To start todays post, I want you to make sure that you do NOT think about pink elephants. Just don’t. And every time you do, I want you to make a mental note that you have.
Research is really clear on this topic. In the US, employees want to feel like their opinions are valued, they are valued, and that they’re involved. When you’ve got that going, your employees will be highly productive beyond your wildest dreams.
But… what is really important is that it’s sincere. In my series last week, I talked about how leaders can fail badly if they start to think that there’s a real class difference between themselves and their employees. Everything you think will come through in your actions and your behaviors. This is what social psychologists talk about as your implicit and explict attitudes.
Implicit attitudes are those little thoughts that nibble around at the back of your brain can (and do) come to visit when you’re not attending to them. If you don’t believe me, visit and play around with the IAT. But, keep in mind, the point of this test isn’t to tell you how many racial biases you have. It’s just to make you aware of the power of implicit attitudes. Don’t walk away from it thinking, “Wow… I’m a bigot.” Walk away thinking about how implicit attitudes can affect your outward behaviors. That’s how you defuse them.
The problem with implicit attitudes is that you can’t constantly attend to them. If you pay too much attention to them, you end up falling victim to them. The old trick for this is what I put at the beginning of the post about not thinking about pink elephants. How many times did you? You did it, because you were lured into it. By trying not to think about them, your brain does it anyway. It’s a catch-22 that can send your brain into a fit.
If you’re not sincere about your desire to be an involved employer, your employees are going to notice. Your brain will always tip your hand to them, no matter how much you act and try to pretend. So, how do you deal with it?
Get involved. Start thinking about your employees as people. See them as individuals. When you think about them as individuals, take note of what other thoughts come up associated with them. That gets down to how your neural network is arranged and it lets you see what implicit attitudes are being activated when you think of them. When you start thinking about those things and sincerely examining them, you’ll change how your neural network is structured.
Then act on it. Get involved and change.