We met with Pierre Sinodinos, the Founder and CEO of Aneo, who shared with us his vision for the future of organizations and why changing Aneo's salary policy in 2015 – getting rid of individual bonuses and raising fixed wages– was one of the best decisions they ever made for the organization.
In 2015, you reviewed your salary policy at Aneo. 5 years later, what lessons do you draw from this initiative?
I would certainly not go back. Never!
Because in the end, it’s how we finally managed to kill problems of transversality.
We had a lot of problems where people were pushing their goals at the expense of a collective goal.
The traditional answer to that is to add a bonus on the collective part. But you end up creating very complicated systems in which most people take the next option: avoid what is complicated, focus only on the target on which they have a direct influence.
These are complicated systems that end up not working. When we killed that, we gained in transversality. We saw people really collaborate.
On the other hand, we made a mistake back then. We should have kept individual performance objectives at the same time, but without linking them financial objective.
We should have made room to manage people in performance and personal development. We left them to their own device a bit too much and that was a mistake.
So we won’t go back, we don’t intend to change anything. However, we've added a little more structure and management to support employees.
If we take the idea a little further, you could even argue that individual bonuses are a cop-out. Let me explain.
You don’t take care of your employees for the whole year or quarter until it's time to tell them: you're not on target, no bonus for you. But employees need continuous day-to-day feedback.
They need to be guided and supported throughout the year, not at the end, when we’re going to look at the numbers and say, “You didn't reach the goal, you don’t get a bonus".
That’s why I say it’s a cop-out.
It's being replaced by more virtuous and real-time management. So yes, that decision will never be overturned.
Do you see any similarities to these Next Generation Enterprises?
Most of them focus on the individual and her development within the organization.
We could go back to find out how that came to be but what is clear today is that new generations spend about 25-30% of their time in the company today. If that time is only dedicated to increasing the company's bottom line and not to flourish there personally, it’s a deal they don’t want anymore.
Today we see a lot of young people who are artists and entrepreneurs, who freelance because they can better control their time and personal growth. The energy behind this new type of organization is clearly aimed at providing those options within a company.
I don’t think the company is dead and we’re all going to be freelancers.
It may not be called a business, but it will always be a collective project that we carry out together. The legal framework that supports it, that’s something else. But we’re not lonely animals, we’re group animals. We've evolved, anthropologists have demonstrated, through collaboration. The collective will continue to exist.
Nowadays, companies must take into account the fact that they can't solely focus on generating profits, that they have to look out for the planet and the individual passing through the organization so that they can thrive and grow there.
That feature is common to all forms of organizations because it's also an indirect way of tapping into the collective intelligence of the human heritage that makes up the company.
Will I alone have the strategic vision and know what to do tomorrow to make the company better? If I am very intelligent, perhaps, but I will always be less interesting than the sum of the intelligence of all my collaborators.
That’s where there’s enormous potential to go and activate. These organizations allow employees to develop better within the structures and tap into this collective intelligence a little better.
On top of that, you can look at the level of responsiveness and agility of Next Generation Enterprises.
These organizations position themselves quickly in markets. They can go very fast and they don’t have too much entropic heaviness that you might find in traditional organizations.
There are a lot of commonalities, but there is also a lot of innovation and creativity in the processes that are chosen by organizations based on their history, size, geography, business model, and desires.
Which managerial innovation actions bring the most value both to the organization and the people in the organization?
That question cannot be answered without contextualizing it.
What’s going to be good for one company of a certain size, in a specific sector will not work out for another company in another sector.
What is certain, however, is that there are a number of principles that must be respected when trying to transform or develop a business.
For example, you cannot grow a company when the employee experience is very poor. Indeed, you cannot inspire your employees with your vision for a better future if things aren't right in their day-to-day.
You have to start with the day-to-day, and then you can go a step further.
There are a few principles like that that must be respected and taken into account, but that will take hold in quite different ways in each company.
There is no recipe, but there are principles that must be kept in mind when you are working on these organizational changes.
What actions can be taken to create trust from the top down but also from the bottom up?
That would take a long time to answer. I think we need less talk and more action.
Many companies proclaim and announce transformations that ultimately never reach their target. Many employees have seen many transformation projects, but no positive change to their day-to-day.
I would recommend to communicate less and act more.
Then there are a lot of things around posture and accessibility.
In my company, I talk to all my employees about business strategy every other week and answer anonymous or non-anonymous questions.
This allows for more fluidity. Anyone can ask a question, either directly or through an anonymized chat. It brings an understanding of where we are going, a dialogue and ideas that also come up through that channel.
These are quite simple things that gradually build confidence because confidence is also very much embodied.
It's when people hear you that they say, “This guy, he carries his project, he embodies it, he’s sincere, so I believe him.”
When you delegate it to advertising pads or middle management, it doesn’t work. Direct contact is essential.
You have to go down to the people and talk to them. When you do that, you create a human connection.
The above interview was recorded during the 2020 edition of The NextGen Enterprise Summit.