Earlier this week I was preparing for a presentation I’m giving in January. The topic – Managing Organizational Climate During Tough Times. As I was preparing the learner outcomes, it got me to thinking. How often is organization climate overlooked? How often is it undervalued? I mean, most of us feel it, or only recognize it, when times are tough at work – when the stuff is hitting the fan.
With our recent economic challenges, I think all would agree that times have been a bit tough and even a bit stressful. Employees affiliated with the government shutdown and furloughs felt it, I’m certain — “How long is this going to last? Maybe we’ll get backpay, maybe we won’t. I’m running out of PTO”, and the list goes on. Not a fun place to be at all. And it doesn’t end there. Those on the commercial side feel it too. They provide products and services to the government and they have family members who work for the government. The domino effect is far-reaching.
So again I ask, how often is organizational climate overlooked? When’s the last time your organization took the pulse of the people? Can’t remember? Hopefully it’s not only when times are tough and your organization is “feeling” the negative vibes. I’d like to believe that key leaders in organizations are assessing the health of their organization on a more regular basis, not just when times are tough and they’re forced to deal with it. Unfortunately I know this is not the case.
Of course when times are tough people experience and demonstrate much more frustration and possibly even negative behaviors. People become just a bit more desperate and act out based on those feelings. I’ve seen it. Trust me. People get pitted against one another — categorized — who’s essential personnel vs. who’s not. Essential can work, non-essential will not. It’s almost like categorizing based on who’s more important and who’s not. People don’t want to feel less than. It’s just not a cool place to be.
I’ve also seen it where employees, as soon as given the opportunity to “clock” hours, take advantage of the system by charging hours they are not really working. Integrity goes down the drain because people are feeling a bit desparate to make up for lost wages. I swear…I’m not making it up. People do crazy things in crazy times. And obviously none of this is good for the organization…or the bottom line.
If you really want to manage organizational climate and make the most of it, then you assess it on a regular basis — in good times and bad times. This is what gives an organization more control and leverage. You don’t wait until the crap is hitting the fan or until there’s an explosion and you have to react. And sticking your head in the sand is not the answer either. The problems do not go away.
Assessing your organization regularly and getting a pulse for what’s going on is going to make it much easier to manage the climate and the people over doing nothing. And assessing the situation — your organizational climate — on a regular basis CAN make the problems go away…or at least feel a lot less heavy.
So do your organization a favor. Take their pulse. Find out what’s going on. Address it. Don’t be afraid…that’s what leadership is supposed to do…lead the way.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on organizational climate and how you believe it factors in to the overall success of the organization during good times and bad. Is it important? Or is it overrated?