Co-founder and CEO of La Factry, Marie Amiot explores the pathways to a sense of accomplishment, a fundamental key for today’s employees and companies.
What does it mean to you to be fulfilled?
It’s knowing where you’re going and understanding why you’re going that way. For me, fulfillment is when your actions have meaning. It is when your head, your heart and your legs are in harmony: you are moving in a direction that fills you with happiness. In my life, I quickly realized that I have much more fun when I work for something bigger than myself.
Did this play a role in your decision to co-found La Factry?
Absolutely. It’s fundamental. In my career, I’ve been fortunate to work for companies with big, beautiful missions. I was happy to contribute to other people’s missions, until one day I came across a work environment where I couldn’t fulfill myself. It didn’t last long. I took the liberty of starting a business, motivated of course by my entrepreneurial spirit, but also by this idea of building something that will have an impact on my society, and mobilizing people to contribute to it.
The last two years have been very difficult on the level of motivation in the workplace: in your opinion, has the pandemic made it even more important to be fulfilled, both in life and at work?
Before the pandemic, you went about your business every morning without questioning things too much. But when everything stopped, we all questioned ourselves, individually and collectively; everyone suddenly understood the importance of having a reason to get up in the morning. Even if we knew it before, it highlighted the importance of feeling that we contribute, that we are fulfilled, that our company has a healthy, noble mission that vibrates with our values… There are not many people who get up today and say to themselves: well, I’ll go do my little job, business as usual. To accept to restart the machine, people are looking for a sense of accomplishment. This has become central.
Add to that the generalized labor shortage… Is the creation of a context that allows employees to accomplish themselves a particular concern for the companies you have worked with in recent months?
À 100%. There isn’t a company that isn’t wondering about this right now. We are living in a perfect storm: a labour shortage, a post-pandemic period with people more concerned about aligning their career objectives with their personal values, and a major transformation of the labour market, due to technology, among other things.
Companies are forced to ask themselves questions. What is my mission? What do I offer as a context of accomplishment to the employees who join me? Why would people come to work for us? How do I motivate my employees, and how do I keep them motivated? How do I make them grow?
In addition, jobs are changing. For individuals, this means that the job market requires completely new attitudes and skills that are not necessarily taught in traditional curricula-we’re talking about collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity…
It’s a huge challenge everywhere.
Where does an organization start if it wants to make its employees more fulfilled?
The first thing is to accept that it takes time. One of the biggest mistakes companies are making right now is looking for the quick, instant fix. There’s no such thing. You can’t fix it by taking a master class, or a workshop… What needs to be done takes time and continuous work.
So where do you start? A company’s mission, vision and values are the foundation. Any company that hasn’t clarified these should start there. That trio is the light that everyone in the organization needs to move towards; it’s what lights the way, it’s what guides.
Then I would say that we need to work on the leadership culture. We need to get everyone in management and leadership positions to adhere to a modern style. For example, in a time when things are changing so rapidly, the challenges of business are too big to be solved by one person, so it takes a team and a management culture that is much more collaborative.
Finally, we need to offer the people who work for us the right tools to survive and thrive in this era of transformation. That’s why La Factry exists: we want to offer a center of excellence where you can develop soft skills and find useful tools for all team members.
What is the role of managers in implementing this type of corporate culture? What qualities should they develop?
Listening, empathy, great capacity to mobilize, solving complex problems… It is extremely difficult to be a manager in 2023. We have to find the balance between soliciting ideas and skills from our team members and making decisions, and setting the direction for the health and future of the company. It takes people who have the sensitivity to get a lot of different people to buy into a vision and get on board.
It’s a job that has become more “personalized”. During the industrial revolution, we were all trained, and companies were organized, to do the same things in a uniform way, in an increasingly effective and efficient way… There was a recipe to be found and applied by everyone. Today, we’re learning to do things differently, we have new challenges, and the manager has to be able to understand the varied strengths of the team members and put it all together to reinvent things. People who want to perpetuate the old model of the manager (the one who has all the answers and controls everything) will suffer.
The beauty of our times is that people want to contribute. Employees of all generations, but especially those entering the workforce now. They want to understand what they’re participating in, they want to be fulfilled, they need to be excited about work. And when we manage to light that flame, we have a range of skills that mobilize to make our company grow, to accomplish its mission: it’s incredibly strong.
As CEO of La Factry, when do you feel the greatest sense of accomplishment in your work?
The first day back from the holidays was an incredible day. I had just come back from two and a half weeks of vacation, landed on Sunday night at 9pm, and I was thinking: wow, it’s going to be hard to get the machine going again. But people came to La Factry saying, “ah, I was looking forward to it, I had a great vacation, but I’m glad to be here,” etc. To feel that people get up in the morning happy to come and contribute to a work that we created on a post-it note seven years ago, fills me with happiness. And I have the same feeling when clients trust us.
It’s not so much what we accomplish in a tangible way, but rather the motivation of the employees and partners who come in here in the morning, and the trust that our clients have in us.
The Factry is an NPO: people don’t come here for the pay, they come here for the cause. We’re able to bring in incredible people who could be in business careers that probably pay more, but who choose us because they feel they can contribute to a mission they believe in. I don’t claim to have the perfect recipe for having fulfilled employees, but when I see that, I think there must be something we’re doing right.
What would you say is one of your strengths?
Quite simply, our mission is strong, and we’re growing, so we let people take their place in that mission. Everyone here has a great playground to grow. We’re growing, so there’s room, and we’re giving room.
We’re at La Factry, so we’re more interested in creativity: personally, do you have a surefire trick or ritual to get you back into a creative frame of mind even in the hustle and bustle of daily life?
For me, it’s nature. Nature has all the answers, she is complete. She has created an incredible work, it is a system of limitless sophistication, which always finds its balance. In our little human theater, we sometimes make a big deal out of it, but when I go to nature, I recharge my batteries, I let go. I’m the kind of person who goes into the woods alone for several days; it’s my own little recipe.