Sociocracy: FDJ employees gain autonomy

In 2018, the Human Relations Department was renamed the Department of Employee Experience and Transformation (DECT – Direction de l’expérience collaborateur et de la transformation). Within this department, Virginie Guibout-Pironneau has taken over as transformation manager, leading the transformation team with the aim of putting the employee at the heart of the decision-making process. Virginie Guibout-Pironneau wants to show that employee autonomy can be a performance vector and thus stimulate the other departments of the company.

Seduced by the promises of sociocracy and a shared governance method, the transformation team and its twenty or so employees decided to take the plunge.
This revolution was launched two years ago, and its gradual rollout has been very successful so far.
Elections without candidates, facilitators who take turns at each meeting, groups of employees who meet as needed: Sociocracy represents an organic, evolving, particularly flexible and participatory form of governance that aims to empower individuals and give them the opportunity to take responsibility.

In enterprises, the implementation of such a mode of governance, in which decision-making authority and responsibilities do not depend on hierarchical status, can be a challenge.
Flexibility in implementing the sociocratic principle is a must. A spirit of flexibility that invites Virginie Guibout-Pironneau to take into account the fact that, for some people, autonomy can be synonymous with insecurity.

This new way of working has made it possible, for example, to reach a quick decision by consensus on the choice of a service provider for the company’s intranet.
“In an hour, we were all on the same page,” says Virginie Guibout-Pironneau. Sociocracy speeds up decision-making while reducing “tensions”.
Employees feel more responsible and supportive of each other; they say “we work better together”.

Virginie Guibout-Pironneau’s mission is to provide all employees with the necessary tools to do their job well, by building trust, but also by reassuring and paying special attention to the quality of life at work.
For such a method to be used successfully, first in a department and then as a model, several levers are required.
First and foremost, the manager must put his ego aside. Virginie Guibout-Pironneau admits that this work on oneself is not easy to accomplish. “I had to learn to bite my tongue,” she says with a smile.

For instance, because the recruitment process is now done in a collaborative way, she no longer has a hand – alone – on the selection of candidates. “I do not see anyone alone,” she says, “and my vote doesn’t count any more than anyone else’s. When it came time to hire our intern, I sent a resume that had been sent to me internally to my team. They were interested, so I asked who would like to accompany me to the interview. The team decided who would interview the candidate and determined the desired internship period based on their needs.”

Moreover, it is critical to gain the trust of top management before embarking on such a transformation. Renewing it is equally important to sustain the existence of this sociocratic drop of water in a pyramidal ocean and eventually hope that it will trigger a snowball effect. This top management support is indeed essential and it must be regularly demonstrated that such an initiative increases performance, the achievement of individual and collective goals, or employee engagement within the transformation team.

Finally, it is important to be accompanied by coaches or experts in the field. Virginie Guibout-Pironneau advises starting with light support. “Our first coaching sessions set us in motion collectively and proved to be particularly indispensable,” she says. And that’s before introducing more structured support that will last in the long term.
Virginie Guibout-Pironneau would like to expand the initiative within FDJ by involving interested employees so they can become ambassadors in their original departments.

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Source: Humanage :