The Neuroscience of Effective Sales Coaching

It’s About the How, Not the What

As any sales manager will tell you, one of the most challenging aspects of his or her job is sales coaching. It is one thing for your sales professionals to have a cognitive understanding of what to say during a pitch – the words to use, the appropriate script, what body language to display and which tactics to utilize when handling objections or other nuanced situations.

It is another thing (and mediated by completely different systems in the brain) for your sales professionals to have the people skills, the intuition if you will, to know how to deliver the pitch, how to display the appropriate body language, and how to handle a broad range of situations. Although a cognitive understanding – an understanding of the “what” – is useful, it is people skills – the “how” – that closes the deal. Continue reading “The Neuroscience of Effective Sales Coaching”

Why Infor’s Talent Science Solution Enhances Recruitment and Retention of Top-Performers: A Psychological and Neuroscience Evaluation Overview

Amalgam Insights recently attended Infor’s Innovation Summit in New York City. Senior executives outlined a number of innovations being incorporated into Infor’s suite of products, including ERP, Supply Chain, CRM, and others. In addition to the growing influence of the Cloud, Coleman AI and Birst analytics – an impressive array of broad-based solutions was described.

In my role as a Psychological and Neuroscience Analyst at Amalgam Insights, my focus is on Infor’s Human Capital Management (HCM) solution. I have followed the solution for quite some time, with a particular interest in Infor’s Talent Science product. Dr. Jill Strange, Vice President, HCM Science Applications, provided an update, and Tricia Engel, Director of Talent Acquisition at Wyndham Destinations, outlined a specific use case and customer success story.

Infor’s Talent Science Solution

Infor’s Talent Science solution uses talent assessment and analytics to address the recruiting needs of the modern workplace. A one-size-fits-all approaches to recruitment leads to weak employee performance and engagement, poor job satisfaction and high turnover rates. What is needed are approaches that blend psychology and data science to more accurately assess, place, and retain high-performing talent. Talent Science—that combination of psychology and data science–can achieve these aims, and when incorporated into HCM platforms, can offer insights that are actionable and can increase engagement, performance, satisfaction, and retention.

Infor’s Talent Science team works with the client to identify and quantify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) associated with success in a particular job. Incumbent employees are administered a single, standardized assessment tool that yields a custom performance profile that captures cognitive, behavioral, and cultural components of the employee in the workplace. Infor’s Talent Science team then builds models that predict the KPIs for incumbent employees from their custom performance profiles. New job applicants are administered the same talent assessment tool, a custom performance profile is constructed for each, and a measure of “fit” is derived that reflects the overlap between the candidate’s performance profile and the ideal profile for the relevant job. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, in many cases the applicant is found to be a better fit for a job that they did not apply for, but for which the company has a need.

The Psychology and Neuroscience of Workplace Performance

Workplace performance is directly affected by the psychological and brain processing of the employee. Thus, it is important to understand the nature of this processing. The brain is comprised of at least three learning and performance systems. These include the cognitive, behavioral and cultural/emotional systems in the brain (as outlined in the schematic below).

  • The cognitive system relies on the prefrontal cortex, is limited by working memory and attentional processes, and is the primary system in the brain that drives workplace performance centered around utilizing information and fact-based knowledge. These are often referred to as hard skills.
  • The behavioral system relies on the striatum and is the primary system in the brain that drives workplace behaviors. The detailed processing characteristics of this system are beyond the scope of this report, but suffice it to say that workplace behavior is distinct from cognition and information. It is one thing to know “what” to do or to have information and knowledge, it is another thing (and driven by a different system in the brain) to know “how” to do it and to act appropriately on information and knowledge. These behavioral skills are often referred to as “soft skills”, and they are difficult to assess.
  • The cultural/emotional system relies on the amygdala and other limbic structures and is the primary driver of what makes each of us unique. Social, emotional and personality characteristics are directly relevant here. The detailed processing characteristics of this system are less well understood than the cognitive and behavioral skills learning systems, but cultural and emotional processes strongly affect both cognitive and behavioral performance.

