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Creating a favorable work climate is a task that managers do not necessarily find in their job descriptions, nor is it a task that can be placed on any given daily agenda to be completed during the work day. It is somewhat an existing entity all of its' own that managers must develop (or reinvent), nurture and monitor, balancing fulfillment of staff duties in the workplace and the environment in which they are being done. When the scale of equality tips too far in either direction, one or both may suffer. Successfully keeping this balance is a reinforcement of the importance of a manager's skill in human relations and being "in tune" with those in which he/she supervises within the workplace.



As management practices have grown throughout the past century, so has the recognititon of the importance of "the human factor" in the workplace. The Classical Theorists' practices discussed in Weinbach's text appear rudimentary and somewhat negligent of any care or concern about workers and were an obvious focus on financial gain to the employer. Theories such as Scientific Management proposed that workers were motivated mainly by financial security, stable work and fair pay. While these did serve as positive job benefits for workers, it is obvious now that it was a base from which others worked to develop more intrinsic considerations into what workers thought about, how they felt and how much they were committed to the employer for whom they worked. Additonal Classical Theories such as Administrative Management and Bureaucratic Management began to build in principles that supported "the human factor" such as Fayol's remuneration, which included bonuses and proft sharing. Further, the focus on clients/customers began to grow as illustrated by the Bureaucratic Management practices.

Today, Modern Structuralist Theories are designed to be more supportive of both worker and client as evidenced by Human Relations Management, Contingency Theory, Bureaucratic Management and Participative Management. According to Weinbach (2008), these theories embrace "the human factor" through their areas of focus on person-relevant qualities such as internal motivation, morale and attempts to understand human behavior. Further, as with Bureaucratic Management, attention is paid toward client satisfaction and fairness. It is obvious that these theories are more "in tune" with "the human factor" and within them one is more likely to find the key to supporting a positive working enviornment.

With these considerations now being consisitently recognized, exactly what do workers desire with regards to their employment? Rafferty (2004) illustrates the results of numerous workplace studies comparing what managers think employees want most from their jobs versus what employees say they wanted most:

MANAGERS
EMPLOYEES
1. Good wages
1. Appreciation
2. Job security
2. Feeling "in" on things
3. Promotional Opportunities
3. Understanding attitude
4. Good working conditions
4. Good working conditions
5. Interesting work
5. Good wages
6. Loyalty from management
6. Interesting work
7. Tactful discipline
7. Promotional opportunities
8. Appreciation
8. Loyalty from management
9. Understanding attitude
9. Job security
10. Feeling "in" on things
10. Tactful discipline

From this chart, it is easy to see evidence of how the basic principles/opinions of Classical Theorists are still evident in management in some ways. This is not necessarily a negative example; however, as good wages and job security are very important in meeting basic needs: food, clothing and shelter. However, in comparison, the results of the surveys of employees place more value on those traits that are tied into "the human factor": appreciation, feeling included and attitude. While all ten of the above stated superlatives are attractive job characteristics, over half of them are directly related to the employee work environment. When an employee is first hired, odds are good that they have already been made aware of basic benefits such as salary and promotional opportunities; however, much of the remainding factors must be experienced in order for an employee to gain an understanding of how their manager operates and to form an opinion of such. From their first day of employment, this process begins. It is then up to the manager to set the tone.



Conflict is normal within work settings, some more than others. However, in an overall positive workplace it can be addressed and dealt with without disruption of the overall work setting. Too, worker overload, burnout and general job dissatisfaction can occur in any organization at any given time, especially within the social work field where clients' needs are attempted to best being met. Given these few examples, a manager needs to possess certain tools and establish common sense and respectable practices within his/her role that is conducive to employee support and relief. Stewart (2004) proposes the following strategies as foundations for leaders to set a positive work environment:
  • Minimize Moodiness
  • Inform Others When You Are Distracted
  • Encourage Openness
  • Insist On Fairness
  • Give The Credit To Others
  • Focus On Strengths Instead Of Weaknesses

