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Organizational culture and organizational climate: understand the difference between them

Renan Araújo

Organizational culture and organizational climate: do you know the difference between them? According to an HR overview released in 2018, 78% of companies participating have values and a code of conduct disseminated in writing in their organizations. Furthermore, the concern with the organizational climate has become more and more frequent, aiming to reduce turnover rates, increase the productivity of professionals, and provide an environment that brings more quality of life at work.

But what is the difference between climate and culture? With this in mind, we have prepared this content for you to see a more detailed explanation of both concepts. Read on and learn more!

What is organizational culture?

In recent years, the concept of organizational culture has been much discussed among theoretical scholars, industrial psychologists, and executives. Among the major debates, the meaning of culture is discussed as a set of values and beliefs that a company defines as its own – that is, both to what it is and what it should be.

Different scholars’ views

Tony Lin, partner at Sequoia Capital, defines it as “the day-to-day values and behavior of each team member in pursuit of the company’s mission.”  Jon Katzenbach, founder of Strategy&’s Katzenback Center, says: “made up of habits and emotional responses, a company’s culture is the sum of self-reinforcing patterns of behavior, feeling, thinking, and beliefs that determine how we do things here”.

In the Cambridge Business Dictionary, organizational culture is “the beliefs and ideas a company has and the way the company does business and how its employees behave”.

Edgar Schein, one of the great management theorists, states that “Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the concept of culture is that it points us to phenomena that lie beneath the surface, that are powerful in their impact but invisible and to some extent unconscious…culture is to a group what personality is to an individual. We can see her resulting behavior, but we often can’t see the hidden forces that cause certain kinds of behaviors.”

In this sense, we define organizational culture as the way people behave in a company, influenced by values, incentives, and artifacts.

What is organizational climate?

Organizational climate is a construct. That is, a concept elaborated from other concepts. In this sense, when we talk about climate, we necessarily talk about its components. According to the scientific literature on the subject, organizational climate is an blend between the perceptions of male and female employees regarding various aspects of their experience, such as:

  • pay and benefits;
  • confidence in the future performance of the business;
  • relationship with direct managers;
  • trust in the company’s leadership;
  • how much the organization invests in diversity; among other issues.

Having the diagnosis of these perceptions is possible because of the Climate Survey. But beware: the survey itself serves only as a diagnosis. The next step in the HR area is to study the results, plan interventions in the company’s practices, policies, and processes, and monitor whether these interventions:

 a) generated changes in Organizational Climate

 b) when positive, if the change in the Organizational Climate promoted tangible business results.

Caring about the professionals in your business is just as important as caring about your audience. In the same way that the team seeks to evaluate the level of customer satisfaction and what led a certain account to cancel its contract, it is necessary to seek the reasons that lead to disengaged team members (and outline improvement strategies).

What is the difference between organizational climate and culture?

Now that you are familiar with the concepts of climate and culture, what are the main differences between them? Besides these points already mentioned, the main distinction is the fact that culture is hardly ever changed.

Regarding Amazon’s culture, Jeff Bezsos points out that the company culture does not necessarily have to please everyone. On the contrary, it will please few. However, the few people who feel comfortable with this culture would hardly be able to work elsewhere.

Similarly, Marcel Telles, one of the founders of AB Inbev, says: “I don’t like to use this analogy very much, but I see it as a kind of training of Mariners. Not everyone likes that, that level of exercise, of demand, of almost pain. But those who like it, really like it. He has immense pride and probably wouldn’t work anywhere else”.

Otherwise, the organizational climate can be modified by management strategies. It can be affected according to the changes that are made by the leadership, based on the analysis from the Climate Survey. Look: if there is an identification that professionals from a certain area are dissatisfied with the little autonomy offered to the team, an action plan can be created from that – which would bring changes in a short period of time.

In this material, you could learn a little more about the difference between organizational climate and culture. As we have seen, both are essential to maintain the engagement of professionals, the productivity of the whole team, as well as to ensure talent retention.

Do you like this content? How about sharing it on your social networks so that other people will also understand the differences between these points? Until next time!