Six Sigma and Lean FOR hr PROFESSIONALS - Beyond Z

How Six Sigma Impacts HR

Typically when we talk of improvements and breakthrough in companies we always focus on Operations, and in the manufacturing sector it is the shop floor and related activities.  Often it appears that organizations keep these initiatives away from functions such as Human Resource, Sales and Finance; with an assumption that these functions cannot be improved by the available tools in Quality Management, Six Sigma, Lean, Theory of Constraints etc.  I think there is tremendous opportunity in application of process improvement tools and methodology in these areas; and let us discuss the application of operational excellence tools in human resources in this article.

Let us address two questions, viz., a) why should HR encourage Six Sigma & Lean in the organization and b) why should HR be involved in Six Sigma and Lean.

Why should HR encourage Six Sigma and Lean in the organization?  

 One of the key roles of HR is to manage talent and improve competency of the employees. I see the infusion of initiatives like Lean Sigma greatly complements this activity.  Six Sigma is a project by project improvement methodology and the key activities it brings along with the deployment are training, formation of teams, selection of projects that have financial and quality impact and successful deployment of projects. So by bringing this culture in the organization it ushers in a host of skills sets that any HR person would love to see accomplished as part of the organization’s human resource development.  

Some of the skill sets and competencies that get developed with the implementation of Six Sigma are as below:

  •   Builds Team Building Competency
  •   Creates a learning culture
  •   Develops Coaching and Mentoring skills
  •   Improves presentation and training skills
  •   Improves Project Management skills
  •   Encourages Statistical Thinking
  •   Opportunity to set challenging targets
  •   Creates cross functional awareness / competency building
  •   Motivation through awards and recognition
  •   An alternate career path
  •   Encourages sharing and learning between strategic business units
  •   Helps Retention of key people

Most of the points listed above are self-explanatory and in a culture of train the trainer cyclic pattern everybody in the organization can learn the technical skills and also training, mentoring and project management skills.

Why HR should be involved in Six Sigma and Lean?

Now let’s look at the impact directly on the HR function, and how HR personnel will benefit. Broadly the impacts this will have on HR personnel are as follows:

  •  Improves Analytical Thinking
  •  Understanding of  Statistical Tools 
  •  Inculcates  Process Thinking and Approach  
  •  Improves decision making, based on data and analysis 

Problem solving, either IR related or otherwise, is important in HR and scientific and system oriented approach helps keep the decision unbiased and logical.  There are ample opportunities for using statistical tools in solving HR issues and can be applied in Strategic, Administrative and Operational HR Activities. HR personnel can get a better understanding of technical processes by engaging on specific projects and will also get familiar with the technical and Lean Six Sigma terms. Speaking the language of the operations personnel build greater rapport with the team.  

Some examples of projects a green belt or black belt from HR can work, with a focus on process improvement are as listed below:

  •  Recruitment and Induction Process
  •  Performance Management Process 
  •  Knowledge Management
  •  Human Resource Information System
  •  Training and Development Process
  •  Compensation Disbursement and Reimbursement Process
  •  Employee related administrative transactional processes
  •  Competency Development Process
  •  Job Design and Analysis

Strengthening of statistical and analytical skill sets among the HR personnel further helps in making robust qualitative and quantitative measurements in the areas of :

  •  Competency Measurement and Grading
  •   Roles and Competency Patterns
  •   Recruitment and Replacement Costs
  •   Employee Satisfaction measurement
  •   Compensation and Benefit Management
  •   Attrition Patterns
  •  Business Cost Vs Employee Cost
  •  Analysis of Welfare Schemes

Overall I would say that Six Sigma belts are trained to make statistical and practical validation of results, but at the same time belts are cautious of non-sense relationships and findings.  The belts are trained to make decisions in consultations with process experts and by obtaining appropriate sample sizes to ensure statistically valid results

In conclusion, Six Sigma is a powerful tool which every HR person should use to gain maximum advantage

Pradeep Kumar 

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  • He has personally mentored 550 individuals.
  • He has extensive practical experience and would share the cases handled in the sessions.
  • Trained by Mckinsey Consultants as a Lean Practitioner, Rock Hill-USA
  • Certified MBB in Lean and Six Sigma by SBTI, Texas.
  • He has handled on site training and consulting in global sites at Switzerland, Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Belgium, UAE, Srilanka, Thailand, China,Japan, USA and across Indian cities.
  • His online candidates include people from Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Philippines, PNG, Denmark, Lebanon, Kenya.
  • Certified as CEO Coach by completing Post Graduate Program in Executing Coaching by CFI India.
  • Executive General Management Program, IIM Bangalore.
  • M.Tech. Quality Management from BITS Pilani.


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Jaibheem Deshpande, Vice President- BD (Training Division)

Jaibheem Deshpande has more than three decades of professional experience. His expertise is in driving Shop Floor Excellence and working with young managers to enable both process improvement and continuous people development. During the last three decades Jaibheem worked in multiple roles in Operations, People development and as Human Resource Manager in many multinational companies, including the TVS group and in CK Birla Group heading Learning and Development for two plants.

He has the unique combination of Technical and Human Resource domain specialisation and has delivered superior results to organizations by being a solid business partner to business heads and CEO. He is very passionate about People Development and in Mentoring individuals and groups. He has received several awards during his career and is certified in Out bound training and Facilitation


Abraham has more than two decades of experience in Quality Management and Operations, including designing quality, environmental and health & safety management systems, managing industrial engineering activities and heading a Plant.  He is an expert auditor of quality systems and in working with teams to implement robust processes that is sustainable.  Having worked in Aerospace and Automotive industry he understands the Industry requirements and is very meticulous in his approach in implementing the required standards.  He is also a trained Lean practitioner and support training and implementing Lean Manufacturing Systems. He also conducts Yellow belt Six Sigma training and supports Green belt training.

M.BALAJI, Principal Consultant, Management Systems

Balaji is a Mechanical Engineer with four decades of experience with the last thirteen years in Management consultancy.  His expertise is in Management Systems, with extensive experience in training, auditing and supporting implementation of Quality and Environmental Management systems.  He is also a qualified tool designer from NTTF and GTTC.

Balaji keeps abreast of the latest changes in international standards for implementing quality management systems and is a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 9001, ISO 45001, ISO 22163. Also auditor for  IATF 16949.  He is a  Lead Assessor for EXIM Bank award for Business Excellence model .  With more than a decade of experience in management consulting, he has conducted 600 man-days of training and 250 man-days of audits; working with more than 35 clients.

Pradeep Kumar, Chief Executive

Pradeep Kumar has about three decades of professional experience against his name.  With multi-location and multi-cultural exposure paired with a Master Black Belt in Six Sigma & Lean, Pradeep’s core expertise comes from over a decade of specialization in a large multinational manufacturing company. He is a Certified MBB in Lean and Six Sigma by SBTI, Texas and trained by Mckinsey Consultants as a Lean Practitioner in Rock Hill-USA.

He currently works with large multinational companies, helping them drive Operational Excellence and implement lean strategies. Pradeep also guides senior leadership towards excellence in execution. He has trained candidates in Lean & Six Sigma in India, China, Japan, Thailand, Europe, Middle East, Sri Lanka and the USA; and mentored more than 500 Engineers and Managers in Lean & Six Sigma in India and overseas.  His expertise lies in understanding gaps in current systems, designing more effective processes and mentoring teams to swiftly achieve organizational goals