Tina Hallis: The culture of the nod

When General Motors recently released its own internal investigation of how a car defect could kill thirteen people and be ignored for more than a decade it was a breathtaking moment.

Breathtaking because it was a peek behind the curtain at one of the world’s largest corporations and the view wasn’t pretty. GM faulted a culture where no one took responsibility for problems and even claimed its own engineers failed to understand how their cars were built.

How can this happen?

GM’s broken and deadly culture made headlines but they are far from alone. Many companies, including the ice cream shop down the street, have work environments suffering from distrust, blame and defensiveness. Large or small, these companies are throwing away billions of dollars every year in lost productivity by suffocating the potential of their people – the single most valuable asset in any corporate structure.

Think about your own business. Your people are a tremendous source of ideas on ways to improve the organization’s bottom line, but how often do you listen to them? Would they share their thoughts with you? Or do you make them feel like just a cog in the wheel instead of a valued human being?

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