Learning how to listen, stay humble, challenge yourself and make impactful decisions: Nathalie Balla knows exactly what this is about. Thanks to these skills, a good dose of resilience and a strong team spirit, she managed to save La Redoute when only a very few were still hoping for better days.
La Redoute could have stopped the bleeding in 2014, but Nathalie Balla and Eric Courteille decided the brand wasn’t done. After convincing Kering group’s founder with their transformation plan, they both took over the firm for only 1€. Within 6 years, they gave the company a brand new life. Proof of this, La Redoute's online sales went from 55% to 90%. Moral being: startups are not the only ones able to go fully digital!
Bring everyone together: the path to succeed in implementing change
Fast mode : activated (ie. Forces d’Action Rapide), the french version of Google’s Sprint. Going fully digital asked for every employee to work together. Not an easy task for a 183 yo company with a rooted separation between different business units. Nathalie Balla created cross-team working groups to deal with key challenges.
“Sparing boards” to maintain a relevant understanding of challenges. Counting thousands of employees and being in a process of transformation, leaders had trouble staying close to the fieldwork. The answer: setting a quarterly meeting with middle managers without any politics nor filter, to tackle future challenges and new solutions. Other large companies have also undertaken such initiatives, such as Accor’s Shadow Comex or MACIF’s Codir Jeunes.
We fight together, we win together. Changing times forced La Redoute’s leaders to improve their creativity to maintain their teams’ engagement. To do so, they allowed every employee to become shareholders of the company and associates of the transformation - unusual news for a company employing over 3.000 people.
Inclusion is key to foster commitment
Say what you plan to do, do what you said you would and share what you’ve done. Picture yourself in a company close to bankruptcy, employees threatened to be fired one by one, leaders taking over for 1€ with the promise of getting back on track within 4 years. Fostering trust in such an environment was not an easy task, and Nathalie Balla had to put in place a genuine transparency. It was all about giving employees complete information on past, current and future projects.
100 employees were interviewed to ensure solid grounds. Change is a stressful context. Nathalie Balla chose to involve employees in the establishment of the values of the brand to make change a smoother process.
After such a reborn, Nathalie Balla strongly believes in the power of collective intelligence. A blogpost on her Linkedin page can testify it: “If, at the beginning of the crisis, leadership necessarily became more hierarchical and decisions more centralized, once the crisis settled, it became necessary to rely on the power of collective intelligence: our employees improved their creativity to design new solutions and find new sources of revenue.”