It is important to resolve the resistance and change issues through well-planned communication plans. Six Sigma is not about simply undertaking technical improvements and statistical tool usage.
Improvement efforts have to be supported by good communication plans – and people skills play an important role in overall project success.
Six Sigma Project Launch
Six Sigma is not just improving the process. It is also about bringing in a Six Sigma culture to the organization. Communication has to be started from the point of project launch.
Projects are undertaken for different reasons. If it is communicated to the employees at an appropriate time, it can be helpful in reducing the fear of the project for any reason. A well thought out plan to communicate the aims of the Six Sigma project makes the process of improvement very easy for the team.
The medium of communication could be in the form of meetings, emails, etc.
The communication should explain what Six Sigma is, what its advantages are and how it differs from other quality initiatives like TQM and CQI. It may be even about basic concepts that are quite easy to understand.
It is important to anticipate and be ready to respond to questions, such as what is in it for the employees, how they will be affected, how will it affect the department and how everyone will be able to participate with their existing workloads.
It should also explain how it would benefit employees in terms of their career, job security, and so on.
When designing the plan, consideration has to be given to five major factors:
- Who the target audiences are
- What Six Sigma strategies need to be utilized
- How the process will be an ongoing one
- The use of various media for communication at various stages
- Clear and concise utilization of a variety of media
There are a large number of tools that can be used for communication.
Though face-to-face meetings are popular for a regular and ongoing communication process, other tools like emails, newsletters, brown bag lunches, CEO memos to employees, intranet postings, surveys and feedback reports and even quizzes are just as useful.
Advantages of Communication
Communicating with customers is also important when you are planning a Six Sigma project. When you undertake a Six Sigma project, the aim of the project is the customer satisfaction – not just internal, but also external.
Process improvements are useful not just to employees to reduce cycle times and output, but they are also useful in giving to the customer what they expect. Good communication can further help the team understand the CTQ factors of the business processes.
Similarly, when projects bring about improvements, they can be showcased to customers as well. Communication also helps resolve resistance issues that could snowball into major barriers to successful implementation.
If communication successfully tells the employees that there is full support of top management, and it is beneficial with no risk to them, then resistance can be reduced substantially.
Communication from the beginning till the end of the Six Sigma project is extremely important to project success.