Franck Goupille is a true expert in business transformation. With over 25 years of experience in human resources management, Franck is a recognized leader in social dialogue and change management. Over the course of his career, he has helped several companies adapt to rapid changes in their environment, notably by leading skills transformation projects at Valeo, post-merger integration at Air Liquide and cultural transformation at Rocher. In this exchange, Franck presents the challenges he has faced during his career, the most exciting projects he has been involved in and the lessons he has learned from his experience.
On the program
Learning by doing and surrounding yourself
Create a symbiosis between HR & governance based on trust
Promote open-mindedness at all levels
Thinking of corporate well-being as a Maslow pyramid
Adapting by anchoring yourself in reality: the key to success
Franck Goupille: I have 25 years of experience in human resources management. What makes me special is that I was number one right from the start, and more on the social dialogue angle at the time.
I joined the Onet Group, a service company working on the safety and performance of working environments in the nuclear, airport and engineering sectors, as Social Relations Manager. My role, which was both strategic and very operational, consisted of advising the operational staff on recruitment, local social relations, managing departures, etc., while at the same time steering the social dialogue of the group's security branch directly. In this sector, losing a market means losing 75% of the employees, which raises questions about human resources management, including their well-being, their talents and their career paths.
The most significant moment in my career was when I joined Air Liquide in the 2000s. The company wanted to develop in services and become the European leader in metrology. I was in charge of creating the Trescal entity, whose name did not yet exist, after an acquisition and this involved designing its business and legal organization, its culture, managing the classification of people, performance management, mobility, etc. This role was the most complete and the most challenging. This role was the most comprehensive and global for me, especially in a context where it was necessary to work with a large group such as Air Liquide and to integrate companies that were historically competitors on their market.
F.G: I implemented a two-pronged methodology. The first was "mapping management", which consisted of redesigning the organization by defining key players to cover 100% of the workforce, all locations and businesses combined. The second was to bring together people who did not know each other or who were previously at odds with each other on common projects. To do this, we carried out a cultural diagnosis to measure commonalities and differences and define a cultural roadmap.
It was a lot to handle at once, as I had no legitimacy to work on a European dimension, merger integrations or on the cultural dimension. However, with a lot of hard work, we managed to set up an efficient organization to cover all the subsidiaries.
F.G: I started reading about it, but I also learned a lot by meeting people who had already done what I wanted to do. I worked very hard during this period, during which we created a brand new entity, Trescal, while integrating myself into Air Liquide. It was more than a full-time job! Fortunately, I had a mentor for certain aspects, especially in terms of managing classifications. So I had to learn Air Liquide's classification methodologies and processes to apply them to Trescal.
I worked with an alter ego who specialized in IT and finance. He had a different expertise from mine, especially in training and behavioral skills. We were complementary and this was beneficial for the project.
But what was crucial to the success of this cultural transformation project was to create a community of vision at the governance level. This ensures that the implementation is solid, because human resources are closely linked to management. It is therefore essential to create a solid culture that takes into account both human resources and management so that the commitments made to employees can be kept.
F.G: Let's take a different example, still at Air Liquide, where I worked in the area called "Large Industries", a sector that has historically been very profitable and capital-intensive. It was a matter of serving large customers, in particular gas refineries and industrial sites, with hydrogen, oxygen or nitrogen by pipeline. These huge consumption levels require significant technical and procedural expertise. Consequently, the managerial dimension may be less present than the technical dimension.
I worked under a boss who had high management expectations, so I defined what I considered to be the HR fundamentals of a manager, such as employee selection, integration, performance management, development and mobility. To translate these concepts simply and make them more concrete, I solicited input from managers in project mode. So we designed "one pagers" that formed a practical "pocketbook". For example, to facilitate the integration of new employees, I created an organization document and an integration path, which allows teams to be informed of arrivals and the newcomer to be recognized from his first day.
Once the concepts had been translated, we set about defining the training needs of the managers in order to better equip them, by adopting a digital approach. We developed a leadership profile that described the behaviors expected of managers, inspired by an existing base at Air Liquide but more advanced for the HR part.
This approach was very participative, punctuated by events. One of the keys to success was to make the managers ambassadors for the system, which gave it great strength: it was not HR talking to the manager, but the managers talking to each other!
F.G: In my opinion, the boss's sensitivity to the "people leadership management" dimension is crucial. The HRD can contribute to reinforcing this sensitivity or filling an emotional gap, but only if the general manager has the intellectual conviction that this is important. If this is not the case, the HRD must take this warning seriously because this dimension is fundamental to the success of a company. He must therefore be able to challenge his boss responsibly, even when everything is going well, and to express disagreement.
In summary, the role of the HRD is complex, as he or she must be legitimate in relation to employees and social actors, as well as to his or her colleagues within the management body. This requires mutual trust, complete transparency and the ability to share important information in complete security.
F.G: The activities can be different, yes, and there are bound to be ways of doing them that are a little different. However, if we go back to a higher level, the values can remain the same. They have a general orientation that does not go into the details of the execution. It is at this level that the correspondence table can easily be created.
For example, at Air Liquide, there are two main activities: industrial gases and healthcare. These are very different activities, with their own challenges. However, it is possible to apply a common organizational matrix to these activities, which favors geographic, functional and commercial mobility within the Group. This was remarkably done at Air Liquide thanks to the strong involvement of human resources in people management. In fact, each employee is followed by an HR manager who knows not only the organization where he or she works, but also "all" the others, in order to offer attentive follow-up and encourage cross-organizational evolution.
This open-mindedness towards different organizations and professions favors the understanding of professional environments and contributes to strengthening the corporate culture around common values.
