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Creating a positive corporate culture – what can you learn from failings at VW?

A spate of recent news stories have raised the issue of corporate culture and the risks to a business when a culture becomes toxic.

Volkswagen earned acres of negative press recently after they were caught cheating emission tests in the US. While the full story is yet to emerge, early reports suggest that a negative corporate culture may be partly to blame.

Former VW executives have described a climate of fear, distance and respect in which the CEO’s ultimate authority was never checked. Even senior executives would be berated openly for their alleged mistakes.

“We need in future a climate in which problems aren’t hidden but can be openly communicated to superiors,” wrote Bernd Osterloh, a member of VW’s advisory board, in a letter to employees, “We need a culture in which it’s possible and permissible to argue with your superior about the best way to go.”

Organisations failing to listen to employees

Even when organisations aren’t silencing their employees, they often fail to listen, which can be equally damaging to an organisation’s culture and creativity.

Recent research (conducted by idea management company Wazoku) suggests that employers commonly fail to listen to employees and are ill-equipped to capture employee ideas and suggestions.

Employees are only likely to put forward ideas if they expect to be heard and respected. The company culture must be open to, and accepting of, new ideas and innovations.

Clearly, an organisation that is ruled by fear is unlikely to get the best ideas bubbling to the top – and unlikely to benefit from these opportunities to innovate.

Your corporate culture

How is your organisational culture defined? Your culture might be defined in a mission statement, or it might permeate your branding, or be reflected in the way your managers relate to employees.

Managers can define the atmosphere and influence the attitudes of their employees, so it’s critical that they understand your company culture and know how to embody your ideals.

Performance management training from DeltaNet

DeltaNet offers a range of eLearning courses to equip managers with the skills they need to excel in the modern workplace. Explore our Performance Management eLearning.

DeltaNet have worked with many organisations on Code of Conduct programmes to ensure employees understand exactly what is expected of them and what they can expect from the organisation. Contact us today to fine out more.

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