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.

About Claudia Sagripanti

Involved in the evolution of mobile marketing and advertising from the early years, including co-founding Mobile Marketing and Advertising Awards, founding chair of AIMIA's Mobile Industry Group, development of mobile advertising guidelines for industry as well as commercialisation strategy.