Nayism 39: Our organization is flat and has little turnover. There just aren’t any leadership positions available for Black Belts when they repatriate.

Organizations with little movement might find themselves getting a little stale when it comes to repatriating black belts. Is there anything you can say to clear the air? Here’s what I say . . .

Good workforce planning is critical in assuring proper selection and repatriation of black belts. The long term benefit of having black belts repatriate into leadership positions is that they become a catalyst for organizational transformation.

To address this issue, start out by looking at the data. Find out how many leadership placements have taken place in the past couple of years and compare that to the number of black belts that need to repatriate. If there is truly no opportunity for placement/promotion into a leadership position, this organization will need to select existing leaders to be black belts and then return them to their leadership position in a couple of years. After the first wave of leaders are picked, it will start a rotation cycle that provides repatriation opportunities created by vacancies due to the next wave of leaders becoming black belts. Any mismatch in skills can be addressed by allowing the Black Belt to work projects that broaden their skills in areas where they will repatriate. This provides the integration of Black Belt skills into leadership as well as job rotation opportunities to keep folks from getting stale or bored with their jobs due to lack of opportunity for movement/promotion.

If the data shows that there have been ample leadership placement opportunities in the past couple of years, then the real issue is not about lack of repatriation opportunities. It is about black belt selection. Good workforce planning should drive the organization to select a black belt that possesses good leadership skills and has been tapped for future promotion into a leadership position (1-3 years). As a designatedcurrent or futureleader, they were going to land the leadership position anyway. All you’ve done is given them some additional Six Sigma skills before they got there. Experience has proven that when the right black belt is selected, the organization usually has several opportunities ready and waiting when that person is ready to repatriate.

So it’s not about trying to make your black belt a leader. It’s about picking a leader to be your Black Belt.

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