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Climate Assessment

Climate is defined as the policies, practices and procedures in an organization that connote or signal to people what is important (Schneider, 1975).  In turn, these policies, practices, and procedures influence employee and management behaviors, attitudes, and perceptions.

Climate has been shown to promote a variety of positive internal organizational outcomes such as employee satisfaction, employee productivity, employee turnover, and employee use of training.  Climate has also been shown to promote a variety of positive external organizational outcomes such as increased production and customer satisfaction.
For example, to the extent that employees see managers and their peers adhering to policies, practices, and procedures, experience open communication channels between and among service group members, experience rewards for teamwork, are appropriately trained, and are rewarded for their adherence to policies, practices, and procedures, both positive internal and external outcomes are more likely.
Typical climate dimensions include policies, practices, and procedures related to:
  • Management
    • Mission/vision clarity and relationship to customer
    • Supervisory practices
    • Performance measurement
  • Communication
    • Among service group employees
    • Between service groups
    • Between senior management and service groups
  • Teamwork
    • Among Service Group employees
    • Between Service Groups
  • Training
    • Are employees trained?
    • Do employees use the training they have received?
  • Rewards
    • Are employees rewarded for good performance?
    • Is good performance tied to mission, customer expectations, etc.?
Climate is often assessed using a survey with questions targeted at “observable” policies, practices, and procedures that employees and managers experience in the workplace.  To the extent possible, survey respondents are not asked about feelings and perceptions, but rather the extent to which people in their immediate service group experience a variety of observable practices.  For example, questions such as rating individual job satisfaction, individual training program satisfaction, individual knowledge of policies, etc. are not useful.  Employees may know the policies, but do not adhere to them because their managers don’t.  Employees may have received necessary training, but do not use it back on their jobs because the rest of their work group members do things differently.
Typical climate questions related to performance measurement might include:
  • We (my service group/work unit/organization) measure our performance against customer expectations (scale ranges from “no formal measures in place”, “a few formal measures in place”, “about half the formal measures in place”, “most formal measures in place”, “all formal measures in place”.  N/A and D/K included)
  • We meet to discuss performance-related measures/metrics/data.  (scale ranges from “never”, “rarely”, “yearly”, “quarterly” to “weekly”.  N/A and D/K included)
  • We have received training in performance measurement.  (scale ranges from “none of us”, “a few of us”, “about half of us”, “most of us” to “all of us”.  N/A and D/K included)
OQM has conducted several climate surveys with ORS service groups to investigate policies, practices, and procedures that promote/hinder specific performance improvement activities.
  • Worked with ORS Program and Employee Services (PES) Division of Medical Arts (DMA) Events Management Branch to compare and contrast employee vs. contractor experiences with respect to a variety of management climate dimensions
  • Worked with PES on a worksite enrichment climate survey
  • Conducted yearly climate surveys during FY02 – FY05 with a cross-section of ORS and ORF service groups to monitor the impact of OQM’s Performance Management Initiative on important dimensions related to specific performance management practices
Work with OQM to define climate dimensions and questions that are appropriate for your service group.

For additional information:

Contact OQM