Figure: Cognitive, Behavioral and Cultural/Emotional Systems in the Brain

Infor’s Talent Science Performance Profiles Align with the Psychology and Neuroscience of Workplace Performance

Infor’s talent assessment tool yields a custom performance profile for each individual that characterizes and quantifies their performance along these three factors. Therefore, the solution quantifies hard and soft skills abilities, as well as cultural/emotional abilities, all of which directly affect workplace performance. This is advantageous from a Human Capital Management perspective because it means that Infor’s solution has the potential to provide actionable insights about all of the important aspects of an employee’s performance through the full employee lifecycle from hire to retire. These insights could provide employers with the information that they need to increase employee performance, engagement, satisfaction, and retention – the goal of HR departments everywhere.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Infor’s Talent Science solution uses talent assessment and analytics to drive change through behavioral analysis. It is grounded in the psychology and neuroscience of learning and performance. Thirty years of foundational research suggests that this is the optimal approach to net long-term gains.

By capturing and quantifying the talent profile associated with each workforce position, Infor provides its clients with the ability to make fast and accurate hiring decisions and increase the long term success of any new hire.

In Case You Missed It: Why Augmented Reality is an Effective Tool in Manufacturing: A Brain Science Analysis

As you may know, PTC LiveWorx 2019 featured my live presentation “Why Augmented Reality is an Effective Tool in Manufacturing: A Brain Science Analysis“.

For those of you who couldn’t make it to LiveWorx or to the presentation, we are providing the slides so you can catch up! Simply click on the title slide or link below to download the slides.

Why Augmented Reality is Effective in Manufacturing

If you’d like to discuss this presentation in greater detail or have me speak to your organization on this topic, please follow up at info@amalgaminsights.com.

Context:

This presentation focuses on a brain science evaluation of augmented reality tools in manufacturing and their roles in:

    • reducing the cognitive load on the learner
    • providing the opportunity for limitless practice, and
    • accelerating learning and retention by broadly recruiting multiple learning systems in the brain in synchrony.

Specifically, AR tools simultaneously recruit cognitive, behavioral and experiential learning systems in the brain thus creating multiple distinct, but highly interconnected memory traces.

In comparison, traditional tools focus almost exclusively on the cognitive skills learning system. In this presentation, I examine a number of use cases for AR including supply chain, environmental health and safety (EHS), product development, equipment operation, and field service. Finally, I summarize the brain science underpinnings for the effectiveness of AR tools in each use case.

Please take a look and follow up with any questions you may have!

Why Augmented Reality is Effective in Manufacturing

Analyst Insight – Assessment in Talent and Human Capital Management: A Psychological Science Evaluation

Key Stakeholders:

Chief Human Resource Officers, Chief People Officers, Chief Talent Officer, Chief Technology Officers, Chief Digital Officers, Human Capital Directors and Managers, Human Resource Directors and Managers, Learning and Education Managers, Learning Project Directors and Managers, Organizational Change Directors and Managers, Talent Directors and Managers, Training and Development Directors and Managers, Training Officers.

Why It Matters:

Generational differences and continuous, rapid changes in the workplace, place a heavy burden on talent and human capital management platforms to effectively guide individuals through the full employee lifecycle from hire to retire. One-size-fits-all approaches to recruitment, onboarding, learning and development, succession planning and incentive compensation lead to weak employee engagement, poor job satisfaction and high turnover rates.

Top Takeaway:

Talent assessment blends psychology and data science, and when incorporated into talent and human capital management platforms, offers insights that are actionable and can increase engagement, satisfaction, and retention. Talent assessment is most commonly applied to recruitment and onboarding, and many vendors have developed impressive and effective offerings. However, talent assessment is less commonly applied in learning and development, succession planning and incentive compensation, which represents a missed opportunity.

