Both Culture and Climate are Important

Some companies have avoided organizational culture issues, as they think it is too expensive or not important enough. But many business leaders are starting to realize what employees knew for a long time, organizational culture matters. Growing a great company means being committed to developing a world-­class culture that attracts and retains top talent. Creating a great culture not only makes your business a great place for your employees to work, studies show that the better the work culture and climate, the greater the likelihood of high organizational performance.

Although some have used the terms culture and climate interchangeably, there are some notable differences between the two and if you want your business to have a competitive advantage in your industry, you should work on improving both.

Organizational culture refers to the “way we do things around here” and the manner in which the organizational goals, norms, and values are communicated to the team. The goals are the objectives the organization is seeking to reach. The “way we do things” means the organizational norms that all people (both leaders and workers) conform to and ought to arise out of the goals and values we believe in. For culture to be effective in helping your team reach its goals, the culture needs to match your leadership behavior and the goals and strategies of your business. Goals, leadership behavior, norms, and values all must be in line otherwise there will be a breakdown in the culture.

For instance, at Gilson Daub, our three core values are Excellent Communication, Consistent Quality and Exceptional Character. These are the values each individual is committed to delivering to our clients and to each other. These values help the organization reach the goals of excellence service and closing cases fast. The cooperation between values and goals, helps Gilson Daub be the law firm our clients prefer and our employees are proud of.

Goals are the destination for our firm. Values are the compass of the organization to keep us heading to the same destination. In new situations, we can always go back to our values to help point the way to our goals. Culture is the boat we all get in to reach the goals together.

Not only must the organization be committed to developing an amazing culture, the organizational climate must also be top notch. But what is the difference between culture and climate?

If culture is the norms and values of the organization, climate is how the people in the organization feel about the organization. Climate is the collective perceptions that individuals have of how their local work unit is managed and how effectively they and their day-to-day colleagues work together on the job.

Different leadership styles can create different organizational climates that would appeal to different organizational needs and different types of employees. Climate is the collective perceptions of members with respect to the following issues:

1.    How well employees are managed;

2.    How clear employees are about what is expected of them;

3.    How employees feel their performance is recognized and rewarded;

4.    How involved employees are in decision making process;

5.    How employees are managed according to standards that are challenging and fair;

6.    How much support employees feel from team members;

7.    How effectively employees believe they work with others in the organization

Culture mostly refers to big picture leadership issues. Climate mostly refers to day-to-day management issues. Both culture and climate are important for organizational success and should be monitored as close as bottom line profitability. By spending time developing your organizational culture and climate, you will help your employees thrive in an environment that nourishes and inspires them to help the organization reach its goals.

W. Warner Burke’s book Organization Change: Theory and Practice has been helpful in this subject matter and a great resource for further study. 

Kelly Daub

Gilson Daub, Inc., 34270 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point, CA, 92629