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Jean-Michel Guillon, Corporate Vice President of Personnel

Q&A with Jean-Michel Guillon

Jean-Michel Guillon, Corporate Vice President of Personnel

How would you describe the people at Michelin?

In a nutshell: "Michelin people are passionate about doing a good job". Every day I come across people who love what they do, because they believe in the Company, its mission, the quality of its products and its innovative spirit.

Where does this passion, pride and sense of belonging come from?

For a start, it stems from Michelin’s reputation and the intrinsic quality of the jobs we offer. But that's only part of the story. There's also the day-to-day application of our values: respect for facts with the simplicity and reserve of judgement which this implies, respect for people, and respect for customers. These values promote unity and loyalty.

Does this mean that people wish to remain in employment with Michelin for long periods of time?

It is true that our turnover rate is particularly low. One reason for this is the extraordinary opportunities for career development we offer them within the company. People don’t join Michelin just to fill a post, but to take up challenges and grow. These are the principles behind our personnel management policy.

What are the key features of Michelin’s career management policy?

We provide people with genuine opportunities for learning and applying different professional skills. Responsibilities change frequently. People have the chance of building a career over time, while living an exciting adventure, often in different countries.

How does this affect personnel management?

In the first place, we do not regard People as resources at Michelin. We even use a different name: instead of a “human resources” department, we have a “Personnel ” department. The personal qualities of every individual interest us because we take a long-term view. We are looking for people with personality and human potential, and rarely for a particular skill to fill a particular post. All employees, regardless of position, know they can count on their career manager to help them to develop themselves and advance in their careers.

What is the role of the person’s immediate superior?

The immediate superior’s role is to assist team members in performing their current mission by setting targets, providing support in attaining them, assessing performance, designing training itineraries and promoting career development, even outside the sector.

What is the role of the career manager?

The career manager takes a broader, more long-term view and looks at both company needs and the prospects for people development. He or she is in charge of the individual’s career development over time and often even takes the lead in initiating change. To ensure continuity, career managers must be well acquainted with individual staff members, their aspirations and their limitations.

Where does the individual employee feature in all this?

Each employee is primarily responsible for his or her own career development. Ability and ambition to advance must be reflected in performance. Career advancement involves calling oneself into question, ceaselessly striving to develop and improve and voicing aspirations. We like to represent career management as a triangle to underline the complementary roles of the employee, the immediate superior and the career manager.

Such a policy clearly implies costs, in terms of training for instance, does it not?

True, but training is a vital human investment, whether one is acquiring and improving technical skills – some of which are specific to Michelin – or more general skills.
Developing people is based on career-paths and the successful management of new experiences. Training and coaching are vital to this process. Training is also a tool for reinforcing our shared values and culture wherever we operate.

How do you reconcile common values with individual characteristics?

It is quite possible to share a common set of values and aims while developing different individual and complementary talents. For example, Michelin strives to be Polish in Poland and Chinese in China. Our diversity is one of our greatest  assets. It makes us more creative and reactive which is all to the benefit of our customers. And ultimately, it makes our work that much more stimulating!

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