Tips on reducing status related threats and increasing corresponding rewards:When considering a workplace change, seek to understand the, often subtle, factors impacting individual employees’ perceived status. Items like workplace type (office or cubicle), location (window or no window), type of furniture, etc. can often be perceived as status symbols, with their change potentially triggering threat or reward responses. For instance, in the movie Office Space, the taking of Milton’s Red Swingline Stapler was enough to trigger his burning down of the office. Allow people to give themselves performance feedback, instead of you giving them feedback. Giving people feedback, advice, or instructions can often be viewed as a critical judgment from you, triggering a threat response.Provide opportunities for people to learn and improve – and recognize it when it happens. It appears that people use the same brain networks when thinking about themselves as when thinking about others; therefore beating one’s own ‘best’ may be viewed as having increased personal status over the prior-self. Leaders can also explicitly recognize the individual’s improvements, which can further increasing the individual’s perceived increase in status. A key learning is that there are many other opportunities to increase perceived status beyond tangible monetary rewards and promotions.
Tips on reducing certainty related threats and increasing corresponding rewards:Build and communicate business plans, strategies, and maps. Even though they may differ from the actual future reality, these mechanisms help provide clarity and increase the certainty of the organization’s future.Make more things explicit. This includes communicating meeting times, stating objectives up front, telling people where they are in the process, etc. “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them”.Work to provide pockets of certainty in uncertain times. Even when an organization is going through turbulent times, with very uncertain outcomes, leaders can help ensure a level of perceived certainty by providing dates when specific information will be known and shared, helping employees focus on the elements of their jobs they can control (e.g. work quality), etc.
Tips on reducing fairness related threats and increasing corresponding rewards:Provide increased transparency, by increasing the amount of communication and involvement.Establish clear expectations and ground rules. Allowing the team to set their own ground rules is also recommended (Links to other SCARF components).Provide a perception of fairness by sharing the burden. For example, an executive taking a slight pay-cut during down-turns can significantly help improve perceived fairness.