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Organizational climate – “soft” side of tangible results

Many managers wonder how can teams or organizations increase the value of their resources by tens of percent. According to research conducted by consulting companies, such differences are achieved by organizations characterized by a high level of organizational climate. Let’s take a look at key factors that influence this indicator and ways to create motivating work environment.

Organizational climate, what is it exactly?

Literature gives many definitions of this concept, but the best suited one in terms of this article is the one proposed by J.P. Campbell, M.D. Dunnette, E.E. Lawler and K.E. Weicka, who describes it as “a collection of peculiar characteristics of an organization that points at its behavior towards employees and the professional environment”. It is based on both procedural and customary rules according to which a particular company or its components operate.

The above-mentioned specific organizational characteristics can be grouped into specific collections that make up the so-called „borders of the organizational climate”.

Responsibility is defined as the degree of freedom held by workers to make decisions necessary to accomplish the tasks assigned to them and to choose the methods of performing their duties. Employees in most situations are guided by their own judgment of the situation and take actions and decisions they judge as appropriate.

Since tasks are allocated not only by the skills they already possess but also by the skills they are developing, these tasks are an ambitious and important addition to routine tasks. However, workers are not left alone in implementation of these. They get the necessary support from the supervisor which makes them feel safe and they have the opportunity to take reasonable and calculated risks. It gives them the opportunity to experience not only the successes but also the failures resulting from their own decisions and actions. The boss, who in such cases acts as an “implementer” of new competencies, helps subordinates learn from experience, thereby becoming an active growth factor for his team. In turn, employees learn to calculate risk, make decisions, and ways to implement them with respect to best practices and comments from their supervisor.

Through collaboration, the supervisor knows exactly how much he can trust his subordinates, and with which decisions they still need his support. In time, greater responsibility is transferred to the subordinate team, thereby increasing the involvement of individual members in the achievement of group goals and leaving the leader with more time previously used for operational activities.

Transparency is defined as the degree to which the employees understand the direction of the organization’s development and the degree of their awareness about the organization’s expectations for its individual members.

Employees are aware of not only the mission of the organization, but also of its key strategic ways to realize goals and how they are implemented into daily operations. The supervisor has to translate long-term organizational goals into short-term tasks performed by subordinates and to show them the relationship between the key indicators measured in the reports. It is important that the reporting methods, both the activity and the level of performance are reduced to the bare minimum and do not overlap.

The second important element is to determine what is expected of the individual employees at a given stage of their development, how their success is measured and what they need to be able to follow the career path.

Overlapping responsibilities or duties affect the reduction of engagement and ownership of processes or projects.

Standards of work are understood as the degree of achievement of the ambitious goals set by the organization and the improvement of the achieved results.

High standards of work, though difficult to achieve, support the creation of motivating work environments and improve team climate. Employees observe a supervisor who, by his or her attitude and behavior, sets high standards in the organization, does not accept the mediocrity and shortcomings when delivering the results. If this is the case, he provides factual and supportive feedback that helps employees improve their duties. Acting in this way, the supervisor builds the not only substantial authority but also himself as a leader, who in the long run becomes a factor in the integration of the team.

Employees feel that they are expected to raise the bar in the execution of tasks, but they also know that they have a substantive foundation in their supervisor, allowing them to cross their own limits, since improvement is at the root of his motivation for action.

Openness and flexibility are understood as the degree to which organizations are aligned with performance, by limiting the formalization and encouraging innovation of employees. Employee’s initiative is not limited by internal bureaucracy, and his new ideas are willingly accepted, analyzed and, if justified, implemented.

The supervisor observes to what extent the effectiveness of people is limited by unnecessary bureaucracy, procedural difficulties and over-formalization of important processes. It also engages in activities aimed at making them more effective as much as possible.

This includes collecting suggestions on how to better operationalize and process them further in the organization. It is not uncommon that some of the guidelines and procedures – necessary in the past – today are a formal limitation in carrying out tasks. There is a necessity to change them, rather than unreflective acceptance only because “it has always been that way.”

The organization adapts not only to shareholders but also to its other stakeholders – employees. Bottom-up initiatives are eagerly discusses and implemented after the analysis to streamline the company’s strategic tasks and objectives through its operational activities. Openness and flexibility also refers to the response time to employee suggestions and feedback from company executives.

Rewards and recognition is defined as the degree of employees’ satisfaction with appreciation and reward for the results they produce. This dimension also applies to intangible means of expressing appreciation from the supervisor.

The results of the research show that employees consider verbal praise as part of pay. So one can ask, if you are a leader and you don’t use verbal praise, how much value are you „stealing” from your subordinates? Some of these reflections, though painful, may prompt you to change course.

Often, the superiors do not receive the necessary financial resources from to meet the demand of employees from the organization. Do not forget about praise. The boss should make time to “catch” the employee on what he does well and appreciate it. Many managers forget about the key principle in applying the so-called „stick and carrot” – to make the stick work, there should be twice as many carrots.

It is worth remembering that there is also a phenomenon called habituation, ie the weakening of physiological and psychological responses to a prolonged, known stimuli. Because people quickly get used to the situation and the external and social conditions of the supervisor, who constantly criticizes the subordinates, loses influence. On the other hand, a supervisor who uses the contrast principle – praise and correction – increases his influence on the behavior of a subordinate. In addition, when the boss creates a demand for praise in the team, employees will be willing to make extra efforts to be rewarded by it, and this will be perceived subjectively as a better reward.

When discussing the topic of rewarding your employees we have to mention the dependence of paying by the generated results and the employee’s personal influence on the results achieved. An important element is the criteria based on which awards or bonuses are distributed. They should be simple, clear and understandable for all team members. The more clear and straightforward the relation is, and the so-called recognition of bonuses reduced to a minimum, the more employee’s involvement in the performance of duties increases. The second element is the employee’s personal impact on the results – the smaller the impact (because for example it depends on the functioning of other units or departments of the company) the more the sense of responsibility for the results decreases.

Engagement and cooperation can be defined as the degree of personal identification with the goals of a group and activities designed to achieve them through collaboration, assistance and support to other team members. In teams with a high organizational climate, members recognize the superiority of a group goals over the individual ones and want to help each other achieve them. Employees in such organizations are proud to belong to them and feel complete identification with the team. Impressed that they are a part of such department or company. It usually happens when the values of the team are consistent with their inner belief system. The internalization of the two worlds is personal and professional, resulting in a high level of commitment and dedication to corporate goals and dedication to other team members.

Workers believe that when they help their colleagues, they will themselves be better because the team will achieve more. The atmosphere at work makes the employees come to the company with enthusiasm and readiness to cross personal development barriers because they know that there are coworkers who they can count on and the boss who demands and supports them.

Summary

Organizational climate, on the one hand, affects the efficiency and motivation of employees and, on the other, reflects the satisfaction of the organization’s participants in the work environment. It is therefore understandable that a leader and his management style are very much influenced by it. The manager, using skillful management styles, has the opportunity to shape a motivating work environment despite the limitations imposed by the organization. This may effect in enhancing the results achieved by the subordinate team.

If you want to shape others, it is always a good idea to start with yourself, stand in front of a mirror, and ask yourself: am I ready to be my own best boss – do I know my direction and my goals? Do I take responsibility for my actions, or do I drop it on others? Do I expect enough from myself and will I deliver on time? Are my standards of work high and improving? Can I appreciate the work and commitment of others? Do I build teamwork among my subordinates through my decisions and actions?

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