Htag Magazine interviews MixR CEO Cecile Moulard
This blog is a translation of an article written in French & first published in Htag Magazine, to see the original article click here
You're already familiar with the power of teams and, most probably, the ingredients that optimize their functioning. But do you know the added value and transformative power of trusted communities built around common interests? Find out from Cécile Moulard, co-founder and CEO of MixR, the platform for creating, managing, and measuring the impact of workplace communities, with the aim of developing trust, a sense of belonging, and psychological safety.
"Change is accelerating, and if we don't manage to do things differently in the organization, to inject new energy, the risk is that it will literally implode," observes Cécile Moulard. Why?" Because by remaining focused solely on improving productivity and the 'team' structure, we end up drying up human relations," she notes.
The battle for productivity at all costs is counterproductive. We feel increasingly alone, stressed, overwhelmed by the speed of change, and close to burnout. In short, while the team and the tools that optimize it make the company more effective, they also make it less efficient. In other words, companies are opting for performance, while forgetting the conditions of that performance and the quality of service that goes with it.
The danger is real, she insists. "If a new change - whether external or internal - upsets the organization, it will be able to turn it into an opportunity, all the more so if it has succeeded in developing a sense of belonging, an appetite for teamwork, and trust between employees."
For Cécile Moulard, this is what communities of interest are all about. "They create trust between employees and that extra 'liveliness' that's essential when change comes. A company that succeeds in developing such circles of trust will be able to rely on them to 'filter' change, lead difficult conversations, put forward proposals and bounce back. Without them, transformation will seem imposed by leadership: it will not belong to employees; they will not have participated in it. Communities are the condition of the resilient enterprise, at a time when change is accelerating."
Behind the word "community", definitions can vary. "Ours is very simple: Community = Network + Care. Giving employees the opportunity to engage in the creation of communities around centers of interest, in order to forge lasting and authentic relationships, helps to increase commitment, mutual support, and innovation. It also means breaking down silos by enabling employees from different functions and departments to get to know each other and develop a relationship of mutual help and trust at work."
In concrete terms, these communities can be centered around a sporting or cultural practice (e.g. running, yoga, music), around a skill (e.g. talent development, treasury), around subjects of common interest to the company (e.g. sustainable development, artificial intelligence) or around diversity and inclusion initiatives (e.g. women in leadership, disability).
To help understand this dynamic, Cécile Moulard points out the fundamental difference between team and community. "Behind a team, there's a need identified by management to bring together individuals chosen for their skills around a precise task with an expected performance objective. Behind the community, there's the desire to gather around a subject of common interest to share a passion, expertise or best practices in discussion and exchange, and the will to live common experiences."
The values surrounding teamwork and community functioning are also very different. "In a team, members are expected to have the skills needed to complete a task. In a community, members are expected to listen, care and support. We're interested in the person as a human being, not just the employee. In a community, what counts is the pleasure of being together, of helping each other... which feeds the desire to work together."
Realities in the making
Entering into a community dynamic implies trust in individuals. “Community can be a little scary," admits Cécile Moulard. What risks are we taking if we allow employees to get together informally, without supervision? They see the risk of losing control as dangerous. And yet, it's all about providing concrete answers to the new needs expressed by employees, especially GenZs. Until now, HR has done its best - more benefits, more pay, more flexibility - but this has not been enough to stop the rise in burnout, mental health problems, and turnover. So we need to change track and dare to adopt a more holistic organizational model capable of responding to the new needs expressed by employees: meaning, belonging, and confidence to give their best. The question is no longer: should we do it, but how can we do it well?
Another related question? Embracing a community strategy means touching on the organization's architecture. “We're flattening it somewhat," she points out. But the advantage is
giving employees more power without changing everything. If management isn't ready for the 'big shake-up', communities can be a harmonious accompaniment to managerial transformation."
Question: if a certain spontaneity is necessary to develop communities, how can HR professionals encourage their emergence?
“By creating the right conditions," she says. Many organizations have already understood the importance of fostering communities at work. Our platform makes it possible to 'leap frog' and make up for lost time, by providing the conditions that allow employees to create communities that interest them, without endangering the organization, and while respecting the need for privacy necessary to their development." As we all know, while HR departments are comfortable launching initiatives over which they retain control, they are more worried when it comes to an initiative over which they could lose control.
“This implies a cultural evolution," she points out. This is where it's useful to equip yourself with tools that correspond to the very specific needs of communities. A team doesn't have the same organization, moderation, and impact measurement needs as a community. What we bring with our platform is a formalization that reassures leadership, HR, middle managers, and employees. The company can, for example, propose best practices and ensure that they are respected, decide who within the organization can create a community, give its approval to each community or allow them to spring up freely, and so on. In this way, we enter the process step by step. You tame it.
The important thing, concludes Cécile Moulard, is to understand the extent to which the team and the community are complementary, and that it becomes essential to make them cohabit. "Team energy is the energy of masculinity, of structure, of decision-making, of implementation. It's essential. What we lack today is feminine energy. A kind of extra soul. Communities bring it to us in a natural way, through sharing, experience, and mutual help. Yin and yang come together at last to recreate the social bond lost in productivity at all costs, and enable the company to once again become the human community it needs to be to innovate and to be successful and sustainable."