27/02/2015 04:17 GMT | Updated 26/04/2015 06:59 BST

What Does Neuroscience Say is Wrong With HR?

A provocative title perhaps. But have we got things a little back to front? Often when I ask organisations why they do things the way they do I get one of a couple of responses:

1) It's always been done that way

2) That's how other places do it

Neither of these necessarily means we should keep doing it that way.

So let's look at some of the traditional areas that HR normally has a hand in:

  • Organisation design
  • Organisation development
  • Resourcing & talent planning
  • L&D
  • Performance & reward
  • Employee engagement
  • Employee relations

Each of these areas involves people. Therefore an increased understanding of how people work would be advantageous when taking any of the areas in isolation. Neuroscience offers this. When it gets really exciting however, is when there is a unified approach. The performance & reward guys are championing the same thing as the OD guys, which is the same as the L&D people.

When you look at some organisations you see core principles cascading through everything they do. This tends to be more likely in a small or an entrepreneurial company but it doesn't have to be limited to here. It is undesirable from a brain perspective to have conflicting messages coming you from every direction.

  • It slows us down.
  • It can frustrate us.
  • It can lower your trustworthiness.

So what can be done? Heaps. The first thing to do though is to get clear on what your core is. What does the organisation stand for? What are its guiding principles? Now I'm biased. I'd love to see every organisation take what neuroscience shares with us into consideration at this point. There are some keys we take from the neuroscientific literature that can help shape cultures that are more resilient, flexible and overall stronger.

Even without that knowledge though it can make a big difference to an organisation's results in the behaviours being shaped are all the same, rather than conflicting which is often the case.