Understanding the VOC: Six Sigma Belt Satisfaction

Often Six Sigma focuses on the voice of the customer in terms of a public consumer or end business user/department. Yet how many times does leadership consider Six Sigma Black and Green Belts as a customer within the Six Sigma organization?

In order to successfully train and retain your change agents, a company must listen to their voice. While there are many methods to obtain feedback, a preferred method of mine is a satisfaction survey.

You can choose multiple opportunities to deploy the survey: during each phase of training, after completion of first project, on a yearly basis at a set time… the timing is a function of your organization’s culture and needs.

While I have come across some great survey templates, I still have had to tweak them for my needs. As for question content, there are several topics that I think would apply to most Six Sigma organizations.

  • Level of support from Process Owners, Deployment Champions, Managers, and Master Black Belts. Support can be broken down into technical, administrative, and general mentoring. Also, asking questions relating to approachability for the people mentioned above.
  • Employee understanding of how Six Sigma is aligned and integrated with other quality initiatives (such as CMMI, Lean, etc.) and with company’s business plan.
  • Time given to complete projects (crucial for Green Belts and others who may not being working Six Sigma projects in a full time role).
  • Training/Retraining feedback and requests in terms of understanding, usability, and value.
  • Understanding of audit process (if your company has one) for projects.
  • Clarity of the role (i.e. the role was what was expected to be).
  • Likelihood to refer the program.

Depending on the size of your organization, you may be able to drill down further and ask classification questions, such as belt type, training wave, number of projects completed, tenure with company and in role, etc. This information may further help segregate the voice of distinct customer groups.

You may encounter a naysayer who will point to metrics where project value has been achieved and argue that a survey is not needed. After all, if you’re achieving financial targets and improving the business, then your Six Sigma agents must be happy with the work they’re doing, right? Although business results may be achieved in the short term, this complacency mentality will cause the program to eventually fail. By listening to its inner voice, a sustainable Six Sigma initiative truly does “practice what it preaches” and only further commits to a culture of continuous improvement.

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