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Why Talented People Underperform And How To Stop It
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Daisy Colemanv
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09-19-2013 09:50 AM
(This post was last modified: 09-19-2013 09:53 AM by Daisy Coleman.)

One of the most frustrating things for a manager or small-business owner is to see a smart, talented employee underperforming.

Often, this happens because people faced with tough challenges tend to revert to a primitive mindset, which bestselling author Christine Comaford calls "the critter state." They react to problems by fighting, running, or freezing, rather than intelligently responding.

They become scared or uncertain and use just a fraction of their brains and abilities as they regress to the low-risk, uncreative behavior they see as "safe."

Comaford, author of the recently released book "Smart Tribes," has made a career using neuroscience to help people and businesses change such self-destructive behavior.

She shared a few essential tips from the latest neuroscience research and her own years of working with companies on how to motivate employees to work harder, smarter, and with greater purpose.

- Ask questions instead of making statements.

- Be extremely clear. Don't leave people to "figure it out."

- Make accountability central to your culture.

- Use these three phrases to knock employees out of a critter state.

The first: "What if?" Says Comaford, "When we preface an idea or a suggestion with 'what if,' we remove ego, and we reduce emotion." Rather than stating a position, invite people to engage by throwing a few ideas out there and letting them respond to and build on them.

Using "what if" is like "a leader throwing a beach ball into the middle of a concert. The people will bounce the beach ball around and make it their own," Comaford says. "We're throwing that beach ball out there and enabling people to brainstorm more easily."

The second phrase? "I need your help." That invites an employee to temporarily swap roles with their boss, to think like a leader, and step up, often to a level they may not have thought themselves capable of.

The last one is, "Would it be helpful if ..." Success breeds bigger expectations, which can be terrifying for people. By taking the focus away from an intimidating task and focusing on solutions, people start to move forward.

Read the full story here:

I really like the three phrases to knock employees out of the critter state, it's kind of like a get out of jail card, the worst has happened but it can be reversed.

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