Yet the fact that getting fired is common doesn’t make it easy. And one thing that many people find challenging is how to describe what happened, especially when talking to a recruiter or prospective boss.
Should you lie? Or should you simply tell the truth? If you do tell the truth, do you risk sabotaging your new role? Or if you do lie, could even more be at stake?
Your reputation and the industry
Being made redundant or getting fired can be an extremely unpleasant experience. You might feel angry or ashamed, and as a result, may want to ‘save face’ by telling a recruiter or prospective manager that you left for another reason, or that you’re simply still at your previous organisation.
But Imelda Walsh, manager at The Source, Australia’s premier procurement recruitment consultancy, cautions all procurement professionals against doing this.
‘Procurement is somewhat of a niche profession,’ she says, ‘and everyone is interconnected. If you aren’t honest, you do run the risk of being caught out.
‘We’ve actually been in the situation a few times where a candidate hasn’t been honest about their reasons for leaving and we’ve discovered this through our network.’
Beyond the risk of being ‘found out’, Imelda doesn’t recommend lying simply because of the damage it can do to your personal brand.
‘If you’re honest,’ she says, ‘it shows you have integrity. If you’re not, it casts doubt over your whole personal brand. It takes an entire career to build a positive personal brand, but only a few minutes to destroy one.
‘The risk simply isn’t worthwhile.’
Deal with your emotions first – don’t vent
There are undoubtedly many emotions associated with being fired or made redundant, many of them negative. Our natural human response is to take everything personally and to want to vent. But an interview isn’t the time for this, cautions Imelda.
She says that prior to attending an interview, you need to make a concerted effort to deal with your emotions. In addition to this, you should plan, ahead of time, how you’re going to describe how your employment ended, and ensure you stick to this when you’re in an interview.
‘When candidates aren’t prepared, they tend to go into too much detail about why they left their previous employment,’ she says. ‘This inevitably turns into a vindictive and personal whinge, which can quickly derail an interview.’
As recruiters and hiring managers are trying to ascertain your skills, experience and cultural fit, Imelda recommends avoiding at all costs too much focus on the reasons you left your past employer.
How to talk about being fired
Most people would assume that abruptly being asked to leave or mutually decide to leave a role, especially after a short amount of time, is a bad look when you’re re-entering the job market.
But Imelda doesn’t see it that way: ‘We see a lot of people, really talented people, who mutually decide to leave their role.
‘This can be because the opportunity that was sold to them was misaligned with the reality of the role, or because a change of management has changed their situation.
‘In this case, leaving is the best thing to do. Better that than try to stick it out and do further damage to your career.’
If you find yourself in this situation, Imelda recommends being honest, albeit with a professional veneer. She recently encountered someone who did this perfectly: ‘We had an exceptional candidate here recently who said “There was a change of management, and the new team wanted to take the business in a different direction.”
‘After the interview, he discreetly said to me: “Two other people left in the same week as me. I’m sure you can read between the lines.”
In years gone by, redundancy was uncommon. But these days? Not so much – 1 in 4 people will be made redundant at some point in their career, with some being made redundant many times. The idea of a ‘job for life’ is rare, and some companies restructure as often as every few years.
Imelda recommends that if you’re made redundant, simply say so.
‘One of our clients completed two redundancies within less than two years,’ she says. ‘As recruiters, we have a macro view of the industry and we see redundancies all the time. If this has happened to you, just tell us.’
Have you ever been made redundant? How have you described it? Tell us in the comments section.
Are you a procurement professional who wants the best career, technical and leadership advice, plus the opportunity to connect and network with more than 37,000 peers, worldwide? Create a free profile on Procurious today.
What can we learn about leadership from the rugby field? A lot, it seems…
Have you ever headed into a supplier negotiation and joked you’re ‘going out into battle’? Ever finished a successful project, and said ‘you’re kicking goals’?
There are few physical similarities between our procurement desk jobs and the rugby field. But the way we lead our teams should be exactly the same, says Sir Clive Woodward, former coach of the England rugby team and keynote speaker at Procurious’s Big Ideas Summit.
Woodward, who coached the England side to its historic 2003 World Cup victory, believes that sport and business has more in common than we think.
‘There’s no difference between sport and business,’ he asserts. ‘In both, you need to create champion individuals and a successful culture.’
And if anyone would know, it would be Sir Clive.
Not only is he one of the world’s most revered rugby coaches, he’s also had a successful career in business.
Prior to coaching, he worked for nearly two decades at Xerox in various leadership positions, as well as managing his own leasing company. Now, one of the things that he does is run a software company that helps leaders – in business and in sport – build culture-critical skills at scale.
For Sir Clive, creating a winning culture might come easily. But, as anyone who’s recently led a team will know, achieving ‘success’ in this age of mass transformations, technological change and unstable environments can be quite a challenge.
To help, Clive has 5 ‘big ideas’ he uses to help leaders and teams achieve big things.
1. It starts with respect
Winning and maintaining respect, according to Sir Clive, is one of business’s greatest challenges. Yet at the same time it’s a great opportunity.
