Since 2006, Chairman Pascal Mioche and his team have been continuously experimenting with new ways of teamwork to serve with an equal ambition peoples' well-being and company performance. Pascal likes to say that “Automatique et Industrie” is a living laboratory. After 12 years of experimentation, business results are great, the enterprise is almost self-managed by the employees. “l’entreprise tourne presque toute seule”. The next challenge is to extend the experimentation to partners in the local eco system.
Beatrice LE MOING
Institut Français d’ Appreciative Inquiry
Automatique & Industrie, usually called "AI," is known in the region for the specific Team Spirit. Human Resource Director, Eva Peraldo, and Pascal entrusted to me some of the achievements that made their lab so special :
Any employee can be a project manager
“Each time we recruit somebody, we propose him/her to lead any kind of transversal project he/she is passionate for. It can be directly linked to the business or not. It can be directly linked to their job or not”. Here are some examples:
- Two engineers are currently working on a video to promote the company and support a recruitment campaign. Their current job has nothing to do with HR nor communication. “They created a crazy scenario inspired by Ocean Eleven, they chose their actors, and they shoot the video inside the company building. They do it because they want it and it is fun for them.” Eva explained.
- Another group of employees are working on a local program to reduce the ecological impact of the daily commutes. In this group there is a bookkeeper, a consultant, and an automation expert . The three of them represent the company in the discussion with the local partners and will propose solutions for the next commuting plan. This group is fully autonomous.
- Some employees created a “Resume Directory” because everybody wanted to know each other better and improve knowledge sharing in the company
All employees involved in Innovation
AI started to work on innovation on a traditional way. A group of three people oversaw all innovation studies. They explored new potential offers and did pretty well.
In 2015 the analysis of a global satisfaction survey revealed an issue: the employees declared that their company was innovative but that they were not involved in the innovation. This question was the only bad mark in an ocean of amazing scores in all the other questions.
At that time, it was decided to address this point with all the employees. During this session they wrote all together their charter for innovation. This document is given to each new recruit in the onboarding kit. In this charter Pascal notes that you can find some core principles such as: “there is no crazy idea, don’t be ashamed to appear ridiculous, anybody in the company can innovate, innovation can address any topic of the company, trust is our spirit, when somebody leads an innovative initiative the other employees help him/her to achieve it…”
There are also some financial guidelines. When a new idea requires some financial means, it has to be documented and officially presented to decide about cost allocation. Once the decision is taken (yes or no) it must be understood by everybody to avoid any frustration.
An idea which has a positive impact for all and which does not require some cost allocation can be implemented right away. For instance: the Resume Directory was immediately approved for implementation.
Duty to short-cut the manager or project manager
Pascal explains this unusual principle : “Each employee who disagrees with a decision, a project orientation, or who is in troubles, must tell it to somebody he is comfortable with.” Whether it is the manager, or not, the person receiving the disagreement or issue must do so without evaluation or judgement.
Most of the time, Eva or Pascal are alerted by employees who are uncomfortable with a situation or a decision. Then they come back to the manager or they organize a meeting with all the stakeholders.
Mail to all
The company employees use a lot the “mail to all” to get help from each other. Eva highlights the use of the email as an evidence of the team spirit “Each morning we all have a lot of emails : to join the soccer team on Thursday, to get technical help on a machine…and it is amazing to see all the answers for each e-mail.”
In Automatique et Industrie, Pascal and Eva removed the traditional annual performance appraisal with a score, it is replaced by a “return of experience. “
There is no issue if the performance of an employee is not always at the top level. In AI company, employees are encouraged to trust their colleagues or manager to share personal difficulties. This is seen as more important than individual performance.
Pascal is proud to say “ I am a farmer from Auvergne” (central region in France). This rural origin is probably the first inspiration. The previous work experience of Pascal is another source of his inspiration.
