B=f(P/E)

What is algebra doing in the headline? It’s there to signify an important equation that was provided to me in an Organizational Behavior class taught by the very knowledgable Dr. Bret Simmons. It signifies that behavior (B) is a function (f) of a person’s personality (P) and environment (E). It’s an interesting concept to keep in mind when you’re thinking about work environments. The idea can be visualized pretty easily. A person’s behavior at work is a function of their personality and the work environment. It is not a function of either/or.

I once heard a story of an employee who threw a chair at his supervisor. This surprised me because I knew the employee and thought he was mediatation-hostile-work-environmentsmart and even tempered. I also had heard many stories about the manager and knew he had a bad reputation of pushing people to their limits in terms of hours and demands. It wasn’t until I took the organizational behavior class that the situation started to make sense. At the end of the day, a person’s behavior is a product of their personality and environment. Who knows, maybe if I was in that work environment I would have thrown a chair as well (but hopefully not).

The reason I wrote this post is because it’s important to know what type of environment you thrive in. It’s also important to think of the environment you’d like to provide if you’re managing people. Do you want an environment where people feel free to speak up and thrive to do better? Or do you want an environment where people are scared to make a mistake or say anything contradictory. At the end of the day whether it’s an environment you manage or one that’s managing you, it’s valuable to understand that it does affect you and the other people in that environment.

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