Culture Vs Climate: From how things are done to how people feel

We wake up, get out of bed and turn the TV on to see what the weather is going to be like during the day. We might need an umbrella or, on the contrary, to wear sunscreen. From one day to the other, we might feel temperature going from being inside an oven to a refrigerator.

It’s no coincidence that work climate is called like that. Work climate refers to the feelings of the people in the organisation. How it’s generated involves a number of factors in complex balance that might result in a place where people are pleased to work at or not.

It usually is a symptom of structural matters inside the organisation, such as culture. Organisational culture is the set of unspoken rules and values that make up the work dynamics in the organisation. The culture defines how things are done: the way to set goals, how achievements are communicated, the concept of error, how leaders get to their employees, what is prioritised when making decisions, the investment of resources, and a huge etcetera.

Organisational culture is forged through example and consistency in the behaviours and systems of the company. Now, climate might be affected by the country’s socioeconomic situation, a restructuring process, inadequate work spaces or a leader with communication flaws.

Many times, the factors that determine the climate merge with the expressions of the culture, for example, leadership, which transverses both. That’s when surveys for measuring climate issues with leaders, for which the following actions are suggested to reduce the problem: Workshops, team building, training sessions, among others. The symptom will be reduced for a while, making the most out of the drive that these initiatives give to their participants. But if the problem is more related to the structure, that is, if it’s cultural, the fever will go up again and the climate will be symptomatic of the unspoken and formal leadership of the organisation.

Knowing how to differentiate culture from climate will allow you to find the solutions that the organisation needs. Timely and accurate diagnoses are of great help for that. The deep understanding of the organisation that is gained is a great step towards aligning how things are done with how people feel – and it is them, ultimately, who achieve the goals of any given company.