The employee magazine
of the Volkswagen brand


How We Play an Active Role in Shaping Cultural Change

Employees Explain

The Together4Integrity program will affect the lives of many employees every day – and in very different ways. Thanks in particular to committed employees, the Volkswagen Group is undergoing a transformation into a company with an even stronger focus on integrity and compliance. Colleagues report on how they have helped to tackle this change process and what their experiences have been like.

Integrity and Compliance 
Anchored in Personnel Processes

“We are currently revising select personnel processes to reflect one idea: Integrity and compliance concern us all. Specifically, that means: People who act with integrity and compliance – in addition to their professional and personal aptitude – will progress professionally.

Integrity is assessed

This approach is also being incorporated in the new development path for management, which is currently being rolled out by Personnel Development and Human Resources in the company. The basis is the new requirement profile, which includes “Living integrity as an example” as a knock-out criterion for progressing to management level. Integrity is assessed at different points in time: in a working context, in an interview, and shortly before an appointment to management. Compliance violations are also investigated.
This is just one of many building blocks we are using to help strengthen a corporate culture in which integrity and compliance are a matter of course – tangibly, for everyone.”

Kim Lena Steichen, HR Compliance Team.

Group Essentials as the Foundation of a "We" Feeling

“My team and I are completely decentralized: Each KBM trainee – KBM stands for office management clerk – spends six months learning in various transfer positions in all areas of the company and with many different training officers. This is a great challenge for experiencing and living a “we” feeling. How can we succeed?

Team dialog: Value mediation 
for trainees

Since the start of training, we’ve looked together at the corporate values and derived our team values from them. I saw the “team dialog” as an invitation to check once more whether we are well on our way. Together, we first became more aware of the Group essentials in order to assess, independently of one another, whether the targets for each principle had been achieved. The results show that our flashlights, exchanges of experience, mentorship models, and time for reflection serve to bring the Group essentials to life. We take care of each other, share our knowledge, and shape our path together. And when our path separates after three years of training, then everyone who has completed their training will be able to contribute the values and principles they have experienced to a wide variety of positions in the Group and continue to shape them. This is a great responsibility for me as a trainer, and the team dialog is a good tool to oversee the start of our junior staff accordingly.”

Annett Zintl, Commercial Vocational 
Trainer (pictured right with her trainees).

Think Tank for Improved Processes

“In Group Security, we attach great importance to living the Group essentials, as these are an important step in the direction of cultural change that we can only anchor and implement by actively leading by example.
That is why we have begun to conduct team dialogs to create a common understanding of the Group essentials. We distributed sticky dots to the participants to visualize their opinions, who then stuck them on a scale from zero to 100 openly during the dialog session. We then went on to discuss the weighting of the sticky dots to identify existing potential and jointly define measures. Many fresh and new ideas emerged in these discussions.

Being informed is important for everyone

Each department has defined appropriate measures for itself. In order to do something for the environment, for example, we want to make greater use of shuttle buses in the future. We dare to try something new by having some of our departments hold a sort of “think tank” four times a year, where suggestions and ideas from employees, such as how processes can be improved or even redefined, are discussed. It’s important to make sure that these ideas are followed up on and that colleagues are regularly informed about 
the current status. Being informed is important to all of us. For example, we are already using our quarterly breakfast, which is offered by colleagues for colleagues (on a voluntary basis, of course), to do this.”

Dr. Frank Kämmer, Head of Corporate Fire Protection.
Jennifer Tönnies-Saat, Assistant to the Head 
of Group Security.

Every Employee 
is a Risk Manager 

“At the Braunschweig plant, we regularly check whether there are any risk management issues. For example, employees have reported a press as a risk factor before. This machine, of which there may only be two or three in the world, was very prone to errors. However, it plays an important role in the plant. A breakdown would be expensive; in the worst case scenario, it could stop production.