Sir Clive says that contrary to popular opinion, respect isn’t won simply by attaining a certain job title: ‘You don’t get respect simply because you’re the leader. Just because I’m the head coach or the chief executive doesn’t mean people are going to respect me.’
Instead, Sir Clive says that we all need to focus on the quality of our actions.
This is particularly important for high performers, who are always striving for better: ‘You get respect because of what you do and by the quality of your actions over a sustained period of time.’
2. Talent and egos
On talent in general, Sir Clive thinks that it’s definitely a leader’s job to try and hire the most talented people.
But what managers need to realise, he says, is that sometimes the most talented people aren’t the easiest people to work with:
‘Everyone’s different, you can have mavericks, egos. There’s no simple way of doing it – if you employ the most talented people, sometimes they’re not the easiest people.’
But, he reminds leaders, this is part of the job that while not easy can still be managed:
‘As a manager, it’s my job to work with them [talented people, even if they aren’t easy]. The best way to manage them is on a one-on-one basis, explaining to them the philosophy and that we need them to be totally part of that process and that we’re trying to make them better at what they do.
‘I’ve not met anyone talented who doesn’t want to get better.’
While talented people may (or may not) be easy to work with, they do need to be teachable, says Woodward.
He says that an individual’s willingness to learn is critical when it comes to building winning teams: ‘The ability to accumulate knowledge around their role gives people an awareness of what they need to do to continually improve on what they already have.’
Knowledge, though, is not simply academic learning, Woodward asserts. It’s much more than that: ‘Knowledge is a passion for seeking any kind of self-development. It’s not simply collecting diplomas.’
4. 100 things, 1% better
To create a winning procurement team, you need talented, teachable people. But their talent is only a baseline – says Sir Clive.
And you need to be constantly improving them to improve performance. Contrary to popular belief, this ‘improvement’ need not involve seismic shifts in any particular area.
Woodward says that you’re better off focusing on micro-improvements in a number of different areas: ‘Building on several areas in a small way frequently yields dramatically better outcomes. If you go into every aspect of what you do and break it down and improve those things by 1%, it all adds up.’
This philosophy has worked particularly well for Sir Clive in rugby: ‘In rugby, we understand all the parameters – we break it down into as much detail as possible and try and do every bit of it slightly better than anyone else.’
And, as in rugby, in business you can’t simply improve and then stop.
Constant performance improvement needs to become part of your culture: ‘You have to always be [improving] and just because you’ve improved something one day doesn’t mean you can’t improve it the next. It has to be the ethos of everybody.
‘Everybody in that team has the obligation, if they think we can do something better, they need to hold their hand up and say it.’
5. Innovation can come from anywhere
Procurement teams are increasingly expected to be innovative. But who is responsible for that innovation?
Everyone, according to Sir Clive, even people outside procurement, as they may bring different perspectives: ‘[When you’re looking for new ideas], it’s important to canvas the input of independent third parties in order to pool as much knowledge and ideas as possible.
‘These ideas can come from anywhere, not just leaders. Using other people you like and respect and [who] are bright enough to look in can give you amazing new thoughts and ideas.’
As appealing as this sounds, Woodward does concede that it can be challenging within organisations, although ultimately necessary:
‘[Introducing new ideas] can be potentially troublesome, particularly when there is an already entrenched way of doing things.
‘There’s no easy answer to that, there’s no magic fix. The only easy answer is to sit down, explain to your team, even in one-on-ones and then empower them to get involved.’
Sir Clive Woodward is the keynote speaker at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit in London, due to be held on 11 March 2020. Tickets are sold out, but you can secure a digital delegate ticket here (free for a limited time).
How can you make sure you’re not overlooked for jobs and other opportunities if you want to keep working in your 60s and 70s?
When Paul McCartney wrote “When I’m
Sixty-Four” as a teenager, he probably thought he would be retired in his mid-to-late
Instead he has continued to work well into
his 70s and will be 78 when he takes to the stage at Glastonbury 2020.
McCartney is not alone: things have changed
since 1967 when the Beatles released the hit on the album Sgt. Pepper’s
Lonely Heart Clubs Band.
Today more than 1 in 10 of those aged 65 is
still working and the number is set to soar.
The scrapping of the default retirement age
(which makes it harder to put us out to pasture) and an increase in the state
pension age (which is set to rise to 67, and then 68), means growing numbers
will be working until they are nearly 70.
There is only one problem: who will employ
Employment drops off from the age of 50, making
the lyric ‘Will you still need me?’ take on a whole new meaning.
We all need to mind the age gap
While a lucky few might have quit the ‘rat
race’ because they can afford to retire comfortably, many of the 3 in 10 in the
50-64 age group who are not in employment are not out of work through choice – the
majority might not be able to work due to ill health, disability or caring
commitments while others may struggle to find work because of their age.
Even among those still in employment, many
are working part-time or in jobs that do not reflect their expertise and
So how can you remain relevant in a world of work that still does not always value the wisdom of age?
De-age – from an early age
Age discrimination is illegal. But it
happens – even if it is not deliberate but a case of unconscious bias.
So it is important to appear younger than
you are if you do not want to be written off.
