An interview with Gaël Chatelain: “Kindness in Management”
In his own words
I have spent more than 20 years as manager in some of the biggest French media companies (TF1, CANAL+, NRJ…). During those years, I have learned a lot about the importance of being kind as a manager. Now that I no longer work for a company per se, I have found myself writing books about the concept of “kindness in management”. I am really proud to say that my books have topped the business charts in France. I am also passionate about bringing this concept to reality and have done numerous conferences to promote my core beliefs to the key players in various industries
TCM: What have you learned the last 3 years?
Gael: The most important thing I’ve learned is that we are all actors of the global happiness at work. I used to think that we have to think global to change things but I realized few years ago that change is first and foremost individual. You know, we, French people, love to be negative and skeptical about everything. We sometimes hope for a kind miracle to salvage tricky situations. The truth is, whoever you are, whatever your job is, you can have a huge influence on your own happiness and therefore people you work with.
TCM: If I say Empathy what do you say?
Gael: I say “cornerstone of management”. I’ve seen too many managers working alone and listening to nothing when it comes to decision making. I think empathy is key :
To motivation and understanding your team make up
To make good decisions by allowing and facilitating discussions and debates with everyone involved in the process.
TCM: Based on your on going conversations are you optimistic about the future evolution of the world of work?
Gael: I am more than optimistic. As a matter of fact, I think that companies who do not understand the importance of evolution will no longer exist if they don’t seriously take into account the human factor. They will ultimately disappear in the not so distant future. Happiness at work is not an option anymore if one wants to hire the best in each field… and most importantly keep them in the company. I’m working with a lot of big companies at the moment that have many problems hiring and retaining. They know they have to adapt their culture to change that… and most of them try hard I must say !
TCM: How advanced do you think companies are when it comes to communicate about their internal culture?
Gael: It’s only the beginning but many entities I come across are getting better at storytelling. Communication about internal culture is totally linked to the former question. If one wants to hire gifted people, one better let these people know how great their company is… but we’re not talking only about turnover or global strategy here; we’re talking about culture, values and all the things that make people understand what it is to work with a great company.
TCM: Do you think D&I (diversity and inclusion) is a buzz word?
Gael: A buzz word ? What a weird question 😉 It’s not a buzz word, it is just the proof that companies begin to understand that our world is not only made of white, highly educated men. Diversity is understanding that if a company wants to be relevant, it has to cater internally the reflection of the outside society. How can a company possibly think its strategy can be relevant if there’s only 10% of women at the Board of Director for instance ? Diversity and inclusion, at all level, is the best way to understand the world we’re living in. The road will be long and hard sometimes but I’m really optimistic if you compare our times to the previous decades.
TCM: What is the question you would have liked me to ask you and why?
Gael: “Do you think management has to be different in every single country?”. I’d like you to ask that because too often, I hear the following “you know Gaël, everything you say is really nice but, here, it’s so different”. I’m more than convinced that most countries, most companies are obviously different in some part of their culture but the core basics remain the same all around the world. Tell me which employee would be happy being yelled at from morning till night? Which employee would love to get call to action emails late at night, every week-end from his boss, saying it’s urgent ? I think that all these concerns are not as complex as many people think they are… we just have to be more simple in the way we approach them! Realizing and accepting that we can achieve the same or more differently is really the first step.
Interview & Editing by Pascal Derrien on behalf of Talent Cloud Media