F.G: I think one of the biggest changes in today's business world is the need to be hyper-connected both inside and outside the company. There is a lot of information to be captured internally and externally, and it is essential to use it to develop a relevant strategy and update it regularly. Managers must work in an ecosystem, and employees must play a role in the development of this strategy.
However, some things haven't changed. Employees' expectations of their managers remain the same, namely to have a manager who is inspiring, competent and able to recognize the contributions of his or her employees. Unfortunately, managers who don't meet these expectations are still the number one cause of employee departures, and this is very visible in exit interviews. Employees need to grow from their managers and feel inspired, and this is not just about compensation.
F.G: To be a good manager in today's world of rapidly changing expectations, it is important to understand the culture of the company, the expectations of its employees, and the goals you want to achieve . This can be difficult because there are often many targets, but it requires a form of thought leadership. It also requires recognizing where you can improve and where you already excel.
Managers must be able to develop their skills to meet expectations, and this may involve training, methodology or process. It is essential to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each employee to better support them.
Finally, it is crucial to be open to the world and not be self-centered or company-centered. Managers must be able to connect with external and internal networks, and make contributions to strengthen their "personal brand. This is especially important for experts, populations that deserve special attention in terms of recognition. The key for an expert is to be known beyond the company that employs them, and the company must empower them to do so.
F.G: This is a real global issue and it is very much linked to the need for companies to attract employees. We have moved beyond simple table soccer and understood that well-being goes far beyond that!
In my opinion, it is composed of several levels, like a kind of Maslow's pyramid
The first level is quite simple: it's about autonomy in the job, responsibilities, relationships with the manager and tasks to be accomplished. If this is well implemented, then we can build a lot around it.
The second point is to put meaning into the tasks, allowing for flexibility in work, the acquisition of skills that promotes commitment and efficiency at work, and fulfillment.
The third is to facilitate the life of the employee, such as the implementation of health insurance models that can be an excellent solution, work environments that allow for on-site sports, etc. All this contributes to the well-being of employees. There is a risk in attracting people for this form of wellness consumption only, which does not lead to engagement, efficiency and basically not to fulfillment. In other words, it's nice because you get all that, but it doesn't necessarily lead to true fulfillment, which must be nourished by meaning, the acquisition of skills and the taking of responsibility. This dimension is fundamental and allows, if it is well nourished, to dispense some small floors above.
It is also important to have support programs in place for employees, such as a counseling program or support for life issues (divorce, health glitches, etc.). Health is also an important issue that needs to be addressed. If you really want to be perfect, then you chain all the floors together and you are really comfortable in all dimensions and you build a solid foundation.
F.G: In reality, there is a complex philosophy behind the role and responsibilities of companies, which can be described as being between the liberated company and the managed company. The ultimate goal is to maximize individual contribution, sense of role and responsibility, while allowing evolutions to make companies more open. To achieve this, it is essential not to think in a hierarchical way, as this would contradict the very idea of a company.
Although it may seem complicated, it is possible to create a tree structure that allows rich and stimulating evolutions for employees. In fact, it requires a deep reflection on the model and the culture that we want to create to deploy the value proposition that we offer, which is ultimately embodied through this model.
With respect to compensation policy, it is critical that there be true resilience in the way it is practiced. If major changes occur every two or three years, this risks destroying the strength of the policy and the recognition of performance . It is therefore important to be clear about the fundamentals that we want to trace and to say to ourselves that on these fundamentals, there is no reason for it to change in the next 10 years.
However, one should not be too dogmatic in creating a corporate culture, as this can be counterproductive. It is better to be open to the possibility that things may change over time, while keeping in mind the fundamentals that you want to defend. In short, it's a fine balance between flexibility and long-term stability.
F.G: I am convinced that 100% remote work is destructive to the culture and the company . The lack of community, especially for new employees, can hinder integration and cohesion within the company. While I recognize the need to be flexible and able to adapt to each other's needs, working remotely should not be an excuse to not meet in person. Indeed, some tasks require physical contact to be successful, such as delivering sensitive messages. From a forward-looking perspective, most companies, including those in the technology field, are revisiting the issue and seeing the limitations of this method of working.
My experience has led me to the conclusion that a lot of scalability is needed to allow as many people as possible to benefit from this way of working, while avoiding situations where employees claim a right not to come to work in person. Flexibility is important, but it's critical that employees are present in person when collaboration and physical interaction is needed. Ultimately, what's important is to strike a balance and determine the best times to work remotely or in-person based on the needs of each task and employee.
F.G: To be successful, I take the time to understand the environment in which I operate. I try to know the teams, the key players and the business, as well as its constraints. This allows me to articulate solutions or improvements adapted to the company. I know that it is impossible to transpose a method that has worked elsewhere in a total way, which is why I try to grasp what is singular and fundamental in the functioning of the company. This approach may be considered a limitation by some, but I believe it secures the evolution of the company and increases the chances of success.
My ability to adapt to new environments is an essential element of my success. I am curious and I read a lot to feed my thinking, which allows me to progress more quickly. Changing business sector, boss or joining a new environment are real challenges. We don't always realize it, but it's like starting from scratch without capital or knowledge. You need to have the internal resources to face these challenges and to integrate fully. However, I am convinced that this allows you to grow and to stand back.
Getting out of my comfort zone has allowed me to develop my skills and gain new knowledge. Although it can be difficult and scary at times, this approach is very challenging and rewarding. Every time I've taken on something new, I've felt a great sense of satisfaction when I've successfully overcome the obstacles. This feeling encourages me to keep pushing myself even further.