Relational Climate Change - No Longer Optional

Written by Dr. Dan Docherty

       The world is fighting for talent and what a mistake it is to lose talent based on having mediocre coaches in your organization. Just like climate change, we can impact the relational climate with our relationships, and the best part is…it can be taught.

       You can’t listen to the news without hearing about climate change and its global impact on our environment. Regardless of what side of the topic you are on, we are experiencing an increasing number of global weather events. These events include but are not limited to, natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. 

       It is a fact that global temperatures are increasing.  There is no doubt that the world is focused on doing something different to change what is happening by tackling tough issues, thinking outside the box, using historic innovation, and utilizing unparalleled problem solving… even in the face of many critics. 

       So let’s turn our attention away from one type of climate change to another. How is the climate in your organization? To be more specific, are your managers creating a relational climate that brings positive change, growth, and performance to your company? 

       What is “relational climate” and why is it important in our personal and professional relationships? Relational climate is often characterized by conditions created in the leader-employee relationship. It is defined by Boyatzis and Rochford (2016) by three primary factors including shared vision, compassion, and relational energy. 

  • Shared vision is the extent to which relationships share a common mental image of a desirable future state that provides a basis for action. 
  • Compassion is the extent to which relationships notice another person as being in need, empathize with him or her, and act to enhance his or her wellbeing in response to that need.
  • Relational energy is the extent to which relationships are a source of energy in that they result in feelings of positive arousal, aliveness, and eagerness to act. 

       These important characteristics have shown in decades of research, including my own, to have a positive correlation to outcomes like employee engagement, satisfaction, and performance. The question you must ask yourself is – what type of relational climate are you creating in your relationships? 

       Asked another way, 

  • Are our personal and professional relationships causing hurricanes within our work and personal lives?
  • Are temperatures rising within your relationships?
  • Are you finding that emotional regulation becomes more and more difficult in your relationships? 
  • What are you doing to improve your communication skills so that you have more impact, power, and purpose in your family, employee, or customer conversations?

       If you are struggling with the severity or impact of how we communicate with others, keep these facts in mind. 

  1. Divorce rates are still a problem
  2. Employees are leaving organizations faster than ever
  3. Negative manager relationships are still a top reason why people leave organizations 
  4. Turnover costs US organizations billions of dollars per year
  5. Talent shortages are a major problem across North America

Coaches Corner:

       So, what can we do? One suggestion is to work on creating a culture of world class coaches within our organizations. This means that we train our leaders to be coaches and not just managers. 

       Encourage your leaders to build a shared vision across three critical domains – organizational vision, leader-coach vision, and employee vision. A shared vision is at the center of any strong relationship. Once you have a shared vision, you begin the process of understanding critical elements of personal and professional partnerships like values, purpose, passion, calling, and dreams. 

       How well do you really know your team members? If I asked you to list the top five values for your employees, could you do it? Even more important, if you knew the values, could you explain where those values come from and how they impact the relational climate in your company?

       Real change will take tackling tough issues, thinking outside the box, innovation, and a further depth in our relationships.

       If you want to learn more about how you change the relational climate in your organization, contact us at