Simply Engaging Talent.

Struggling to recruit or even identify the right people?

Not getting enough suitably qualified and experienced applicants responding to your job adverts?

External recruiters not living up to expectations?

Perhaps your company should be focusing more on building talent communities (and not just on social media), organising and attending regular real time events, for example getting more actively involved in outreach programs to engage with the future work force (Schools, Universities etc).

Talent acquisition is not about posting jobs on LinkedIn or jobs boards and hoping the right people apply or putting a vacancy out to a load of recruitment agencies and hoping they can fix your problem, its about having your finger on the pulse, knowing what’s happening in the market and constantly being connected to the global talent pool, identifying potential skills shortages early on and doing something about it.

Talent Acquisition & Management / HR professionals in your organisation should ideally be aiming to attend (as often as reasonably possible) industry conferences or events related to your companies business sector and operations that are not HR focused. It always amazes me that you rarely see people from these functions / departments proactively engaging with people from other organisations face to face at these types of gatherings as important ambassadors for your business.

Keep it simple, keep it real, never forget it’s all about people!

Isolated diversity tree hands


 

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The Customer Service Killers.

Welcome to my first blog post in a long time!

I have been very busy launching my new business over the past few months and many of my experiences during this time have inspired me to write this latest post.

I want to share some thoughts about customer service and importantly in my view, how automation, from automated dialing systems, to far to heavily scripted call centre protocols is literally killing the ability of many organisations to provide an acceptable level of customer service.

Over the last few months I have experienced some shockingly bad customer service from various customer service call centres of organisations which provide pretty standard services to my business.

bad customer service.jpg

I have to say these bad customer service experiences weren’t due to the call handlers themselves being deliberately rude or unwilling to help, in fact its more to do with the way the service has been set up and the fact that customer service (certainly in call centres) has become more of an admin type function which completely defeats its purpose, which in my view should be to provide excellent customer service!

A good example of a bad experience due to automation is the start of the phone call when you get bounced around an automated dialing system… for what seems like ages, then occasionally you press the wrong option and have to start the whole painful process again. By the time you actually get through to speaking to a real person (which often is not even an option these days), you can be so annoyed and frustrated that the call handler is already on their back foot before they have even had a chance to speak.

This brings me to my next point, in a few of my recent experiences the call handler has appeared to be so focused on reading whatever script they use, they are not actually listening to what I have been asking them. Listening is one of those very basic soft skills that literally makes or breaks people in business.

“Good listeners tend to get on well in business, in fact in life in general!”

I have noticed that most of the call handlers I have dealt with have been taught to paraphrase in order to demonstrate they understand my request, this makes perfect sense, unless of course they weren’t actually listening in the first place.

Here’s an example of a recent call I made which demonstrates how this can go so horribly wrong so fast (In this case my call was with a bank).

Me: “I would like to cancel a standing order please”

Call Centre Agent: “Thank you for your call, allow me to understand, you are calling because you want to cancel your credit card…”

Unbelievable.

What followed was a long winded and completely scripted discussion where every question I asked was repeated to me often incorrectly, causing me to have to repeat myself and then have it once again repeated back to me followed by (nearly every time) such comments as thank you for your patience, are you fine to be placed on hold, please hold the line, thank you for providing this information… blah blah blah (All delivered in a very robotic and insincere way).

I have a great suggestion for companies that operate in this way. Why not change the name of your customer service helplines, instead you could call them customer processing hinderance lines.

I found the below quote on a website about customer processing technology.

“This both speeds the back-office operation and makes customers feel that they have received a more customized and responsive service”

Rubbish. The way the vast majority of organisations are currently deploying this technology makes me feel like a number, it doesn’t feel customized in any way, and to top it all off it wastes my time.

I personally find it totally shocking that many service providers (often major multinational brands) have basically commoditized customer service which is generally the back bone of any organization whether B2B or B2C.

“Just because we can automate certain processes doesn’t mean we should”

Whatever happened to old school customer service, where the person on the end of the phone was a fully trained customer service professional who proudly represented their company and were regularly trained and constantly upskilled in order to provide exceptional customer service every time!

These days as business becomes more and more competitive I believe the winners will be those organisations which provide great customer service every time by ensuring their people are competent at providing exceptional customer service.

Those companies will build a reputation for excellence, they will win business by word of mouth and will ultimately be successful.

How did we ever get to this point in the world where companies feel it is good business practice to remove as much of the human aspect as possible from their frontline people to people interactions.

