In 2012 the new leader of this family company decided to change the organization of the company and to implement collective intelligence practices.
As part of the 60 years anniversary of the company, all the employees have been involved to determine together what should be the arrangement of their workshops. 3 years later the executive committee decided to invest around 1,000 hours of man work to discuss and define a new, realistic and equitable salary grid. The same year, all employees have been mustered during 2 days to elaborate the company’s strategy for the next 7 years.
This new way of management is one part of the continuous investigation of ETS CROS to build a new business model aligned with human and environmental needs.
Beatrice LE MOING
Institut Français d’ Appreciative Inquiry
I had the chance to interview Alexandre Mauriès who is Marketing, Communication and Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator. Alexandre told me the story of the company, the managerial innovations and the awareness of societal responsibility.
In 2012, Antoine Cros, the 3rd generation leader of this family company decided to change the organization of the company and to initiate collaborative methodologies via collective intelligence practices. Previously his grandfather, then father were used to take all decisions in a pyramidal mode.
He declared : "I am the main roadblock for any change in this company,“ and this was also an invitation for each manager and employee to question themselves about their responsibility for change.
An executive committee has been created and all its members were trained to collective intelligence practices.
First application in 2013, while the size of the company increased up to 45 people, which led to redesign the workshop. All the employees were invited to imagine the workshop they dreamt to have, by using word forum methodology. The architect made a proposal based on what he heard and saw during this forum with all the employees. Alexandre Mauriès, corporate head of Marketing and Communications describes, "It was amazing to see the interaction between the architect and the employees during the working session, unusual for him to work like this, unusual for them to give their opinion on such topics."
Second application: salary increase. The executive committee was conscious that employees complained regularly about their salary and this recurrent concern impacted motivation and work atmosphere. Each employee was questioned: "what do you mean by having a good income?" Then a group of voluntary employees was set-up to build a new salary grid. 12 among the 45 employees participated to this group. Alexandre noted, "1000 employee working hours were allocated for this working group and the result is a five-grades grid with minimum and maximum salary levels." It was also decided that the ratio” max salary in the company / min salary in the company “would not exceed 5. At that time all the salaries of the company were published even the CEO's salary was accessible!"
Third application: build the 2023 strategy. Antoine CROS drafted it first with his brother who was Co-director at that time. The executive committee then enriched it to make a first proposal to the whole company during a two days seminar in Vercors Mountains. With collective intelligence methodologies, all employees contributed to improve the proposal and make it concrete by defining actions, changes and the required projects to be launched with the motto “Be Proactive for 2023”.
Entrepreneurship has been flooding in the blood of this family company for years. The story started when one ancestor of CROS family founded a tannery in 1785.
In 1953, Andre CROS decided to completely change the activity due to tannery market decline. He gave up tannery and leveraged from the period of reconstruction for the country after the 2nd World War to distribute and repair air compressors, which were required at that time by all kinds of civil engineering companies.
3 generations later, the CROS brotherhood made of 2 males and 2 females took the lead of the company. All four are very concerned by environment, societal responsibility and the parallel between nature and human organizations. They are very nature-oriented, as they grew up in the country and in the mountains. Their main concern is to perpetuate the company while facing the present environmental challenges
Objectively some significant progresses in working conditions and well-being of employees
• Nice place to work
• Salary increase
• Time dedicated for self-development within specific committees (environment, security, sponsorship…) and trainngs
• Protected environment allowing to give opinions and discuss
The roles and responsibilities of each employee has changed. According to Alexandre, "Previously there was one boss giving orders to everybody. It is a tremendous change and not that easy to live for the employees. Employees were not used to be asked what they want or how to work. The change of leadership and new responsibilities unsettled them."
Some left the company because they discovered who they are, what they really want for their lives and it was quite a revelation for them to start something new outside the company.
So far these changes are still new for most of the employees, who still have to strike a balance in their day-to-day work. Alexandre added, "I am convinced that the transformation will come from men and women and collective intelligence methodologies will help us"
There is no survey to measure the employees’ satisfaction but some health indicators such as the gravity index (number of injuries) show some optimistic results. Best score over the last 15 years.
The management has a major role to play to change the overall «non-positive» spirit, it is the next challenge.
What is amazing is that the business activity and benefits are stable whereas all employees spent a tremendous time in collective intelligence activities to work on salary, strategy or workshop implementation. They spent more than 1000 working hours on non-productive activities and got same economical results.
A new offer was recently packaged: instead of selling or renting air compressors, the company sells the compressed air usage. (See video about Careos offer). It is also an invitation for the customers to control their own energy consumption, maintain the equipment as long as possible (better than just replacing it) with main objective to reduce the overall energy consumption.
The ETS CROS Company is owned by a unique family. There are 2 brothers and 2 sisters in today's leading generation. There are very aware and concerned by environmental impact of their business. They want their company to be a lab for new business model more respectful for humanity and planet. In addition to the managerial innovation, they also plan to contribute in a "research" entity where they will evaluate how to improve the environmental impact of the equipments they sell or rent (today the offer is very energy consuming: you need 100 to produce 10). They are persuaded that the world may face major economical collapses within 10-20 years if drastical changes are not implemented to reduce the environmental impact. This will be the first time within the past 300 years that the company sustainability is significantly challenged by the overall environment.
To Alexandre, the calling is clear, "We are convinced that we cannot go on like this and we have a few years to find a solution"
That's why the "research" entity is now looking for any source of new inspiration (partnership with universities) to review offers and business model.
They called this initiative "Mycelihom" referring to mushroom and home. Home means Planet.
This new research entity investigates not only about the business offer but also about managerial innovation, support provided to individuals as other companies to face this fast-coming upheaval.
Alexandre declared at the end of the interview “ I would like to turn to the mode where we are all “matches” and we can transfer the light to each other so that there is more light for all.”
Alexandre Mauriès, Marketing and Communication, Corporate Social & Environmental Coordinator
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GRENOBLE, ISERE - FRANCE, FR
Business Website: http://www.ets-cros.fr/
Year Founded: 1953
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
ETS Andre Cros sell, rent and maintain all kind of equipments for water, air, vacuum and mobile power supply in the fields of manufacturing industry and construction.