As it is easy to search for information
about you online (yes – nearly every employer now checks out candidates before
inviting them for interview), start thinking about what information is being
posted about you or that you are posting yourself well before you hit 50.
Never, ever put your age or date of birth on any job applications, CVs or social media profiles. Employers cannot ask your age, so don’t let them find out.
Get rid of anything on your CV and online professional profiles that screams ‘ancient’. Change your qualifications from O Levels to GCSEs. Change your polytechnic to its new university name. Delete jobs from the 1980s and early 1990s.
Clean up your social media profile and change your settings to private. A series of postings of you at your 55th or 60th birthday might inadvertently lead to a recruiter thinking you are ‘past it’.
Also change your mindset. If you ‘think’ you are no longer able to go for that new job or that promotion, other people will think the same, too. One in 4 professionals over the age of 55 believe it’s too late to change things according to research from Think Forward Consulting – they are wrong. You just need to overcome the fear of rejection that often comes with age.
Get your words right
Job adverts often specify that candidates
need to be ‘hungry’, ‘ambitious’, ‘energetic’, ‘driven’, ‘innovative’, ‘dynamic’
or other words automatically associated with youth. Include a few of these in
your job applications and your personal statement to reflect the fact that you
still have the passion to succeed.
At the same time avoid descriptions that sound ‘ageing’. Stating that you have ‘decades’ of experience is unnecessary. It is far better to detail what you have achieved not how long it took you!
Emphasise your adaptability
In a world of constant change, adaptability
is a key skill yet one that is not always associated with more mature members
of the workforce.
So, make a point of highlighting ways in which you have adapted to – or perhaps anticipated – change. Managing a transformation project, changing career path to reflect a change in the market or demonstrating how you have been innovative, will all prove to potential employers that you can ‘move with the times’ and remain relevant.
Show you can learn new skills
Forget the saying that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ and prove that you can learn new skills. Make a habit of doing courses in the latest technology, remain inquisitive about new developments in your sector and demonstrate that you have a curiosity about the future – it will show the enthusiasm that employers are looking for (and associate with younger members of staff).
Have a Plan B (for business) . . .
One of the most popular ways to remain in
employment later in your career is to employ yourself.
In fact, the number of self-employed people
aged 65 years and older more than doubled between 2009 and 2017.
You can start with a sideline (provided it does not conflict with your day job), grow your venture and then do it full-time if it’s a success – or enjoy it as a part-time role if you plan to flexi-retire.
. . . Or be a master of your own destiny
While employers are often reluctant to hire
more mature staff as full-time permanent employees, the same does not apply to
consultants, contractors, freelance project managers, interim managers and
non-executive directors: they are hired for their expertise, so the longer they
have been being doing the job the better. In fact, 2 in 3 interims are aged 50–70+.
While you will have to give up the day job
to start in one of these roles, the pay can often more than compensate for the
lack of job security. Interims, for example, earn £500 to £1,500 a day. See the
Institute of Interim Managers for more information: https://www.iim.org.uk/knowledge/.
So if you’re planning to carry on working
well past when you’re 64 and into your 70s, like Paul, follow these tips to get
your plans in order and make your profile attractive.
Whether or not your business is prioritising sustainability right now, there’s no doubt that it will be the focus for many of us in 2020 and beyond.
As we all well know, executing on sustainability can be challenging. Is it even possible to have full supply chain transparency? How do we manage the requirement to be sustainable against risk and cost savings? Almost all sustainability initiatives, while well-intentioned, can be fraught with complexity.
While this may be the case for many of us, one person who believes that sustainability isn’t as complex as it seems is Chris Fielden, Group Supply Chain Director for Innocent Drinks. Innocent Drinks is a revolutionary health drinks company that gives an incredible 10% of their profits to charity. Beyond this, Innocent focuses on sustainability throughout every part of their supply chain, from creating a plastic bottle that’s made from 100% renewable material to developing a carbon neutral factory.
Prior to his keynote at Procurious’ Big Ideas Summit, we sat down with
Chris to see how he helps drive such incredible sustainability achievements at
Live your values – and incorporate them into your
Have you ever looked at a corporate values chart
and thought to yourself, ‘those don’t really seem to matter here?’ Many of us
feel the tension between aspirational values and lived values, but one of the
reasons Chris thinks that Innocent is so successful in sustainability is
because they don’t do this.
Chris believes that sustainability can’t simply be
a ‘tick box’ but it needs to be front and centre of a business’s genuine value
set if they want to achieve it. On this, Chris says:
‘Innocent drinks is a values-led business,
absolutely. We believe in [and live by] sustainable capitalism. We hire people
against those values.’
‘Often the right way [to do things] might not be the easy way, but we do things the right way anyway because we truly live our values.’
Even beyond this, Chris says that sustainability
needs to be incorporated throughout an organisation’s entire business
‘Here at Innocent, we’ve incorporated sustainability
into our entire business model through becoming a B-Corp.’
Give your people freedom
Sustainability is often about pushing boundaries
and doing things that haven’t been done before. So, in order to achieve that,
Chris thinks you need to give your people creative freedom – and this is
exactly what’s happened at Innocent.