We use technology and install automated systems in order to be more efficient and to save costs and to supposedly to provide a better service to our customers. Using scripts for call handlers makes sense to ensure the messages shared with customers are consistent and professional but this has got totally out of hand as many use scripts in call centres as a quick fix to enable them to hire cheaper labour who they don’t have to train properly yet still keep some kind of uniformity across the business.

If doing so causes your customers to leave then its completely counter productive.

I am not saying its wrong to use technology, we should embrace it, but we should also use a bit more common sense, don’t try to cut corners and just use it sparingly.

Focus more on caring for your customers, focus on training and developing your employees to be exceptional and show them you care about their careers. In turn your employees will become amazing ambassadors for your brand, your customers will love you, and business will take care of itself.

I would love to hear about any organisations who have found the right balance between using customer processing technology and real life people to deliver outstanding customer service.

Please share your comments, lets give those companies the credit they deserve.


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Future Leaders Take Note!

Here’s some food for thought for those you of reading this who are at the early or mid stage of your career and have aspirations to become a senior executive within the Supply Chain & Logistics sector in the future.

If all goes to plan then in few years time you will be leaders in the Global Supply Chain holding a position such as CEO, Director, VP and possibly with Global, Regional or Country wide responsibilities.

Whether that’s working in Aviation, Shipping, Contract Logistics, or indeed managing Supply Chain functions in Retail, Manufacturing or Distribution etc (the list goes on) there is going to be one common factor which will be a priority for you all… you are going to need people.

The current Supply Chain and Logistics industry leaders are already struggling to bring fresh talent into the sector and this is an issue around the world. The fact that its a global problem was further reinforced to me over the last two weeks as I attended two separate conferences in Asia and Europe. The week before last I was at the Logisym Supply Chain conference in Singapore and just last week the IATA World Cargo Symposium in Berlin.

It was the first time in a very long time that I have attended any Supply Chain & Logistics related events outside of the Middle East yet the same issues around attracting and retaining people in the sector that are discussed regularly across the MEA Region also featured heavily at both of these events. I am sure if I went to similar events in North or South America I would hear exactly the same.

As you are reading this you might well be wondering why I am specifically addressing people in their early or mid-career stage, surely I should be aiming this towards the  current leaders, not the future leaders?

Well here’s the reason.

When you become the next CEO or Global Supply Chain Director you are going to need a ready supply of people just as todays leaders need this right now. The difference is the current leaders have left it far too late and now we are constantly talking about how to make the sector more attractive as there is a huge shortage of new blood.

Those discussions should have already been happening years ago, the current situation is that we are struggling to attract talent to the Supply Chain today but for those of you in your early or mid careers it’s a perfect time too start talking up the sector and getting fresh talent interested because you are going to need those people when its your turn in the driving seat.

In short its essential that you start getting used to being an ambassador for the Supply Chain sector right now! Do everything in your power to gain the interest of school leavers, fresh graduates, and  also anyone else you can think of who may be open to a career change because these people are going to be your talent pool in years to come.

SC brand

Everyone complains about the challenges in finding new people for the sector right now and its a real problem, but lets face it we have all dropped the ball in the past.

Lets not make the same mistake again as there’s no time like the present to give a boost to the Supply Chain & Logistics brand!

Heres a great Chinese proverb which sums this up perfectly.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

 


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The People Supply Chain Top 10’s “Top tips for personal LinkedIn leverage!”

However you intend to use LinkedIn its guaranteed that you are going to benefit from increasing the visibility and quality of your profile!

Get noticed

Here are “The People Supply Chain’s” top ten tips for you to get the most out of the world’s largest professional networking site in order to improve your personal profile and stand out from the crowd!

  1. Keep your profile upto date!
  1. Be clear on how you want to be seen by others

Build your personal brand! Take time to write a personal yet professional profile summary that makes it clear who you are, what you do and what you have to offer.

  1. Ensure your career history on LinkedIn matches your CV (Everybody checks!)
  1. But… don’t just use LinkedIn whenever you need a new job!

Make it a part of your daily routine to regularly; Like, Comment and Share Information and Articles, LinkedIn Pulse is a great resource for posting your own articles as it has a wide reach and also makes it easy for other users to interact with you and share your posts. Regular posts, likes and shares will ensure your profile stays ahead of the crowd and remains visible to others, and if you did happen to be on the look out for a move then staying high profile may ensure that new job will find you…!

  1. Use it for research and professional development

Read articles, soak up knowledge and generally aim to stay abreast of what’s happening in your industry. If you work in a commercial role use it to identify key decision makers, organizations and industry groups.

