Better Brains, Better Business

Make 2010 better—train your (and your employeees’) mind


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Back in the day, the role of a manager in any business was simply to assure that things got done efficiently, and it didn't matter a whole lot how this was accomplished.

Modern managers, however, are expected to be more facilitative than controlling and directive, and in that capacity, they may take on a variety of roles as advisor, role model, friend, and, when necessary, counselor. According to a new book, that last role is not only one that is increasingly necessary in these tough times, but also one that can reap dividends for your company.

The book is Heal Their Minds (and Fill Your Coffers): How Rewiring Employees' Brains Can Alleviate Stress, Boost Innovation, and Supercharge Productivity. Author Patt Lind-Kyle says stress levels among American workers are at an all-time high. Workers face normal job-related stressors such as conflict with coworkers and tight deadlines, and in many cases they must also worry about being downsized while working longer hours to compensate for the absence of those who have already been axed. If they don't know how to manage this stress—and chances are good they don't—then your company is sure to suffer, she says.

Lind-Kyle cites studies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that predict that depression (often a symptom of stress) will be the leading occupational disease of the 21st century. Stress overload leads to a loss of productivity and can even result in higher health care insurance costs.

According to the author, a big part of the solution is understanding that employees don't have to be passive victims of stress—or, for that matter, any psychological issue, unconscious reaction, or bad habit that's locking them into unhealthy and performance-inhibiting patterns. Lind-Kyle says the human brain is flexible and changeable, and in fact constantly rewires itself in response to events in our lives. This means we can consciously and deliberately change the way we think, feel, and behave and how the body responds to stressful situations.

"Essentially, the mind is what the brain does," she explains. "Using mind-training tools it is possible to become aware of the mental patterns that keep us trapped in habitual and unproductive attitudes. Mind training helps us focus our attention, quiets a scattered mind, and brings flexibility and clarity that enable us to see other options and achieve a healthy work-life balance."

According to Lind-Kyle, training to reduce stress and reshape unhealthy habits can deliver a host of benefists for both employees and the business, including higher productivity, greater innovation and a more positive, energetic culture. For more information on the book and companion CDs, go to healrewireyourbrain.com.