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Can neuroscience and behaviour mapping show the way?


There is no doubt that the origin of all behaviour is brain chemistry and structure and that the outcome of peak performance is the demonstrated behaviours at work. Behaviour mapping identifies this link that is unique to all staff and managers. Geoff Greenwood explains.

Many commentators are suggesting that we are leaving behind the recession and global meltdown. This is good news as we look forward in terms of investment, growth and succession. In the near future it is being suggested that for organisations in general the two major challenges they face are both highly relevant to L&D departments;

  1. Improving human capital performance

  2. Changing human capital behaviour

This viewpoint is supported by Deloitte’s research 'Global Human Capital Trends 2014' and my own work and performance science research within high pressure environments. The findings suggest that issues such as 'rank and yank' and the whole area of performance management is broken and that a new approach is needed. This new approach should focus upon;

  1. Creating a true performance culture and environment

  2. Management towards a 180-degree change

  3. Employee change from a ‘push' to 'pull‘ strategy

  4. Performance measurement of the right areas that correlate with truly aligned corporate values

One of the areas that has gathered incredible momentum in the last couple of years is that of neuroscience and how it is being applied in marketing, sales, leadership and performance. Although still in it’s early stages, concepts are being incorporated into our daily lives now particularly in neuromarketing, neuro-selling and decision making. One exciting concept now with us, is that of behaviour mapping, which has incorporated all the global research of neuroscientists for the past 20 years and been developed into a robust and scientifically tested online instrument. It identifies that the true origin of all behaviour is that of brain science and that true performance is the outcome of behaviour and cognitive processing.

"Although the brain is hugely complex and we are still a long way off from understanding all its interactions fully, we are able to understand how the structure, chemical and neural pathway development individualises each of us, to demonstrate our behaviours in response to our perception of the world."

Within the brain, the differing areas in terms of the left and right cerebral hemispheres and the further divisions into the frontal, parietal, occipital and temporal lobes each are responsible for certain behaviours and outcomes, as are component parts that make up the brainstem, limbic system and the executive portion of the pre-frontal cortices.

Although the brain is hugely complex and we are still a long way off from understanding all its interactions fully, we are able to understand how the structure, chemical and neural pathway development individualises each of us, to demonstrate our behaviours in response to our perception of the world. This individuality can be highlighted in terms of visual maps of the employee’s underlying, adaptive and consistent behaviour preferences together with detailed reports of personal profile, benchmarking, work preference, aptitude and environment, emotional intelligence, Big 5 personality, and mental toughness.

The importance of behaviour preferences and their intensity is that research proves that if an individual is able to demonstrate these preferences in their work then they will be totally committed, engaged, motivated and perform at their optimal level. They will also enjoy the best health and wellbeing which is good news for them and the organisation.

So what are the four major differences between behaviour mapping and established psychometric instruments?

  1. Many psychometric instruments were developed from the work of one person, whereas behaviour mapping is the culmination of decades of findings within the whole neuroscience community and adds brain chemistry and structure on top of personality measures.

  2. Neuroplasticity confirms that the physical structure of the brain changes daily as it develops, weakens and strengthens pathways through thoughts, emotions, behaviours and actions. This moves us away from thinking that the brain at say age 25 is as it will always be until it starts to degenerate. This has huge implications in terms of the age of staff and how outward performance behaviours can be changed.

  3. Adaptive behaviour can be mapped as different from our normal or underlying behaviours which can be a cause of stress or frustration in our work. Behaviour mapping highlights how much we are adapting and changing in different situations or environments. We are not the same all the time, so to map a role, environment or company culture with an individual gives us a clear indication of any changes needed.

  4. Dichotomous profiling demonstrates that we are not ‘either/or’ all the time but can be both. An example would be a measure of whether an individual is an extrovert or introvert. Many instruments can place a label on the individual as one or the other and that tag can stay with the individual throughout their career, whereas it is clear from neuroscience that we can demonstrate traits of both ends of the spectrum in differing scenarios at any given time. Behaviour mapping will measure the intensity of each behaviour section highlighting preferences and possible opposing weaknesses at the same time.

So the outcome of mapping can demonstrate strategic fits between an individual and the role, environment or organisation and can be used as a starting point for further development in the strengthening of required performance behaviours and in some cases a reduction where they are shown to be overdone. No two outputs are the same. An example of behaviour mapping within recruitment and selection from 'The Psychological Bulletin Vol 96 No1', highlights that when suitability tests are added after eligibility checks the success formula rises from 14% success rate by interview alone to a high 93% if job benchmarking, work aptitude assessment and work environment matching is added.

So in conclusion as identified in the latest research, L&D departments are experiencing shifts in their responsibilities away from organisational structures that direct, plan and control, towards ones that are embracing individuality and allowing self-direction towards knowledge-based capabilities. These support performance cultures through behaviour change and assists with extra information on these individuals, as opposed to groups of individuals in certain categories.

In future articles we will look at the technique being used within HR and L&D and how organisations are using it for performance management, recruitment, 360 degree assessment, job benchmarking, career transition, conflict management, leadership skills development, coaching, sales enhancement, building high performance teams, developing mental toughness, emotional intelligence and more. I will also look at the development of the technique from the science underpinning it and what we are discovering about the brain that can be applied now.

Geoff Greenwood MBA MSc is a performance specialist at, where neuroscience meets performing science to guarantee business profits through human capital change, and is also a licensed practitioner of behaviour mapping.

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