Managing Teams and Six Sigma

Managing a Six Sigma team is a considerable responsibility. Six Sigma is a team process and requires cooperation at many levels. No one person can manage a Six Sigma project on their own. Just as it is the organization that benefits from Six Sigma, it is the organization that truly manages Six Sigma. Yet, that management must be led by specially trained individuals.

Success in managing Six Sigma teams begins with the top of the organization. Company leadership must give the teams the resources and the authority to apply Six Sigma concepts to their daily activities. They must also ensure that organizational goals are aligned with Six Sigma projects and that any roadblocks to Six Sigma deployment are removed.

The proper selection and training of Six Sigma team leaders is also critical as they have the most direct responsibility for managing the Six Sigma team. A Six Sigma Black Belt is the team leader and the key change agent for the Six Sigma process. The role of the Black Belt is to facilitate the Six Sigma adoption as part of the culture. They lead, and manage Six Sigma teams to sustain significant bottom-line results. Black Belts ideally are people previously experienced in leading cross-functional process improvement action teams who have been trained in the Six Sigma methodology. The Six Sigma Black Belt should demonstrate team leadership, understand team dynamics, and assign team member roles and responsibilities.

Managing a Six Sigma team comes down to two important aspects: leading and mentoring. As the team leader, a Black Belt needs to be directly involved with the project team. This is a crucial element as it enables the business to cut through and implement improvements quickly and efficiently. Six Sigma includes tools and practices that replace reactive habits with a dynamic, responsive, proactive method of management. As the team leader, the Black Belt must be being willing to adapt to circumstances including the need to accept – and manage – occasional setbacks. This includes handling group conflict and “problem people” and minimizing out-of-control meetings and personal interactions.

The Black Belt must also be a mentor to everyone on the team and develop a mentoring process. They must ensure that proper guidance is given for the new candidates immediately after their training. This will ensure that the course corrections are made regularly and the projects get completed on time. Six Sigma creates an environment that supports true teamwork and the Black Belt can go a long way toward enabling a positive and productive team environment. During the project, the Black Belt should continually Structure the team and its actions to best utilize the disparity in knowledge and techniques of the team members and increase project member morale. Always, the Black Belt should look at every circumstance as an opportunity to help instruct and improve the individual team members and the organization as a whole. This is what Six Sigma is all about.

Peter Peterka is President of Six Sigma US. For additional information on Six Sigma Black Belt or other Six Sigma Certification programs contact Peter Peterka at:

Author: Peter Peterka Google

Published 09/1/2008