S is for Status – How to Increase Employee Engagement with SCARF

by Ayla Lewis

(Note: this post is part 2 of 7 in the SCARF Series.)

Status is about feeling important and not feeling ‘less than’ others. Status is your perception of where you are relative to the other people in your environment. When status is threatened it can activate the same areas of the brain as physical pain. Alternatively, when you experience an increase in status it can activate the same areas of the brain as receiving a monetary reward.

Dr. David Rock saysGiving feedback is one of the hardest things to do in the workplace. If you give someone feedback for example and told them what they could be doing better, people will often argue because it is a threat to their status. When we give someone feedback they’ll actually respond as if their life was threatened. It will be an unconscious response. One way to get around this is to allow people to give feedback to themselves. Get people to ask questions about themselves and tell you what they think. And this way their status actually goes up, rather than feeling threatened.

At Happy Brain Science, each member of the team writes his or her own performance review first, focusing on these areas: 3 Accomplishments, 2 Strengths and 1 Development Area. By writing our own reviews first and sharing them with the team, we each get to experience an increase in reward and a decrease in perceived danger.

Below are three of Happy Brain Science’s suggestions to boost Status in the day-to-day at work:

  1. Start Meetings with Recognition – Starting meetings with gratitude to increase people’s status while also boosting positivity, leading to happier brains doing better work.
  2. Spot Strengths in Others – Notice when others perform well and when they get energized. Talk about the strength you see and how it is valuable. Appreciating and validating your colleagues’ strengths will increase their feelings of importance and value, and the science is clear that tapping strengths increases productivity and the bottom-line.
  3. Call Your Calling – Find the meaning in what you do at work. Consider why you do what you do and how it helps others. When you view your job as a calling, rather than just a job, you increase your own view of your status, while boosting your happiness and engagement.

This week, pay particular attention to perceived threats and rewards in yours and your coworkers’ status. What examples of status can you identify in your workplace? How was status threatened? How was the need for status supported and met?

Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook or Twitter, or by emailing me at Ayla@HappyBrainScience.com

To your smart and capable brain!

– Ayla

Resources for the SCARF series: