Better Team Chemistry Through Brain Chemistry.
In a recent MEA leadership workshop, we talked about how many practices, habits, and hacks that we offer in Baja are applicable back in the real world of teams. And then, this excellent article came out from the Wharton School, which outlined what neuroscience has to do with this.
As you’ll read in the article, team building is about creating a shared mindset. The academics go on to outline seven science-based ideas that can help create this shared mindset amongst a team (so many of these relate to what we do at MEA):
- Eye contact: Brain scans show synchrony increases when people make eye contact. When they look away, synchrony decreases. In fact, two minutes of sustained eye contact between teachers and students in the classroom resulted in enhanced neural synchrony, higher engagement, and improved performance.
- Shared purpose: Identifying the group’s purpose is one way to create a common ground that transcends demographic or personal characteristics. Leaders can maximize inclusivity, collaboration, and success by deliberately establishing a shared purpose.
- Deeper conversations: Creating deep conversation prompt cards that encourage discussion of meaningful, values-based topics, cutting through the standard surface-level chat, helps to create more substantial connections faster. In MEA parlance, this is “3rd Vault” stuff.
- More time together: Trust and affection increase when you share someone’s company more often. When team members feel more interconnected, they have almost 60% less turnover and score in the top 20% for engagement. Neuroscience studies also show that the more time people spend with one another, the greater brain synchrony they exhibit.
- Personal gratitude: Letting someone know how much you appreciate them can increase prosocial feelings on both sides—the person expressing the gratitude gets the same happiness as the person receiving it.
- Music: Listening to music has been shown to increase oxytocin levels, thereby improving mood, motivation, and the ability to create bonds with others. Whether a meeting is virtual or in-person, team leaders should consider having music playing before a meeting starts as people enter the space. Yep, I’m walking to campus in a few minutes and will have my playlist ready before we start Circle.
- Find and leverage “chemistry creators”: Laboratory research corroborates the existence of chemistry creators and their impact on team synchrony levels. These people influence the degree of synchrony a team experiences by how much they talk in a group setting. When these people speak, there is greater inter-brain synchrony across the group.