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Managing Six Sigma Change Resistance

Jun 27, 2008
Without the acceptance of employees, Six Sigma process improvement is bound to fail. Resistance to change has to be anticipated by the Six Sigma project team.

Resistance may be shown by employees by ignoring the new process, disagreeing with the benefits, or criticizing the new tools or software applications.

Communication is the Key

Six Sigma team leaders must keep reminding employees of the vision of the organization. It helps to maintain employee morale and belief in the change process. Frequent communication about the positive results of any basic changes will help build up faith in change among employees.

When a company implements Six Sigma, some people will show resistance by ignoring the new process. Change agents can illustrate with examples the new processes being merged with the existing processes and giving better results. They can make the process impossible to ignore by linking it to annual reviews, incentives and appraisals.

Six Sigma Training Sessions

If employees are not trained properly and clearly on the new process, then they may resist, it considering it to be very difficult to implement. This will happen if they are accustomed and experienced with another process for a long time. Clear communication by way of newsletters and emails or discussions will make Six Sigma implementation a lot easier

One-on-one training is also a solution, as some people absorb changes better in a situation in such a setting. Allow them to ask the simplest questions about the change, so that they return satisfied about the need for the change and the relevance of the Six Sigma implementation.

By making checklists about the various factors and providing helpful guidance or quick references, the processes can be made much simpler to implement.

Feedback Mechanisms

The most common way of showing resistance is by way of criticizing the new applications or tools. Keep a feedback mechanism for tool enhancement and continuous improvement. This helps give a sense of ownership to employees, and an improvement makes their contribution visible.

Though it may not be implemented in the end, the participation of each employee is very relevant to their acceptance of the change.

Unless the benefits of the Six Sigma implementation are clear, there will be resistance to change. If there is concrete proof - by way of charts or sheets showing the success of the implementation - the acceptability of the process becomes simpler. You should have examples of success stories in hand before rolling out the new process.

Never grant any exceptions to any process that needs even a minimum change. This will lead to more exceptions being expected or desired by others, which will result in the ultimate resistance to change. Never allow putting off the Six Sigma implementation to a further date than planned. If the change is beneficial, implement the project at the earliest opportunity.

Do not react to resistance with surprise; Six Sigma team leaders should expect it and plan accordingly. Your efforts in resistance management will help you overcome the greatest hurdle in managing Six Sigma implementation resistance from employees and managers.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for six sigma professionals including, lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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