This is part 2 of a 4 part blog series, written by Brookeside Group, which outlines a four-step approach to measuring and managing corporate culture:
Step 1: Recognize What It Is
Step 2: Measure Organizational Climate
Step 3: Understand Determinates of Climate
Step 4: Focus on Leadership Practices
Measure Organizational Climate
In contrast to culture, which is the broadest and least tangible organizational influence on
managerial behavior, the concept of Organizational Climate offers a more clearly definable and
measurable vehicle for assessing and changing behavior in the workplace. Climate is more manageable than culture. Therefore, one way to change corporate culture is to focus on changing organizational climate.
Organizational Climate is the term we use to describe six dimensions of the work
environment that can be measured with relative precision. Extensive research based on the
work of George H. Litwin and Robert A. Stringer at the Harvard Business School has shown the
six dimensions that comprise Organizational Climate have a direct and measurable impact on the motivation, behavior and performance of the employees of an organization.1 While it is difficult to directly change motivation or even to measure it, it is possible to measure and manage climate. Figure 1 shows how Organizational Climate relates to the broader concept of corporate culture. We have learned how to measure and manipulate it, making climate an ideal starting point for managing corporate culture.
Research has identified the following dimensions of Organizational Climate as important
determinants of motivation, behavior and performance:
Structure reflects employees’ sense of being well organized and of having a clear definition of
their roles and responsibilities. Structure is high when people feel that everyone’s job is well
defined. It is low when they are confused about who does what tasks and who has decisionmaking
Standards measure the feeling of pressure to improve performance and the degree of pride
employees have in doing a good job. High standards mean that people are always looking for
ways to improve performance. Low standards reflect lower expectations for performance.
Responsibility reflects employees’ feelings of “being their own boss” and not having to doublecheck decisions with others. A sense of high responsibility signifies that employees feel
encouraged to solve problems on their own. Low responsibility indicates that risk taking and
testing of new approaches tend to be discouraged.
Recognition indicates employees’ feelings of being rewarded for a job well done. This is a
measure of the emphasis placed on reward versus criticism and punishment. An appropriate
balance of reward and criticism characterizes high recognition climates. Low recognition means
that good work is inconsistently rewarded.
Support reflects the feeling of trust and mutual support that prevails within a work group.
Support is high when employees feel that they are part of a well-functioning team and when they sense that they can get help (especially from the boss) if they need it. Support is low when employees feel isolated and alone.
Commitment reflects employees’ sense of pride in belonging to the organization and their
degree of commitment to the organization’s goals. Strong feelings of commitment are
associated with high levels of personal loyalty. Lower levels of commitment mean that employees feel apathetic toward the organization and its goals.
The second step in managing corporate culture, after recognizing what it is, is to measure the
current state of the organization’s climate. The act of measuring it makes it more “real,” more tangible and, therefore, more manageable. We have developed an easy to complete questionnaire that measures the relative strength of each of the six climate dimensions. A climate survey allows a company to size up the current state of its overall climate as well as the climates of various departments or divisions. The survey also gives the company a language for managing the corporate culture.
The climate survey is designed to collect data about how people feel about their jobs, how they are managed, and how things work in the organization. The survey is conducted in two parts.
In part one participants are asked to describe the climate of their organization (by “organization” we mean the smallest work unit that is meaningful to the participant, generally their group/department). The statements for part one, which have been derived from years of
research to identify the best predictors of climate, are listed below. For each, the participants are asked to indicate how strongly they agree/disagree with each.
Watch for Part Three in this series! Subscribe to this blog so you don't miss it.
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