He used to work for a big company and was astonished by some great human behaviors. For instance, there was this moment when the company came through financial crisis and short time working had to be implemented, spontaneously employees who were not affected gave their paid days-off to their colleagues. In addition to this, Pascal has always been a manager very close to his colleagues and employees, sometimes people said that he was too familiar with everybody.
When he joined AI in 2006, there were 5 employees. One of the first action he initiated, was to set up company values: Team spirit – Transparency – Mistakes are welcome.
Technical and Social innovation came out in a second step with the growth of the company.
The main impact of the special team spirit of AI is the well-being of the employees.
“We could have grown very quickly on a start-up mode, but we chose to focus first on employee well-being,” declares Pascal.
An externally administered satisfaction survey in 2014 and 2016 produced
excellent scores in global comparisons and revealed that:
- The feature most appreciated by the employees was "quality of the relationships."
- The feature most appreciated by the customer was "quality of the relationships."
Customers also described this company as, “special.”
Eva and Pascal are proud that employees trust each other and are motivated. Eva is also aware that she must be careful; when people are passionate about their job or their company, they may work too much!
Pascal mentioned that “when people are free to do what they like, they are full of respect and engaged. They care for the performance of the company in all domains: finance, social and ecological.”
In AI, human behavior is essential to the business. Naturally these basics influence the offer they create.
The newly created R&D team developed an offer combining new technologies and human behaviors. The ambition of this new energy efficiency offer is to help the operator on each machine to take the best decision relative to energy consumption. Thanks to Artificial&Intelligence, he/she will have predicative information about energy consumption and suggestion for action to reduce the energy consumption. This new offer may change individual behavior towards energy efficiency. When people understand and visualize the consequences of their action, they act differently.
Figures are the showcase the human policy of the company :
• From 5 employees in 2006 to 100 in 2018
• Turnover 9 MEuros
• 9% of Net Income After Tax (excellent for a company of this size with R&D department)
• Absenteeism 0,7%
• 0 work accident
Productivity is high as the employees spend a lot of time on activities that are not directly linked to their job. “We take time to talk with each other, “ said Eva.
AI has also a lot of employees represented in the administrative teams.
The growth of the company, the creation of the R&D department, the recent acquisition of Euro System Company are the direct consequence of the special team spirit of the company.
Pascal likes to say that AI is a laboratory. With the company being successful, he now spends a lot of time outside the company to spread the word and also develop new ideas for experimentations in the local eco system.
Centralp is the community of most of the companies in Saint-Jean-de-Moirans (200 companies – 6000 employees). Pascal is the president of a community association. They work together on common initiatives: Industrial ecology project, circular economy, well-being project, etc.. Pascal encourages AI employees to join the working groups of the community, even during working hours.
Pascal is an active member of several communities (Réseau Entreprendre Isère, Udimec, ECC4IU, ENSE3, APM)), and teaches Mindfulness in Grenoble Ecole de Management to build new local projects and express loud to all that when you care for your employees they perform.
He adds, “My dream is to help people to be positive, I am so happy every morning to go to work, I want to share that. “
When I asked Eva about the benefit of all her effort for the planet, she says:
“We care for people, it is as simple as that. We take the risk to be hurt, it is true, but we take the risk to be good at each other. Let’s dare to talk about love in companies. We experimented it in our last yearly convention, we showed a 15 min video about love by Frederique Bedos. We could observe various reactions: it is just normal, some could not attend because it was too emotional, others were happy to hear about that in the company, others found it ridiculous, etc. Anyways it has been said : love is welcome in AI.”
Pascal concludes: “Did you know the AI means LOVE in Japanese? “
Pascal Mioche, Chairman
EVA PERALDO, Human Development Director
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SAINT JEAN DE MOIRANS, ISERE, FR
Business Website: https://www.aifrance.com/en/
Year Founded: 1995
Number of Employees: 51 to 200
Automatique & Industrie (AI) is a SME located in the Isère department of France. (Grenoble area)
Since 1995, the men and women of AI have been committed to bringing their know-how and experience to the design and integration of turnkey automated and energy systems for industry, building and infrastructure.