The Coaching Effect Blog

The Coaching Effect Blog

    Corporate Culture PART TWO: Measuring Climate

    by Kristi Shoemaker / December 19, 2011

    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

    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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    Tags: Culture

    previous post Managing Corporate Culture PART ONE
    Next Post Corporate Culture PART 3: The 5 Determinates of Corporate Climate
    Kristi Shoemaker

    Kristi Shoemaker

    Kristi is a marketing communications and public relations expert with over 30+ years of experience in a variety of industries. She was an integral part of EcSell's go-to-market strategy and execution from 2008 - 2012. Kristi enjoys taking a holistic approach by integrating all the key marketing disciplines to create synergies that generate maximum results. She is currently the president of KLS Consulting in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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