A Climate Of Success: creating the right organisational climate for high performance
Could your organisation be a better place to work? An organisation’s climate directly affects the quality and quantity of what gets done A Climate of Success Creating the right organizational climate for high performance Roderic Gray’s book shows how this works ~ and how you can change things for the better
Part 1: the science Homo Sapiens has evolved as a social animal. We have highly-developed social skills and we achieve things by working together. But along with these skills we’ve developed social needs , as well: A H Maslow (1943) Physiological needs Safety needs Love needs Esteem needs Self- actualisation needs The need to know The need to understand
Part 1: the science It’s only very recently, in evolutionary time, that we’ve separated “work” from the rest of life: making clothes or constructing a shelter finding or preparing food When work and life were the same thing, our social needs were being met whatever we happened to be doing. Today, we spend a lot of our time “at work” but our social needs are just the same as they always were. Our brains don’t distinguish between work and non-work situations. If work doesn’t meet our needs we feel stressed and unhappy.
Part 1: the science “ Organisational climate” is a metaphor: it expresses what it feels like to work here . Actual (meteorological) climate is very complex. It’s made up of many factors: It’s objective: it would still be the same even if there was nobody to notice. prevailing winds temperature rainfall seasonal variations hours of sunshine Organisational climate is also complex, but it’s subjective : it only reflects what people feel. 10
Part 1: the science There have been many attempts over the years to analyse what goes to make up an organisation’s climate. The research which underpins “A Climate of Success” has identified 8 important factors. Six are positive: two are negative: Intrinsic satisfaction from the work itself Participation in setting goals & targets Freedom to express concerns Free expression of ideas Freedom to question Innovation (freedom to try new things) Purposive threat Environmental threat and
Part 1: the science If climate makes a difference to performance, what kind of climate would produce the best results? “ A Climate of Success” gives the evidence from decades of research ~ by many different researchers ~ which proves that a favourable climate is linked to high performance. And explains what a favourable climate really means in practical terms. Favourable climate High performance
Part 2: the narratives Each of the eight climate factors is illustrated with two narratives, or case studies. Each narrative is genuine*; drawn from real life situations in which the author or a colleague has been involved, All names are fictitious and no real-life person or organisation exactly corresponds to the those described here or in the book * ~ and every narrative is followed by analysis, showing how the situation could be (or could have been) changed for the better.
Part 2: the narratives The Freedom to express ideas EAEP is an engineering company where decisions have traditionally been made at the top. When they began losing orders, and good staff, they realised that they needed to re-examine the way they handled input from the people at the sharp end. Gonville Data Services thrived on ideas and risk, but their new project manager couldn’t understand why she was having to do all the thinking. Solving the problem took tough talking and painful decisions. Everyone has ideas about their job; they’re wasted if no-one’s listening, but they can sometimes be really valuable. All names are fictitious and no real-life person or organisation exactly corresponds to the those described here or in the book
Part 2: the narratives The Freedom to express concerns When a charitable trust acquired historic Mackenzie’s House they recruited two good people to handle the refurbishment and publicity. Unfortunately they also appointed a manager who didn’t want to know about problems. Toreston Housing had a whistle-blowing policy, but when a staff member thought something was badly wrong he found his way blocked at every turn, with far-reaching consequences. People’s concerns about issues at work can be a valuable safety feature, but if they can’t be aired in a positive way things can get much, much worse. All names are fictitious and no real-life person or organisation exactly corresponds to the those described here or in the book
Part 2: the narratives The Freedom to question Mark Wodman’s new boss didn’t like to be challenged, but Mark thought some of his decisions were seriously flawed. In the end, doing as he was told got both Mark and his boss into trouble. Franklyn Tapes thought of itself as “A Quality Organisation”, but its strict adherence to procedures was blocking progress. Some of the rules needed to be changed, but there was no procedure for that. Everyone we meet knows something we don’t know, and everyone, however senior, makes mistakes. Questioning isn’t insubordination, it’s a contribution to effectiveness. All names are fictitious and no real-life person or organisation exactly corresponds to the those described here or in the book HR Dept
