Advancement is part of business. Anyone who works for a company hopes to advance up the corporate ladder. Businesses have several ways for employees to better themselves. The most common is to receive additional training in related skills. These skills not only give employees further insight into better business practices, they also look good on a resume.
Many companies worldwide use the popular Six Sigma methodology. If your company is one of those that utilize this system, one way to advance is to become a Black Belt. As a Six Sigma Black Belt, you are given more responsibilities and the Six Sigma training helps prepare you for understanding a company’s goals and objectives.
What Is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma helps companies to increase their overall performance and the system can be used in any number of industries such as manufacturing, human resources, or customer service.
The way that Six Sigma work sis that it analyzes data that is used to put together a better production plan. This helps meet company goals and to increase customer satisfaction. It also helps to increase a companies overall profits by reducing wasted resources.
One of the dominant characteristics of Six Sigma is the use of belts to identify various stages of employees with specific training. The belt terms are based off of karate levels such as Green Belts, Black Belts, Master Black Belts, and Champions.
What Is a Six Sigma Black Belt?
Six Sigma Black Belts are the leader and supervisor positions within the Six Sigma method. Black Belts are in charge of Green Belts who report directly to Black Belt managers. As one of the highest levels, Black Belts are team leaders and are often in charge of company projects. They often act as coaches to other team members and are responsible for overseeing ongoing projects.
There are two levels to this rank. There are Black Belts and Master Black Belts. Black Belts operate under Master Black Belts and focus on the execution and delivery of a project. Unlike the lower level Green Belts, Black Belts work on overseeing Six Sigma principles full-time.
Six Sigma Black Belt employees have the following responsibilities:
- Identify and lead Six Sigma projects
- Select team members for a project
- To help increase company efficiency that is designed to exceed customer expectations
- Act as an internal consultant
- Act as a coach to Green Belts and project teams
- Communicate with project sponsors to develop a stratgey
- Full knowledge of how to implement Six Sigma tools
- Work closely and report to management
As mentioned, the second level to being a Black Black is the Master Black Belt. Next to being a Champion, this is the highest level an employee can reach in a Six Sigma system. A Master Black Belt mainly focuses on identifying a nd approving projects for use with Six Sigma. They also spend much of their time overseeing and making sure that Six Sigma applications are consistent across the board in every area of their company.
One of the main duties of Master Black Belts is to act as a coach to Green Belts and Black Belts. Most companies prefer that Master Black Belts oversee the training of the lower levels and act as a guide in order to make sure the training meets company standards. In the Six Sigma chain of command, Master Black Belts answer only to Champions.
How To Become A Six Sigma Black Belt
To become a Black Belt, you need Six Sigma Black Belt certification and training. There are numerous companies, business schools, and universities that offer courses. You can even take courses online, which is especially convenient if there are no programs available nearby.
You want to choose a company that will offer you competent training and knowledge. Whichever company or school you choose, you should make sure the courses offered are legitimate and reliable. The best way to do this is to conduct some research into several different companies that offer training. Compare what each one offers as far as required training. Do not be afraid to call up these companies to ask questions. If the companies are hesitant to answer, they probably are not the right company for you.
Training often involves anywhere from two to four weeks of coursework. However, training varies depending on where you take it. Some online services offer courses lasting a week while universities and trade schools last an entire semester.
Once your training is complete you are not automatically considered a Black Belt. You must successfully utilize the knowledge and skills you learned in completing a project. This is where the Master Black belt comes in. They guide and supervise the project to make sure you do everything properly. Once the project is complete and Six Sigma methods have been successfully applied, you gain your Black Belt certification.
Six Sigma Black Belt training and certification is all about details. Understanding Six Sigma principles involves knowing how to collect data and which data to look at. There are a lot of tools Six Sigma uses to do this with and if you do not learn the proper methods, then your results when applied to business will not be accurate.
Criticism of Black Belt Training
Despite the popularity of Six Sigma and the numerous employees that train to advance to the higher levels, the system has drawn some criticism. The main criticism is that with so many companies now offering training, the emphasis of Six Sigma has shifted from practical usage to receiving certification. It is no longer important to learn Six Sigma principles so that you can effectively implement them in your company. It is now all about receiving the certification because it looks good on a resume and qualifies you for advancement.
With the high number of business schools and companies offering training, it has become quite a problem to find one that is reliable. One of the main causes of this is that there is no standard for teaching Six Sigma. Many of the companies and schools do not fully understand Six Sigma well enough to teach it effectively. The result is a large influx of employees into the workforce who are certified as Black Belts but cannot use Six Sigma effectively.