  1. Use a professional photo

No selfie’s or party shots! But do ensure your photo fits with your profile in terms of how you wish to portray yourself.

  1. Complete as many of the individual sections under the profile editor as possible

A complete profile will show up in far more searches than an incomplete one making you more visible! (Dropping in a few keywords is a big help!)

  1. Join relevant LinkedIn groups and contribute to them as often as possible!

Think visibility! You are growing your personal brand and positioning yourself as an expert in your industry.

  1. Continuously work on growing your network of contacts

Focus on quality not quantity, try to ensure that the majority of connections could be deemed as beneficial to you from a professional point of view for example potential business partners, employers, colleagues, customers. (even if they are on the other side of the world it doesn’t matter if they are useful / relevant contacts). Think six degrees of separation!

  1. Upload Multimedia to your profile

Add Powerpoint Presentations, Links to video’s or articles and websites. Think of it as your personal portfolio, its your page and your big chance to showcase your talents!


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Talent Tracking & Traceability

Real time data capture and analysis is a key factor in managing an efficient Supply Chain and making continuous improvements.

Could more organisations benefit from applying similar principles to their People Supply Chain when it comes to recruiting?

Many organisations have systems in place to track lead times from identification of a vacancy through to onboarding, number of applicants, sources of candidates etc. This is useful if you want to speed up the internal recruitment process or identify choke points, but aside from that this information is very limited, especially considering that you will have invested a lot of time in the hiring process and are missing key information which will help with future decision making and ultimately business growth.

With the right systems and processes in place for capturing better data you could place your organization many steps ahead of the competition when it comes to winning the talent war.

Here’s The People Supply Chain list of useful data to track, capture, and analyse for your organisations future hiring benefit!

Data

Candidate Hotspots

Where in the world are the majority of suitably qualified potential candidates based for the specific role you are trying to hire for.

Generating a birds-eye view of which locations in the world are home to the people with the skills you require will save copious amounts of time (and money) on future searches for similar roles.

Applications Vs Approaches

Where did each candidate come from and how many applied themselves directly versus those who were actively approached?

This is great data in order to see how proactive you were at finding people.

It’s also useful to see just how many people want to work for your organization in the advertised role and where they are coming from. Maybe potential applicants have a better impression of your organization in some countries than they do in others, or your organization is more visible in certain markets.

Skills Gaps & Diversity

We live and work in a world where skills gaps are everywhere and we are constantly losing vast amounts of skills and experience across many industries as the older generation retires from the workplace without enough sufficiently qualified people to take their place. By monitoring certain demographics throughout a hiring process organization’s can track potential skills gaps amongst various groups of people for specific functions with the benefit of being able to predict future skills gaps and provide training and development opportunities where necessary.

Industry Verticals

Which industries are the people with the skills you require mainly coming from?Depending on the function this could be limited to just a few verticals or it could be vast… either way this is essential knowledge for future targeted hiring!

Reasons Why Candidates Declined.

Why weren’t people interested in the job when approached? Perhaps the package is below the market rate, perhaps your expectations of skills and experience are too high, perhaps the location isn’t appealing enough or perhaps your employer brand needs improving?

The list goes on, but the point is that if you know the core factors you can work on making changes for the future.

Reasons for Rejection

It’s very important to know why your organization rejected certain applicants, (I am talking about the applicants who had close enough experience to make it through to the later stages of the hiring process, not the hundreds of people who applied but didn’t pass the initial CV screening)  it could be as simple as they lacked specific key skills and experience… but if that applies to the vast majority of candidates then it’s a good indicator that you really are asking for too much in a person.

Perhaps the person with ALL of the skills and experience that you are looking for simply doesn’t exist!

I recently learnt an excellent German expression that sums this up perfectly…

“Eierlegende Wollmilchsau”

Google it, or ask a German colleague!


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The People Supply Chain Top 10’s “Networking Tips”

The majority of people are not natural networkers and many simply lack the confidence to put themselves in a networking environment, so where do you start and how can you get the most out of business networking or even just gain more confidence when attending networking events?

There are many online resources and their is lots of advice available with hints and tips on how to network, you should definitely take the time to read up as much information as possible but remember ultimately at some point you will just need to throw yourself in at the deep end as the best experience will come from getting out there and doing it for real!

I have been attending, supporting, and leading networking events for years now but I don’t believe I was a natural when I started, I just got better at it by ensuring that I was regularly attending as many events as possible and as a result I believe I have done enough networking and have been successful enough to be able to share some of my advice and experience with others.

