Climate (and) Change: wuc = e3

The environment is everything that isn’t me.

Albert Einstein, (1879-1955), German-born physicist who developed the theory of relativity. He is considered the most influential physicist of the 20th century.

Climate And Change wuc=e3 2014-01-07

For those of us in the United States, these frigid January temperatures are serving as an in-your-face wake-up call that our immediate surroundings can impact us in many ways. In Chicago, the wind chill factor means the -15 degrees below temperature really feels like -36 degrees below zero. The result. Closed schools, disrupted transportation, and children and pets with really cold noses.

Can the environment or climate also influence people’s motivation and performance?

Burke Litwin Model of Change 2014-01-07You bet it can. As we spend this year delving into the 12 dimensions of the Burke-Litwin model of change, we will start with how the Work Unit Climate dimension impacts people.

Work Unit Climate relates to how employees think, feel and what they expect. The kinds of relationships employees share with their team members and members of other teams are also an important aspect of work unit climate.

Work Unit Climate shapes employee motivation and performance in important ways. For instance, increased stress in the work environment has a strong negative affect on key team member behaviors and actions. A 2013 Agility Study by the Corporate Executive Board revealed that the performance of employees who are stressed is more than 9% lower than those who are not stressed. Loss of focus, poor decision-making, and muted problem solving ensue.


ACTION: Einstein:  e=mc2. You: wuc=e3

While Einstein is famous for e=mc2, you can become recognized for wuc=e3. As a leader, your job in creating a robust Work Unit Climate is to Equip, Enable and Empower your team members to perform.

Equip them with the information they need to solve problems:

  • Knowledge: Help them broadly understand how to get their job done
  • Beliefs: Set clear expectations about what is expected of them

Enable them with proper coaching and support:

  • Feedback: Ask them what they need to achieve their goals
  • Opportunities: Provide them with opportunities to learn / try new things

Empower them to build stronger networks of support to share and learn:

  • Roles: Define what they should and should not be doing
  • Relationships: Connect employees to relevant people and support

Simply saying ‘things will be okay’ isn’t enough. Your leadership practices can change the Work Unit Climate and in turn change employee motivation, behavior patterns and performance. Now, if only your leadership practices could impact these frigid temperatures…! Email me to learn more managing change at the individual, team and organizational levels.

Image: The Long Barn Studio, England. Design by Nicolas Tye Architects

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Sandra Schwan

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