Addressing things that need 
to be addressed

We took up the issue and discussed it with Risk Management. After a comprehensive analysis, this press was assessed as a significant risk. As a result, we have dealt very specifically with the problem. This put the machine in a completely different focus than before. The result: Measures have been taken to ensure regular maintenance and inspection. This can significantly reduce the risk of downtime or production stoppages. This was very motivating for the employees, having seen that when they address risks, something happens. Colleagues who work at the plant every day know what’s wrong much better than people who are there from time to time. We in management must therefore support and encourage colleagues to report risks. The more actively they communicate their issues upwards, the better. I can only encourage everyone to stick to it, to be firm, and to address things that need to be addressed. In the case of our press, it was important to understand: This is our machine, this is our company. We need to fight for it.”

Otto Joos, Head of the Chassis Business Area, Group Components.

Mistake Culture with Fun Factor

“‘F***-up nights’ have grown up in 
the start-up scene. Speakers present flops from life in a relaxed atmosphere with beer and finger food. We’ve taken up this idea, and this year for the first time, organized a ‘F*** UP’ event – the spelling was changed intentionally – for the Procurement division. Fittingly, it was held at the ‘Büro’ pub. It was nice that the boss, Sancha Garcia, took part as the top speaker. His core message was, among other things, that it’s not a sign of weakness to admit your mistakes, but rather of personal growth.  The approximately 45 guests not only laughed a lot, we all also learned something and had great conversations.

Mistakes are important experiences

The idea for our ‘F*** UP in the Office’ came to us after our annual strategy event, where a Best Practice Award was presented. I liked that; I found it inspiring. During a conversation with a coworker that evening, however, we agreed that it would be nice if the opposite case could also be communicated as naturally.

If you don’t allow mistakes, 
you miss the chance to grow.

Because what happens to us when we make mistakes? If you don’t get it solved yourself, you usually go to the boss and ask for help. They help, of course, and then that’s it – you don’t talk about it anymore, in contrast to successes that you rightly communicate with pride. But if you don’t allow mistakes, you miss the chance to evolve. A company that doesn’t make mistakes can’t gain experience and improve.
But our ‘F*** UP in the Office’ is about more than just mistake culture. It’s also about reducing barriers, communicating our values and culture, and about team spirit.

Cultural change is like fitness training

I’m currently planning two more ‘F*** UP in the Office’ events. This time, the topic of integrity is set to be explicitly included, and I’m trying to win Ms. Werner as a speaker. Fortunately, employees now also want to act as speakers.
I’m aware that I will not be changing the corporate culture with this kind of event, but each individual influences the culture through his or her actions or omissions. Cultural change is like fitness training: If I look in the mirror every day, I’m not going to see any change, but if I look back over a longer period of time, the picture is going to look different.”

At the “F*** UP in the Office” event, you can 
have a hearty laugh at the mistakes of others.

Terence Pope, Metal Procurement employee.

Make the 
Right Decisions 
with Compliance 

“For me, compliance and thus also the principles of conduct are things that have to be integrated into all our everyday work as a matter of course. It’s not always easy to keep the code of conduct in mind at all times. We have to make decisions quickly and achieve various goals. In order for us to make the right decisions, each of us – employees or managers – has to question ourselves and learn the rules.
This is particularly well-achieved through information on compliance via the Intranet or other internal media. But it’s even more effective to actively deal with the topic.

Raising employee awareness

That’s why we have introduced mandatory annual compliance training in our main department.
Supported by Group Compliance, this takes place at the same time as the Health and Safety Briefing. This way, we were able to keep the organizational outlay low and simplify the preparations considerably.
Although this mandatory appointment was not initially received with great enthusiasm by employees, everyone is now of the opinion that raising awareness of compliance issues helps us with our daily work and ensures that we make the right decisions.”

Prof. Dr. Thomas Form, Head Department Manager of „Vehicle 
Technology and Mobility Experience (K-GERF)“

Do you have more questions?

Here’s more information:

You can find information and lots of news around the topic of T4I on the internal GroupConnect platform.

Volkswagen Portal:
The Volkswagen Portal provides everything you need to know about T4I under the heading “Company” and the subheading “Together4Integrity, Integrity, Culture, Compliance”.

Tip: You can see this button on some GroupConnect pages. Simply click on it to be automatically redirected to the T4I page.