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We are on the right track

Interview with 3M GSC Poland: Katarzyna Postawa, Brand & Communication Leader and Ewa Kamińska, Risk & Compliance Manager.

3M GSC Poland has been awarded the Golden Paper-clip (Złoty Spinacz) in the Internal Communication category for its campaign Brilliant in Quality. Congratulations! How do you feel?

Katarzyna Postawa, 3M GSC Poland: We are extremely chuffed as this award supports our belief that we are on the right track. The 3M GSC Poland team is conscious of the relevance of continuous development and improvement while being aware of the enormous effort required on employees’ part. Our objective is to motivate towards the acquisition of new knowledge and to provide necessary support at every stage of this process. We have a big say in whether this is a miserable undertaking or an enjoyable challenge we embark on together. The Brilliant in Quality campaign is an apt example of this approach.

Let us start from the beginning. What is the campaign about, what was its purpose / backdrop?

Ewa Kamińska, 3M GSC Poland: A crucial element of our mission is the provision of the highest level of customer service – and we have been continuously improving this particular area of our expertise. In 2019, we made a decision to launch a certification programme of our quality management system according to the requirements of the international standard ISO 9001:2015. This standard demonstrates that an organisation is not only compliant with the most exacting quality management guidelines but also adheres to all its specifications.

The certification process requires the implementation of many new rules, which understandably makes the entire procedure very time-intensive and rather complicated. On top of that, the successful completion of the certification process is determined by an external audit which requires the participation of the company’s employees randomly chosen by the auditor. Therefore, the entire 3M GSC Poland team had to be made aware of the new standards and the quality management system in use.

K.P.: Having deliberated on the effective methods of getting our employees involved in this notoriously unexciting and unappealing process, we decided to organise a campaign which would allow all the team members to actively take part in this crucial change and introduce them to the new guidelines through engaging and unconventional exercises. What is more, we were keen to integrate our teams in achieving this common goal. This is how the idea behind the Brilliant in Quality campaign was created.

Why did 3M GSC Poland decide to commence the ISO 9001:2015 certification process?

E.K.: On one hand, we wanted to respond to the expectations and requirements of our internal and external business partners who tend to be certified. On the other hand, we were eager to receive external validation of our new quality management system.

Another reason, and at the same time another one of our goals, was the integration of management solutions for all the processes within the organisation. In this way, we wanted our client service to be given new standards and a transparent quality management system, and at the same time we wanted to boost our employees’ expertise and team competencies through the creation of new training systems and opportunities for employee development.

What were the biggest challenges when implementing this project?

E.K.: The greatest difficulty was the timeframe in which we wanted to become certified – the timeline was unnaturally short even at the planning stage. Another obstacle was the size of our organisation – the sheer number of employees and processes which needed to be systemised and thoroughly analysed by the entire team.

What activities did you plan out as part of the certification programme / project / campaign? How did you promote the recognition of these activities among your employees? And why did you choose these particular activities?

E.K.: Exemplary communication and symbiotic collaboration with all our stakeholders were undoubtedly of primary importance. Moreover, we wanted to create an appealing and attractive approach which would allow us to attain all our objectives linked to the certification process.

K.P.: In order to gather valuable insights (hidden needs), we carried out internal employee surveys. Our findings confirmed that our employees form a young team which values creative solutions. A large share of our employees are interested in computer games, enjoy having influence in the workplace and teamwork is what motivates them most. For these reasons, we decided to use a campaign based on a gamification concept and developed with the brand hero campaign in mind.

E.K.: We began by building an interdisciplinary team responsible for running the campaign. This gave the employees real influence on different types of decisions, such as the choice of the hero and the tasks included in the game.

Our hero was Qupi! (a combination of the word “quality” and “process”, letters “Q” and “P”) – a turtle inspired by the wellknown process-planning diagram. As a result, the brand hero was associated with quality while evoking positive emotions and highlighting the uniqueness of the project.

K.P.: Interestingly, the entire process was carried out using a device that most of our employees recognised from their childhood – TAMAGOTCHI. Although this device is commonly associated with having fun, it also teaches patience, consistency and the skills needed to keep the animal safe for as long as possible. TAMAGOTCHI helped us develop an engaging e-learning platform, and the entire process of knowledge acquisition was transformed into an enjoyable gamification mechanism.

Of course, the campaign necessitated regular communication with employees using both online and offline channels – one-on-one meetings and workshops, weekly newsletters, stickers and posters in the office, pleasant surprises, Q&A sessions with employees and much, much more. In order to optimise communication on an ongoing basis, we took advantage of the interactive Pulsetip tool, which was positioned inside the office space and accessible via a mobile application. This solution allowed us to update information in real-time.

What made you decide to organise a year-long campaign instead of simply providing employees with standard training materials and training sessions?

E.K.: Training and educational materials were an essential component of our activities. However, the campaign itself made the certification process much more attractive. What is more, it provided a tool which reinforced and consolidated knowledge through employee involvement – it positively impacted knowledge sharing across teams, as well as building a sense of belonging and employee identification with the company.

This is an example of activities which involve many people, which usually creates various design challenges. How was the collaboration between the communication department and the team responsible for preparing the company for certification?

K.P.: First and foremost, we made sure to create a robust project team, which was not only directly linked to QMS but also included a 3M communication team and the external agency Komunikacja Plus. Our cooperation was multi-layered and multidimensional, which allowed us to achieve the correct distribution and organisation of our workload. The use of dual leadership helped us to coordinate the entire team. Of course, we also organised regular meetings to review our progress and prepare ourselves for the subsequent stages.

What did the programme and the campaign achieve?

E.K.: The campaign had a favourable outcome. We have successfully implemented new guidelines and a quality management system, gaining certification in a very short time. Additionally, we have boosted employee engagement within the team – over four hundred employees were involved in the process itself. Moreover, the external auditor noted that the campaign allowed our employees to feel a considerable sense of empowerment and genuine influence over the final shape of the campaign.

Having received the certification – what is the situation today, are you able to see any added value resulting from ISO 9001:2015?

E.K.: Of course. On an operational level, we see a substantial improvement in our communication with partners – we speak one global language and work on compatible systems. In fact, we would find it challenging to work without an implemented QMS.

What is more, we continue to improve the system we have introduced – we have already passed the second audit and received a certificate. We are currently working on an ongoing advancement of the system. We have also become a leader in globally-oriented QMS.

What do the ISO 9001:2015 standardisation rules currently apply to at 3M GSC Poland?

E.K.: They are related to the broadly defined field of client service. On one hand, these are new guidelines for maintaining compliance with 3M’s strategy and global standards, achieving customer satisfaction, and striving for optimal quality and proactive risk management. On the other, they are connected to talent expansion within the organisation.

Why was internal communication also included in the standardisation process? How does such standardisation of internal communication look like in practice and what are the benefits for the organisation?

K.P.: The standardisation of communication was necessary as previously this area lacked consistency and clearly defined rules. Internal communication also had to become aligned with the standard of our global strategy. By adding it to the standardisation process, we have streamlined it and assigned specific roles to individual people – both within internal and external communication.

What are your conclusions? What would you recommend another company to look out for if it decided to face a similar challenge?

E.K.: Before everything else, it should be remembered that such processes call for considerable employee involvement. The undertaken activities must also be legitimate and compliant with the strategic path of the company. Otherwise, the entire endeavour will not be driven by a real need for change, which can affect the success and the overall outcome of the effort put in.

On the photo with Ewa Kamińska - Marcin Jaśniaczyk, 3M GSC Poland Quality & Process Leader; In 2019 – LSS Black Belt, leader of 4 projects in the QMS Certification Program.