Jim Collins writes in his book, “From Good to Great”, that for people to engage in constantly changing job functions and companies to progress in a disruptive business environment, they have to get the right person on the right bus on the right seat. To be able to do this, the journey starts with talent selection professionals that source the right people who have the skills and qualities required to execute particular job functions and the personality to fit in with the team and the company they are recruited into. In order to find the best candidates, talent selection professionals usually start with a customized selection process that consist of various tests and assessments like personality tests, cognitive tests and so forth. Most companies place a high emphasis on personality, qualifications, skills and competencies when they recruit new employees, but too little on their neurological design – the neurophysiological elements that influence how people naturally think, learn and process information – commonly referred to as neuro-design.

Personality is the sum total of “nature” and “nurture”, or differently stated, the sum total of genetics and how the environment has shaped them. To have an in-depth understanding of a person’s personality, “nature”, or differently stated, the impact of genetics or a person’s neurological wiring, should be the natural starting point. For talent selection professionals to find the right person most suited for the position, the talent selection process therefore, should start with doing an assessment of the candidate’s neurological design before doing a personality test. This will provide valuable insights about the candidate’s brain potential, neurological thinking, learning and communication preferences, their neurological wiring, potential risk for error, how they are talented and the natural default mode they usually would prefer functioning in when exposed to increased complexities and disruptive change.

Fit matters. When there is alignment between people’s neuro-design, the job functions they perform and the career choices they make, they are engaged and passionate about their work, because they get to express their natural gifts, talents and preferences in the work they do. From a neuroscience perspective, passion is good fuel for the brain and body as the brain produces neurotransmitters that strengthen energy, brain health and immune function. To perform job functions mostly aligned with their neurological design, will help workers engage more effectively in their job functions and be more effective, productive, authentic, happy and fulfilled.

When there is miss-alignment between who people are (their neuro-design) and the work they do, they work because they have to, not because they want to. They may even be very good at what they do, but may not enjoy, or be passionate about what they do. Based on various surveys and research on employee engagement across the globe, this seems to be the truth for the majority of workers. From a neuroscience perspective, miss-alignment between natural preferences and job functions in the medium to long term, will cause people to produce inhibiting chemicals that act as bad fuel for their brain in the medium to long term and therefor negatively impact their immune function and deplete their energy. This will result in illness, lethargy, dis-engagement and unhappiness.

People make companies great.  To grow a company from good to great, talent selection professionals need to fill the vacancy with the right person for a particular job. To do that, their point of departure should be to determine which potential candidate’s neuro-design best fits the job functions required for the anticipated position. The following steps are suggested:

1.Do a Neuro Agility Profile® Advanced+ assessment on all team members the candidate is being recruited into. The NAP™ brain profile assessment is the most comprehensive neurological design profile of its kind.

2.Conduct a High Performance Team intervention, debriefing team members on their individual profiles and the team profile. Identify the gaps with regards to the neuro-design roles that team members fulfill in the team that prevent them from functioning at optimum level as a high performing, agile team.

3.Get feedback from team members and the team leader to identify what characteristics, qualities and skills are needed in the vacant position, and what the profile of the ideal applicant should look like.

4.Do an analysis of the job functions, characteristics, skills and qualities required for the specific position. Match it with the neurophysiological components of thinking, learning and processing information. The following neurophysiological elements that impact how people learn, think and process information should be taken into consideration:

  • Relative / functional lateral preferences
  • Level of brain agility required
  • Expressive/receptive preferences
  • Figurative thinking, learning and communication preferences
  • Rational/emotional preferences
  • Brain and sensory information processing preferences and potential risk for human errors
  • Sensory learning preferences
  • Intelligence preferences
  • Stress coping capabilities
  • Level of fatigue

5.Create an ideal neuro-design profile required for the specific job, based on matching team feedback with the job function analysis done by talent selection professionals.

6.Appoint the most suitable candidate who mostly resembles the team feedback and neuro-design job analysis.

7.The leader of the team should debrief the new candidate on his/her neuro-design, how that fits into the team profile, and the strongest contribution he/she can make in that team.

8.The above process will require that talent selection professionals have an in-depth understanding of the learning, thinking and processing implications of the brain by doing Neuro Agility Profile® practitioner training in neurological design and how to apply the NAP™ assessment to determine people’s neuro-design.

Having followed the approach suggested above in an iron ore mine where the objective was to “fast track” the development of high potentials for future leadership positions, the client conducted an Organizational Climate Assessment (OCA) to determine if this approach, and the subsequent development interventions, rendered a sufficient return on their investment. The OCA indicates whether an intervention impacts company bottom line and is worth implementing. A minimum result of 3.1% improvement result was required to prove sufficient return on investment for the company. An 8,9% result (almost 3x the expected result) was achieved. 87% of participants were promoted to a supervisory or managerial position within 9 months of completing the program.

Although aligning people’s neuro-design with their job is ideal as it will create more ease, flow and engagement, they should not be disqualified for a job or new opportunity based on their neuro-design only. Fact of the matter is that all people can learn to be neuro agile by developing skills that will enable them to utilize their whole brain to execute any learning, thinking or processing functions their job may require. This will however, require of them to do a NAP™ assessment to identify in which areas they can improve their neuro-agility. Should they not measure their Neuro Agility and improve in the areas they need to, they will still be less in flow, and therefore have to work harder and enjoy work less if they constantly have to perform job functions that is not aligned with their natural neuro-design, because of experiencing less ease and speed in executing those thinking and learning functions, and more stress and fatigue, than the person whose neuro-design is naturally aligned with their job requirements.

By: Dr André Vermeulen

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