Managers around the world, sit up and pay attention. Your carefully considered advice dispensed to employees during annual evaluations is ignored. Your persistent attempts to develop team spirit consistently meet with failure. Your logical strategies result in chaos.
Oh, you’ve already noticed.
Then here’s your choice: keep doing what you’ve always done and getting what you’ve always gotten or revamp your management style in the ways recommended by Charles S Jacobs in Management Rewired. According to the author, an advisor to several Fortune 500 Companies, all the standard employee management tactics you’ve been taught are useless and counterproductive. Jacobs bases his theory on the results of research in a host of cognitive sciences that explode most of our established beliefs about how the brain works.
Logic, it seems, takes a backseat to emotion. Marketers know this, of course, and they exploit it to the fullest. Advertising appeals to everything except logic, else why would women in bikinis be used to pitch wrenches and cars? The fact is, we all make our decisions for emotional reasons then cast around for logical explanations to justify what we’ve already decided to do. Your company probably uses an appeal to emotion in order to sell its product or service. But when it comes to the inner workings, businesses run on logic. While it sounds like a recipe for disaster, Jacobs assures us that “our emotions lead to better business decisions than our logic.”
Counterintuitive, yes. But Jacobs draws on science to back up his claims that we’re all living in our own realities, stories about ourselves and the worlds that our unruly brains compose. When we act on our individual version of reality without considering the reality in which others dwell and the logic they employ, misunderstandings are guaranteed.
Not only do we live in our own mental universes, we are constantly writing, editing, and revising our personal narratives to make external events fit our stories. To clarify this, Jacobs tells of a woman in a hospital who was firmly convinced that she was in her own home. When asked to explain all the elevators outside her room, the woman responded, “Doctor, do you know how much those cost to have installed?” When confronted by irrefutable proof that she was not in her home, this woman simply rewrote her story to explain away the discrepancy. “To us,” Jacobs writes, “she’s ‘making it up as she goes along.’ To neuroscientists, that’s just the point. We all make it up as we go along.”
With everyone bouncing around in different tales, is there any chance for getting employees together in the same plot? Jacobs delivers optimistic examples that suggest it is, indeed, possible, including Henry V’s inspired and inspiring leadership at the Battle of Agincourt and JFK’s charismatic call to service that motivated thousands of young Americans to enlist in humanitarian service.
With narrative as his primary theme, Jacobs follows through by providing ample anecdotes from businesses large and small to illustrate his assertions. He doesn’t overwhelm readers with details of the science behind the theory, but footnotes are provided for those who want hard evidence before jumping on a new motivational train. Management Rewired delivers nicely on the promise to help “create more effective strategies to beat the competition, delight your customers, understand your boss and motivate your employees.” While aimed at managers, the tactics that motivate workers can just as easily be used to create better and more effective teamwork within families or community organizations.
Management Rewired is a friendly invitation to step outside the fictional world you’ve constructed, give it a twist, and maybe even find your way into a better story than the one you’ve been telling yourself.