A Lean Six Sigma Certification can open new doors

As more companies embrace Six Sigma, the need to hire and train employees in the methodology grows. One issue facing beleaguered managers and human resource departments is how to determine whether an applicant truly possessesthe Six Sigma skills required by the company. If he or she has a certificate, does it have any value? If not, how does your organization verify employees’ Six Sigma skills? Once you get beyond the marketing hype of Six Sigma, what will really help your organization eliminate or even prevent problems?

These questions and many more based on your particular needs should be addressed as you review what you and your organization will accept as qualified certification.

This article presents commentary on important items that apply to the value (or lack thereof) of Six Sigma certification in your organization.

Always understand your needs first

Whether you decide to grow your own Six Sigma practitioners or hire from the outside, management must understand the role that it wants Six Sigma to play in the organization. Just stating in a job posting that a person must be Six Sigma-certified is meaningless unless the organization knows what it really wants.

The first step in any good Six Sigma program should be a needs assessment of the organization. Management must understand the skills that current or future employees have or should have and then review the gap between the organization’s goals and its use of Six Sigma.

Some of the questions that should be reviewed include:

• What internal resources already exist to teach any of the needed tools, techniques or methodologies?
• What related tools and techniques (as prescribed by typical Six Sigma processes) does the organization currently use?
• How well do current employees really know how to use these tools and techniques?
• What level of understanding about Six Sigma deployment (e.g., methodology, team building, change management, voice of the customer, cost of poor quality, etc.) should each employee have?
• Are there any potential barriers to certifying individuals in Six Sigma that are counter to your work practices? For example, some unions don’t allow testing of the unionized workforce.

What are the benefits of a Lean Six Sigma Certification?

Simply being able to put Six Sigma Certification on your resume proves your commitment to improving your business acumen and analytical skills, not to mention your commitment to improving the business within which you work. In short, a Six Sigma certification makes the recipient stand out from the crowd.

That, in turn, can lead to better job opportunities and improved salary. It’s not easy. Another reason Lean Six Sigma Certification demand so much respect is that they are not easy to attain, and executives and hiring managers at major companies know this.

Those who know Lean Six Sigma are knowledgeable in dozens of different methods:
1. reduce costs;
2. increase revenue;
3. streamline business processes and improve employee buy-in.

Lean Six Sigma training also prepares students for a leadership role. Once the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt level is achieved, a person is not only educated on the methodologies of Six Sigma, he or she is prepared to become a change agent within their organization, leading efforts to improve processes and the quality of what is delivered to customers.

Achieving Lean Six Sigma Black Belt status can open the doors for promotion into upper management, as well as improve your chances of obtaining a job with a different employer should you want to leave your current position. It’s not difficult to see why a person with these skills and a Lean Six Sigma certification to prove it would be an attractive job applicant.

What is behind a certificate?

Once you understand your needs, you’ll have a better idea of what to look for from a potential Six Sigma-certificated employee. In the same way, if you’re looking to hire an outside organization to train your employees and issue a certificate, you’ll have a better understanding of what kind of knowledge and experience that certificate should guarantee.

Someone claiming certification to some level of Six Sigma (Champion, Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt, Master Black Belt, etc.) is probably referencing a test that he or she passed to demonstrate his or her understanding of the appropriate level of Six Sigma theory.

Many consultants, universities and professional organizations use these exams to verify that examiners understand the material from the training process. Many organizations (e.g., GE, Honeywell, Motorola, Ford, etc.) have also established Six Sigma certification programs that indicate the performance level gained while working on Six Sigma projects. Black Belts typically have to complete two successful projects in order to be considered certified.

Questions that should be asked of any certification provider include:

• How long has the program been in existence?
• How is the material updated?
• How are certificate holders checked or re-evaluated to ensure that they maintain a certain level of proficiency?
• How often is the certification process itself reviewed and updated to meet evolving trends?

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