Note: Before you continue, please take a moment and review my “Disclaimer” page. Posts like this one are the reason the disclaimer has its own page.

Every organization, regardless of size, has a “climate.” Defined another way, climate is the general attitude that pervades the workplace. We’ve all worked for organizations that were working well at one point or another – where good things just seemed to happen. The opposite is also true: It’s the reverse-Midas effect… where everything you touch turns to shit. That’s a long way of saying that there are certain indicators of general organizational health… and that people are usually well-served by paying attention to those indicators.

Want to know how well your organization is really operating? Look to issues like the level of trust within the organization (i.e. can you rely on the guy sitting next to you to deliver in the clutch), how well the organization communicates vertically and horizontally, the level of job satisfaction of your personnel, and if you are able to retain good people once you have them. If you find you’re having problems in more than one of these areas, you guessed it… Your climate sucks.

If you want to actually put your house in order, the way to do that isn’t in simply pushing harder and expecting more… it’s in addressing the root cause of why these issues are cropping up in the first place. Sometimes it’s a structural problem that can be addressed with a shuffle of the org chart, other times it may be a manpower problem (and that doesn’t always mean needing more people). Sometimes it means finding the right people, losing the wrong ones, or some combination of the two. Other times it may mean giving your best performers the room they need to operate effectively. And as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes it means some people need to be reigned in more effectively. The solution can’t be to just ignore the issues or you’re going to break your people and break the organization.

I’ll not claim to be a great leader, as I tend to think most of what’s written about leadership is pure bunk. And while it will probably never be my strong point, I know enough about leadership and institutional dynamics to know when it isn’t being done right. All you have to do is watch how people act and listen to what they say when they think no one is listening. If you’re a leader, it will be eye opening… and if you’re a bad one, well, I guess it won’t make all that much difference anyway.

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