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Like a captain steering a ship through a stormy sea, leadership plays a crucial role in shaping the organizational climate, which in turn affects the individual’s level of commitment to the organization, job satisfaction, and productivity (Oktem, 2022). Creating a positive organizational climate requires management to focus on promoting autonomy, freedom, and support. Organizations can use internal environment scanning methods such as employee surveys, focus groups, and organizational culture analysis to gain insights into how leadership affects the work environment—knowledge that can then be used to create a positive climate to enhance employee knowledge, behavior, and effectiveness.
Critical factors such as interaction with team members, behavioral patterns, and the quality of the leader’s information—which covers updates, decisions, and strategic plans that they need to communicate to their team—all shape the organizational climate. Leadership behavior can significantly influence employee attitude and behavior. Studies have shown that managers who acknowledge their team members’ accomplishments can improve the perception of the organizational climate and leadership quality.
Conducting an internal environment scan can help assess the current state of the organizational climate and identify opportunities for improvement. The organizational culture analysis, a method of internal environment scanning, involves reviewing the values, beliefs, and behaviors of employees and aims to gain insights into how leadership is perceived and how it is influencing the culture of the organization.
One company that values its organizational culture and recognizes the significant role of leadership in shaping the work environment is Netflix. The company empowers employee decision-making by widely sharing internal documents, such as memos on title performance, strategy decisions, and product features.
Additionally, Netflix prioritizes open and direct communication by investing in coaching and modeling behaviors. To promote good decision-making, the company emphasizes the need for highly effective people and fewer management layers. The company encourages a “context not control” culture where leaders are expected to coach, set context, and provide feedback instead of micromanaging while employees make their own decisions. To foster this culture, Netflix values certain behaviors and skills in its employees, such as good judgment, selflessness, courage, communication, inclusion, integrity, passion, innovation, and curiosity.
The company employs a feedback system that includes surveys and focus groups to continuously improve its operations. A recent initiative to promote work-life balance involved the implementation of an unlimited vacation policy, which was contingent on fulfilling job responsibilities and goals. To set a precedent, leaders take vacations themselves and urge their teams to do likewise.
As we can clearly see from Netflix’s example, leadership has a significant impact on the organizational climate. This highlights the importance of internal environment scanning to identify opportunities for improvement.
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There is no single formula for becoming the leader of the future. Every organization has its own culture, structure, and transformation journeys. But what happens in between the stages of change is where we realize we are going through the same struggles.
Leaders who are not yet adapting to those needs would still find themselves rethinking their style because they can’t stop their environment and people’s behavior from evolving. Here are some of the common principles and practices for the leader of the future.
Practice empathy and empowerment. “As I understood it, many people were struggling at home because of the situation of the crisis that surrounded us. And I have to admit that I was also struggling at home. I think all of us were, one way or the other. So, it’s a question of being empathetic and trying to put yourself in the shoes of your colleagues,” Xavi Ballesteros, who is a Cambridge English Country Director in Spain and Portugal, said during a Q&A forum held by the Cambridge University Press.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Cater, Managing Director of CEM, shared that she assessed their communication pattern and looked more closely into what empowerment could offer in return. What she did was “making sure that things can happen without me being in the room, because there are so many projects that we’ve been working on over the last few months and needing an approval from me on everything wouldn’t work. So, trying to understand how to engender empowerment across the teams has been a focus as well.”
Communicate with employees constantly. “The main challenge is to make colleagues work throughout the company and to manage different time zones,” Monica Marchis, Research Director of AMSI, told PERFORMANCE Magazine. “We have one-on-one weekly meetings with all team members and regular meetings with the team for an overview of all work done individually. This way, we enable perspective and recognition and ensure support. In order to gain coherence, a corporate governance project has been initiated and a job evaluation project for internal equity has been done.”
Create new strategies for virtual meetings. According to The Economist, before the pandemic, managers were spending almost 23 hours weekly attending meetings. After the pandemic, barriers that keep people apart increased and organizations have to come up with new ways of running a meeting. Organizations can consider the following techniques:
- Designate an amount of time for each topic, and once the time is up, the timer will ring and participants can move on to the next subject matter.
