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Human Resource Management of 3M Company
Human Resource Management of 3M Company - January 21st, 2011
3M Company (NYSE: MMM), formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation based in Maplewood, Minnesota, a suburb of St. Paul.
With over 76,000 employees, they produce over 55,000 products, including: adhesives, abrasives, laminates, passive fire protection, dental products, electronic materials, medical products  electronic circuits and optical films. 3M has operations in more than 60 countries – 29 international companies with manufacturing operations, and 35 with laboratories. 3M products are available for purchase through distributors and retailers in more than 200 countries, and many 3M products are available online directly from the company.
Human Resource management is based in the efficient utilization of employees in achieving two main goals within a corporation or other type of organization. The first goal is to effectively make use of the talents and abilities of employees to achieve the operational objectives that are the ultimate aim of the organization. Along with realizing the goals of the organization, Human Resource management also seeks to ensure that the individual employee is satisfied with both the working environment and the compensation and benefits that he or she receives.
At times, the two main functions of Human Resource management (HRM), seem to be at odds with one another. There are certainly instances where it is impossible to arrive at solutions that are in line with both the aims of the company and the desires of the employee. When this happens, effective Human Resource management is faced with the task of finding a resolution that protects the interests of the company, but at the same time provides and acceptable level of satisfaction to the employee. This process can sometimes take a great deal of expertise on the part of the Human Resource personnel, but ultimately will help establish the best solution for all concerned parties.
Among the human resource issues that are generally handled by HR management personnel are the drafting of position descriptions for all levels of employment within the company, setting the standards and procedures that are used for hiring new employees, and determining benefits that are extended to existing employees. Disciplinary procedures, as well as procedures for recognizing employees for exemplary work, also fall under the province of Human Resource management. Human Resource management often seeks to provide the highest quality benefit packages possible, given the current financial position of the company. To this end, personnel concerned with Human Resources will seek the best in group health insurance, retirement programs, profit sharing, and vacation and personal days.
Preparing and maintaining a company employee handbook is often the province of Human Resource management. As part of that process, the management team will ensure that all guidelines and regulations contained within the text are in compliance with local, state, and federal laws that impact the status of employees. Human Resource management will also provide all employees with opportunities to understand the provisions within the handbook, both as part of new employee orientation and as an ongoing employee education process.
The staffing programs of Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. (3M) have enabled the company to develop a loyal and productive workforce. One of these programs is the so-called 'unassigned list' system. Under this initiative, employees whose jobs are being eliminated are given the opportunity to find another position within the company. This way, employees are given a sense that they are valuable and important to the company. Another policy, known as the 'designated requisition' program, involves getting high-quality individuals at the entry level. Through this activity, 3M is able to attract fresh college graduates by establishing strong relations with various universities and colleges. The company helps new recruits quickly grow within the organization by assessing if they are promotable even if they have only been hired for a short period of time. These initiatives help 3M develop a workforce that is not only high-performing but also committed to the company.
Diversified manufacturing giant 3M was given the Personnel Journal Optimas Award for vision. The St. Paul, MN-based firm has grown from its humble beginnings as a tape and sandpaper maker into a multidivisional and international company that requires regular infusions of new recruits to support its varied businesses. Its human resources department developed a strategic staffing system to meet this need in the 1980s called the Designated Requisition System. This process ensures that 3M is supplied with new employees regardless of economic difficulties. This requisition system involves making requests for personnel based on forecasts. However, regular employees whose jobs are eliminated are put on an unassigned list. This list includes employees who will be first in line for available positions.
A Historical Perspective
Historically, many organizations and their CEO's have viewed hiring, training, and employee orientation as the HR contribution to the corporate culture. While there is no question that orientation and training can make significant contributions in developing employee skills, values and fundamental assumptions about the world, those things that make up an organization's culture are less easily created, harder to change, and often impervious to quick fixes. HR professionals often end up in a hierarchical organizational structure with an authoritarian management style and are expected to contribute to high value/low cost products and services without an opportunity to create the organizational vision and strategic framework to make it happen. In the last few years, HR Professionals have started to break out of the stereotype of the "personnel manager" and are now being recognized as keys to organizational success.
The Training Question
Having taught in a number of HR Programs, I have seen the focus of training centered around the HR Professional understanding the legal issues intertwined with HR Management and the liability to the organization when these laws are broken. Graduates are trained to understand the operation of massive manual and automated systems that track employee statistics and generate data to feed administrative and operational requirements. HR has often been viewed as a support function and not a strategic function. This view generates practitioners who lack the strategic skills to tie HR systems to strategic structures that generate the cultural requirements for success in the organization. Often times this has been the case because their particular MBA program did not view strategic training as significant. Many of the problems these managers end up solving occur because the organization has not recognized that HR is key in creating long-lasting changes that affect the fundamental values of an organization. The intense efforts required to create a culture or transform an existing culture, are generally measured in months and years and begin with strategic vision. Only in recent years, has HR been seen as an equal partner both in the boardroom and also at strategic planning sessions. This partnership has been critical in establishing startup organizations and in transforming existing cultures.