‘[The carbon-neutral factory idea] came about
primarily because we told our people not to accept no. We told them “don’t accept
it when someone says it can’t be done.” In all aspects, we try not to constrain
Not limiting people also applies to the suppliers
you work with, says Chris. In fact, when you don’t give suppliers limitations,
you can sometimes achieve things you never would have imagined. When planning
Innocent’s carbon-neutral factory, Chris gave his suppliers an unusual
challenge – which yielded an unusual (yet highly beneficial) result:
‘With the carbon-neutral factory, we said to the contractors
we employed – just geek out and tell us what you would do if you had unlimited
funds and no restrictions.’
‘Doing so meant that it actually turned out cheaper
than we budgeted and the solution is ever better!’
Giving their people and suppliers freedom has meant
that Innocent’s new carbon-neutral factory, to open in Rotterdam in 2021, is truly one of
a kind. Costing over $250 million, it will incorporate
initiatives such renewable energy, sustainable water use, and resource-based
waste management. Its Rotterdam location will also mean considerable C02 is
saved, as the drinks are produced close to where ingredients arrive, saving
trucks over 13,000 trips a year.
Not being afraid to fail
Despite Innocent Drinks being a relatively large
company (it recently surpassed £10 million in donations alone), everyone works
hard to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit, says Chris. And a big part of this
is not being afraid to fail.
‘Failure is a big part of what we do. We only have
to be 70% sure of what we’re doing. And failure has led us to where we are –
we’ve doubled in size because we’re not afraid to fail.’
This can sometimes be hard to stomach as a
procurement professional, Chris thinks, as we’re trained to mitigate risks. But
Chris insists that Innocent still do this:
‘We do have risk registers so it’s not as if we’re
Where to from here?
With Innocent being at the forefront of all things
sustainability, it’s hard to imagine what Chris might still want to achieve.
But there’s always more, says Chris, and ultimately, he’d like to see more
businesses taking an active role in helping the environment:
‘I would love to see more businesses doing more –
but we can’t wait for politicians to mandate this. The impetus needs to come
Ultimately, Chris has an important message for all
procurement professionals out there:
‘If you put sustainability at the heart of your
agenda, then know this: you can make a difference very quickly.’
What are you doing to drive the sustainability
agenda at your business? Let us know below.
Want to learn more about exactly how Chris is
driving the sustainability agenda at Innocent, and how you can do the same?
Chris is speaking at the 2020 Procurious Big Ideas Summit on March 11, and you
can hear all of his insights through becoming a Digital Delegate. Grab your free pass
We offer a woman’s and a man’s-eye view of the Feast of Saint Valentine …
You want how much for those flowers?! Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day has become part of the global calendar and good luck ignoring it.
Shopfronts are dining out on the day, while emails advertising spray tans with headlines like ‘Fake it for Valentine’s Day’ are sliding into your inbox.
But we want to pop a different spin on it. A woman’s perspective on the day up against a man’s perspective. And while Emily and Dave don’t speak for everyone, you may see yourself in some of their thoughts.
Woman’s-eye view: A day of celebration and (very) high hopes
I secretly love this day and if I ever pretend I don’t or that I’m ignoring it, it’s only out of self-preservation.
You see, unlike Dave below, I am not married. I am single. Valentine’s Day can serve as a reminder that you’re not with anyone and the only flowers you’re buying are ones ‘to you from you’.
I am a die-hard romantic. The Notebook to me is still the best movie of all time (forget the fact she cheats on her fiancé). And Titanic will never sink in my heart.
So it only follows that I have high hopes for this one day of the year.
Last year I was given the loveliest bunch of flowers by a guy I was seeing with a note in French (yes, he was French). I doubt that will be bettered this year.
But I live in perpetual – unrealistic! – hope that the guy I went on a few dates with recently . . . whom I’m not overly into . . . will suddenly have a moment and think, yes I want to spend $90 on roses for Emily and get in touch with her colleagues (whom he does not know at all) to find out where she works and at what desk. So the flowers can be delivered to her right there.
Okay, in reality the chances of that are slim.
So I thought why not take matters into my own hands and be the ‘giver’. I mean, who said that was just a man’s job?
Women as the givers
I got ahead of myself recently and went out with a guy a couple of times, decided we were certainly going to end up together and proceeded to order his Valentine’s Day gift from Amazon a whopping four weeks ago.
Yes, I did that.
He was a doctor working with heart surgeons. So I found a lunch bag with ‘Live organ for transplant’ on it. The idea was to have it delivered to him with a six-pack of beers in it with ice on top.
I would have him come to reception at his work to collect it and when he opens it and sees ice on top (like a real organ would have) he would freak out . . . and then suddenly find the beers and think it was literally the best (and most memorable) Valentine’s Day gift ever.
But after date four recently I decided it wasn’t meant to be – and now my colleagues have to open the work fridge to see a ‘Live organ for transplant’ lunch in there every day.
As I said, I’m a die-hard romantic. Here’s hoping for the flowers and even if that doesn’t come about I still have my ‘live organ lunch bag’.