These strategies can assist the manager in his/her attitude and self-behavioral practices within the workplace and can contribute to the overall favorable work climate that should be the goal of every effective manager. Each organization varies in its' goals and objectives, budget and employees but no matter how different these may be, the general traits of a positive work environment pretty much should remain the same across the board. According to Weinbach (2008), the general characteristics found within favorable organizational climates include:
  • Teamwork
  • Mutual Respect and Confidence
  • Understanding of Respective Roles
  • Advocacy
  • Maximum Autonomy
  • Good Communication

Applying this to today's practices in the social work field, it is paramount for social workers to remember that, with clients, they are managers too. Often titled "case managers", they are responsible for meeting their clients' needs through tasks such as advocacy, linkage and referral, service planning, assessment and crisis response. These tasks are very similar to those required by the manager who must provide these services to his/her employees or to the organization itself in some way, shape or form. By breaking these six characteristics down and comparing through examples how they are similar in this aspect, it becomes more obvious how they contribute to both a positive and productive workforce/workplace.


Teamwork
Mutual Respect and Understanding
Understanding of Respective Roles
Advocacy
Maximum Autonomy
Good Communication
Manager
  • staff meetings
  • group projects
  • celebratory lunches
  • problem solving, brainstorming
  • awards banquets
  • handling crisis situations
  • respect for one another's position and assigned work
  • allowing for "off" days/bad moods
  • ability to agree to disagree
  • respecting boundaries
  • realization and appreciation for responsibility of tasks (e.g., office, field, Board meeting, etc.)
  • keeping in mind what it was like before promotion
  • requesting bonuses, pay increases for staff
  • justifying actions by staff in crisis situations
  • promotion recommendations
  • allowing staff to make treatment decisions as they know clients best
  • permitting staff to set their own schedules so long as they meet required deadlines
  • regular check-ins
  • encouraging questions
  • ensuring proper and thorough training
  • asking for feedback
  • showing respect/being polite
  • constructive criticism
  • supportive statements, positive attitude
Employee
  • client home visits
  • MDTs
  • court appearances
  • problem solving, brainstorming
  • handling crisis situations
  • respect for client's home
  • agreeing on what issues need addressed in treatment
  • respecting boundaries
  • ability to see worker as support/help, not as enemy
  • being empathic
  • reporting improvements made to judges
  • reunification of families
  • extension of timeframes when improvements are being made
  • permitting clients to implement strategies toward accomplishing goals/objectives
  • not disrupting client household activities or practices that do not contribute to issue at hand
  • allowing client to express self about problem issue as they know their home, family best
  • regular check-ins
  • encouraging questions
  • ensuring proper skill teaching, information giving
  • asking for feedback
  • showing respect/being polite
  • constructive criticism
  • supportive statements, positive attitude


Being an effective manager goes hand in hand with establishing and maintaining a positive work climate. As stated earlier, conflict can and does arise in all work settings; however, one potential issue requiring proactive measures is that of ethics. There may be times, consciously or subconsciously, when an employee may attempt to cross the implied ethical line within the work environment. The six favorable characteristics Weinbach lists as most found within favorable work climates does lend itself to letting down one's guard and trusting that support and open, honest communication may be found within the office for those staff in need of it at the time. However, reinforcements may need to be given to ensure that employees comprehend that it is in a professional manner and not a personal one that these core characteristics may be extended. These positive attributes are complementary to the organization and its' mission in achieving set goals and objectives. The organization is not constituted by a group of "friends" who gather together through the week and accomplish a few tasks while they're there. A favorable work climate is itself a support to the employee to assist them in doing the best work they can do and to achieve personal satisfaction from continuing to work there. The ultimate favorable work climate does not toss aside the organizational policies and procedures, nor does it cater to employees' whims and desires. It is ultimately a combination of the desires of a paid group of professionals to work together to achieve a common goal in a professional, supportive environment conducive to their performing to the best of their ability.
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