Liberating Leadership & lean at Nicomatic SA : for more autonomy, well-being & responsibility

A new management style & organization at Nicomatic France is having an increasing effect on the culture of the company.
If you haven't heard of innovation management, the key aspects involve corporate transformation and liberating leadership, as well as encouraging employee initiative and involvement.
The main topics of leadership style - which we call liberating - consist of using the needs for intrinsic equality, growth and self-direction as design criteria, sharing a world-class vision, and becoming a culture-keeper. Liberating leadership supports the adoption of the common good - great economic performance - with the personal well being of employees - often called happiness.
 
When a company grows big, it is tempting to split and divide activities. From 2011 through to 2012, Nicomatic SA reached a limit in terms of silo organisation. To support our growth, we have multiplied hierarchy levels, services, processes, but we have realised that this kind of partition does not facilitate communication and reactivity, recognises Julien Nicollin.
 
The management therefore decided to return to a more simple organisation by suppressing hierarchy levels.
With 150 employees at Nicomatic France today, only 3 levels remain : 5 directors, 6 mini-plant managers and 139 employees & functional managers.
We have a flat structure. There are no more department managers, and the managers are there to help employees to acquire & develop new competences as well as suppress all tasks that do not bring any value, mentions Julien.
 
They are not there to say how to do things, but spend more time on coaching, so that most of decisions are directly carried out by the employees themselves. 
Each level works on specific milestones. Managers take more care of the monthly organisation of activities, they do not run in the workshop to solve different operational issues. Operators manage weekly & everyday tasks and they run the activity & take the necessary decisions.
They are also responsible of the control-quality process, purchasing, HR, trainings & internal lead-time. Most improvements come from them. They speak directly with customers, and play the role of guides during company visits. 
Thanks to these measures that allow more freedom, operators are involved in a different way. They decide themselves if they need additional hours, and do not hesitate to stay longer to finish a batch of parts if it allows them to launch new operations the following day. The company is not a mechanical system that executes only, but an organic system able of self-improvement. In this system the client is right in the centre.
 
Among some of the changes, the procurement of raw materials & expendables is dealt with by the operators. Time clocks have been suppressed & an emphasis is placed on employee confidence.

One of the 1st lean projects deployed in the stamping mini plant was the SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die). Generally, in the industry, the moment to change the die can be critical & the time to change the dies & toolings can be a real source of stress.
 
At Nicomatic the SMED has been launched & executed by the operators without any intervention from managers. The result was a 50% reduction of the time to change the die, and a 35% increase of productivity.
This is just one of illustrations about Nicomatic’s employees acting with complete freedom and responsibility to solve problems, maximize opportunities, and, quite simply, do their work.
Today self-managed teams, called mini-plants are in charge of manufacturing - each with its own internal or external client and product. They are also in charge of all other business processes deemed essential for getting the job done right for the client: purchasing, delivery, recruitment, training, and more. Each team performs these functions in their own way.
Naturally, this ends up being the areas not covered by the production teams, such as R&D or company management. 4 flows have been initiated to cover all aspects of a company life.
 
We also need to share the Vision of the company so People Will “Own” it. In order to make good day-to-day decisions, employees must know what is in the best interest of their company. Lacking that information, they may fall back on personal experience. We have started the job with our subsidiaries to inform & educate our teams worldwide and build together.
Our vision is to become a worldwide reference in rectangular micro-connectors for harsh environments and to design advanced interconnect solutions.
 
We could add that our ambition is not only around economic growth (+50% up to 2018), but also around building our own new company culture or DNA by means of liberating leadership. This allowing responsibility & well-being of the employee as engines of performance (thanks to the autonomy). Sharing values between ourselves, along with our suppliers & clients is also essential. These values, which are being carried out in different collaborative groups consist of innovation, simplicity, reactivity, involvement & transparency. They come from a strategy decided 3 years ago and that we call Live better together.

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