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Communications And Six Sigma

Aug 17, 2007
Implementing new work techniques, strategies, or management systems in business organizations is often a daunting task for managers, as employees usually resist change. This is a fact acknowledged by several modern management theories. As such, any business organization that is planning to deploy Six Sigma needs to concentrate on building an effective communication system so that employee morale and productivity are not affected.

Employee Awareness Is Critical

Six Sigma projects are not limited to a particular set of employees or functional department and are effective only when the organization as a whole understands the need and scope of such projects. The philosophies and techniques used in Six Sigma need to be communicated to everyone in the organization through clear and open communication channels, transcending departmental barriers that would otherwise cause confusion. Making the employees aware about the positive aspects of Six Sigma and how it can help in improving their efficiency will allow managers to effectively overcome any resistance, either intentional or just because of inertia.

Methods And Processes

Teams comprising competent employees selected for implementing Six Sigma concepts in their work processes need to be provided with all of the requisite tools and information by the management. Various aspects involved in Six Sigma projects such as rationale, expectations, goals, and sequence of steps in the process need to be clarified beforehand to reduce confusion during the implementation stage. Case studies related to Six Sigma projects verify the fact that teams with clear goals and objectives achieve a lot more in a shorter period under all circumstances. As such, documentation of Six Sigma processes becomes all the more important for resolving any complications during the deployment stage. It is necessary to create a schedule, outlining the strategies that will help in effective implementation and take the process from its present state to one that is within statistical control and in line with the organization's Six Sigma goals. The schedule also needs to clearly define the role of every employee in relation to his/her contribution during the implementation stage.

Some Issues Of Concern

Lack of clear and effective communication channels is one of the main reasons responsible for frustration and underachievement when it comes to implementing Six Sigma concepts and philosophies. The problem is complicated, as it is very difficult to determine whether the communication provided by the management is enough or falling short of the organization's needs. Very often managers may believe that they are effectively communicating with the employees, but in reality, they may easily underestimate the number of issues on which employees need information.

Improving Communication

The best way of improving communications is to assess the situation from an employee's point of view. This way the management can easily decide the type of information needed by the employees, identify their confusions and worries, and select the most effective channel of communication. As communication is a two-way street, it is better to ask the employees themselves about their needs and expectations either through written or verbal contacts. The management can organize open-house sessions or get feedback through e-mails or questionnaires.

Be Realistic

The managers need to be aware that it takes time to develop effective communication systems and as such, they need to remain honest, clear, and compassionate for building trust among the employees. It is important not to promise anything that cannot be fulfilled, as nothing turns off employees more than the feeling of being betrayed. Genuine, considerate, and unvarying communication is thus essential for building employee engagement throughout the Six Sigma deployment process.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta
Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online href="http://www.sixsigmaonline.org">six sigma training and certification
classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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