- Write follow-up action notes that can be seen immediately in the meeting rather than sending the list via email.
- Set positive communication rules, such as allowing presenters to finish their statements before commenting and encouraging participants to speak up.
- Have an additional break after each presentation in a meeting.
- Come up with creative icebreakers.
- Develop interactive and visually appealing presentations.
- When there is a new meeting platform, perform trial runs with attendees to familiarize them with the functions.
Prioritize productivity over multitasking. One useful technique to assess serial-tasks and avoid multitasking is the Pomodoro Technique. It proposes working in a hyper-productive rhythm for 20 minutes without distractions. For managers still working in a hybrid environment, dedicating 20 uninterrupted minutes to a task seems reasonable rather than an entire one hour. Dividing the time into short bursts allows the brain to fully concentrate. At the end of the day, it seems more productive than a day spent multitasking.
Make individual strengths shine. If the pandemic taught us one thing in the organizational environment, it is that individuals have different needs and respond differently. To win over the actual context, the manager needs to balance shared team commitments and the unique needs and strengths of individuals. In the opposite corner, the one-size-fits-all method will erase the possible shining contributions of individuals. With this, managing a diverse team means the ability to shield performance from drawbacks.
Keep it real. A potential leadership crunch can also be avoided by looking at the technique of trading perfectionism for compassion. Before COVID happened, a good day meant being able to submit all assignments and attend all meetings. The post-pandemic work life paints it differently. For working parents, it got even more difficult as they have to get the children accommodated with homeschooling while attending virtual meetings. This does not imply falling short of one’s own standards, but becoming more reasonable when it comes to the number of tasks they can accomplish.
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Effective interpersonal skills are a part of an individual’s professional toolbox. Such skills play an important role in daily interactions at work and relating to others in general.
By nurturing interpersonal relations, people become more at ease in their work environment and collaborate with other teams smoothly. This may also reflect on one’s productivity and ability to deal with clients.
Poor interpersonal skills could lead to negative feelings and unsatisfactory results at work. It can cause people to feel left out, experience self-doubt, and get into conflicts at work.
Individuals who make efforts to improve their interpersonal skills can contribute to several areas in their organization:
Teamwork and Productivity. A group of people who can communicate to each other has a higher chance of completing a goal. Being encouraging and helpful in their language can help improve productivity.
Conflict management. Friction is inevitable in the workplace. Managing conflicts requires careful use of language, ability to listen to all sides of the story, and understanding motivation.
Leadership. Leadership skills are applied to interpersonal relations when you have to provide constructive feedback and motivate others to achieve your goals.
How to Improve An Organization’s Interpersonal Skills
With practice and support from management, organizations can improve their interpersonal skills.
Identify areas that need improvement. This can be done by asking a colleague, leader, friend, or family member. What are the things that make it hard for a person to understand another person’s words? Where does misunderstanding usually start? Companies can also hold workshops and seminars about business communication or workplace interpersonal skills.
Practice active listening. Ask everyone to pause and pay attention whenever a colleague is expressing his or her opinion. Remove distractions, such as mobile phones, to let the person talking knows that his or her opinion is valued. While individuals can express their ideas and opinions, listening can help them understand each other better and make each other feel respected and valued.
Develop empathy. Being able to place oneself in someone else’s shoes allows you to better understand the motivation and reasons behind their words and actions.
Keep a positive mindset. Having a positive outlook when you are interacting with others allows you to become objective, strive for fairness, appreciate what the other person is saying, and create interactions that will help you get your desired outcome.
Focus on encouraging others. Encouragement can be shown through acknowledging others’ achievements, offering to help someone who is having a bad day or a difficult time, expressing appreciation for team members, or giving simple compliments.
Be aware of your emotions. Whenever there is tension, conflict, or any source of negative emotions, try pausing for a while or perform breathing exercises. Once you are calm, you will be able to think clearly and communicate your feelings and ideas effectively.
If not, should it be?
Culture is an intriguing component of the organizational system, wouldn’t you say?
Are you constantly worried about employee engagement? Well, you’re not the only one, as increasing employee engagement in the workplace can indeed be a tricky task to pull off.