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, climate influences 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 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 (or being award for following) policies, practices, and procedures, experiencing open communication channels between and among service group members, getting rewarded for teamwork, being appropriately trained, both positive internal and external outcomes are more likely.
Typical climate dimensions include policies, practices, and procedures related to:
- Mission/vision clarity and relationship to customer
- Supervisory practices
- Performance measurement
- Among service group employees
- Between service groups
- Between senior management and service groups
- Among Service Group employees
- Between Service Groups
- Are employees trained?
- Do employees use the training they have received?
- 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 and received the trainings, but also may not adhere to those policies, or implement those trainings because there is a lack of uniformity throughout the organization.
Typical climate prompts related to performance measurement might include:
- We (my service group/work unit/organization) measure our performance against customer expectations.
- We meet to discuss performance-related measures/metrics/data.
- We have received training in performance measurement.
OQM has conducted several climate surveys with ORS service groups to investigate climate that promotes/hinders specific performance improvement activities:
- ORS Program and Employee Services (PES) Division of Medical Arts (DMA) Events Management Branch – compared and contrasted employee vs. contractor experiences with respect to a variety of management climate dimensions
- PES – conducted worksite enrichment climate survey
- ORS/ORF – Conducted yearly climate surveys during FY02 – FY05 with 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: