Any busy manager knows how complicated it gets when managing performance. What are the key elements to keep in mind? How do we use the latest tips from brain science research to motivate people?

In reading Dr. Hallowell’s book Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011), I was drawn to the second step of his Cycle of Excellence, about connection.

To recap, the author, a psychiatrist and behavior expert, draws on brain science, performance research and his own experience to present a process for getting the best from people:

  1. Select: Put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.
  2. Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
  3. Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.
  4. Grapple and Grow: When the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
  5. Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

In step 1, a manager needs to review with each employee how good a fit exists for their talents and strengths and the tasks they are charged with. Then attention is turned to finding connection and interpersonal relationships at work.

Use Connection to Drive Performance

A positive working environment starts with how the boss handles negativity, failure and problems. The boss sets the tone by showing preferred behaviors and reactions. Employees take their cues from those who lead them.

Managers and employees require a mutual atmosphere of trust, optimism, openness, transparency, creativity and positive energy. Each group can contribute to reducing toxic fear and worry, insecurity, backbiting, gossip and disconnection.

Here’s what you can do as a manager to encourage connection:

  • Look for the spark of brilliance within everyone.
  • Encourage a learning mindset.
  • Model and teach optimism, as well as the belief that teamwork can overcome any problem.
  • Use human moments instead of relying on electronic communication.
  • Learn about each person.
  • Treat everyone with respect, especially those you dislike.
  • Meet people where they are, and know that most will do their best with what they have.
  • Encourage reality.
  • Use humor without sarcasm or at others’ expense.
  • Seek out the quiet ones, and try to bring them in.

In the work I do as a coach, we discuss how inadequate connections between people at work contribute to disengagement. When people feel they know and trust the others they work with, they go the extra mile. Everyone wins.

What do you think about this? How do you encourage connection with people? I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.