Love, Emily x
The man’s-eye view: The day of the year on which more people break up than any other
I don’t wish to throw a wet blanket on what has become a global celebration of love and romance, but Valentine’s Day – otherwise known as the Feast of Saint Valentine – does nothing to whet my appetite, or make my heart flutter.
My friend Kev has a restaurant in New York, and he maintains that Valentine’s is every restauranteur’s nightmare. A sea of two-top tables waiting for couples who barely speak to each other at the best of times but feel obliged to have that special night out together.
Kev says that the sight of couples holding hands across the table and gazing longingly into each other’s eyes is as rare as hen’s teeth in his gaff. Comparatively very little food or booze is ordered and invariably one person is left to pick up the bill or storm out without paying.
Apparently, more people split up on Valentine’s Day than any other day of the year.
The best thing about Valentine’s Day for me was the birth of my youngest daughter, Saskia. I love her to bits.
The downside of her joining us on 14 February is that she insists on being taken out for dinner on that night.
I have tried to persuade her to have two birthdays (a bit like the Queen) just to avoid the misery meal. Not a chance.
Romantic meals – no thanks
So we’ll be in TGI Fridays (certainly not my choice) in Guildford, Surrey, UK – witnessing young people with soon to be arthritic thumbs communicating with friends who are not in the room rather than enjoying the company of the person they are about to split up with. What fun!
I do enter into the spirit of Valentine’s Day, however, and remember to buy a card and some flowers for my wife – who has a heart of stone and always forgets.
No, please, I am not craving sympathy. The end of 14 February for me will be spent in the company of talkSPORT Radio and a bottle of 12-year-old Macallan!
So, in the words of the song from The King and I, ‘good luck young lovers wherever you are’ – or something like that!
Love, Dave x
So where do you fit in? Do you agree with Emily or Dave? And what are your plans?
Whatever you do today, enjoy it. And remember that love in any form is something to be celebrated.
What key steps can you take limit the potential effects of the coronavirus on your organisation?
In China on 9 February the world received news it didn’t want to hear.
The number of confirmed deaths from the coronavirus has now overtaken that of the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), with more than 1000 casualties.
In addition to that, the virus is spreading at an alarming rate. There are now more than 40,000 confirmed cases. And this number is increasing as much as 20% every day.
While the virus is terrifying from a public health perspective, it’s also alarming in terms of your supply chain. Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the virus and now a city in total lockdown and complete disarray, is one of the world’s largest industrial hubs.
Here’s how the coronavirus is affecting global supply chains – and what you can do about it.
Production delays and factory closures
If you’re currently manufacturing anything in China, especially in the Wuhan area, you can expect significant production delays.
Fashion fit innovation company Alvanon, who manufacture dress forms in China, has issued a statement saying:
‘We expect at least a four-week delay on physical goods that have already been paid for. Our factory is currently closed, and while we are doing all we can to minimize delays, we currently do not know when it will reopen.’
Currently, all public gatherings in Wuhan are forbidden. All factories and public places are closed. The flow of goods in and out of the area has come to a halt.
Reduction in freighting capacity
The coronavirus is now confirmed in more than 23 countries. And the world’s airlines are responding by cancelling flights to and from China.
Airlines all over the world have ceased some or all of their China freight routes.
Sea freighting is also likely to be affected. If you have goods in transport from China, there may be significant delays in them leaving major ports. And when they do leave, there’s a risk that crew will become ill on the journey.
Freight is not the only thing that needs to come and go out of China. People also do, for business or leisure.
The restrictions on flights will start to impact business agendas.
Many international companies are shutting down their offices in China and restricting all travel.
Commodities market and the broader economy
From a supply chain perspective, what’s most concerning about the effect of the coronavirus is the already devastating impact it is having on the commodities market and the broader economy.
As one of the world’s largest consumers of commodities, decreased demand in the Chinese market has now caused many commodity prices to slump. Copper has fallen 12% and crude oil 10%. The Bloomberg Commodity Index has taken a 6% hit. Analysts expect these decreases to continue.
How can you manage the risk coronavirus represents for your organisation?
Justin Crump, Procurious consultant CEO of Sibylline, a world-renowned risk management consultancy, recommends that procurement takes the following actions immediately.
1. Understand cascading supply chain consequences
‘You need to understand more than just your suppliers,’ says Justin, ‘as it will be second-order problems that bite when you think you’re okay.’
To do this, Justin recommends you dig further to understand supplier dependencies.
A great way to do so might be to survey your suppliers. Test their exposure to the virus, and then try and mitigate any issues early.
2. Stockpile if you can
It might be too late for some, but Justin recommends that everyone who is able ‘tries to stockpile while you still can’.
This is difficult for those practising just-in-time manufacturing.
But Justin thinks that if you can still action this advice you’ll benefit – as oil prices are substantially lower due to a steep fall in demand.
3. Invest in resilience
Procurement should never be reactionary when it comes to risks, Justin reminds us. ‘But now, more than ever, you need to invest in resilience.’
Justin believes this ‘resilience’ needs to come in multiple forms.
