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How To Turn Resistance Into Support For Lean Six Sigma

Dec 28, 2007
Employees often do not lend their full cooperation and support because they are of the opinion that they will lose their jobs after Lean Six Sigma is finally implemented. Some employees may also think that they may be asked to work more or shoulder multiple responsibilities; as such, they often resist the changes being suggested.

Such confusion reduces employee morale, something that needs to be addressed as soon as possible if the implementation is to be completed within the stipulated time and costs. Explained below are some of the techniques that can be used for turning resistance into support for Lean Six Sigma.

Determining The General Mood Among Employees

First, the objective should be to find what exactly are the employees making of the proposed changes. It is obvious that different employees will have different views on the subject, but since it would not be feasible to consider everybody's viewpoint, it would make sense to identify a general thought pattern that is apparently affecting the majority. For gauging the general mood, the organization can make use of questionnaires or conduct personal interviews of a selected group of employees.

However, this needs to be done in a proper manner because employees generally fear that what they say can be used against them. To make employees more comfortable and to get the truth from them, it is necessary to make it clear to them that whatever they say will be kept confidential and will have no affect on their immediate job prospects. Further, the organization also needs to ensure that such communication is made by a senior person who commands the respect and admiration of the employees. This is necessary because it is highly unlikely that employees will believe somebody with whom they are not familiar, especially if they think that their jobs are at stake.

Communicating The Facts Through Training

After identifying the main conflict areas, management can plan and conduct specialized training sessions that aim at clearing common confusions and making the employees more comfortable with the idea of change. The employees need to be informed with the help of hard facts and figures so that they start believing in the necessity and importance of the changes being suggested. After the initial introduction, the organization needs to provide the requisite level of training to employees depending on the type of responsibilities they will be required to shoulder after the Lean six-sigma implementations are over.

Employees react indifferently at times, especially when their jobs are at stake, but this does not mean that they do not have a rational mindset. Employees know what is good or bad for them; all they need is proper communication and training that will make them more comfortable with the proposed changes and allow them to embrace new ideas being brought about by Lean Six Sigma implementations.
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 lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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