If my advice helps just one or two people to improve their networking skills or encourages them to get out there and network more then it’s been a success in my view!

Here are my top 10 tips and advice for business networking.

  1. The cardinal rule – always be genuine, effective business networks work on trust so be yourself.
  1. Pay it forward – Don’t just think what can others do for me? Think instead what support you can offer to others, your efforts will be rewarded at some point as it will come full circle one day!
  1. Be clear on what you want to achieve – Why do you want the new contacts? Is it about learning or sharing challenges and issues? Do you just want to stay on top of what’s happening in your market? Is it more about keeping up to speed on regulatory changes etc? It could be all of these or simply that you want to spend time with like minded people who go through the same day to day ups and downs and face the same business challenges as you.
  1. Network in the right places – Once you know what you want to achieve you can think about which types of networking events you would likely get the most benefit from, do your research!
  1. Understand that every group of people and event is different – Bear in mind that the dynamics of networking events and groups of people can be drastically different even in the same industries so try out various events until you find the right group of people for you.
  1. Stay connected after the events – Use your calendar to to set reminder alerts ensuring you keep in touch with the people who you meet where there is mutual value to be gained from the relationship.
  1. Don’t just wait for the next formal event – Aim to catch up in person with people between events for one on one discussions (coffee, breakfast or lunch always works well).
  1. Never sell to, or pressure people – There is nothing worse than going to a networking event to be bombarded by someone looking for commitment right there and then for some kind of product or service.
  1. Be professional – Represent yourself and your business appropriately at all times, its business networking after all and even if the environment at some events may appear quite casual bear in mind that everyone is ultimately there for business purposes.
  1. Be honest and consistent – If your networking efforts are honorable and regular you will ultimately create an ever expanding circle of trusted professional contacts who become your business referral network as well as your support network (See number 1. The cardinal rule).

Networking tips


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The Networked Supply Chain Professional

Ensuring you remain well networked within the People Supply Chain is key to success for many Supply Chain professionals.

Networking experience and ability should be a no brainer for people in commercial management roles, but what if your whole career to date has been focused on operational management functions in the Supply Chain and you haven’t been making a conscious effort to build your business networks.

The truth is that if you are a Supply Chain professional with a pure operational focus you are probably already an excellent relationship builder and networker as your working week will involve dealing with many stakeholders both internal and external, including people from Government entities to MNC’s, local organizations and SME’s.

You will have been regularly building working relationships as well as influencing, supporting, and also challenging people in order to keep your part of the Supply Chain running smoothly.

I am willing to bet that when a Supply Chain professional has made significant improvements to an organisations Supply Chain it has been largely due to their ability to foster relationships and positively influence people from all walks of life.

Facts, figures, and overall analysis provide the visibility to know what needs to be changed or what can be improved but the only way to successfully implement these things is by winning over the people.

If you take the Supply Chain on a local, regional or even a global level I don’t think we see enough operational Supply Chain professionals actively networking with their counter parts in other organizations including those from their competitors in order to understand if they are sharing the same challenges or can support one another to run more efficient Supply Chains.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of Supply Chain focused events and conferences going on constantly around the world where SC professionals get together and briefly network during the breaks between presentations and panel discussions, there are also plenty of steering committees and industry bodies which promise to champion the cause of Supply Chain (Only a few manage to do this effectively).

That’s all good, but my big question is this…

How many people in operational Supply Chain management functions make a point of getting together with their counterparts in other organizations on a fairly regular basis just to catch up for a coffee or a bite to eat and chat about the Supply Chain in general?

For the cost of a drink and some of your time I am sure there will be good advice to share and you might also highlight some  challenges which could be overcome through sharing experiences or taking action together.

The more networked Supply Chain professionals we have in the sector the better, and with enough people having these kinds of meetings a bigger picture outcome could well be improvement of global supply chain efficiencies and standards in the future!

So if you aren’t already an avid networker then please don’t just wait for the formal industry conferences and events, I would suggest being proactive and reaching out to some of your counterparts with the aim of getting together for a chat once in a while, if nothing else I am sure you will be able to share some useful information about the market!

The Supply Chain only works because of the people involved!

Networked People


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A breath of fresh air.

Some of you will have read an article I wrote a long time back discussing whether the office environment had a big part to play in an organizations ability to attract, engage and retain employee’s. Today I have had another thought about office environment which I want to share but please bear with me as this is a bit off the wall (you can find my original article here by the way > http://www.globallogisticsmedia.com/articles/view/the-future-is-now).

