Is Your Organisational Thermometer Saying Code Red?
Companies are starting to understand how critical it is to know how their employees perceive their work conditions and environment. Companies recognise this perception can have a vital effect on how employees behave and therefore, how it affects their productivity and commitment to the organisation. We all know both of these areas can have significant repercussions on a company's bottom line.
Every company goes through ups and downs with employee engagement. That's why it's so important to know what your internal climate is REALLY like at any given time. A pleasant working environment is essential for success, the health of your company, and your bottom line. Understanding the effects that new changes, training initiatives, or restructures, have on your employees is vital.
Extended DISC behavioural assessments help to "paint a picture" of how employees might be feeling within their work environment. Often referred to as "organisational or corporate climate," it is a significant force in influencing employees behaviour, job satisfaction and stress levels.
What is Workplace Culture?
In addition to organisational climate, there is also "organisational culture." Culture tends to reveal an even bigger picture of the health and wellbeing of a company. Although different, there is some overlap between climate and culture.
Culture is the foundation of your workplace and is essentially the environment you create for your employees. It develops over the longer term and consists of the values, beliefs, norms and traditions which guide how the organisation conducts its business and in turn how people behave. In simple terms, culture is the 'personality' of the organisation.
What is Workplace Climate?
Climate relates to the surface level of your organisation and is a picture of the current environment. Climate describes the perceived working conditions of the employees. If culture is the personality, then the climate has more to do with the 'mood' or prevailing atmosphere within the business.
As a rule, the climate is prone to more short term fluctuations and is determined by many factors which include leadership, structure, rewards and recognition. So, therefore, this tends to be susceptible to frequent changes.
As a leader, changing the 'organisational culture' can be a challenge, and depending upon your seniority, may even be out of your hands. However, you can significantly influence the 'organisational climate' within your team by how you lead them. Your leadership style, how you design or improve work practices, recognise and reward performance and how you handle conflict, all contribute to the culture.
Impact of workplace climate on employee performance
Whatever terminology you use, workplace climate tends to describe a set of attributes in the work environment. These can be perceived directly or indirectly by the employees, but they're assumed to be a major force in influencing employees behaviour and of course productivity. Some of these perceptions are to do with communication, conflict, leadership and rewards.
Managers find it astonishing when an organisational climate check takes place. We often hear senior management say, "I didn't know that was a problem in our company" or, "I thought that's how they all wanted it," and "I didn't know they felt like that". At times managers become detached from what employees are feeling. The bigger a company, the tougher it can be to see these perspectives as they can get lost.
Extended DISC Workplace Climate Assessment
Extended DISC Behavioural Assessments, specifically the profile graphs, provide insight into what might be happening in the current environment.
Trends in the graphs build a picture of how people might be feeling, which contributes to the workplace climate.
Let's take a look at a case study to understand how the special cases in the profiles give a profound understanding of the workplace climate.
The CEO of a manufacturing company has called you in to help him with some issues. He says he is not aware of any significant problems with his management team though there are a few performance issues with Manager 8 and its this manager he would like you to shed some light on!
Let's take a look at the Extended DISC diamond with both the CEO and Manager 8 mapped in their respective quadrants. From looking at the diamond, we can begin to understand their strengths and challenges. They sit opposite each other on the diamond, and therefore their strengths and challenges are more likely to be opposites as well.
If they have an understanding of each other, this can work well as they balance out each others strengths and development areas. However, if they don't, they are going to go about many things very differently from each other, like communicating, decision making, motivational needs right down to how they approach everyday activities. Already we are getting a picture of some possible issues just by looking at the diamond.
Now, let's take a look at Manager 8's profile from his Individual DISC Assessment. One of the advantages of Extended DISC, is the ability to spot expressed emotions in the graphs. These are not described in the report but interpreted in the profiles - and taught in Level One Training.
Manager 8's profile demonstrates that he is potentially feeling uncertain in his role. Some discussion points around this expressed emotion are, being new in the position, unclear job description, several bosses, no clear goals, seeking change or vague areas of responsibility. Any of this makes for a great discussion with an individual when communicated well.
The opposite snapshot displays the profiles of all the management team, including the CEO. All the managers that have a tick next to their profile also have expressed emotions. Of those that have a 'special case,' five out of six are showing the same feeling of "Uncertainty of Role."
Manager 8 is not the only one feeling this way. Four others are also. Could there be a reason that's contributing to this? Let's have a look at some more information that we can glean from this example case study.
From the above snapshot, we see the profiles that do not have a 'special case' have a similar DISC style to the CEO. The CEO has an ID style, and Manager 3 is also a DI which means they communicate similarly. Manager 7 is also an ID-style.
From this comparison, we can start to see why some managers are feeling uncertain. The managers that have a similar style to the CEO tend to communicate in the same way, have a similar leadership style, they enter into activities with a 'do it' mindset, they work through conflict in the same way and have the same motivations for rewards. For those of you that know your DISC styles well, you can understand how the DI/ID-style operates. Fast, usually direct, autonomously and happy to implement change.
However, the dominant C styles in the management team are all feeling unsure or uncertain. We can make some assumptions here, such as a difference in communication style between the CEO and the managers. The C styles need the CEO to communicate in a particular way, and that may not be happening currently.
In summary, the CEO originally wanted some help with manager 8, but the organisational thermometer is starting to show more of a picture. The temperature is a lot more in the RED than first thought.
After profiling the rest of the managers, we found that six of the managers are showing "uncertainty of role". Not just manager 8. These six managers are more than likely having issues that might lead them to feel a bit stressed or experience a lack of job satisfaction. These feelings contribute to the overall climate.
How to Change Workplace Climate
Here are some simple learning outcomes to consider with this case study.
The main point here is to get the CEO to understand and adjust his communication style to the other six dominant C styles in his team. Sounds simple, but communication is always a work in progress. From changing his communication style, the other managers will likely have a clearer understanding of their role and the tasks expected of them. Which will have a flow-on effect on their job satisfaction, and yes you guessed it, to the Workplace Climate! Understandably this is just one aspect of what looking at the 'trends in the profiles' can bring to the forefront.
Imagine if you profile each mangers team and evaluate what you saw there too! Introducing a tool such as a climate survey can help you delve deeper into employee feelings. Uncover why employees might be distracted and disengaged at work and gain qualitative insight and detail into the reason behind employee engagement scores. Analyse open-ended questions to identify key themes and emerging issues within the workplace to respond appropriately.
Using the DISC assessments, together with the Climate Survey, is a foolproof way to analyse your current environment and gain actionable insights.
At the end of the day if the organisation temperature is climbing into the red, then this climate can easily affect the employees' job satisfaction and stress levels. We all know that both can end up costly! Simply using the profiles and spotting trends can help to direct discussion in the right path.