How do we create environments to maximize the learning potential of those around us? Most behaviors are shaped from the environment that surrounds them, be it something that happens before the behavior occurs (antecedents), or something that happens after the behavior occurs (consequences). Believe it or not, we can actually shape behavior to maximize learner potential if we are aware of the environmental factors that surround them, and then use that information to change the learner’s environment!
Take a business for example. On any day, a manager can walk in to the office and observe many behaviors of their direct reports. Some individuals may be typing on their computer, some may be holding a meeting in a conference room, and some may be copying or filing papers. On the flip side, you may also have some individuals at their desk staring in to space, or surfing the internet instead of working. All of these behaviors have been shaped in the particular environment of the office.
Prior to shaping development in their direct reports, the manager should be aware of the environmental factors that surround the behavior. The manager should collect information regarding the antecedents of behavior (those things that happen before the behavior occurs—can also include the physical space of the environment itself), and the consequences of behavior (the things that happen directly after the behavior occurs). Based on those data, the manager can then come up with a development plan to help the direct report learn new behavior that would shape their development in their position.
It is important that the manager share these data with the direct report, not just on an annual basis but on a weekly to monthly basis. The direct report should also have a part in the development plan, and this plan should change at least quarterly to reflect their growth.
Please Note: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
For more information on creating environments for success see Mager and Pipe's: Analyzing Performance Problems: Or, You Really Oughta Wanna--How to Figure out Why People Aren't Doing What They Should Be, and What to do About It
For information on how to complete in depth behavior assessments see O'Neill and Horner's: Functional Assessment and Program Development
For additional content, sign up for our weekly newsletter!