Over the years, the Mersen group has positioned itself as a leading provider of state-of-the-art technology. With 6.800 staff members working in 70 production units, it owes its growth to several takeovers and has acquired a unique level of technological expertise thanks to enthusiastic individual and collective endeavor. “Our group has undergone many changes”, says Human Resources Director Estelle Legrand. “Ten years ago we moved away from a traditional industrial approach and opened up to sustainable development. We also decided to invest internationally and develop our business in new markets such as Asia”. In 2010 this new trajectory was reflected in a new name (founded in the late nineteenth century, the Group was called Carbone Lorraine from 1937 to 2010). Much careful thinking followed on how to bring together teams within a group whose business is so diverse. “We wanted to free ourselves from geographical and economic constraints and leverage the knowledge of the experts working within the group. The challenge was also that our managers should rapidly take on board our new values and be able to explain them to their teams”, explains Estelle Legrand.
Interactivity boosting performance
In March 2013, the Mersen human resources department turned towards distance learning and opted for CrossKnowledge solutions. They saw two key advantages in this type of solution: speed of implementation and interactivity. Two months later, the Mersen Academy was born. “We chose the CrossKnowledge Learning Suite as it allows us to offer our staff different training formats, in particular learning communities. These formats make it possible to break open our organizational silos and foster cross-functional communication and interactivity by allowing our experts to share their knowledge and common interests”, states Estelle Legrand. As well as the diversity of formats, the range of training content also makes the learning experience lively and attractive. Video, for instance, is a training medium all the staff enjoy, whatever their role, their age or their geographical location. “Thanks to the module developed using Mohive, we can show, in an enjoyable way, how a machine operator performs a technical task on the production line”, says Estelle Legrand. In this way, skills acquisition can enhance corporate performance even more rapidly.
Knowledge management: a key concern
Mersen’s ambitions in terms of new learning technologies don’t stop there. The group’s desire to leverage the many skills areas represented within its teams naturally led the HR department to think about how to rise to the challenges of knowledge management: identifying key skill sets, leveraging expertise, passing on specific skills, sharing best practices, and so on. “We’re planning to ratchet up our distance training strategy and we’ve signed a flexible contract with CrossKnowledge that will allow us to respond to all our training challenges in the long term”, explains Estelle Legrand. Combining Mohive with learning communities is particularly relevant in this context. Mersen can also enrich its professional training catalogue by calling on local experts to design specific content, then share it with teams working worldwide. The platform’s interactive features are a key asset for staff members sharing knowledge of their areas of expertise.
Towards a common culture
After a technical implementation phase that went off without a hitch, led by a small team including HR and PR managers and IT experts, a step-by step process was initiated to ensure that the Mersen Academy gained favour with future learners. “As there are so many safety issues in the chemicals and electricity sectors, we’re going to put together a session on safety regulations – our leitmotif – and offer it to all our new recruits throughout the world. Product-related training will allow us to target sales engineers in one of our divisions. And so that staff working in support functions don’t feel left out of our new training approach, we also plan to create a training package on HR-led career reviews dedicated to senior staff members at the third stage of their career paths”, explains Estelle Legrand.
As well as e-mail communication initiatives, Mersen relies on word of mouth to get staff to embrace its new self-learning strategy. “Mersen is a technological group that draws on a whole range of individual areas of intelligence. We’ll have risen to the challenge when the Mersen Academy has enabled us to consolidate our corporate culture and develop the collective intelligence we need to succeed”, concludes Estelle Legrand.