For example: • look into alternate suppliers – and move now to get ahead of your competitors • consider impacts on staff, families and customer relationships • think long-term about how travel and freighting might be affected
4. Consider the bigger economic picture
It’s tempting to focus on the now, Justin says. But it’s important to consider the bigger economic picture and how you might need to mitigate that risk (if that will even be possible).
5. Appraise the effect on international relations
All large businesses depend on international relations to a degree Justin says, ‘so the effect on international relations shouldn’t be underestimated’.
Justin thinks it’s important that we don’t rest on our laurels and just assume business will continue as usual.
‘What I see happening is that China is quietly blaming the US in some circles for the outbreak, calling it a deliberate attack,’ he says. ‘Likewise, the US is using this to encourage businesses to pull out of China.
‘China blaming the US feels like more of an insurance policy to deflect criticism from the regime, but still . . . it’s a reminder that the global network is under threat.’
So bear in mind Justin’s analysis and consider taking these 5 steps to limit potential supply-chain difficulties resulting from the coronavirus.
What effects are you seeing on your supply chain from the coronavirus? How are you managing risk? Tell us in the comments below.
Interested in more hot tips on how to improve your supply chain approach and get more productive? Join the Procurious community of 37,000 members where you’ll find daily inspiration.
The bushfire crisis has devastated Australia. But how has it affected our jobs and our organisations? We spoke to members of The Faculty’s Roundtable program to see what the impact had been and how they’d managed.
Whenever the need arises, procurement steps up. And during the recent unprecedented Australian bushfires, the situation was no different: procurement professionals from across the country, in roles from analyst to CPO, took the crisis under their wing and worked hard to manage huge and urgent projects, doing everything from sourcing safety masks to visiting impacted sites and absorbing, first-hand, the horror of the situation.
The fact that the bushfire crisis is a procurement-related issue is of little doubt, so much so that it’s made international headlines. In a case that is yet unresolved, Australian charity The Red Cross has been criticised for not distributing funds quickly enough to those in need. Yet The Red Cross has fiercely defended their work, saying, in a statement we can all relate to: ‘We must manage the money so we aren’t scammed…we need to protect funds.’ In times of crisis, supplier vetting and proper process is just as, if not more important, according to The Red Cross and other charities, especially given the public pressure to ‘spend with them,’ an initiative that encourages all Australian people and companies to spend as much as possible with bushfire-affected communities.
The Red Cross might have made the headlines, but how are we, as procurement professionals for some of the world’s leading companies, doing behind the scenes? We surveyed procurement leaders from members of The Faculty’s Roundtable Program to see what impact they’d made, how they coped and what they were proud of in this time of crisis. Here’s what they told us.
The impact of the bushfires
There’s no doubt that the bushfires have had an impact on procurement, and this impact has been felt most for our members in the insurance, banking and service/utilities industry.
For one member in insurance, the procurement team has been pivotal in increasing resourcing to areas that are making claims. Yet with this, they’ve treaded carefully with suppliers:
‘[In times of crisis, like these, my team have ensured] suppliers in fire regions are being treated sensitively.’
For another member in utilities, the crisis has forced them to consider a few of their policies and plans:
‘The bushfires have really made us stress test our Disaster Recovery plan and rethink our emergency sourcing process.’
‘They have highlighted the critical importance of having a solid, reliable and trusted supplier partner to meet all of our urgent demands.’
On the issue of suppliers, many procurement teams have had to adjust their approach. One, in the services industry, has made a concerted effort to follow the ‘spend with them’ mantra:
‘[For this crisis in particular], there is a strong imperative to use local suppliers and providers, including trades, cleaners etc. This is to ensure that any investment in rebuilding these communities comes from the communities themselves.’
For others, like this member in the banking industry, it’s been more about alignment, agility and innovation:
‘Right now, we’re focusing on who can mobilise fast and solve issues.’
‘In a crisis, it’s not so much about being perfect as it is about getting in and trying something to see if it will work. Organisations that can provide solutions by quickly connecting people and resources are more valuable than providers who take time to line everything up and have the ideal outcome in a bureaucratic fashion.’
For other members, it was simply an issue of availability. Two members, both in the utilities industry, simply said that ‘resource availability’ was their focus when selecting suppliers.
While the bushfire crisis – and, indeed, any crisis – is a busy time for procurement, a number of our members have achieved great things. For a member in the services industry, they were able to make a substantial frontline impact:
‘[Our team has helped] deliver a number of significant outcomes, including bussing people from fire-hit areas to evacuation centres and providing them with catering and other services when they arrived.’
Another member, from the insurance industry, has gone the extra mile to look after their suppliers:
‘We reduced supplier payment terms to those located in fire regions from 30 days to immediate.’
Each member has contributed, but a member from the banking industry has gone above and beyond, ensuring that they assist from a charity and staff perspective:
‘We are currently working with WorkVentures, a social enterprise that refurbishes laptops. We’ve funded them to refurbish 5,000 laptops to provide to the Salvation Army, who will distribute them in affected areas. This has such far-reaching implications; it will help environmentally, as well as with community disaster relief and disability employment.’
