The Black Belt’s ability to maximize team members’ contributions is critical to the success of the Six Sigma project. Many factors must be addressed.
During World War II Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) developed his famous hierarchy of needs study. He showed an individual needs hierarchy ranging from the most basic, to social, then esteem needs that he concluded needed to be met before a person can reach self actualization (all that one can become).
Applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to Six Sigma allows us to develop a prioritized list of needs necessary to address in order to optimize individual and team performance. The following list is the author’s derivation for how Maslow’s hierarchy of needs applies to Six Sigma team performance:
Physiological, Security, and Social Needs:
Team level personnel performance metrics should be established to reflect corporate or higher-level objectives and be coupled with cause-and-effect control factors that affect desired end results. Kaplan outlines three such core employee measurements as follows:
Aggregate team member measurements should be in the form of revenue per employee or per project. These figures should include the return after employee compensation or the ratio of output produced to employee compensation.
Member level effectiveness metrics can be important to address yet are often out of the scope of what the Black Belt needs to address in maintaining and or optimizing team performance.
Jack Welch (Past GE CEO) outlines potential-and-performance metrics that separate employees into categories of A (top 20 percent), B (middle 70 percent), and C (bottom 10 percent) type employees. He uses a normal distribution curve to show how the B employees are the “vital 70 percent” that need to receive the most support. He warns that without comprehensive metrics, some employees will appear to fit into category A yet really be category C employees.
Jack Welch also points out how variation is our enemy when it comes to process variation yet our friend when it comes to developing a work force. He distinguishes between the different types of people based on what he calls the four E’s and one P. They are:
Having Passion in their work
All human based objectives should be coupled to rewards of some sort. Gain sharing is one common method of distributing rewards to all team members when the team achieves a common goal. When using gain sharing, Kaplan suggests that management should measure high level gain sharing activity such as via the percentage of all projects with gain sharing, the percentage of projects in which potential gains were achieved, and the percent of individual team incentives linked to project success.
The Black Belt’s skills in maintaining and assisting team members toward self-actualization, and in monitoring and addressing key individual performance factors is critical to overall team success. With a well-maintained team comes team synergy, which results in happier, healthier, and more productive employees.