Monday, March 12, 2007

Climate in the Workplace and Some Strategies for Improvement

Intelligent Coaching E-Brief

Climate in the Workplace and Some Strategies for Improvement

Date: March 12, 2007 Volume 2, Number 10

In this Issue:
What is Climate and Why Should I Care
Strategies to Improve Climate

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What is Climate and Why Should I Care?

Considering the term "climate" has been flying around business literature, human resource departments, and organizations aplenty for some time now and does not seem to be going away, lets first get clear on what it means. The "climate" of a workplace refers to the emotional tone and atmosphere, the current and energy in the environment where you work. While this definition is fairly nebulous, it points to another important aspect of "climate" which, is the individual's subjective view of climate in the workplace.

We may not pay much attention to the climate of a business or organization if the atmosphere there is benign or unremarkable. It doesn't seem to strike people much, one way or the other, when they walk into a business and the emotional tone is neither really positive or negative, and the employees seem fairly busy at work. Walk into a organization, however, where there is a strong negative undercurrent, and you will most likely notice it fairly quickly. Its almost like you've just been struck by a blow! On the flipside, walk into a business where there is a very positive and favorable energy, and you notice quickly, something very different. People seem happy and more productive! This is a place, thinking to youself, that you might like to work and whatever "it" is, you'd like to bottle it and take it with you. These examples illustrate the spectrum of different climates.

Climate is very important to businesses and organizations. The emotional tone of a workplace directly affects the performance and productivity of employees. It affects employee retention and turn-over, because employees' satisfaction is effected by the climate. Have you ever thought that you spend too much of your time and your life at work to be grossly unsatisfied and unhappy! This is a huge consequence of a really negative work climate. Ultimately, the climate can also have an affect on the customer service that is provided.

Strategies to Improve Climate

The climate of an organization filters down from the top. One can tell much about the leaders of an organization when they spend time in the organization and experience the climate, first-hand. Therefore, leaders have a critical role in setting the tone and climate of their business. So how might we set this positive tone and climate? Research reveals that the styles of leadership one uses, has the greatest impact on climate and performance. Daniel Goleman suggests using a variety of leadership styles, depending on what is needed. Master several of these styles, apply them at the right time and in the right amount, and you have articulated a recipe for a very positive climate!

Depending on the situation and what is needed in the organization, enhance your skills and seek to become adept at "Authoritative", "Affiliative", "Democratic", and "Coaching" styles of leadership. Practicing and rehearsing these different styles, will help you to naturally call upon the appropriate style and effectively deliver it.

Appreciative Inquiry is another technique to use, to positively enhance the climate of a group. Therefore, pay attention to the language that you use and what you are focusing on, as this is going to impact the reality and where you're going. Also, seek to enlist others in your organization by asking them what works and when things were really well. You may wish to reference the December newsletter for an introduction to Appreciative Inquiry.


For personalized support toward improving the climate of your organization or your other professional needs, contact Nancy Schill at or 512.947.5447.


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