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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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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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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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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Virtual engagement in the people supply chain…

We increasingly live and work in a socially (or virtually) networked world and the acceptance of this fact by organizations when it comes to hiring is proving advantageous to those early adopter organizations that have leveraged social networking as part of their recruitment strategy. Increasingly organizations are focusing on developing their brand as an employer, and a key part of this is building a talent community where potential candidates are kept engaged and informed as to what’s happening in the organization that they may one day wish to join.

Building and maintaining an enlightened talent community is a key factor in winning the battle for talent and it’s a far better strategy than purely creating a CV database which quickly becomes outdated.

Ensuring you have a ready pool of candidates to meet possible recruitment requirements is no easy task and just as managing a supply chain is about managing uncertainty and variability, the same applies to your future hiring needs. Current economic dynamics typified by significant fluctuations in customer and business service requirements often determines that it is usually difficult knowing what your talent requirements will be in the short and medium term and what types and levels of skills are needed.

Whilst all organizations need to embrace modern technology, increasing numbers are realizing that technology can’t and should not replace human interaction and valuable relationships. More and more companies are realizing that creating vast databases of CV’s is an inferior option to building a community of targeted prospective future employees through the use of technology and keeping them informed and engaged online. This methodology supports tracking and managing the recruitment processes and enabling the relevant information to then take the relationship offline and into the real world as early as possible when commencing the recruitment process for a specific role.

For many forward thinking HR Directors and Managers it is the candidate experience that is first and foremost in their recruiting strategy and to create this experience is not possible with the “one click / apply” routine that we see from the majority of job boards and applicant tracking systems. This is old school practice which is losing its place in the hiring processes used by many organizations today.

Virtual engagement


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The People’s Value Chain…

There’s a lot of talk within the global community about the need to attract more talent to an increasingly dynamic Supply Chain & Logistics sector.  Demand for talented professionals continues to increase yet the sector is still not the sexiest of professions particularly amongst undergraduates, despite an evolving discussion within the sector on ways to bring in new blood.

By referring to company and employer branding there are some simple lessons that can be learnt by the sector to attract new talent and address these skill shortages.

To attract talented professionals, organizations strategically  integrate their company values and reputation with their employer brands.  The perception of a company’s success, values, image, including their reputation in areas such as management style and work environment, is incredibly important. Jobseekers heavily weight these factors when considering their employment decisions.  If supply chain is to stand out as a career of choice it needs to increase its image awareness around these factors.

Once these factors commonly referred to as the “Company Brand” are put in place, the internal factors, which fall under the banner of “Employer Brand” can be addressed. This involves all aspects of the employee offering from the recruitment process to training, remuneration, culture etc.  Finally it’s about aligning the Company and Employer Brand and then establishing how best to effectively communicate these messages.

How does your organization create value?


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Generation workspace. Out with the old and in with the new…

The increasing influence of the millennial generation within the workplace with their significantly differing needs and expectations to any previous generation before them is driving a step change in how we view the world of work these days.

But what about the physical working environment? Does it have a big part to play in how your organisation and brand is viewed by future and existing employees, and by your customers?

Can your office environment impact your ability to attract and retain talent as well as encourage creativity and productivity in the work place, and can the environment contribute positively to your organisation being a better or great place to work?

I bet we can all identify areas where we can improve our physical working environments to encourage greater levels of engagement, motivation and enjoyment, enhancing the image and presentation of our businesses and our industry as a whole.

Imagine you walk into an office to be greeted by a place filled with nooks and crannies – creative work spaces, themed breakout rooms where you can take a seat (or a giant bean bag) and work from your tablet, glass partitions that can be used as wall to wall white boards, strategically located smart boards with blu-tooth connectivity, modern ergonomic furniture, stylish yet highly functional hot desks / workstations and seating that provide an escape from traditional environments.

Ignore Convention....

Ignore Convention….

Well lit interiors and motivational words adorning the walls, company values written not in the usual plaque or square sign on transparent perspex format, now they are vinyl prints shooting across the walls with flashy writing and jazzy colours spelling out just who you are and what you stand for.

Why is it the likes of the Google’s and the Facebook’s are constantly catching the headlines with their impression of what a modern working environment looks like?

The answer is simple; They were bold enough to ignore convention and just go ahead and do it!


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