3M Headquarters, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The 3 questions are:

  1. As a manager, what is the most difficult situation that you have faced? How did you handle it?
  2. Have you ever used six sigma procedures to evaluate your work process?
  3. What responsibilities do you personally take on to create a favorable work environment for your subordinates?

 

There are a lot of problems encountered in business operations which the organization’s executives must face head on and resolve with all the resources and capacity available to them. In the case of 3M, despite its starting operations that looked promising due to its innovative output, performance dwindled through the years, and in the long run, the CEO of the company found problems that made 3M an over-sized company with dwindling funds, and research costs that do not give advantageous returns. The findings brought about the conclusion of laying off employees, and utilizing six sigma to remove unimportant procedures and processes that make unwanted costs, and construct strategic programs (Kwak & Anbari, 2006). The six sigma definitely works for companies, especially for its basic operations. Just like in the case of the manager who we interviewed, six sigma is considered by organizational leaders as one of the foundations that ensure operations are working smoothly and efficiently, and any unnecessary steps or elements are removed to cut costs. In our interview, the manager said that the system is particularly crucial in the functions and operations of the finance department, which work on statistics and analysis that give the company an overview of where it is right now, and where can it go from its present position, in terms of financial and business performance. While 3M somehow made some positive results with implementation of six sigma such as significant losses in capital spending, it still experience problems. CONTROL is crucial for the company to be out of its difficult ordeal. Aside from introduction and implementation of programs such as six sigma that will improve quality of processes in the company, innovation is key, hence the need for investing on people who will bring in talents and innovative ideas to the table.

 

Aside from bringing in new people who can be assets, the company must also take care of its current talents, and be ready in taking tough actions or decisions involving them.  As human resources are the blood that will keep a company running, taking care of them and creating a good working environment for them is top job for any company leader. Managing people is easier if they are being taken care of (Lado & Wilson,1994). As the manager said in the interview, providing them with all the resources they might need helps him to keep his employees focused on their tasks, and as overall result, the operations in the company run efficiently, and the company lives another day in good business. A good and strategic manager such as the one we interviewed takes all the corporate decisions necessary to ensure a quality life and working conditions for the company’s workers, as doing so will ensure that the expectations for the company will be met. Unsatisfied workers tend to laze around, become unproductive, and sometimes, resign. These incur significant losses to the company.

 

Company leaders will eventually have to be in control of problems, especially if the source of such problems are certain employees. According to the interview with a manager our group has conducted, there are a lot of factors and situations met in a business company at varying difficulties. He did mention lack of resources, operational failures/disruptions, and other scenarios that may intervene with the smooth flow of day to day operations, but the most difficult part for him is firing an employee, and personally discussing such decision face to face with that employee. One can imagine the difficulties that 3M’s CEO and management team have to swallow in laying off its employees to save the company. Human emotions are not tangible entities that we can control, no matter the professionalism and the necessity behind them. The manager is a person, too, and of course, he understands the negative emotions as well as possible undesirable repercussions of losing a job, but as a manager who knows that the action will be advantageous for the company, he must toughen up and be in control to get the job done. Perhaps, the person is not an asset anymore to the company, or is even a hindrance to other workers who are doing their jobs perfectly, but in managing a business, there will come a time that people have to be let go to usher great potential for the company. For instance, letting go of some employees who can’t bring new things on the table, and hiring others with greater talents that will innovate a company and bring it to a better position.