Team Meetings In Our ‘New Normal’
May 19, 2020
Leaders Are Learners
June 9, 2020

How Leaders Can Influence Organisational Climate

Have you ever walked into an office or a worksite where you ‘got the chills’ for some reason? We need to understand that we as leaders can influence organisational climate and culture like no other.

Many organisations have had to recreate their ‘new normal’. What served us well before COVID19 might not work anymore. We need to analyse our culture like never before to make sure it is not toxic and destructive. Let’s have an open heart and brain surgery to make sure we are not in denial of what is really going on.

What is organisational climate and culture?

Coming back to the room where you ‘got the chills’. The way people interact, their body language, facial expressions, eye contact, or other signs make you feel like you walked into a cool room at the butcher.

It is sometimes hard to describe, but it is there. There is a strong vibe or an atmosphere that can have different reasons. It might just be the mood of the day but if it is ongoing it might be a deeply rooted problem.

The climate of an organisation is like the visible part of an ice berg. It is the behaviour of people we can observe. How they talk to each other – or not. How they communicate with their clients, staff and superiors. The way they show up, present themselves, give feedback, share ideas, and receive critique, etc.

Organisational culture, on the other hand, is like the invisible part of the ice berg. It is what drives our behaviour, such as values, beliefs, attitudes. And, it is the part that takes longer to develop or to change.

The challenge is that both climate and culture emerge whether we do something about it or not. Wherever there is a group of people, climate and culture will develop. We as leaders can influence organisational climate and culture. It is up to us to shape what we want to see in our organisations and not leave it up to chance.

The more constructive our climate is the more engaged our people are which results in better performance. Therefore, our bottom line depends on it!

How leaders can influence organisational climate and culture

The first step to develop or change an organisational culture, it is important to define core values as a foundation to live and work by. Like the foundation of a house, core values enable you to build a constructive and healthy organisation. Find out more about core values here.

Once you have established your core values, here are four building blocks so leaders can influence organisational climate and culture according to the leadership expert Peter G. Northouse (2020):

Provide Structure

A leader can provide structure by clearly communicating roles, responsibilities, and goals. People need to get an understanding of what the organisation is about, how it is structured, and how they fit in. By providing a job description, for example, people will know what is expected of them, and by informing them of changes to roles within the team they are not left guessing what others are doing.

Clarify Norms

Norms guide our behaviour. What is acceptable, what are ‘no-go’s’? Rules around start and finishing time, for example, help people to know what is expected of them. We need to be aware that norms always exist whether we define them or not; they will certainly emerge. Often, they are unspoken rules which lead to wrong assumptions about what leaders expect, which then leads to ineffective teams.

Build Cohesiveness

Cohesiveness is what holds a team together. It makes people feel connected and appreciated, they identify themselves with the group and its goals. Cohesiveness is proven to increase engagement and performance. People want to be part of a cohesive team, where they are appreciated, heard, challenged, and empowered. Again, this will help you influence your organisational climate.

Promote Standards of Excellence

Setting standards of excellence is crucial for successful teams. While providing structure and clarifying norms is telling people what to do and what not. Building cohesiveness and promoting standards of excellence is about ‘how’ leaders want this to happen. What outcomes do we want to see and how are we going about achieving them? Are we accepting mediocre jobs? I like the concept of excellence. Excellence is about giving our best, surpassing our average.

Would you like some help as a leader to influence your organisational climate that impacts the success of your team?

Please inquire about my customised programs. They include individual coaching sessions as well as team workshops.

Happy Thursday!


Ps. Book your FREE 45-min leadership strategy session here.

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