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Give Your Organization a Top to Bottom Cleaning
Organizational climate is the general perception of the working conditions of an enterprise, including the level of motivation, innovation, trust, conflict, morale, rewards equity, leader credibility, and resistance to change. Because organizational climate develops over many years and is affected by many factors, you cannot change it by simply dusting off the top layer of discontent or vacuuming up the problems around the perimeter.
While these tactics may remove the most obvious eye sores, you need to consider suggestions to improve organizational climate that will refurbish the many layers of the company's persona. Just as the most effective cleaning begins at the top and progresses downward, so must the measures that will make sweeping changes to the overall perception of the business.
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What Shapes Organizational Climate?
Research has shown that organizational climate is shaped primarily by five factors:
- Motivation - the desire to pursue a goal combined with the energy to stay committed even when faced with challenges and obstacles.
- Change - the willingness to innovate and adapt in a continuously evolving situation.
- Teamwork - collaborative interactions in pursuit of the goal that require both a sense of shared purpose and the right tools to be able to work and communicate as a team.
- Execution - the ability to achieve strategic results by implementing effective tactics and keeping to a schedule.
- Trust - the belief in the reliability, truth, ability, and strength of the words and deeds of members of the organization that facilitates necessary risk taking to achieve success in the other climate factors.
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1. Motivation Begins with Decluttering the Workspace
The first suggestion to improve organizational climate begins with removing unnecessary clutter. Clutter steals workers' motivation because they expend all their energy just trying to find what they need to begin a task. You can't expect to make significant progress to improving the organizational climate until you declutter everyone's work area. If people's desks are overflowing with paper, consider adopting some best practices in records management so that it will be easier to see what needs to be cleaned up.
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2. Institute Rewards Equity to Motivate Employees
Once you have removed the clutter as an obstacle to increasing productivity, the next step is to determine and implement policies that will motivate employees. There are many theories regarding what motivates employees, and you will find that workers respond differently when presented a slew of performance incentives. However, all workers will be more motivated if they believe there is rewards equity within the organization. Eliminating the appearance of favoritism and recognizing achievements that are not necessarily "high profile" will go a long way to boosting the morale of workers.
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3. Foster Innovation and the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Can you turn an employee's regular job into an entrepreneurial experience? The answer is yes, but it will take some creative thinking and the willingness of managers to relinquish some control. Creating an entrepreneurial spirit begins with transforming workers into the economic engines of the company. One way to facilitate entrepreneurship is to set up each department or team as a profit center and allow them to keep any profits generated through savings or increased sales. Likewise, the company can offer individuals in-house patents for innovative ideas and pay a royalty for the savings or revenues generated from the patented idea.
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4. Prepare Workers to Embrace Change
Resistance to change manifests itself into many symptoms that can create an organizational climate that is full of stale air.
Opening the windows to let the fresh air into the organization is not always easy, especially if those windows have been shut for a long period of time. This is why it is so important that change becomes an integral part of the organization's culture. Try to designate spring as the annual time of year for reviewing and instituting new procedures and processes. If change is on everyone's seasonal calendar, it will not take anybody by surprise.
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5. Create a Sense of Purpose
Organizational climate is enhanced when coworkers feel a connection or bond with their colleagues. Even if each employee has a different job within the organization, there needs to be a unifying, core purpose in what they do that is tied back to the organization as a whole. For example, scrubbing the floors, cleaning the windows, and dusting the furniture are very different jobs that require an assortment of tools. However, they are all connected to the unifying purpose of having a clean and beautiful home. Connecting the dots so employees understand and visibly see how their work is related to the broader picture will do wonders for morale.
Continue to the next page for more suggestions to improve organizational climate.
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Is the climate in your organization cold and impersonal because employees don't trust management or each other and nothing seems to get accomplished? Then here are some suggestions on how to turn your organizational climate into a tropical paradise by restoring trust, leadership credibility, rewards integrity, and employee empowerment.
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6. Provide the Right Tools for Effective Collaboration
We know that teamwork depends on the ability to effectively collaborate with one's coworkers in an environment best-suited for the exchange of information. In an ideal setting team members would be sitting around in chairs facing each other in a room without distractions and interruptions. But the reality is that we work in a world of telecommuters and multitaskers and therefore businesses should look into purchasing some affordable collaborative software to strengthen teamwork. You would not use Windex to scrub the floors, so don't expect your employees to collaborate without adequate tools to effectively communicate and share information in real time.
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7. Empower Employees for Better Execution
Employees want to feel that their work is valuable and they have some control in the final product. Empowerment leads to better execution because employees who are closest to the work product are able to address problems faster and have more ideas on how to improve efficiency. While empowerment can take multiple shapes and forms, it generally creates positive perceptions of the employer/employee relationship within the organization. Empowerment will give an organization that fresh scent of a good spring cleaning.
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8. Find Periodic Downtime to Improve Execution
It may sound counter-intuitive to take a breathier to improve execution, but think about how the game of basketball is played. No coach is going to leave his or her five starters in during the entire game. Businesses should take a lesson from the sports, such as basketball, to ensure that employees don't suffer from burnout either mentally or physically.
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9. Develop Honest Communications to Build Trust
Make sure the organization communicates clearly and often to the employees about the true state of affairs, including the mission, goals, financial position, achievements and missteps of the organization. No one likes bad news, but trust will never flourish in an organization that refuses to air its dirty laundry. Keeping workers in the dark about the true financial health of the company only creates rumor-mongering.
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10. Promote Ethical Behavior
Even high performance teams cannot be maintained in an atmosphere of unethical behavior. So how can your organization foster trust? There are several practices that build trust at both the individual and organizational level. First, you need to put into place personnel procedures that produce the desired ethical behaviors and swiftly disciplines those who step outside these boundaries. If you don't have one, develop a workplace ethics policy to ensure that boundaries and the consequences for transgressing those boundaries are specified with clarity. If you already have a policy in place, take time during the spring to review the policy to see if it needs to be updated.
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You Can Turn Your Organizational Climate into a Tropical Paradise
Creating a warmer and more inviting organizational climate is within reach of any business—all it takes is rolling up those sleeves in the springtime and getting to work instead of sweeping everything under the rug for next year.
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References and Image Credits
"A Coach's (re)View from JWillin Consulting | Restoring Trust in the Workplace." Welcome to JWIllin Consulting. http://www.jwillinconsulting.com/archives/0202.htm (accessed April 9, 2011).
"Beyond Staff Satisfaction." OVS Organizational Vital Signs. http://www.eqtoday.com/tools/media/OVS.pdf (accessed April 9, 2011).