Training Black Belts or Hiring Them — Which Is Better?

The Black Belt Theme

A certified  Six Sigma professional is one who is an expert in explaining as well as deploying Six Sigma philosophies and principles, including managing supporting system and tools. A Black Belt professional understands team dynamics and has a complete understanding of all the models of Six Sigma and the ability to identify non-value-added elements and activities.
Training Versus Hiring Black Belts

Assume that a business has decided to fully deploy Six Sigma. The organization needs to decide on the timeline and assemble an expert  Six Sigma team.

Given below are some advantages and disadvantages that the businesses may consider before deciding on hiring or training:

Advantages Of Internal Black Belts

•    From the point of view of investment, though the investment is larger the returns in terms of positive moral and cultural change can be even higher.

•    From the point of view of employee loyalty, promoting internal staff always reinforces the employee’s loyalty towards the business, which is very important because then the employee will then try his level best to live up to the trust of the company.

•    If we look at it from the point of view of familiarity with the company processes, nothing can be better than internal Black Belts because as they are already on the process, once trained they only work faster and better.

•    Internal staff also has a familiarity with company structure and they use this knowledge to achieve better results. As they are familiar with the staff as well, they are able to choose the best possible Six Sigma candidates.

•    Internal Black Belts are also more equipped to apply six sigma tools in the company processes. Thus shortening the learning curve.

•    Internal green belts can develop their career easily by staying in the company’s Six Sigma team. This enhances the employee’s spirits and dedication towards the work.

Disadvantages Of Internal Black Belts

•    Investment is substantially greater for training than hiring.
•    Sometimes existing employees can take the loyalty factor for granted and still perform at the same level.

•    Familiarity and experience with company processes may prevent the employees from thinking ‘outside the box’.

•    The biggest hurdle that familiarity with company structure can pose is that it becomes difficult to manage the team and resources when they change roles from being peer associates to Black Belts and team leaders.

•    It is often noticed that since internal Black Belts have no prior experience of being in that position, they often choose an inappropriate tool. Thus, reducing productivity and leading a culture change.

•    After receiving training, it often happens that the person is sought by many organizations that are ready to pay bigger paychecks. In such cases often the employee leaves the organization.

Advantages Of External Black Belts

•    Investment amount is lesser in comparison to training.

•    Most of the time when a person is hired, he is loyal by default during the initial phase. If the company treats him well this loyalty becomes permanent.

•    External Black Belts are true champion team leaders and Six Sigma experts. They come up with more creative solutions as they are not familiar with company processes and this makes them think out-of-the-box.

•    External Black Belts choose team members impartially on the basis of their skills and many a times it so happens that company employees are more receptive to an outside entity.

•    External Black Belts don’t need any additional training. Their learning curve is thus non-existent.

•    Career development can never be an issue with external Black Belts.

Disadvantages Of External Black Belts

•    Hiring costs are not to be taken lightly. A highly professional and experienced black belt will charge more.

•    Many times, external Black Belts consider themselves ‘hired guns’. They can leave the project in between and move on to another business that provides them with a fatter pay rate.

•    It takes time to be familiar with company processes properly in order to efficiently initiate a  Six Sigma project .

•    A communication gap gets created because the external Black Belt is not familiar with company structure. Also selecting a team and the implementation of strategy as a whole gets delayed.
•    The learning curve as such is non-existent for external Black Belts, but they do get slowed down because they are unaware of the company’s inner working processes.

In the final analysis, the decision to train existing employees to be Black Belts or to hire them from the outside must be made by each organization individually.  There is no right or wrong answer, but the organization’s objectives must be considered carefully.