Relevant Assessment Vendors: AllyO, Hirevue, IBM, Infor, Phenom People, PSI Services, TalentQuest

Relevant Talent and Human Capital Management Vendors: Bamboo HR, Cegid, Ceridian, Cornerstone on Demand, Kronos, Oracle NetSuite, PageUp People, PeopleFluent, Reflektive, Saba, SAP Successfactors, SumTotal, Talentsoft, Ultimate Software, Workday. Continue reading “Analyst Insight – Assessment in Talent and Human Capital Management: A Psychological Science Evaluation”

Todd Maddox Reveals How PTC’s Vuforia Expert Capture Speeds Time to Productivity While Reducing Training Costs

The brain science of learning suggests that the most effective workforce training tools engage the worker in a way that directly and naturally maps onto the relevant learning and memory systems in the brain.

PTC’s Vuforia Expert Capture uses augmented reality technology to meet these needs by curating subject matter experts’ knowledge and presenting that information to workers in a way that minimizes cognitive load while simultaneously engaging experiential and behavioral skills learning systems in the brain.

This speeds time to productivity, trains subject matter and behavioral skills expertise, all while reducing training costs. To describe how this works, I’ve recently written a Market Milestone describing the brain science and use cases that Expert Capture is best suited for. To access this report, which has been licensed by PTC, at no cost, please visit https://www.ptc.com/en/resources/ar/report/brain-science-behind-augmented-reality

Perspectives 2019: The 20th Anniversary of Skillsoft and Todd’s Top Takeaways!

On April 15 – 17, 2019, I attended Skillsoft’s Perspectives 2019 in Orlando, Florida. Last year was spectacular, and I was not sure if Skillsoft could outdo last year, but they did! The conference opened with a keynote from the Executive Chairman, Ron Hovsepian, who reminded the audience that this was Skillsoft’s 20th Anniversary as…

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Zoho Is Moving to Austin!

I recently attended Zoholics 2019 in Austin, Texas. It was quite an event. The conference opened with the big news that was Zoho is moving its headquarters to Austin! This made headline news on the front page of the Austin American Statesman, and Austin mayor, Steve Adler offered words of excitement and encouragement during his…

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Todd Maddox Explains Why Extended Reality (xR) Technologies Will Disrupt Corporate L&D

Research Fellow Todd Maddox, Ph.D. has just published a new Analyst Insight: Leveraging Learning Science: Why Extended Reality (xR) is Poised to Disrupt Corporate Learning and Development.

In this Analyst Insight, Todd Maddox, Ph.D. provides guidance on why Augmented and Virtual Reality are set to disrupt corporate learning. This report focuses on a learning science evaluation of the potential for extended reality (xR) technologies to disrupt corporate L&D and show how xR technologies have the potential to improve the quality and quantity of training, to accelerate learning and enhance retention in all aspects of corporate learning to provide the following benefits:

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Why Extended Reality (xR) is Poised to Disrupt Corporate Learning and Development – Part IV: xR Behavioral Skills Applications, and Recommendations

Note: If you missed Parts I, II, and III of this blog series, catch up and read

This is part of a four-blog series exploring the psychology and brain science behind the potential for extended reality tools to disrupt corporate Learning & Development.

xR and Behavioral Skills Learning: Whereas hard skills learning involves knowing what to do, behavioral skills learning involve knowing how to do it. People (aka soft) skills, such as the ability to communicate, collaborate, and lead effectively, or to show empathy and to embrace diversity, are behavioral skills. Similarly, technical skills, such as the ability to learning how to use new software, to upskill to a new software release, or to use and maintain a piece of hardware or equipment, are behavioral skills.

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Why Extended Reality (xR) is Poised to Disrupt Corporate Learning and Development – Part III: xR Hard Skills Applications

Note: If you missed Parts I and II of this blog series, catch up and read Part I: The Problem, and Part II: The Brain Science. This is part of a four-blog series exploring the psychology and brain science behind the potential for extended reality tools to disrupt corporate Learning & Development.

xR Applications in Corporate L&D

The key ingredient of xR technology in corporate L&D is the experiential and immersive nature of the technology that provides rich, coordinated contextual cues that lead to a sense of “presence”. You are either in a real-world experience augmented with information (Augmented Reality or AR), or you are transported into a new virtual world (Virtual Reality or VR). In both cases, experiential learning systems are engaged in synchrony with cognitive, behavioral, and emotional learning systems in the brain. I elaborate below.

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