your Employee’s Brains
The fundamental truth is that except for the most manual of labor intensive activities, all companies rely mostly or exclusively on the brains of their employees. This truth is easy to witness with tech companies or accounting firms where the desired “product” flows out of employees through their fingertips into computers – manifesting itself as computer code or financials. Less obvious are all the other industries out there such as retail, construction, manufacturing and healthcare. You know, industries where the products are more than just numbers or 1’s and 0’s. They’re patients. Buildings. Happy customers. And to produce those products requires more than just alone time with a computer. They might take teamwork. Charisma. Quick reactions. Instinct. The required skills are as varied as the end “products” themselves.
If you dig deep enough, they have one thing in common – the degree to which a person can exercise the required skill is directly correlated with the wellbeing of that person’s brain. All modern jobs require a well-functioning brain.
We tend to think of brain skills as things like critical thinking, memory, cognition and computation. While that is certainly the case, the truth is that many of the softer business skills are also brain based and can suffer if brain health isn’t maintained. Skills like empathetic listening, emotive communication, leadership, persuasion, openness and consensus building all directly depend on a person’s brain. As a business manager, you know how important such skills are – they are often the difference between a great organization and one that struggles.
The truth is unavoidable – if your brain isn’t firing on all cylinders, you’re not firing on all cylinders
How Important is This?
Critically important. Think back to a day at work where you know your brain wasn’t up to par. Maybe you were distracted, hungry, stressed, or exhausted. Think back to that time and reflect on how degraded your performance was. When people do this, they don’t think in terms of 5% less effective. No, they usually use terms like “wow, I didn’t get anything done today” or “that thing I did today was pure crap”, right? You know that experience. You were pretty impaired if not useless simply because your brain wasn’t in a healthy operating condition. That’s it.
Ok, I get it, sometimes I am not at my best. Does it really matter?
Ponder this: Airlines have spent tens of millions of dollars to shave seconds off the boarding process of an airliner. You name it – time and motion studies, ticket scanners, different boarding schemes, unassigned seating. They’ve literally tried almost everything. Even changing the carpeting on the aircraft to get people to walk quicker down the aisle. You, as a traveler know the process.
Now, I want you think about doing the job of the gate agent or the flight attendant on one of your slow or fuzzy days that we talked about above. Do you think that you might cause the boarding process to slow down? Absolutely. What if it wasn’t just you – but the entire flight crew? Imagine the impact on the process. All that work, all those time and motion studies, all those tens of millions of dollars are being undone not because the process isn’t efficient, it is because the brains of the people running the processes aren’t firing on all cylinders.
Just apply this to your own business. How much inefficiency is caused by suboptimal brain conditions? 5%? 10%? Below, we’ll tackle this issue in more detail and the outcome might surprise you.
Bad, OK and Great Days
The easiest way to think about the impact of suboptimal brain health is to again look back at your own experiences and divide up your work days into three buckets: Bad, OK and Great.
Take the worst days – the days we referenced above – and put them in your “Bad” bucket. These are the days where you struggled to do much of anything. If you put your boss hat on, I think you would agree that the business would have been better off if you weren’t even in the office. Right? Not only is it a lack of productivity, but quality is often such a liability that not having you there would be a net gain for the business. This is especially true in fields such as medicine or construction – where a mistake can end up costing a business far more than a lost work day. In customer facing industries such as retail, a “bad day” by an employee might cost you a customer. Or three. It might even damage your company’s reputation so much as to cause permanent harm (see United Airlines). Bad days might result in office outbursts or degradations in team chemistry. Think about that – businesses spend millions each year in team building exercises only to have them undone because of someone having a bad brain day.
These are your normal days. The average days. You know what it feels like. It feels like every other day. I want you to associate a number between 1 and 10 with it. 1 being a Bad Day and 10 being a Great Day. What is it? A 6 maybe? Remember it, we’ll be coming back to it shortly.
These are the opposite of Bad Days. Great Days are those days where your brain is at peak capacity. Everything comes easy. Your productivity amazes you. Things just go right. You know what that feels like because you’ve experienced it. These days are your 10’s.
Brain Health Coaching is about learning the things that cause each of these types of days to occur and strengthening your brain just like you would your body. Truth be told – the purpose isn’t to turn every day into a Great Day. Rather, it about eliminating the Bad Days and raising the level of performance for the OK Days. Sure, Great Days can be more plentiful once you understand how to have them – but that’s not the primary focus. Just like you would experience with a personal trainer, it is about raising your level of performance overall. Making you stronger, smarter, more agile in your thinking. Now think back and imagine how much more capable and productive you would be if you didn’t have Bad Days and your OK Days were a few points higher. Say 7’s or 8’s instead of 6’s. What could you achieve? What could your company achieve if that were the case for everyone? What could this mean for your company’s bottom line? How much more successful would you be?
Brain Health Coaching – How it Works
Through Brain Health Coaching, we teach employees to start treating their brains like any other muscle of their body. To stop just taking it as a part of a greater whole. But rather a part of them that can be nourished and strengthened specifically.
Brain Health Coaching teaches people how to achieve overall brain health through the education of good vs. bad practices. What is a brain healthy diet. How to remove toxins from the body. How to avoid bad habits and embrace good ones. The importance of sleep and useful relaxation techniques. The role of supplements and vitamins. Exercises for the mind and the body. Meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy. Much like the exercises a personal trainer would teach a client in the gym, these are all practices that a brain health coach teaches professionals to eliminate Bad Days and raise their overall performance.
Lisa Marini Coaching employs a blended solution of video and in-person training to achieve results. Each company is different and we customize our solution to fit your unique needs and circumstances. While each program may be different in its delivery, they are all based on our three core principles:
- Results: Each engagement starts out with identifying multiple Key Performance Indicators to measure the impact of our program. Common indicators include: productivity, quality, absenteeism, morale and retention
- Multi-Faceted Curriculum: Achieving and maintaining a healthy brain isn’t done with a silver bullet. Our curriculum spans multiple facets including nutrition, lifestyle, stress reduction, mental and physical exercise and inner work
- Accountability: Each program is crafted to make sure that all participants are held accountable
Why Wouldn’t You?
If you’re like most companies, you have focused on raising your organization’s productivity in countless ways: process engineering, technology upgrades, process and communication software, knowledge training, incentives, team building exercises, company retreats, flexible work days, unlimited time off, perks – you name it. Some have worked, some haven’t. Much like the airlines in the example above, you are dedicated to achieving results and you have focused on everything – except for the brains of your most precious resource, your people.
We aren’t telling you to stop these programs. But in some ways, they’re really only addressing the symptoms. Imagine how much more powerful they could be if every employee was firing on all cylinders. That requires a healthy brain. It all starts there.