What is Culture?
I once asked a CEO client of a large international organization to tell me what he thought organizational culture meant and he gave me the following answer: "It is a shared meaning by members of the organization, based on what has happened before and what they predict will happen in the future." Stephen P. Thomas defines it as: "A common perception held by the organization's members; a system of shared meaning." Thomas goes on to discuss recent research that suggests there are ten primary characteristics that, in aggregate, capture the essence of an organization's culture. These are; member identity-the degree to which employees identify with the organization, group emphass-the degree to which work activities are organized around groups, people focus-the degree to which management decisions take into account the effect of outcomes on people, unit integration-the degree to which units are encouraged to operate in a coordinated manner, control-the degree to which rules and regulations are used to control employee behavior, risk tolerance-the degree to which employees are encouraged to be risk seeking, reward criteria- the degree to which rewards are allocated based on performance, conflict tolerance-the degree to which employees are encouraged to air conflicts and criticisms, means-ends orientation-the degree to which management focuses on outcomes rather than on processes used, and open-system focus-the degree to which the organization monitors and responds to changes in the external environment. It is clear that many of the characteristics that determine culture are viewed as being on the "plate" of today's HR Professional. Maintaining, changing or creating a culture will be highly dependent
on the status of reruitment and retention processes, performance evaluation criteria, reward practices, management systems, innovation systems, training and career development activities, promotion procedures, organizational structures and labor relations practices.
A Strategic Framework
The strategic framework of an organization provides legitimacy for organizational activities, creates ownership and loyalty, and motivates creative ideas and innovative products and services. The ability of an organization to successfully link all of its business facets to its strategic framework is often the most difficult and challenging task it faces. A great example of an organization that linked its strategic framework to its daily activities far earlier than its competition was the 3M Corporation. 3M had a strategic framework that established HR strategies tied to its mission, vision and values. The company's strategic plan required a minimum of 50% of its profits to come from products no older than 5 years. 3M recognized that a strategic commitment to innovative products would pay off if it were tied to creating a culture that allowed its employees to be innovative and creative. When an employee at 3M made a mistake or had an idea that didn't work, he or she discussed it at a team meeting and the entire team celebrated the learning experience. Over time, a culture evolved where risk and innovation were viewed as necessary and complementary. 3M managed to link strategies to management and employee actions. It successfully linked corporate success to the development of new products and a lesser dependence on mature products. It linked its HR systems to its strategic framework by creating a set of HR strategies that provided; innovative compensation and reward systems, creative organizational structures, training and development plans tied to strategic outcomes, and targeted employee skills.
Creating the Culture to Support Mission, Vision, and Values
The culture that evolves in a particular organization is a complex outcome of external pressures, internal potentials, responses to critical events, and a number of chance factors that are hard to predict. As with any other business activity, the predictability of a cultural outcome can be enhanced by the planning and participation of the HR Professional in the creation or the transformation of the strategic framework. Mission, vision, and values dictate what impact the organization will have on the world over time, how the organization will create that impact, and what organizational values will guide the internal and external interrelationships of the employees. Creating the HR strategies to develop an organizational culture that supports the mission, vision, and values is both a science and an art. Because cultures evolve naturally, the task of minimizing the variables by generating complementary systems is critical.
The HR Strategic Plan
Identifying the specific HR strategies in a strategic plan requires some real visioning in respect to the characteristics necessary to help the culture evolve so that it is nurturing the mission, achieving he outcomes in the vision, and using the values of the organization. These strategies drive to issues of employee selection, top management's actions, and employee socialization to name a few. The clear goal of any selection process is to identify and hire individuals who have the knowledge, skills and abilities to perform the jobs within the organization. Employee recruitment and retention have and will continue to be one of the most strategic of all corporate functions. Developing the strategies that govern management actions is another story. This typically has the largest impact on the organization's culture and establishes the norms that filter down to impact all of the cultural characteristics. Insuring that management's actions support the cultural and strategic model being developed is critical. It requires a strategic commitment on the part of management and a clear HR leadership strategy to make it happen. Employee socialzation or the manner in which new employees adapt to the culture is another key part of the HR strategic plan. Clearly, a priority of the HR strategic plan is the communication of the norms and values that comprise the culture. This is a critical process that helps new employees develop a sense of their place in the culture and a dedication to the organization.
In 1995, 3M convened a global conference of HR professionals to
position leadership selection, assessment and development as the
primary HR priorities for the company. At the conclusion of the
conference, two HR professionals were identified to lead a team in
creating initiatives aimed at competency-based leadership
development. The first step was the creation of a global leadership
competency framework that would describe and drive the type of
leadership required by the company.
In keeping with best practices identified in literature regarding
competency-modeling,3 3M included in its leadership analysis those
individuals who shape the positions targeted by the model: in this
case, the members of the executive leadership team.
