Contextual factors is a term rarely used in the workplace or with employee performance. It is one of three factors that categorizes performance elements for improving performance outcomes.

Any feature of yourself that is not part of a health condition or health status is defined as the personal context that influences performance (WHO 2001).

Our performance and design coaches facilitate improvements through the following contextual elements:

  • Expectations of Culture,
  • Personal Beliefs and Customs,
  • Behavioral Standards,
  • Demographics,
  • Stage of Life and History,
  • Relationship to Time, and
  • The Non-Physical: Simulated, Real-time, and Near-time.

Gender and education levels are demographics that overlap into personal beliefs and customs. Context at an organizational level includes millennial, generation X, baby boomer, retired or volunteer life stages. ‘Supervisor’ may be a cultural custom or expectation of rank in workplace cultures. At the population level beliefs may be as an immigrant or community member.

Consider the context of peers when managing stress. This process may be metaphorically similar to considering the first taste of a new cuisine. A first observance may be a disagreeing smell or appearance of the restaurant it’s served at. To get beyond initial sensations may provide a new, delightfully tasting spice or entree. This example demonstrates why it is important to overcome initial contextual observations to improve performance.

Uniting personal and cultural contextual elements reduces stress.

Contextual changes within a workplace community may appear as high-stress work because of extreme diversity. Yet, when the facts are vetted through active listening and open dialogue it reduces tension leading to stress. Community is defined as people gathering together for a common interest.  Understanding the diverse elements returns as investment in business and employee performance growth needed to thrive. Workplace communities seeking performance improvement engages in conversations and solutions bringing contextual unity.

Personal context may be changeable through awareness and by applying form.

A Supervisor may be perceived unapproachable through behavior standards demonstrated by body cues (crossed arms or poor eye contact) and customary set-up of furnishings (no visitor chairs or door closed).

Questions to Ask:
  1. How does the workplace environment support contextual differences?
  2. Where is there adaptability to unite in a clear mission and vision?
  3. What behavior standards are barriers to best performance?

Purposefully empower and mature contextual differences through the the business mission, vision, and culture. Maintain communication within contextual factors, including surroundings to intentionally reduce emotional dissonance. Schedule performance and design coaching to achieve it.

DESIGN^sensory craving | considerations to achieve your best self if with an insatiable drive for enhanced sensory experiences. Living Room –  Mark Cunningham Inc.
DESIGN^over-responsive | considerations to achieve your best self if exaggerated, negative responses is a typical sensory experience. Living Room – Jan Showers
DESIGN^under-responsive | considerations for your best self if muted or delayed responses to daily sensory events. Living Room – P&T Interiors


*World Health Organization (2001). International classification of functioning, disability, and health (ICF). Genveva: Author.


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