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Articles  
Six Sigma & Human Resources = Organisational Effectiveness
 
 
  SECTIONS
Introduction
The supporting cast
The central character
Choosing the right characters
Change management
Working in teams
Culture shifts
Awards and rewards

Like TQM, Six Sigma is also gaining momentum in the corporate fraternity. But Six Sigma is not another filter in the production cycle; it is a process that detects and eliminates defects to achieve high standards of quality. Not restricted to one process or operation Six Sigma is accurate and effective.
Six Sigma is viewed as a merger of human and technological elements of an organisation. It can be successful only when the organisation strikes a balance between its people and the processes. GE's success is illustrative enough of this. Companies like Wipro, Tata Engineering and Motorola have implemented and completed Six Sigma projects successfully.


The supporting cast


Top

A comprehensive understanding of Six Sigma helps in appreciating the significance of HR. Six Sigma follows the DMAIC process that is define, measure, analyse, improve and control to enhance the business processes. Any process under Six Sigma produces only 3.4 defects out of a million chances to produce a defect. In a nutshell it is a structured method supported by statistical tools for accuracy and enhanced levels of performance.

The major roles played by the employees and their responsibilities are benchmarked on the basis of martial arts concepts like Black Belts and Green Belts.

A Sponsor is a senior executive who sponsors Six Sigma
A Leader is a senior manager who is vested with the responsibility of implementing Six Sigma in the organisation
A Champion sponsors Six Sigma in a project. He could either be a middle or a senior executive. He ascertains that all the resources necessary to implement Six Sigma are available and cross-functional issues are solved
A Black Belt is a team leader for the Six Sigma projects who works on a full time basis. He is given a thorough training for two weeks on all the statistical tools
A Master Black Belt is one who has already successfully completed other Six-Sigma assignments in the past. He guides the Black Belts and provides help to the leaders and champions in keeping the initiative going
A Green Belt works on a part time basis on the projects of the Black Belts. He might sometimes even handle smaller projects independently. He also receives a two weeks training over the statistical tools and the methods used in implementing Six Sigma successfully into the projects
A Team Member is a person who has no specific training on Six-Sigma but has some general information about Six-Sigma. He primarily helps the Six-Sigma players in understanding the project
Finally, the Process Owner is the employee who is responsible for the process on which Six-Sigma is being implemented


The central character


Top

HR plays a crucial role in the implementation of Six Sigma in the organisation. They should prepare themselves with the nitty gritties of Six Sigma even if the organisation is not planning to use it presently. Organisations planning for it may not otherwise have enough time to understand and learn the process.

Some primary functions like recruiting, retaining, training, rewards and recognition are some areas where HR can make its presence felt. Other functions include ensuring team effectiveness, smoothening the culture shift, change management etc. Further they can be elucidated as below.


Choosing the right characters


Top

The Black Belts represent the Six Sigma projects because they implement the initiative. The experience and the initiative of these Black Belts helps in implementing Six Sigma across the organisation. Therefore, Black Belts have to be recruited with care.

HR should first assess the requirements of the position and then match it with the profile of an employee within the organisation. If the profile doesn't match then HR should try to look for candidates' elsewhere. They should help the Six Sigma leaders in selecting the right kind of people for the positions of the Black Belts by

Identifying a competency model that displays the right skill mix required for the position
Making a job description that provides relevant information about the roles and responsibilities of the Black Belts
Formulating a retention strategy that helps retain the Black Belts in the organisation after the 2 years rotation period is completed


Change management


Top

Six Sigma is a change initiative therefore, it has to be handled carefully. Otherwise it will encounter resistance. Employees have a lot of apprehensions about how Six Sigma would support the organisation's objectives. Since it is a change process, managers and employees might have to adapt new behaviours. Another cause for resistance could be that employees may feel threatened by the initiative. Therefore, HR should initiate strategies to ease the change process and increase its acceptability in the organisation. This could be done by

Formulating a communication strategy that addresses employees' concerns
Communicating the need for a change initiative, reasons and how it would enhance the performance of the employees
Conducting counselling sessions for the champions and leaders about the behaviours that would help the success or failure of the Six Sigma initiative

 


Working in teams


Top

Teams that are led by the Black Belts handle Six Sigma projects. If the teams do not work effectively then the projects fail. Therefore it is important for the team members to learn to work within teams. They should also be able to communicate with others in the organisations as a team because they will be carrying on the processes.

HR can help the teams work effectively by

Training the team leaders in managing conflicts, teamwork, communication and dealing with difficult members of the team
Providing guidance to the team members in using performance measurement tools to measure their own performance. This helps in identifying areas where they need help
Helping the Black Belts solve team related problems

 


Culture shifts


Top

The Six Sigma project members visualise a change of culture in the organisation once they start implementing Six Sigma. They look to a culture that is based more on data and is customer oriented. They want a culture that is positive and practical in its outlook and has quick decision-making mechanisms. But the project team members might not have the expertise to initiate the change process. HR can also make its presence felt by

Recognising the aspects of the present culture that may prevent successful implementation of Six Sigma
Guiding the leaders and champions in initiating the change process
Trying to find a way to align the present culture to the principles of Six Sigma instead of changing the culture

 


Awards and rewards


Top

Formulating a reward system for the Six Sigma participants is not an easy task. It gets more complex every time a new employee is added to the Six Sigma projects. The complexity exists because the Black Belts are absorbed from various departments or positions. Therefore their compensation levels also vary.

At the same time HR cannot ignore the benefits of having a reward programme. The returns of recognising talent and rewarding them are unmatchable. Absence of a proper recognition programme may result in the failure of the Six Sigma project because then the employees may not be motivated to work. Therefore, HR should provide the necessary help and guidance to the leaders in determining the mix of rewards and recognition, who should be rewarded, for what task and when.

HR can help the leaders by

Analysing the aptness of the current compensation package to support the Six Sigma initiative
Creating non -monetary reward and recognition programmes specifically for the Six Sigma projects



 
 

 

 
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