Error culture in companies: 12 tips for the success of the new culture

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Text comes from: Die Macht der versteckten Signale: Wortwahl - Körpersprache - Emotionen. Nonverbale Widerstände erkennen und überwinden (2014) of Dr. Gabriele Cerwinka, Gabriele Schranz, published by Linde Verlag, Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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The Executive even the philosophy behind the error culture has to live visibly with full conviction!


Here writes for you:

Gabriele Schranz SchranzGabriele Schranz is a shareholder of Schranz and Cerwinka OEG; Vienna - Zurich.


Here writes for you:

Dr. Gabriele Cerwinka cerwinkaDr. Gabriele Cerwinka is a shareholder of Schranz and Cerwinka OEG.


From the author:




Willingness to think about your own leadership

If there is a willingness to reflect on one's own leadership and conflict understanding, the leadership must be aware of what can actually contribute to the success of a new fault culture.

The required model function can only be fulfilled if the executive is convinced inwardly of the aims and advantages of a constructive error culture. To do this, you need to query some learned values.

Detect the status quo

Result of this phase is the statement, how the current error culture in the Company is handled. Most participants at this point in the process are already aware of how much room for improvement there is in this area.

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This awareness is already the first step towards change. Only those who are aware of the current weaknesses and the advantages of a change in the course of the trade will understand the new values.

Clear text in the team

Once the causes have been researched and the appropriate measures have been defined, it is necessary to talk to the team in plain text and not to gloss over anything. Missing personal sanctions do not constitute an invitation to make mistakes.

Everyone in the team needs to be aware of the implications of mistakes and the importance of action taken. Each affected person must do his part to a gradual improvement process.

Communicate consequences

If the mistake is repeated because the measures adopted have not been implemented, the consequences must all be communicated unequivocally.

According to our experience, the rules of the game must be constantly updated and anchored in the consciousness of the employees.

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gain trust

This communication process must be complementary to all other measures. If necessary in the event of a fault, a professional communication to the outside is to be ensured in order to regain any lost trust.

If all measures have been successfully implemented and the guidelines for the future set, it is important to ensure that a mistake is really “checked off” by all those involved.

Creating a positive culture of error

How can a positive error culture be “created” and integrated into everyday business? First of all, it is crucial to integrate all managers. The first phase of the introduction has to be top-down.

Only when all managers are convinced of the meaningfulness of a conscious fault culture, the project has a success.

Understand the values

Company managers must stand behind the concept and internalize the values. This is the only way they can live up to these values ​​and communicate them credibly to the rest of the staff.

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Externally moderated events in which all executives are involved have proved their worth. First of all, the principles of the error culture and the integration into the overall corporate concept are explained in such workshops.

12 tips for the success of a new error culture

First and foremost, it requires a rethinking in the assessment of employee misconduct, which is to be expressed through communication:

  1. Errors do not relate to the person and thus to their self-esteem, but to their actions.
  2. Errors provide important information for a further development of the company.
  3. Mistakes mean change and a higher level of effort - energy that is otherwise wasted on “covering up”.
  4. A false, reckless reaction to an error can lead to lengthy construction work.
  5. Clear excuses for emotional reactions are required.
  6. The inadequacy of employees is to be accepted as a fact, the positive must be encouraged, in order to push the negative back.
  7. The initial action should always be positive or neutral - the focus is on a clear separation between emotion and thing.
  8. The first question must always be: “How long have you known about the mistake?” The question of a specific point in time directs the conversation from the emotion to the situation and makes it clear that the rapid reporting of errors is the focus.
  9. The management level must give the employees a certain amount of time to get used to the new rules of the game.
  10. It has to do some convincing work: what is the benefit of each individual employee from a new fault culture?
  11. Improvement proposals must be evaluated by the leadership independently of the person and their position in the company.
  12. Valuable communication is the basic condition - even if the improvement proposal can not be implemented.

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