Part 2: the narratives Participation in defining goals and objectives At Harborough Response callcentre everyone’s work was monitored and regulated in every detail. As a result it was a horrible place to work, and the cost to the company in staff turnover was enormous. Olsen Electrical had been making superb products for generations, but competition was threatening their future. Involving their skilled and committed people more gave them new hope. People work best when they feel some ownership of the task. The best way to achieve that is for them to have a real say in defining what that task will be. All names are fictitious and no real-life person or organisation exactly corresponds to the those described here or in the book
Part 2: the narratives Intrinsic satisfactions from the work itself Roy Stoner’s career in Inchbourne City Architect’s Department had ground to a halt. It had seemed like his dream job to begin with, but over the years it had changed and now Roy, a highly qualified professional, is just serving out his time to retirement. Brian Tenby had been making the kind of salary most people can only dream about, but the work was getting him down. He took the decision to change his career and now his job at The Sylvia Castleton Trust brings him little cash but a very great deal of happiness. Shakespeare tells us “no profit grows where is no pleasure ta’en”. We do our best work when we care about it and it means something to us. All names are fictitious and no real-life person or organisation exactly corresponds to the those described here or in the book
Part 2: the narratives Innovation ~ the freedom to try new concepts and approaches Antoneta is a fashion retailer which gives its shop managers a lot of freedom but likes to keep a tight grip on its corporate image. This led to recruitment problems and some conflict, but flexible and intelligent management is helping Antoneta to fight off the competition. Latcho Security Systems had some seriously talented people, but couldn’t always keep them usefully occupied. After a boardroom rift they managed to find room for cutting edge innovation and keep a grip on costs and schedules. Innovation keeps companies alive. It’s people who drive innovation, and it needs to be nurtured and encouraged but the effort can be richly rewarded. All names are fictitious and no real-life person or organisation exactly corresponds to the those described here or in the book Antoneta
Part 2: the narratives Purposive threat Smith-Jospin Construction believed in driving its people hard, and in letting them know that there would be trouble if targets weren’t met. This created a climate of fear and stress which led to serious problems on a major project. Newly-qualified lawyer Jyoti found herself trapped by the “performance related” pay system at Branton, Boardman, Stephens. The only way to resolve her problems was to find another job which paid less but suited her much better. Purposive threats are designed to make people do, or stop doing, things ~ or else. On the whole they are ineffective; there are much better ways to manage people at work. All names are fictitious and no real-life person or organisation exactly corresponds to the those described here or in the book
Part 2: the narratives Environmental threat Staff at Walkers Foodmarkets were concerned that they’d be sidelined, or even lose their jobs when their firm was taken by Broma Stores. Morale was at rock bottom until one senior manager saw the need for active communication. The new owners of The Suffolk Buss coaching inn had different ideas about the direction the business should take. Their disagreements unsettled the staff and led to the loss of a star employee. Environmental threats aren’t specifically aimed at individuals, but may affect them all the same. The impact on performance can be serious, but it doesn’t have to be that way. All names are fictitious and no real-life person or organisation exactly corresponds to the those described here or in the book BROMA The Suffolk Buss
Part 3: the way ahead Change has to begin from where we are now. The first step in improving your organisation’s climate is to take stock ~ to see what things are really like and what changes need to be made. The final part of “A Climate of Success” shows how to make that assessment ~ ~ and then gives some practical tips about improving each of the eight climate factors.
A Climate of Success Creating the right organizational climate for high performance by Roderic Gray is published by Butterworth-Heinemann and is available at bookshops and online. For more information about this and Roderic Gray’s other publications, consulting and coaching work please visit: www.kumpania.co.uk ISBN 978 0 750 683 68 5