One of my colleagues, Louise, has a treasure trove of practical human relations models.
I have her to thank for introducing me to the Bolton and Bolton Work Styles framework we use in the Core Curriculum, for example.
Over coffee last week she shared another one that I think will help you too.
David Rock's SCARF model identifies the key drivers that trigger reward and threat responses, so shaping our ability to influence others. Let me first introduce the model and then offer an example to illustrate how it can be used.
Model – SCARF offers five psychological triggers that can trigger reward and threat responses. Here they are:
S: Status. Withdrawing status can cause stress circuits to light up more than physical pain. Equally, if status is nurtured it can light up reward circuits more than if someone is given a financial prize.
This is why receiving negative feedback can create significant stress. It affects how we perceive others perceive us.
C: Certainty. David suggests that the brain is a certainty creating machine always trying to predict what is going to happen. Great leaders create certainty with clear expectations providing great certainty. This also lights up those reward circuits in the brain.
A: Autonomy. Most of us value having a certain degree of autonomy, control and choice in what we do and how we work. This is why being micromanaged is rarely enjoyable. It may also say a fair bit about why so many employees are reluctant to return to the office full time.
R: Relatedness. Our brains interpret new people as an automatic threat. This reduces once we have a small interaction that moves people into the category of ‘like us' rather than ‘not us' and therefore fearful. He suggests that even small personal interactions can build significant relationship capital.
F: Fairness. He says that a fair exchange activates the reward circuitry, and an unfair exchange triggers the danger response. Being more transparent than you think is ‘really needed' about the reasons behind decisions and how they are fair is key. This triggers the reward circuitry and avoids creating threats.
Example – understanding which two or three drivers most affect us and our stakeholders helps us have greater influence.
David says that all five SCARF ‘drivers' influence us to some degree. The trick is to know which are the dominant drivers for us and our stakeholders.
These dominant drivers help consciously nurture positive relationships and avoid pushing people's buttons.
For example, it is easy to create conflict with someone who has ‘status' and ‘autonomy' as their two primary drivers. All you need to do is say that their work is substandard and to micromanage them toward improvement.
This will ‘trigger' those who prioritise status and autonomy more than those who don't.
It will deliver a primal response that moves them toward a stress state rather than a reward state. This heightens the risk of conflict and reduces our ability to influence that person.
In contrast, inviting someone with status as a dominant driver to improve their work in a way that lifts their status may trigger a reward state. You might, for example, invite them to improve their work before sharing with others.
He suggests that being aware of our own drivers and that of others enables us to build better relationships and so have greater influence.
You can learn more about David and his work at the Neuroleadership Institute here.
I hope that helps. More next week.
PS – My first podcast episode is now out. Learn more from risk expert Anthony Wilson about how he has successfully engaged decision makers on risk management. His top tip: risk management = change management.
Access the Cutting Through podcast inside the portal in the new podcast tab.