Brain Fact Friday: A DEEP DIVE into The Brain-Friendly Workplace by Friederike Fabritius ”Understanding Our Neurosignature for Improved Happiness at Work”

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Welcome back to The Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast where we bridge the gap between theory and practice, with strategies, tools and ideas we can all use immediately, applied to the most current brain research to heighten productivity in our schools, sports environments and modern workplaces. I’m Andrea Samadi and launched this podcast to share how important an understanding of our brain is for our everyday life and results.

On this episode we will cover:

✔ What are the 4 neurosignatures that Friederike Fabritius identifies in her NEW book, The Brain-Friendly Workplace.

✔ How to use these neurosignatures to improve workplace productivity, happiness and flow.

✔ 3 TIPS for using neurosignatures in YOUR workplace.

✔ Preparing for EPISODE #258 with Friederike Fabritius.

ALL IMAGES FROM THE BRAIN-FRIENDLY WORKPLACE ARE CREDITED TO CAROLIN NISCHWITZ

For this week’s Brain Fact Friday, and Episode #257, I want to cover Friederike Fabritius’s new book The Brain-Friendly Workplace: Why Talented People Quit and How to Get Them to Stay[i] as I’ve been reading her book, preparing for our interview Friday morning, and our NEXT episode, and I know I won’t be able to cover everything in one interview. This book is beyond comprehensive and has enough science within it to cover our Brain Fact Fridays for the rest of this year.

Friederike has been carefully writing this book since our last interview EPISODE #27[ii] back in 2019, when we first launched this podcast, and there are many Aha moments, and connections I’ll highlight on the next episode, when we speak with her, but for today’s Brain Fact Friday, I want to cover something important that her book taught me. It’s the title of her book, The Brain Friendly Workplace, that explains what we all need to happy at work. My goal with this episode is to share Friederike’s science-backed brain discovery of the “neurosignature” that she introduces in the introduction of this book, and how we can all use it to increase our awareness, the meaning we create throughout our day, and add a sense of autonomy with our work. Then I’ll share an example that shows how her discovery of the “neurosignature” will highlight what we all need to be successful and happy in the modern workplace, with our brain in mind, and that it’s not about changing the people (with more training) but it’s about changing the workplace.

With this paradigm shift in mind, I’ll get straight to the point here—-

For this week’s Brain Fact Friday, Did YOU KNOW THAT:

We all have our own “neurosignature,” a unique mix of four key brain chemicals that strongly affects our personality and how we process stress and information?”

Once we understand our unique “neurosignature” we can learn how to hit our “optimal stress point” and manipulate our “fun, fear, and focus” which is the recipe for reaching peak performance in the workplace.

In this place of peak performance,

    Ideas will flow. You’ll feel energized, inspired, and alive. You’ll also gain a valuable framework for understanding colleagues and those you interact with their different “neurosignatures.” You’ll get more done in less time You’ll see why changing the workplace is needed, over expecting employees to change with more training.

Understanding our unique “neurosignature” is a technique that provides a competitive advantage allowing you work with the flow, rather than against it.

This is the whole premise of Friederike Fabritius’s NEW book, The Brain Friendly Workplace where she’s created a new vision for the future of our modern workplaces.

What are the 4 Neurosignatures?

Friederike says there are 4 brain systems that we can fall into. Can you recognize yourself? Others you work with? What about those you live with?

    THE DOPAMINE NEUROSIGNATURE:

Friederike says that “people high in dopamine are curious, energetic, and future-oriented. Inventors and entrepreneurs tend to have this neurosignature. They get bored easily and are always looking for the next new exciting project.” This one feels like me, as the host of this podcast, thriving with the creation of each episode.

    THE TESTOSTERONE NEUROSIGNATURE:

People high in testosterone are tough-minded, direct, and enjoy wielding power. They tend to be analytical and use systems thinking, which involves moving logically from one step to the next to solve a problem, based on a system’s “rules.” They enjoy tinkering with “systems” such as car engines or computers. This signature describes my husband to a “t” and we often joke around about his quality of being direct. I call it something else starting with the letter A—I mean it as a compliment as I do find direct people to be refreshing as they rarely waste time (a pet peeve of mine).

    THE ESTROGEN/OXYTOCIN NEUROSIGNATURE:

People high in estrogen are empathetic and good at building personal connections and community. Estrogen increases the secretion of oxytocin, which enhances feelings of bonding and trust. People with this neurosignature excel at nonlinear “lateral thinking,” which involves examining a problem from multiple angles until insights emerge. Lateral thinkers are also good at envisioning long-term implications of a decision. I’m thinking this also seems like me, as I know I’ve been told I think this way, and then there’s this highly intuitive side to me that I tap into as I’m creating these episodes with the goal of helping others, wherever you might be listening in the world.

    Are you ALSO noticing that you show up in more than one signature as well?

Psychologist Scott Barry Kauffman, who wrote the foreword of The Brain Friendly Workplace, reminds us that “Neurosignatures are fluid, and they should serve as guidelines, as a helpful framework in understanding people, rather than as categories and boxes to classify people” and he shared how his “testosterone neurosignature is very high (in the morning). But by evening, it’s almost nonexistent.” As you are thinking of what neurosignature you are, take note to how it might be different throughout your day.

    THE SEROTONIN NEUROSIGNATURE:

In the final brain system, Friederike says that “people high in serotonin are reliable, detail-oriented, cautious and loyal. They thrive on routine and structure and enjoy consistency and stability.”

What’s YOUR Neurosignature?

Where do you fit in?

While I recognized myself with a dopamine neurosignature, I could also see I fit into the Estrogen/Oxytocin Signature. While I admire those who naturally possess the Testosterone Signature, I probably try to rock the boat with those with a Serotonin Neurosignature, who are tradition-oriented and cautious, hoping they’ll lean in a bit to some of my crazy adventurous ideas.

How Does This Translate into YOUR Workplace for Increased Happiness and Success?

It’s always easy to look back, connecting the dots backwards, (like Steve Jobs reminds us) but if you asked me what corporate environment I enjoyed the most over my career, or when did I have the most fun with my work, (excluding my time working in the motivation speaking industry where I earned commission sales) I would hands down say that it was when I was operating from the Dopamine Neurosignature, and had fun, was creative, had complete autonomy with my day, was curious, which led to increased self-motivation and high productivity on my end. What job was I doing where I was working with this neurosignature?

I was the happiest was when I was a field sales rep, working with Pearson Education, covering the southwest region of the country, selling books and software to Higher Ed (college/university campuses) and K-12 schools in the 5 States surrounding AZ. Work felt like play to me back then. This job hit all the requirements of my Dopamine Neurosignature but the only problem was that it required me to be on the road 4 days/week, so when I wanted to start a family, I had to leave this brain friendly field sales position, and go to inside sales to stay with the company.

It’s easy to see it all looking back, but I’ll never forget the manager who looked me straight in the eye and said “this is a huge mistake for you.” I’m guessing he didn’t need to know my neurosignature to see that I’d learn to understand what he meant a few years later when it all sunk in.

I noticed the discord when I no longer had the chance to use my creativity, or curiosity in my day, working in this cubicle, that felt sort of like a prison when I was used to the open space of driving on endless open roads, navigating campuses to find my customer’s offices, to suddenly sitting in a small space with just a telephone and computer—my neurosignature went haywire. I wouldn’t have said it was the easiest transition until I figured out how to bring fun and creativity to an office space when our sales team started to go to the gym at lunchtime, breaking us out of our offices, and activating all of our brains mid-day. I’d say this revised work environment was the second most enjoyable corporate environment I’ve ever experienced.

Like Friederike said “change the workplace, not the people.” Our sales team was highly productive and creative with this autonomy and we were all very happy. Here’s my sales team from 2006, all of us with different neurosignatures (some of us were dopamine driven-enjoying the break away from our desks, others were serotonin driven, requesting to go dancing after work, and others testosterone driven—just there for the moment and planning to take over the world, or looking for the next open position in management/leadership). We all worked together, towards a common goal, helping each other to manage our optimal levels of stress, and even without knowing each other’s neurosignatures, we knew what each of us needed to be successful.

“Change the workplace, not the people.”

