Cuddles and virtual teams
It’s not often that one discusses the use of hormones as a management tool. However this recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald on the power of feel-good hormone oxytocin, prompted me to do some more reading.
Research conducted by professor of economics Dr Paul Zak suggests that oxytocin or as he calls it the ”moral molecule” is behind all human virtue, trust, affection and love. It is the social glue that keeps society together. His initial field of research in economics was to understand why people behave more generously than traditional economic models predict that they should – i.e. the trust game. It comes down to oxytocin.
Now I’m not advocating mass huggings in the office. But it is important to consider how oxytocin operates in the work environment. First of all, being treated decently, causes people’s oxytocin levels to go up, which in turn prompts them to behave more decently.
Why the cuddle hormone is good for business
His findings show that if you want to keep people on task, then you want to oxytocin-producing situations.
As a manager than you can create oxytocin producing results by giving praise, given unexpectedly and in public; transparency in identifying tasks and setting goals; authenticity; effective delegation of work; empathy to others’ situations; anticipation of challenges; and autonomy.
Given the talent shortage, then retention is important to business success. Oxytocin means that If you keep making me successful, I’ll want to keep working for you.
This sense of loyalty and achievement can also be built into a virtual team. With his studies as director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, he’s also shown that interactions on social media lead to oxytocin surges. These results negates the argument that social media is killing real human interaction. In hormonal terms, the body processes it as a face to face interaction.