Environment and Performance

How do you interact with your environment and how does it impact you? In this post, I will discuss the next of the 7 Factors that drive performance: the Environment. I will briefly define what it is, talk about the two types of environments, and help you understand how to determine if this factor is the most important reason for the level of performance achieved.

In my book, I define Environment as the physical, emotional, and interpersonal elements that form the context in which a person works and lives. Environment is everything outside of us. It is not our innate abilities (talent), knowledge, skills, or motivations. Those come from within and determine how we interact with our world. Rather, it is how the world interacts with us. When we get to work each day, the arrangement of our desk, how our office is set up, the relationships we have with others, and the constraints put forth by the organization can have an impact on our performance.

In the definition of Environment, you may have noticed that the environment includes elements specific to work and elements specific to life outside of work. Therefore, there are two types of environments that we interact with. The first is our personal environment and includes all the things outside of work. The second is our work environment and includes all the things at work. Since we are almost all human (there’s a few people I’m not so sure about), we have a finite amount of energy. How we use that energy has an impact on our performance. Also, both environments impact each other. In other words, things that happen at work impact our home life and things that happen at home impact our work life.

In working with people to leverage an exemplary strength, you can discuss and observe what is done at work and outside of work. For example, how do they organize their work space, how do they interact with others, how do they leverage the culture to elevate their performance, and how do things outside of work drive them to achieve exemplary performance levels? In working with people to develop an expandable strength, you would ask about the impact of these elements on their performance to determine if there is something in their personal or work environment that is holding them back.

While there is much discussion of the elements that make up the work environment, we often stay clear of discussing things that are happening outside of work. We don’t need to counsel people if things outside of work are impacting their performance in a negative way (nor should we unless we are qualified and licensed to do so). However, knowing this will help us understand how someone is using her energy and why performance is or is not at the exemplary level. We can then we can apply the right solution to grow her performance and not make assumptions and/or excuses about the person or the organization.

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