If your company’s going through change and the coffee maker is now your new best friend, you’re not alone.

VPs and CEOs trying to mobilize their workforce behind large scale change and transformation often experience frustration and a sense of overwhelm. It’s no surprise. These initiatives are time consuming, complex, and usually cause significant fallout on every level.

Leaders and teams put in long hours, take on extra roles, and are required to learn new skills and processes, all while coming up with new solutions to existing problems. People get worn down, preferring the old, familiar ways of doing things and resisting the ongoing onslaught of change.

Guess what? They’re not lazy – they’re exhausted.

Taxing Times = Reptilian Brain

The part of the brain required to think through change, innovate, prioritize and work toward strategic goals is very expensive to use and runs out of energy easily. It also goes offline when there is high emotion or conflict – almost ever-present during times of significant change – and our ancient, or reptilian, brain takes over.

When the reptilian brain reacts quickly and instinctually, it pumps out powerful survival brain chemicals such as cortisol and norepinephrine to equip us to run, fight or hide.

The problem is, day to day, in the face of ongoing, perceived danger, the brain keeps producing those chemicals, month after month, which is extremely taxing. Remaining in that state for prolonged periods can lead to burnout, mental fatigue, poor health, and ruined personal relationships.

The good news is that scientists now know there are six core conditions for optimum high performance – and none of them includes coffee. It all comes down to psychological safety. When people (and their brains) feel safe, they’re at their best, thinking innovatively and working strategically.

Putting these conditions in place will go a long way to ensuring you and your team remain not just alert, but on top of your game.

Noesis delivers neuroleadership consulting and training to organizations handling everyday change and major transformation initiatives. We help our clients scientifically improve leadership.