WANTED: Supply Chain Superstars & HR Hero’s

It’s not that long ago when the job of a Supply Chain Manager was largely unknown as the collective function responsible for management of many key activities involved in bringing a product to market.

In the past organizations had an often disjointed mix of Warehousing, Transport, Procurement, Planning, Operations etc with each seen as a specific stand-alone function and in some cases reporting to very different departments or managers. This was the norm until a more holistic approach to Supply Chain eventually became the trend.

One of the best things to have happened for Supply Chain in recent years was arguably the beginning of the global financial crisis when organizations had no choice but look inwardly at cost saving initiatives without causing too much disruption to their business in general.

The Supply Chain Superstars were born…

Once organizations adopted this approach and put in place their Supply Chain leaders they were soon presented with a high level view of all “Supply Chain” activities bringing (in some cases) immediate cost savings and efficiency improvements whilst highlighting other areas where further cost savings and efficiency improvements could be made given more time and focus.

Now seen as one of the most important strategic business functions any company could have, Supply Chain finally took its rightful place in the boardroom, and we haven’t looked back!

A Supply Chain supported by clever software systems and automation, as well as practices and methodology such as Kaizen, and Lean 6 Sigma etc won’t work though unless the combined efforts of all the people involved in the chain actually make it work.

Back we go to “The People Supply Chain” this is where the HR Hero’s come in!

Superheros

When all of the above can only be driven by people why do we still see many companies with their HR departments purely viewed as an admin function, we see more and more HR business partner titles but are those HR professionals really being brought in as strategic partners to the business, or are they just paper shufflers?

Are they involved in shaping the strategic and operational focus of the company? Are the HR processes, procedures and the overall talent management strategy aligned with the company’s overall vision and strategy.

Has that other empty seat in the boardroom been filled by a Chief HR Officer yet?

Leading organizations have developed all-encompassing talent management strategies which provide support and development throughout the whole employment life cycle of its employees whilst aligning perfectly with the strategic direction of the company.

The era of the CHRO’s and the CSCO’s is upon us!


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Urgent & essential job vacancy! (It’s been open for at least one year)

Here’s an interesting question…do you employ people for jobs or do you build your jobs around each individual you employ?

Where do you draw the line?

I have regular discussions with business owners, senior decision makers and hiring managers who are looking for people to “tick all the boxes” for vacant posts as per very specific (non negotiable) job descriptions and as a result of this they haven’t employed anyone at all and usually tend to have their vacant positions open for months on end.

Imagine having a key position vacant for the past year which is (in a very significant way) going to be impacting the rest of your team, your business, your clients and ultimately revenue and market position.

In the current business climate the majority of the people and the companies which are succeeding are those which continue to be flexible, those which are constantly adapting and innovating in order to keep making money.

The good news is that more and more companies are taking an increasingly pragmatic approach to the job fit vs candidate fit by regularly adapting role profiles.

When they  meet people who they really want in their business they adapt, innovate and simply put…. find a way to make it work!

holes

I would bet that these companies are amongst the leaders in their field.

If they are applying similar principles to the rest of their business its a pretty safe bet in my view.

If you are hiring and have had an open vacancy for a long time yet still cant find the right person then maybe the person with the skills and experience you want simply doesn’t exist or if they do then maybe your business just isn’t an attractive enough option for them to want to join?

There’s actually a good chance you have already met the ideal person for the business need, maybe you just need to find a way to make it work.

Taking a more open and flexible approach and being prepared to build a role around a person enables an organization to utilize more of each employees strengths rather than just the specific skills / experience required for a pre-set role.

The company stands to gain a higher return on investment for each person they employ and as long as the employee is receiving fair compensation for an expanded role they are normally happier as well.

The world has changed, ticking boxes is not enough.

Don’t restrict your business by looking for the obvious or by doing things a certain way just because that’s the way you have always done things.

Be open to new ideas…. be entrepreneurial!


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I’m giving you a blank cheque!

There’s a story behind this one, so bear with me…

A couple of years ago myself and Darryl Judd the COO of the Logistics Executive Group ran a workshop in Doha for IATA’s world cargo symposium which was attended by an audience of  “future air cargo executives” the next generation of leaders.

Some of the worlds most important people in air cargo were sitting in the room that day as these are the people who are going to be running the sector in the years to come.

