Co-development: learning to learn together

Dec 3, 2015, by Covea

At a time when management practices and corporate life are constantly changing, new training and support methods are emerging, such as co-development, an innovative approach to continuous training. Since 2008, the Covéa group (MAAF, MMA and GMF) has been encouraging its managers and employees to improve the quality of their relationships so as to develop collective intelligence. More than 800 people have already taken the co-development training path.

An approach rolled out via a series of peer-group coaching sessions at Covéa

Imported from Quebec, co-development is becoming increasingly attractive to companies and is revolutionising the traditional approach based on manager support. What sets this approach apart is that there is no official designated trainer; employees convene in groups of up to 8 participants, all business areas and services combined. Accompanied by a coach, who is not an expert in the field, they share ideas and help each other, thus converting every difficulty encountered in their work into an opportunity to learn.

The aim of the method is to teach employees to work on their attitude to relationships. By encouraging them to identify difficult relationship situations and to express and understand them, managers - all taking part voluntarily - strive to challenge their usual behaviour by considering new approaches to their relationships. Deadlock situations that are brought up at the sessions can be linked to relationships with colleagues, other employees, or superiors … The underlying presumption is that relationships form the basis for the organisation’s efficiency.

At each monthly meeting, the Covéa manager, referred to as the “client”, presents his or her problem to the other participants, referred to as “consultants”. The aim of the session is to enable the client to enrich his representation of the situation or to consider new options for solving the problem. The following month, the client tells the consultants what he decided to do (or not) and what he learned from the situation. The series of 9 meetings during the year is often experienced by participants as breathing space in their professional life.

Often, the manager, focusing on what he calls his problem, takes a rather narrow view; the aim is to enable him to revisit the situation, put it back into context and define the problem more effectively so that he can readjust his margin for manoeuvre”, explains Bernard Lévêque, Director, Collective Intelligence Development, at Covéa.

Covéa has made this professional training path available first and foremost to managers, as they are central to employee interaction and actively involved in developing the Group. To date, more than 850 managers and employees have taken this training, which is fairly demanding in terms of availability.

The benefits of co-development training

Co-development promotes teamwork while enabling each employee to:

- find a way out of delicate professional situations and come up with his own solutions,

- feel less isolated thanks to team building during the sessions,

- become a better listener and improve his ability to question and confront himself, while gaining in humility, since a co-developer’s key quality is “daring to appear less than competent” in a given situation.

Beyond the pooling of skills and knowledge, co-development is a veritable lever for collective intelligence. It restores team spirit in the company, breaks down barriers, helps to prevent psycho-social risks and sets the company firmly on track to becoming a learning business.

A constructive approach, in keeping with the Covéa group’s development

“Co-development supports change in the company’s culture. People who have attended co-development sessions can be recognised by their way of listening, questioning, and confronting themselves. With deep respect for diversity, which is our greatest asset, a veritable community is coming together around a relational ecosystem that benefits Covéa’s development”, concludes Bernard Lévêque.