As we are creating our ‘new normal’ we also need to look into the climate and culture in our team and organisations.
What serves us well and what part of our culture is rather destructive?
Have you ever walked into an office or a worksite where you ‘got the chills’ for some reason?
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. It 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, reports 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.
As leaders, it is up to us to shape what we want to see in our organisations and not leave it up to chance. Our bottom line depends on it!
The more constructive our climate is the more engaged our people are which results in better performance.
To develop or change an organisational culture, it is important to define core values as a foundation to live and work by. However, to outwork this it is crucial to focus on changing the climate which will then result in the culture we want to see.
Here are four steps to establishing a constructive climate according to the leadership expert Peter G. Northouse:
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.
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.
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.
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 changing or establishing the constructive culture that impacts the success of your team?
Please inquire about my customised programs. They include individual coaching sessions as well as team workshops.