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After 14 years of intensive research involving mapping the brain’s responses to various stimuli, Dr David Rock of the Neuroleadership Institute found that the brain grows and adapts to change in a positive manner when it is placed in a supportive, nurturing environment. This research offers a useful aid in the workplace, as understanding human reactions and behaviour can enable managers to bring out the best in their employees.

Dr Rock’s model is called the SCARF Model and includes five parameters that influence an individual’s reaction to a situation. Understanding and recognising these reactions will help managers create a conducive work environment, consequently ensuring that their team achieves the desired results.

The five parameters of the SCARF Model are:

1. Status. Managers need to assure subordinates that their status is secure. To do so, they should avoid giving unnecessary feedback; this will only make employees insecure and unsure. Instead, managers should ask employees for their feedback regarding certain situations and encourage them to question themselves.

2. Certainty. Uncertainty is a negative force; to avoid this, managers should communicate their expectations clearly. Any issues that arise should be addressed immediately and not ignored.

3. Autonomy. The degree of control that a person has over a particular situation defines his/her response to it. If an employee has autonomy s/he will harbour fewer negative feelings, and their confidence will increase. Managers should therefore avoid micro-managing and provide their staff decision-making opportunities.

4. Relatedness. The brain relates to people as a ‘friend’ or ‘foe’; when a person interacts with someone they perceive as a foe, their brain tends not to process what they are saying. For better productivity, managers should build relationships and comfort levels with their employees so they view them as a friend.

5. Fairness. The degree of transparency at the workplace serves as an intrinsic reward. Managers should establish transparent communication, treat staff members with fairness and provide equal opportunities.

– Sahr Nadeem Tariq
The writer is a project coordinator at a multinational company. sahrnadeem@gmail.com

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 29, 2013