Now that the Chinese Year of the Monkey has begun, it’s a perfect time for you to introduce positive monkey business at work.
No hanky-panky. Just fun camaraderie to put you─and your employees─into a positive state.
When you feel cheerful and optimistic about your colleagues, your work environment, and your job, your performance can improve.
Why? The neuroscience research and experience shows that you’re more open to new ideas and possibilities, you’re more creative and you’re more supportive of yourself and others.
These actions are what most leaders want from their employees, especially knowledge workers.
However, some leaders do the exact opposite of what’s needed to support and sustain high performance. With their words and actions, the leaders signal “DANGER!”
Whether those dangers are real or perceived, they feel threatening to the brain. And the brain warns: “Flee, freeze, or fight!” In those circumstances, individuals figuratively shut down, losing their ability to think clearly, which greatly diminishes their ability to be open and creative.
How can you put yourself and others into a positive state?
Launch monkey business in these three ways:
1. Do it. Be a role model for positive behavior because it’s contagious, which scientists learned starting with macaque monkeys.
Yes, “monkey see monkey do” is more than a century-old expression. It’s a real phenomenon that happens everywhere, especially in the workplace. While studying macaque monkeys back in the 1990s, scientists discovered “mirror neurons.” These brain neurons fired not only when the monkeys grabbed a peanut but also when they saw a human pick up a peanut. Monkeys—and humans too—mimic the behavior they see in others.
2. Note it in others. Recognize others who are gracious, including thanking their co-workers, being empathetic and cooperating. By rewarding this behavior—even if you’re simply expressing your thanks and gratitude—you’ll encourage them to keep doing it. (The hit of dopamine—the “feel good” neurotransmitter that sends signals to other nerve cells─encourages a repeat of the behavior. And if the rewarded behavior continues, it can become a habit.) Plus, others will see and experience the good behavior and it will start to spread, again the power of contagious behavior at work.
3. Make it. Gather your colleagues, including any jesters, to encourage ways to express camaraderie. Humans love being social; it’s the way we’re wired. Both formal and informal interactions with other, especially in a conducive environment, can spark new ideas, insights and better ways to work.
Do it, note it, and make it—a positive work environment.
How else will you embrace monkey business in the Year of the Monkey?
Connect the dots plus dot the “i”s to be more intentional, inquisitive and inclusive
How well are you tapping into the skills and wisdom you need to lead in a BANI world?
All the old playbooks are out-of-date. Instead, you need to reach inside yourself, tap into your wisdom, and connect the dots for yourself and others.
To start, you can use these 5 tips to embrace your humanity and become a better leader.