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Management by social objectives

In the past I’ve been following the goings-on at France Telecom, which has been at the centre of a lot of media attention – who sometimes and somehow manage to make a link with Lean – following a spate of suicides. Despite the coverage and an increased level of communication between management and representatives of the workforce, there have been another 11 incidences so far this year (none of them however in the workplace) following 25 or so last year.

One of the consequences of the drama has been a change of management at the highest level, and the new boss has wasted no time in addressing the problem head on.

Following 22000 job cuts during the reign of his predecessor, St├ęphane Richard, the new General Director, has committed to stabilising the level of the workforce through 3500 recruitments. And there will be no further cases where employees are obliged to move regions just to keep their job (this was one of the root causes of the crisis) and any moves will be based on volunteers (who hoping will be influenced through positive rather than negative incitements).

However, one of the most interesting measures is that of the composition of the variable part of the remuneration of the senior management (1100 of them, there does seem to be an awful lot of layers in there – there are 10000 managers in total). The variable part of their salaries can be anything between 30 and 50%, and 30% of this will be based on their ‘social performance‘.

How on earth do you measure ’social performance’? It does look as though they don’t quite know, just yet. However, the measurable objectives will be determined in collaboration with the trade unions. And an independant third-party will be used to measure the ’softer’ side of the measures through surveys, etc.

Hopefully the results of the negociations will be published, so that we can all learn from an episode that nobody to date can take any pride from.

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