July is Neuroscience Learning Month on HRZone and upon reading this on Twitter, I wrote two tweets in response which I’ve decided to blog about further.

The first stated

“I’m seeing some’HR are playing with an area they don’t understand” snobbery ATM. It’s about effectively using proven techniques.”

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The second stated

“It’s also about knowing our limits and not passing flawed neuroscience off as fact, and embracing positive elements”.

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Neuroscience is a fascinating subject and it is only correct that the HR profession have caught on to recognising how valuable it is to improving the effectiveness of the many areas which HR touch.

This is a genuine opportunity to embrace a science that will allow us to legitimately grasp how people tick

This is a genuine opportunity to embrace a science that will allow us to legitimately grasp how people tick, and convert that thinking into improving strategies in the workplace. Through learning about this science we can improve the way employees are treated at work, how they feel valued, devalued, motivated, disappointed and maybe, for those who have a more detailed grasp, create an organisational culture that will maximise the positive elements of the way employees in that organisation think.

Wow. Imagine that!

I am seeing some remarks on the internet that HR practitioners are being referred to in a derogatory tone in relation to the application of neuroscience, mainly around the areas of, as I have stated above, passing flawed neuroscience off as fact when in reality, so few HR practitioners really have a good enough grasp of what they are dealing with.

But we will learn it, and just imagine how effective HR strategies are going to become then.

But in HR, we kind of don’t help ourselves. I’m a cynic of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming, i mean… programming!) for example, and despite the overwhelming volume of evidence online that not only refutes that NLP actually works, but instead provides evidence of how it doesn’t, its still hugely popular in the HR community. The ‘cult of NLP’ is an interesting read for anyone who might be interested.

However, I also don’t doubt that there will be some very specific areas of NLP that might actually be effective, but it’s dilution into the grander umbrella of NLP questions their credibility.

There is one infographic that I detest called ’18 things that mentally strong people do’. I’d upload an image or link but I don’t want to fuel the inconceivable bullshit any further quite frankly. In this work of fiction, some of the items include;-

  • Thinking productively
  • Willing to fail
  • They are kind
  • They Stay Happy
  • They embrace Change

And so on, and so on. Funny though, i’ve seen a lot of kind people, a lot of people who think productively, and embrace change and i’d be willing to bet my Kidney that they may not be ‘mentally strong’ whatever that means. ‘Mentally strong’ in itself is an irresponsible, lazy and downright offensive term.

But the reason I use this example, is because this infographic on LinkedIn, a network made up of largely business professionals (granted not necessarily all HR professionals) has produced thousands of likes and shares. My fear is, people take this as fact not the fiction that it is.

Neuroscience should be embraced, correctly

Neuroscience should be embraced, correctly, but we absolutely must know our limits in HR, and practice neuroscience that has a good grounding in evidence. Once we are able to do that, the future for the HR profession in work will be extraordinary and exciting.

There’s an opportunity for HR here, but we must take it wisely.