May 27, 2019
Employee Empowerment - Evening with Jean-Dominique Senard
On May 13, 2019, the partners and directors of Turningpoint met with Jean-Dominique Senard, former president of the Michelin group, and now president of Renault and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. As a partner of this event, held at the The Maison de l'Amérique latine and organized by IRCOM, Turningpoint invited a few clients to discuss the topic "employee empowerment".
Edouard de la Moissonnière, Turningpoint partner, reflects on the evening.
Can you tell us what Jean-Dominique Senard's understanding of employee empowerment is?
In French, the term "responsabilisation" actually translates to both accountability and empowerment, and thereby implies a double movement between trust and responsibilities related to this trust.
It is essential to be able to embark the employees in a "raison d'être". And not just for young people, everyone needs to know what their and their organization's purpose is. Knowing your purpose provides meaning and is the foundation of any strategy. Thus, Michelin's raison d'être is visible in its signature: "we care about giving people a better way forward", which goes far beyond allowing cars to drive! In theory, this is easy to understand. However, the actual implementation is more complicated. It implies an understanding of a person as an individual as opposed to the Taylorism model, in which a person is an exploitable resource.
When in a leader position, there are two important rules: never go beyond the limit of your convictions and surround yourself with people more competent than yourself for the good of the organization. This requires the ability to allow employees express themselves freely, but always with respect.
Empowering employees also helps develop responsible capitalism, which, in Jean-Dominique Senard's opinion, is the opposite of both Anglo-Saxon capitalism and state capitalism. He also believes that Europe has a special role to play in bringing forward a responsible vision of the economy.
Can you give us a few examples of his personal experience on this subject?
Between 2009 and 2011, Michelin redesigned its entire HR policy. This was a true managerial revolution, shifting from management control to a management where managers support and develop their teams. That is what one can call true empowerment. Jean-Dominique Senard even so far as to say: "I owe everything to the people at Michelin. My role is to unleash their talents, and then to take responsibility for what happens next." At Michelin, they do not talk about "human resources", but of "personnel"!
Throughout his presentation, Jean-Dominique Senart spoke with a lot of subtlety and humor. What also made an impression on me is the amount of courage needed to take on the responsibility of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, especially when he could rather have taken well-deserved retirement!
I would like to add something, which was not discussed on May 13, but which nevertheless seems important. In March 2018 results of the mission "Enterprise and general interest", of which Jean-Dominque Senard was one of the editors (the famous "Senard-Notat report") was published. This reading is actually quite revolutionary, because it reinforces the status of "Benefit Corporations", meaning organizations that pursue a long-term mission alignment and value creation, beyond profit. This report has given food for through in many ways, including in relation to the recently passed PACTE law in France.
How does all this relate to Turningpoint?
We were all truly inspired listening to Jean-Dominique Senard. He is the living proof that empowerment is not only possible but leads to financial and personal success. And sends an important message that it was he who was chosen to take control and drive the destiny of a company as important as Renault.
One of the founding ideas of Turningpoint was to develop empowered leaders and leaders who in turn who empower others. By empowerment, we mean what you can do to ensure your talents benefit the common good. This question encapsulates both meanings of the word empowerment, as mentioned previously.
All of the above joins Turningpoint's conception of an individual, also embodied in our raison d'être and epitomized in our signature: We develop leaders for good.
After talking with Jean-Dominique Senard, we are even more convinced that this is possible, and that it works! Turningpoint is a "Benefit Corporation" and that is one of the reasons why it is so important for us to be B Corp certified, it incarnates our commitment.