Six Sigma is not the latest buzzword in management circles. It has been here for quite a long time and companies have been raining accolades for this merit-worthy process. Six Sigma is a quality-oriented measure that aims to reduce management wastes, and improve internal efficiency through quantifiable tools. It is not only for product-based industries; six sigma can be applied to process-driven or service sector companies too. Six sigma process model consists the following methodology: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. The process is executed by Six Sigma Green Belts and Six Sigma Black Belts, who are overseen by Six Sigma Master Black Belts.
Six Sigma overhauls existing processes of a company. Naturally, line and staff have to put in coordinated efforts to meet the Six Sigma objectives. As far as the HR department is concerned, the key deliverables for meeting six sigma requirements would be some of the following:
Recruitment and Retention
Six Sigma has several designated roles for key players. Hence HR has to ensure that members for each role are carefully selected. Of these, the black belts are the key to the success of the Six Sigma program. It is the responsibility of HR to make sure that assessment tools identify the potential candidates for the black belt level. These candidates are usually picked from a resource of promising candidates. To keep the black belts well entrenched in the Six Sigma program, the HR team has to:
1. develop a comprehensive competency framework to tap existing and latent talents
2. build and execute training models that cover the requirements of the six sigma process
3. create a retention strategy to ensure that the black belts remain in their positions till the completion of the six sigma initiative
Compensation and Rewards
Rewarding team players of the six sigma process can be quite complicated. This is because the people selected for the six sigma are from every rank and order of the organization. Hence the rewarding scale cannot be flat. At the same time, it becomes a sensitive issue to compensate individuals on the basis of their level of expertise within the six sigma program. HR has to deal with this touchy issue with great care and consideration. Compensation must be on the basis of fairness, in addition to merit. Also, compensation and rewards should be designed to ensure that team players are motivated to take on further six sigma projects. This compensation structure should be in sync with the overall objective of the six sigma project.
HR can play a pivotal role in the knowledge management aspect of six sigma projects. There is immense learning in the six sigma process. During the implementation of the project, business processes are examined on a microscopic level, and their productivity is analyzed on a numerical basis. Valuable information about the company's core competencies would be lost if there is no data management. The learning process needs to be collated and disseminated within the organization. The Hr team can be the knowledge resource center that can enhance business capabilities.
During the implementation of the six sigma project, many management procedures would be overhauled. This would obviously lead to change in management thinking, working pattern and attitudes. Change of any type meets with a lot of organizational resistance. Here, it is important for HR to play the 'change agent' role and become the catalyst of change from old to new business processes. This can be achieved by establishing a proper communication network across the organization. For the six sigma project to succeed, HR has to propagate the benefits of the project to all reluctant managers.
This article covers most of the 'visible' functions of HR in the Six Sigma project. However, there could be many more dynamic roles that emerge during the six sigma process. HR hence has to be prepared to play multi-skilled role and adapt to the requirements of the six sigma project.