‘In addition to this, we’ve established a $1.5 million funding packing, which includes customer/employee grants, recovery support, relief packages and unlimited paid leave for volunteers.’
A strategy focus?
Given the increasing expectation on procurement to be a strategic business partner within organisations, many procurement teams took the crisis as an opportunity to use their strategic prowess.
Yet some didn’t consider strategy at this particular time. A member in the services industry told us:
‘At this point, the operational requirements far outweigh the strategic requirements.’
Other members disagreed though, with many making strategic contributions. One member in the insurance industry has used the crisis to start focusing on a long term-issue:
‘We’re now strategically elevating climate elements within our procurement operating model.’
Another member, in the transport industry, is using the crisis to make critical future preparations:
‘After this crisis, we’re now in the planning phase for emergency preparedness and response. We are reviewing our supply market, preparing for activity.’
Do you relate? How has your procurement team been affected by the Australian bushfire crisis, or other crises you’ve experienced? Tell us in the comments below.
The Faculty’s Roundtable Program gives leading procurement professionals at member organisations the opportunity to learn, connect and access industry-leading research, networks and knowledge. Collaborative in spirit, the recent bushfire crisis was yet another example of where our Roundtable community was able to band together to support each other, share best practice, and drive positive outcomes for their organisations and our profession.
And if that isn’t enough to entice you to watch along, we’ll leave the final words to those from some past events.
Big Ideas Sydney 2018 – Live from the sidelines
Question: What does it take to be an influencer in an organisation?
Big Ideas Chicago 2019
Question: What’s the most exciting social or environmental change you’ve been able to drive in your career?
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Tenders may be the traditional form of procurement, but it’s time they were consigned to the dustbin of the past.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Austin Harrison.
“Procurement by tender is the worst form of procurement, except for all the others”
Winston Churchill, British politician, army officer, and writer, 1874-1965
Actually, Winston Churchill never said that, but if he’d been a Bid Manager I reckon he totally would have.
Procurement by tender is, by and large, a solution to a whole lot of problems that ought not to exist. Nepotism, backhanding, bribery and intimidation – those old-school gangster favourites – are obnoxious and illegal and commercially inadvisable, and picking with a pin is a terrible way to get an optimal result. I fully accept that tendering is as about as fair and sensible a method of procurement as I’ve come across.
Then again, if aliens landed and were introduced to the concept of tendering, they might wonder why we’ve created an entire sub-industry devoted to a single method of acquisition that doesn’t always get the right result for the purchaser and doesn’t always guarantee a sale for the best vendor.
Tenders – A Hugely Expensive Lack of Control
As someone who supports sales for a living, the issue I have, if one accepts I’m not a gangster, is that tendering is hugely expensive, and doesn’t quite work like it says on the tin. Purchasing, even of large, complex and multi-component tangibles, as well as intangible stuff like ideas and values, works a bit better for both parties if it’s treated more like old-fashioned shopping.
The buyer needs to try it on, to prod and poke and feel the width, and the vendor needs to suggest politely that while tangerine sequins are a bit last season, this one here is timeless and elegant and 20 per cent off.
A glaring anomaly, for me at least, is that as soon as an invitation to tender is issued, both sides lose a significant element of control. From the sales side, there might have been months or years of locating, learning about, and leading a prospect towards a solution that meets and exceeds needs that have been properly and professionally identified.
An RFx is issued, and suddenly any such headway can be diminished or completely negated. For the purchaser, they give up the tactile, lived experience of shopping and replace it with acquisition by form-filling at arms-length.
And if we’re being brutally honest, both the form and the response can be poorly designed and quite a long way from what is wanted or what is actually delivered.
Re-channelling some of the blood, toil, tears and sweat
While the tendering thing fills up my time quite satisfactorily, I’d prefer to expend a little more effort on winning business, and a little less on just joining in. Tenders are unlikely ever to disappear (and nor should they), but that doesn’t stop me from exploring any alternative approaches.
I’m lucky that the field I work in is flexible to some extent in respect of the sales process. It’s been possible for my team, in collaboration with others, to provision my sales colleagues with written collateral that is designed to preempt, or at least influence (in a non-gangster way) procurement by tender. I believe we’ve had some success with the following:
A Buyers’ Guide to Tenders
More of an infomercial than an advert, this encourages a prospect to ask questions of prospective suppliers. They are, of course, the kind of questions that my company would enjoy answering, and our logo and testimonials are prominent, but for those prospects who are in the early stages of procurement, I believe it’s actually a really useful item
The Case for a New [insert your offering here]
A more substantial justification for change, and how to go about it (define why you’re shopping, don’t let the wrong people make the decision, focus on advantages rather than risk, examine the risk of not changing, etc.). Includes plenty of stories of successful procurement (of my company’s products, but then those are the only stories to which we have access…)
How to write a Request for Proposal
If we have to go down the RFP path, it’s great to receive something that we can respond to properly. You may be surprised, but this isn’t a shameless spruiking for my company’s products. Rather it highlights sensible things to ask, and how best to encourage an honest and comprehensive response (e.g.; a spreadsheet with 500 or 1,000 closed questions might actually deliver less information than 50 broad questions that can be completed as the respondent sees fit, kind of thing)
A Host of One-Pagers
A host of documents, from one-pagers upwards, that serve to address questions from prospects that repeatedly crop up during the sales process. For my line of work, these include collections of case studies focused on a particular market sector (who else like me has your products?), outlines of change management and ongoing support services, descriptions and examples of opportunities for return on investment, explanations of solution architecture and overarching compliance, etc., etc.