What Happens if You Don’t Have This Type of Synergy in YOUR Workplace?

The crazy thing that happened to this sales team, is that our workplace changed about 2 years after this photo was taken. Our company boasted of these huge offices that we would all have moving from Scottsdale, right next to the base of Camelback Mountain (where we often hiked together) to Chandler, where back then, was known for their dairy farms and the wonderful scent you could catch in the air if you drove past one of these farms with your car windows open.

Our offices moved and we all lost our synergy. The workplace changed, but not for the better. Management thought replacing our cozy cubicles that looked out to Scottsdale road, and the mountains nearby with a more corporate location (that you can see from the highway if you ever visit AZ). Pearson Education exists on the 101 near the Ray Road exit, but the culture that was created in the Scottsdale location never made it there.

The people were the same, but the workplace changed for the worse, taking the culture we had built with it. I remember using my creative mind, in our new offices, to change the energy of this location, and presented many forward-thinking ideas that were never received well from the Testosterone-led management team. Even the managers who made the old location a success, tried to change the culture, but something had changed with this new location, that would never be captured again.

There is a solution to this problem, and Friederike captures it in her NEW book.

To Review This Week’s Brain Fact Friday, based on Friederike Fabritius’s book, The Brain-Friendly Workplace: Why Talented People Quit and How to Get Them to Stay[iii]

DID YOU KNOW THAT: We all have our own “neurosignature,” a unique mix of four key brain chemicals that strongly affects our personality and how we process stress and information?”

Once we understand our unique “neurosignature” we can learn how to hit our “optimal stress point” and manipulate our “fun, fear, and focus” which is the recipe for reaching peak performance in the workplace.

HOW DO WE USE OUR NEUROSIGNATURE TO OPTIMIZE PRODUCTIVITY AND HAPPINESS IN OUR WORKPLACE?

    The first step of creating a Brain-Friendly Workplace is to recognize your own neurosignature, as well as those you work with, to optimize what each person on your team needs to reach peak performance with their work. I highly suggest reading the entire book, The Brain-Friendly Workplace, as I’ve only scratched the surface of this topic, and be sure to listen to our next episode where Freiderike dives deeper into her book with me. The next step is to remember that it’s about changing the workplace, not the people, with more training. Think of ways that the workplace can be changed, replacing old ways of thinking (like how many hours you must sit at your desk) with the outcomes you expect employees to achieve. Remember my example of our sales team that left the office every day at lunch to exercise, increasing our productivity, happiness and loyalty to the company. REMEMBER: When were YOU the happiest with YOUR work? It took me some time to think back to all the workplaces I’ve ever worked in, but the ones where I was the happiest were easy to remember. Through trial and error I now know that I perform best working at a desk if I am able to exercise BEFORE I have to sit for long periods of time. How do you perform best? How do those you work with perform best? How can you use the neurosignature to improve your workplace productivity and happiness?

I’ll leave you with these questions, and will see you on our next episode, with Friederike Fabritius, as we dive into The Brain Friendly Workplace. See you next week.

REFERENCES:

[i] The Brain Friendly Workplace: Why Talented People Qui and How to Make Them Stay by Friederike Fabritius Published Oct. 11th, 2022 https://www.amazon.com/Brain-Friendly-Workplace-Talented-People-Quit/dp/1538159538/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3NVHQ2JCDQ2NP&keywords=brain+friendly+workplace&qid=1667939024&sprefix=brain+friendly+%2Caps%2C213&sr=8-3

[ii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #27 with Friederike Fabritius on “The Recipe for Achieving Peak Performance.” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/pioneer-in-the-field-of-neuroleadership-friederike-fabritius-on-the-recipe-for-achieving-peak-performance/

[iii] The Brain Friendly Workplace: Why Talented People Qui and How to Make Them Stay by Friederike Fabritius Published Oct. 11th, 2022 https://www.amazon.com/Brain-Friendly-Workplace-Talented-People-Quit/dp/1538159538/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3NVHQ2JCDQ2NP&keywords=brain+friendly+workplace&qid=1667939024&sprefix=brain+friendly+%2Caps%2C213&sr=8-3

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