We all know that feeling of success, when everything falls into place and we achieve what we set out to do. A glow comes over us and we may feel a sense of achievement, pride, even joy.
But how can we create more of this in the workplace?
The pleasure we feel from winning is both physical and mental; neuroscience shows us that there is a physical reaction to success, with neurochemicals produced by the brain, which affect our mood and sense of wellbeing.
Understanding more about this can help us with stimulating people and setting goals in the workplace.
The power of dopamine
Dopamine is sometimes called the ‘;reward’; chemical, because the brain releases this ‘;neurotransmitter’; when we achieve a ‘;win’; in something.
Just as we can become addicted to damaging behavior, such as drug abuse or eating too much of particular foods, dopamine can also drive us on to repeat behavior that is good for us – like being successful at work.
The ‘;dopamine loop’; is often referred to in relation to this. The fact that our brains seem to be able to remember the pleasurable feelings of the dopamine response to success means that we crave more of it. The more we are successful the more dopamine is produced, and the more we crave it.
The brain even tenders to expect its release the closer we get to an achievement; but there is a slight weakening of the sensation each time we experience it – which is why people often crave new thrills and achievements. Think of a stock trader for instance, taking greater and greater risks to achieve heightened feelings of success.
Breaking down goals and raising the bar
Building in ways for people to be successful is an important part of motivation and setting goals in the workplace.
Think of how a popular game like Candy Crush Saga builds hundreds of levels in to consistently reward achievement. It is no fluke that the game has become so popular, as it is tapping into one of the most fundamental ‘;wants’; of the brain – to achieve success. This is due why it is often described as ‘;addictive’;.
Now transpose this to the workplace. How can we make driving for success more attractive to our people?
The more we can ‘;granularise’; goals and break them up into achievable chunks, the more people will feel a sense of achievement in reaching them, and the more success ‘;triggers’; in their brains will be activated.
But we also need to keep people engaged in the long run, meaning new challenges are required when achievements are reached; instead of setting the same goals week after week, we must aid in the development of our people. Simply treading water will not provide the motivation they crave, so we must continuously provide opportunities to use new skills and experience.
In breaking down goals and consistently raising the bar for employees, sometimes motivation levels can rise and employee retention improve.