I have a team of A/C sanitizers at my house today deep cleaning all of the ducts because a dirty A/C system is a major health concern. Dirty ducts =  breeding ground for mold and bacteria  = increased chance of sickness (viruses – flu / colds… or worse etc etc) =  time off work…. which I could do without right now with so many conferences and exhibitions to attend over the next few weeks, and that’s exactly why this is relevant to “The People Supply Chain”  

Imagine an organization which (as part of positioning their brand as an employer of choice) cares about their employees enough that they go one step further than just improving the look and feel of their office’s.

Have you ever seen an employer shouting about the air quality in their offices?

“Join XXXXXX LTD we guarantee you will breathe the cleanest air throughout your working day” (I am talking about white collar offices in countries where A/C is required of course)

I say this tongue in cheek as it probably sounds a bit daft on the face of it but actually there cant be many more things which are important to a person than the quality of the air they breathe, and lets not forget a major key to success in winning the war for talent is about positively differentiating your organization from your competitors in any possible way you can think of.

Maybe I have just been sold on the importance of proper A/C sanitization, but I am not taking any chances and neither should you.

Whose responsibility should this really be in an organization? QHSSE, Facilities Mgr, GM, Directors…HR?

Just as a holistic approach was taken with Supply Chain management the same holistic approach must be applied to “The People Supply Chain” as things like this affect everyone. My A/C duct cleaning example is just a drop in the ocean when you consider all possible areas of an organization which directly or indirectly affect employees

I think it’s apt that i finish with A/C in mind, so here’s my final thought….

“Protect your workforce, become an even more attractive employer, reduce sickness, and stay productive…. clean those dirty ducts!”

ac

Click HERE for some light viewing about why you should sanitize your A/C for those of you who are interested ; )

 

PS: this is just an observation its not intended as a sales pitch… (although it would have been a very good one!)


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Planning your personal route to market.

So you’ve decided its time for a move…

Before you even write your CV and commence your Job Search you should really have a plan in place.

A few very basic things to consider.

  • What’s the ideal job that you have enough experience for and the right qualifications to take on right now?
  • Which companies would you like to work for?
  • Where are they based?
  • Do they have a career portal?
  • Who are their competitors?
  • Which are the best online jobs boards to use in order to find the type of job you are looking for?
  • Who are the main recruiters which specialize in your area of experience in the region where you are looking to work?
  • Can you leverage the networks of any of your existing contacts, ex-colleagues, friends, social media or industry groups to help open doors and make connections with key decision makers at the companies you wish to work for?
  • Are your salary expectations realistic?

Be realistic.

  • Apply to jobs which you are definitely qualified & have relevant experience for
  • Be aware that the jobs market is constantly changing, especially in recent years. It could be that the package you earn today is already above the current market average
  • No one wants to go backwards but bear in mind the days of a 20-30% pay increase to move jobs are long gone

Stay Focused.

  • Think of your job search as a sales pipeline… you are the product!
  • Make a plan, set yourself targets and aim for quality of applications, not quantity
  • Track your activity (A good old Excel sheet will do just fine)
  • Once you have a plan in place and an idea of what you are aiming for you can tailor your resume to suit (Next Phase)

You can spend your time applying for thousands of jobs which aren’t quite right or spend the same amount of time applying for a smaller number of jobs where you absolutely have the right experience and therefore more chance of a positive response.

Its not a perfect science but get as close to the latter as possible and your potential for success has already increased!

Plan your personal RTM


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Process makes perfect.

The recruitment process is often an area of frustration for hiring managers, external recruiters and prospective employees alike, its particularly frustrating for potential employees searching for new jobs.

People who were initially very excited about a new job opportunity can quickly become disillusioned if the steps to getting the job are too complicated, too slow or not clearly defined with definite time frames and regular communication through each stage in the process.

process

First impressions count!

For employers it’s important to consider the candidates experience from the first time they make contact.

Will they have a good impression of the company throughout the process?

If an applicant has a bad experience when applying to work for an organization its potentially damaging to the brand itself (more about that in my previous post… “The People’s Value Chain”).

Word travels fast!

Even if an applicant is unsuccessful in their application it doesn’t have to be a negative experience, the key is that they are given proper feedback with regular communication throughout the process.

If organizations want to attract and retain top talent then its essential to get people engaged and keep them engaged from day one.

I am sure every employer can recall a time when they have failed to hire an outstanding candidate who they really wanted on board so the big question should be why ?  and what can be done to stop this happening again…


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