Valérie Gobeil, head of development, and Cyril Boisard, organizational coach/scrum master/scrum manager, talk to us about one of the pillars of the management philosophy at GSoft: the development of individuals.
“For us, the development of individuals occurs when companies enable their employees to learn about themselves, spread their wings and succeed not only as workers, but as people as well.”
We tend to see learning as something that is associated solely with school, yet you believe that individuals should continue to learn throughout their careers...
Valérie Gobeil: “Absolutely. We believe that work can provide quite the opportunity for growth, despite moments of self-doubt, stagnation, regression and discomfort.
Cyril Boisard: “For us, the development of individuals occurs when companies enable their employees to learn about themselves, spread their wings and succeed not only as workers, but as people as well.
How did this philosophy come about?
V. G.: “I feel like it's always existed at GSoft, but it wasn't particularly well articulated before. With the rapid growth we've experienced, it felt like the time was right to give it a proper definition.”
C. B.: “We wanted to ensure a certain consistency within the organization, despite the growth. That said, for us, consistency is not the same thing as standardization. The key is to adopt some shared principles that inform the work we do, but without those principles needing to be set in stone for everyone!”
If the philosophy you speak of doesn't fall within a specific framework, how are you able to apply it? Do you have any examples?
V. G.: “Managers encourage their teams to think about how they embody the company's values. So, for example, employees are encouraged to ask themselves where they stand in terms of their risk-taking abilities, capacity to work in a co-creative environment or communications skills. If the employee ticks off all the right boxes, great! If not, we ask them to propose certain objectives that will help them get closer to where they need to be.”
C. B.: “One of the things we do is offer a training session on conscious communication, which proves quite useful when it comes to formulating, and receiving, constructive criticism. The workshop we do is super popular and has been well received, but it's optional. We'd sooner see employees get excited and be proactive when it comes to their growth.”
What are the benefits of this approach?
C. B.: “One of the advantages is that employees are responsible for their accomplishments.”
V. G.: “Which is also why career development, in the generic sense of the term, isn't something that speaks to us. As far as we're concerned, career development is the responsibility of both the employer and the employee. So let's say a salesperson wishes to become a developer: it's up to him or her to express interest in the role. We won't come out and say, no way, but rather try to help him or her get to where they want to be all while addressing the company's business needs. We encourage people to pursue the things that motivate them and not count themselves out simply because they don't have experience in a particular role.
Some folks may find the approach kind of harsh. How do you ease people's apprehension?
V. G.: Sometimes you just need to step out of your comfort zone and try new things! Failure happens. But at GSoft, we encourage people to take risks, because innovation won't happen otherwise. In short, we want the company to be seen as a lab open to different experiments.
V. G.: That said, should our employees hit rough patches, whether at home or at work, they can always reach out to us for help and support. Vulnerability is welcome here. In fact, we truly value folks who are capable of opening up when times are tough – it shows great strength.
C. B.: We want everyone to feel free to be who they are, regardless of what they're going through. We'd actually like to somehow bridge the worlds of work and family, which are presented as mutually exclusive more often than not. Human beings are not that compartmentalized! So we try to create a work environment that nourishes our employees' personal lives as much as their professional lives. That's exactly what the development of individuals is to us: “to make great strides as people at work and outside of work!”
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