In order to deliver the workshop so it would be best received by this particular generation (See Education… Aligned.) we decided to run a forum using snap polls (a simple show of hands), encouraging some lively discussion along the way.

After debating a range of topics we eventually came to the subject of continuing education and personal development.

We asked for people to raise their hands if they had worked towards a formal degree qualification over the past 12 months.

About half the room shot their hands up.

We then asked who had taken part in any soft skills training in the last 12 months…  just two or three hands popped up.

Ok… so its evident (for whatever reason) that soft skills weren’t at the top of the training agenda.

We were now warming up to the killer question.

“If we gave you a blank cheque that you can use to pay for either a degree course or soft skills training… which would you choose?”.

$$$ Degree or Soft Skills? $$$

$$$ Degree or Soft Skills? $$$

Silence… for a few minutes, then discussion backwards and forwards, the room is divided… and with a final show of hands its a 50/50 split (I guess if you were personally very aware of a soft skill area where you would like to improve then you would be one of the soft skills choosers).

Their was clearly a demand for soft skills training in the room which hadn’t been identified by their employers (remember only 2-3 people had raised their hands earlier).

So is it more important to pay for the degree or better to fine tune your soft skills?

Well if you want to be leading people and growing a business and if you are going to be one of the future senior executives in an industry then you are definitely going to benefit from having highly mastered soft skills.

Ah but hang on though, will you ever get those opportunities without the degree? Could you handle a senior executive post without the hard skills gained whilst getting a degree?

Would qualification by experience also be enough instead of a degree?

There is no real right or wrong answer here as too many different factors are involved, but I would add that in a challenging jobs market you need to have as many strings to your bow as possible to give you the edge on your competition.

If you have the means and ability to get a degree then you should do it…. but also keep on honing those soft skills!

Procuring people. What’s the cost of getting it wrong?

Whether it’s for a start-up and this is employee number one or if there is a requirement for employing vast numbers of people an organization will always have direct costs relating to hiring and will decide whether to pay for advertising, marketing, career portal, external recruitment services or headhunting fees, assessment tests, visa’s etc etc.

The choice is there for an organization to spend as much or as little on these direct costs as they wish… but how little is too little?

It’s practically impossible to get it exactly right when hiring a person (or people) but investing time and money in developing sufficient process and procedures will increase the chance of hiring the best people in terms of cultural fit as well as ability and experience.

Finding a good balance between the cost of hiring the right people versus the cost of getting it wrong isn’t easy but when you take the time to really consider the hidden costs of making a hiring mistake then investing more time and money up front becomes a very worthwhile and necessary investment.

Hidden cost factors of a bad hiring decision;

  • Time spent hiring a replacement
  • Reduced morale of other team members
  • Disruption to clients
  • Investment in on the job training (internal and external)
  • Time taken from exit of previous hire to the replacement person reaching minimum standards to perform the job
  • Loss of confidential information
  • Damage to company brand
  • Additional work load for other employees

The list goes on and many are interlinked, but the actual cost of an employee leaving is not easily quantified as there are just so many additional factors to be considered, for example a key employee with a very specific skillset will have a greater impact when leaving an organization than that of someone in a role which is easily replicated. Smaller businesses will also be more affected by one person leaving than larger businesses.

I guess the best advice is don’t cut corners and always think about what could be the cost of getting it wrong.

Consider the hidden costs...

Beware of the hidden costs.

How does your organization calculate the cost of replacing an experienced employee?

I look forward to reading your comments.

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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Education… Aligned.

Advances in technology and workplace culture and environment are changing faster than ever before.

Education needs to be better aligned to suit each generation, and this comes down to understanding what makes each generation tick.

The gap in experience between generations is vast and we cannot afford to lose the skills and experience of the mature and experienced professionals or we are facing disaster. With this in mind each generation must be provided for in a flexible way which appeals to their differing learning styles.

The Gen-Y’s (Millennials) should be accommodated  for with their technological and flexibility requirements with online & apps based training, brainstorming, group workshops etc.

For the baby boomers and previous generations classroom based learning may prove more effective.

In my opinion, we must understand that today’s workplace has people working together with vastly differing age ranges, values and experience. One solution which is slowly being adopted by a growing number of organizations is training on generational awareness in order to create a better understanding and more effective internal communication. It’s time to get savvy and adopt technology, build creative brand energy, and be open to new ideas.


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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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