Since my staff in my department is entirely composed of students I have many advantages and disadvantages when creating teams and working on projects.The advantages of a student staff include the high turnover rates and those who see their time with us as just another job to kill time and get a paycheck.

Some of the advantages are that, as a collective whole, are like a coat of many colors.They are from different majors (i.e., business, computer science, mathematics, etc.) and are at various educational levels from freshman to graduate student.This coupled with a desire to learn real-world skills and to do something that looks good on their resume gives them an advantage that other teams may not possess.

Another aspect of our team was the size.Since we have a mere seven to ten people on average that left me to wear many hats…from champion to master black belt.This also left me with the ability to have a green belt, since I couldn’t devote anyone entirely to Six Sigma in our department.

The choice of green belt came about in two ways.First was to ask who had interest in that position.This cut the number of choices by more than half.Then I had to look at who had the best background and classes in statistical training, computers and project management. That helped narrow the number down again to my best choice, a junior business major with an emphasis in economics and computer science.

The remainder of the staff would be training in what Six Sigma was, why we were doing this in our department, what it looked like, and how it was linked to compensation for them. Their training would be less intense than in our pilot semester but they would begin to actually see a project in action so many things would become clearer to them.

At this point this new team structure went into place but how would it become a thread in our department, especially in our hiring of replacement employees?The first thing I did was placed Six Sigma, as it looked at that time, in our new strategic plan.This way I could plan for it and monitor progress easier.The second thing I did was develop a small community of practice where knowledge could be shared and captured so that what we were learning wasn’t lost the next year.

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