In order to ensure that the model would accurately illustrate the true
leadership needs of the organization, the project leaders worked with
three groups of senior managers to create, review and edit the
evolving competency model development. These groups would also
determine when it was appropriate to move to the next stage in
implementing the leadership development and succession processes
and tools that would be built upon the competency framework. The
three groups were:
! Executive Resources Committee (ERC)
CEO, business unit Executive Vice Presidents (EVPs) and HR
Vice President (VP). Responsible for selection and development
of individuals in the top 500 positions at 3M.
! Human Resources Policy Committee
Market EVPs, HR VP and several VPs of corporate service
functions. Mandates policies with human resources impacts.
! Operations Committee
CEO and 13 direct reports. Oversees 3Ms operations and approves
the formation or restructuring of staff or operating units.
Critically Reviewing Established Competencies
The project team used the identified stakeholder groups heavily in
reviewing 3M’s current set of competencies and revising them to
reflect the company’s current business environment. These groups’
roles in critical stages of the competency model development process
are outlined below.
! Ensuring fit of new competencies with leadership philosophy
Project leaders met individually with each member of the
Executive Resources Committee to review current competency
materials and discuss leadership philosophy, business complexity
! Building consensus for the leadership model
The project leaders also presented several drafts of the competency
model to the Human Resources Policy Committee. Discussion
surrounding the phrasing and interpretation of the competency
definitions helped clarify leadership philosophy and facilitated
At the end of this process, the group had made several revisions to
competency labels and definitions (See Figure 1 for examples) and
finalized a set of 12 identified leadership competencies.
Creating a Framework for Revised Leadership Competencies
The company further refined the model by organizing the 12
identified competencies into a framework that described how these
competencies might be developed over time.
A group of HR practitioners from across 3M’s global operations
distinguished ‘fundamental,’ ‘essential’ and ‘visionary’ clusters of
competencies that would help clarify the applicability of the model to
experienced, junior or potential future leaders.
Rationale for Change
Innovation Nurturing Innovation
! The use of ‘nurturing’ highlights the importance of proactively creating an environment in
which staff can freely exchange ideas, challenge the status quo and learn from failures
! Emphasises leader’s role of mentoring idea originators through all stages of a product’s life
Business Health and
! Stresses the importance of delivering results; avoiding the implication that growth should be
pursued at all costs
! Encourages leaders to manage all organizational subsystems to be ‘vibrant and flexible’
Systemic Change Integrated Change
! The removal of ‘systemic’ was intended to avoid the perception that the competencies were
expressed with jargon
! The term ‘integrated’ would be more clearly and widely understood
Effective Analysis of
Capable of Handling
Multiple, Complex and
! Acknowledges the existence of paradoxical leadership situations
! Introduces the concept of using judgment in leadership
Gives and Seeks Open and
! Highlights the reciprocal nature of the feedback process, to overcome the one-way, top-down
implications of the original statement
! The term ‘authentic’ communicates the expectation of candor
3M’s leadership competency framework reflects several
recommendations from literature regarding the construction of a
useful competency model, including relating the competencies to
realistic workplace practices and expressing them as outcomes rather
than as procedures.5
The expression of the competencies as outcomes allows direct
demonstration, observation and assessment. In addition, 3M’s work
with senior executives in the development stages ensured that the
model reflects a third best practice: the competencies are expressed in
language that is familiar to those people who will make use of the
Anchoring Leadership Competencies in Behaviors
In order to ensure that the organization could utilize the competency
model effectively for the purposes of assessment, development
planning and succession planning, it was important to ‘anchor’ the
identified competencies in observable leadership behaviors. This
would enable current executives to pinpoint which aspects of
leadership they were delivering on, what their development needs
were, and would clarify for more junior employees the paths to
executive roles at 3M.
The project team’s objective was to describe, in behavioral terms,
what is a high degree of leadership competence. In order to identify
relevant behaviors at different levels of competence, the global HR
team conducted critical incident interviews with 70 executives across
Critical incident interviewing is a long-established method of
identifying the characteristics of effective job performance.
Individuals in the position being analyzed are asked to identify
behaviors or activities that can be demonstrated to be critical to either
effective or ineffective performance.7
The process used by 3M to identify definitive behaviors indicating
leadership competency is described below.8
1. Members of the global HR team met in pairs with individual
participating executives and discussed with them descriptive
examples of individuals or incidents associated with a high degree
of competence in two of the identified competency areas.
2. The discussion yielded a range of behaviors associated with each
of the two competencies.
3. The team identified three to five of the revealed behaviors —
which were observable on the job and generalizable across the
world’s regions and markets — as definitive indicators of highlevel
Last edited by anjalicutek; January 21st, 2011 at 11:27 AM..
Re: Human Resource Management of 3M Company
Re: Human Resource Management of 3M Company - June 13th, 2015
Functions of Human Resource Management
2. Training and Development
3. Professional Development
4. Benefits and Compensation
5. Ensuring Legal Compliance
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