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Training: building skills to transform companies

Sabine Flament Sabine Flament - Training and skills development manager - Cristal Union


Training: building skills to transform companies

In May 2013, the Cristal Union Group adopted a new approach to operational excellence and quality of life in the workplace. Called EvE (Ensemble vers l'Excellence - "Together Towards Excellence"), it involves some four hundred people, around 20% of the company's employees. According to Maurice Lombard, Industrial Director at Cristal Union, since managers are "the strategy's frontline representatives" they play a central role in the approach.


To achieve this aim, the company needed to adopt a more collegial style and to "move from a culture of chief engineers to a culture of operational managers closer to the shop floor," so a change in the management culture quickly proved essential.



A three-year training programme was implemented from 2015 to help managers develop their practices. "We began by identifying the skills managers need to implement the strategic project and drive change at Cristal Union, for which managers at all levels were asked to take part in a joint analysis."

In partnership with Quaternaire's teams, managers highlighted eight topics* for development, approved by the EvE project steering committee: "team spirit, communication, employee development, team coordination, leadership, the management of difficult situations, activities management and the organisation of work". These eight skills now form the basis of the Cristal Union Group's management practices.



"Our Group was formed by the merger of several cooperatives in 1999, and by subsequent acquisitions, so as a result our 14 production sites have different environments. We aimed at:

  •  creating a management culture specific to the Cristal Union Group, uniting managers around a common analysis, based on shared tools;
  •  while integrating the specific characteristics of each site, the skills to develop and the topics to prioritise".

This customized training is provided on a case-by-case basis, in association with the human resources directors and managers of each site. "The programme was broadly divided into eight (core) skills with a minimum of two training days per year, per manager, over 3 years. Building on this working base, each director was able to address the subject, define their priorities and decide the level of detail expected on each topic".


320 managers

The Cristal Union Group has more than 320 managers. Regardless of their status, managers from the same site all follow the same programme: "This training is an opportunity to discuss the basics of management and to develop common reference systems and group or individual action plans."

28 hours of manager training

Since the launch of the course, each manager has benefited from an average of 28 hours of training. In 2015, 4,700 hours of management training was provided, equivalent to more than 10% of training activities that year.


Illustration 1 FORM CUNION

"Cut waste" training


"Improvement task management": a successful module

Part of the training programme, the EvE Initiation Method module is a good example of the initial connections made between the strategic project and the training course. "A large number of tasks were identified as part of the EvE project. Since each task is managed by a Group employee, it was vitally important to provide training to help them fulfil this mission."

Developed in conjunction with the client, playful and multi-modal to keep participants interested, this training is also highly pragmatic: "Task managers - operators, supervisors, executives - come away with extremely practical tools that can be immediately put into operation, such as producing a task sheet, coordinating a collaborative working group, using a problem-solving method, or managing frustrations or misunderstandings within a group, and so on."

The EvE Initiation Method module was taken by a large number of employees. Some benefited from slightly more in-depth training: "Trainer training was organised for some fifteen advisors, Cristal Union Group employees, so they could do the training themselves."


Two years after its launch, the manager training programme has been fully integrated, to such an extent that the term "training project" is no longer used. The analysis conducted during the development of the programme, and discussions within executive and ETAM groups, helped define and disseminate the Cristal Union Group management vision.

"There is now greater cohesion within the management community and with relation to the strategic project."



Another sign that says it all has been the emergence of new expectations from managers themselves. "Managers realised that management was a discipline in its own right, like technology, that needed to be developed and supported through the acquisition of skills and tools." Every year, now independently of the EvE project, Group managers will be able to perfect their skills by addressing new topics, such as supporting change, delegation (or the art of empowerment), the prevention and anticipation of conflict situations, and more. They will also be able to study subjects already covered in greater depth with the introduction of Level 2 courses for some initial topics.


The example of Cristal Union underlines, if needed, the importance of coherence in these approaches and the resources used to sustainably transform a company's organisation and culture. Here, advice and training go hand in hand and boost the success of each investment.


* Quaternaire is also helping the Cristal Union Group implement the EvE project (see La Revue n°26).




Cristal Union

Cristal Union has some 10,000 member beet growers in 20 of 29 beet growing départements in France. Its 2200 employees are spread over 14 sites. In 2015, its three activities (industrial sugar, sugar for retail and alcohol) generated a turnover of €1.7 billion (figure as of 30 September).