Several years ago I developed a model that presents a comprehensive view of the various factors that affect people's performance. A colleague who emailed me looking for a copy described it as, "Probably the best tool ever for examining the reason people do or don't perform as desired." I had to inform him that the model is inaccurate and missing a key factor impacting people's performance - Emotional Intelligence.
As a tool, models provide powerful insight into deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how to take action. My model identifies performance problem areas and provides insights for solutions, focusing scarce resources on high leverage causes. Use of such a model avoids implementing solutions that may be inappropriate and costly such as formal training when all that may be needed is a simple job aid.
Since its development, I have expanded my model to a new, dimensional model that includes Emotional Intelligence (EI) as an all-encompassing factor affecting performance in all areas. And because of its depth and breadth, this revised model is the one I have been using for over a decade.
Reflecting my Engineering background, my original model is a one-dimensional, 3 by 3 nine-box grid. The grid identifies over 30 factors affecting performance according to those who have the most control or influence over the factors - executives, managers, and individual performers. While this model implies that
Research indicates that emotions play a much more significant role than other factors. In fact, every sensory input we receive is processed through our emotional center first. When that occurs, an emotional meaning or flavor is attached to each input before it is sent on and processed in our rational mind, the neocortex.So our emotional center is the gatekeeper for every response to every input that we receive. Emotional meanings are attached to information we have (or don't have) to do our work, our workload, every task we are assigned (and how it is assigned), our environment (lighting, noise, temperature), etc.
To reflect the dramatic impact of emotions, my revised model adds a third dimension - the dimension of Emotion. With the inclusion of depth, this new model indicates that not only do all of those "Head" factors (in my original model) affect our performance, but also our emotions can negatively or positively affect our physical energy, our mental clarity, our productivity, and more. Just think of how people feel when the initial announcement of a downsizing is released. The vast majority of people perceive the announcement
The Emotional dimension of the model can be viewed as a continuum. On one end is Fear; on the other is Appreciation. Ask yourself how well people perform when they are anxious, frustrated, fearful, or angry. My personal experience and observation is that most people don't perform well. On the other hand, if a person truly feels cared for and appreciated, then those positive emotions facilitate performance. I contend that this is what each of us wants. We want to be appreciated for our contributions; we want to feel that people care about us. We don't want to act like we can check our emotions at the door in the morning when we come in to work and pick them up again when we go home. Our emotions - our hearts - are with us at all times.
I'm concerned when I think that we have spent so much time on the factors in my initial, two-dimensional "Head" model. I'm not saying that those factors aren't important. Obviously they are. But the dramatic results achieved by implementing simple emotional management techniques in my programs tells me that I must actively use the "Head/Heart" model when considering interventions to help improve people's performance.