Black Belts, who shoulder the bulk of the responsibility for Six Sigma project work, must be properly motivated to reach the levels of achievement expected of them. Here are my personal top five things they need some ideas:
1. Compensation: Compensation and reward mechanisms send a message to employees about the worth of the Black Belts to your organization and its Six Sigma endeavors. GE’s Jack Welch ties 40 percent of bonus compensation for managers to the intensity of their efforts and measurable progress toward Six Sigma quality in their operations.
2. Promise of Promotion: GE’s ranks of general managers, directors and vice presidents are full of Six Sigma leaders — Black Belts who proved their worth to the organization and were rewarded accordingly. Here’s a great idea for a Black Belt performance review to facilitate such a process.
3. Recognition: Motivation is highest when success is acknowledged. Verbal and written recognition is inexpensive and simple, whether done privately or in an open and public manner.
4. Permission to Fail: Most Six Sigma-conscious CEOs view mistakes as tools for the personal growth of both the Champion or Black Belt, and the organization, as it works toward Six Sigma status.
5. Become a Change Agent: The role of a Black Belt is typically described as a Change Agent and the two terms are frequently used interchangeably. Why then, if the change agent role is such an important part of the Black Belt identity, do we spend 4 to 6 months training the Black Belt candidates with maybe, just a few hours of training on the process of change?