While it seems that these documents have had some impact, it’s difficult to measure precisely how much. Certainly, we’ve received RFPs based on our suggestions, but often we’re not sure if a particular document reassured or persuaded a particular prospect sufficiently for a them to sign the contract.
That said, I take the view that my job is to support the salesfolk, and if they consider this sort of thing helpful, that, for me, is a decent result.
Do you do anything to anticipate or guide procurement by tenders, and move forward into broad, sunlit uplands? What are your experiences here? Always keen to learn more….
Negotiating your salary can be scary… but not doing so can be an even bigger risk and really add up over time.
Money. We all might agree that it doesn’t buy happiness at work and it’s far from the most important benefit in our jobs, but still, it’s a big indicator of the value we bring. And while as procurement professionals, we’re more than happy to put on our poker face, sit at the negotiating table and secure the best deal for our business, many of us are less inclined to employ these tactics when it comes to our own pay rises.
Negotiating for ourselves is challenging, and research shows an incredible two-thirds of us never do it. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to – our hard work and effort would be automatically rewarded. But our jobs, just like our supplier negotiations, are about business, so it follows that we’d need to regularly present our business case to secure the best deal.
Doing so can be scary, but not doing so can be even scarier and over time, really add up. An example: a study conducted by Linda Babcock showed that only 7% of women attempt to negotiate their salary, as opposed to 57% of men. Over a career, this can make a huge difference – the same research showed that people who asked were able to increase their salary by over 7%.
But even if we know we should be negotiating for ourselves, doing so can be a completely different beast. So if you want to increase your procurement salary this year, here’s how we recommend you do it:
Step 1: Beforehand – Thoroughly prepare
A salary negotiation is like any other big-ticket negotiation in your procurement career and as such, you need to be prepared. Although salary can feel very personal, when you’re preparing you need to keep it professional and build a business case for what you’re going to ask for. Here’s how you do that:
Understand your market value
Before you enter any negotiations, you need to know your numbers, and salaries are no different. But where do you get this information from?
Websites such as Payscale can be a great starting point when it comes to salary ranges. It can also be extremely helpful to talk to specialist procurement recruiters, such as those from Procurious’ recruitment partner, The Source, to understand what your market rate should be.
After you’ve researched your range, land on exact value, ideally at the top end of the range. Why? Research shows that if you do this, you’re scientifically more likely to get closer to this amount, and when you select a number at the top of the range, you give yourself more room to negotiate.
Once you’ve discovered your market rate, think about what you’d like to ask for as an entire package, in case the business simply isn’t able to afford the raise you’re asking for (or equally, if you value other benefits just as much). Perhaps you’d like to negotiate for more annual leave? Different flexible work conditions? Travel or different projects? Ensure you know what you’re after and have prioritised it according to your preferences.
The last part of knowing what you’re after is considering the ‘bare minimum’ you’d accept. If you can’t get a raise, will you be ok to accept the changed benefits you’re asking for? Is nothing an acceptable outcome, as long as you know you can try again next year? Deciding on your ‘bare minimum’ can help you know when to acquiesce your negotiations.
Prepare your business case
Now you’re clear on your value, it’s time to show it through preparing your business case. Many people make the mistake of defaulting to their personal circumstances or effort expounded in their business cases, but you should always focus on purely business outcomes and results.
Your business case needn’t be long, in fact, it could be simply one page, but on it you should include:
Your accomplishments, focusing on the value you added vis-a-vis the strategic priorities of your department (and even the business as a whole)
Any awards or other recognition you’ve received
Customer, stakeholder or co-worker testimonials (if you don’t have any of these, ensure you proactively ask for some).
A plan to achieve future objectives of the business and department.
Once you’ve put together your business case, practice your pitch. Know inside-out how you’re adding value, and be prepared to answer any questions your manager might have (without getting defensive). Confidence will be a big part of your success, so practice definitely makes perfect.
Get your timing right (if you can)
Some companies mandate that salary negotiations and performance reviews go hand-in-hand. But from an HR perspective, there is always room for ‘out-of-cycle’ pay rises where they’re deemed necessary, so if possible, try to pick your timing when you’re negotiating. According to the Harvard Business Review, the best time to negotiate for a rise may be three to four months prior to your performance review, before your boss has decided what rises might be given out (NB. Team salaries often come from the same budget ‘bucket’ so getting in ahead of time might ensure there’s more available for you).
The first rule of picking your timing is choosing a time, obviously, when your boss isn’t stressed or where you don’t have thousands of impending deadlines. Beyond this, research shows that you should choose a Thursday or Friday to negotiate, as in this part of the week people are usually more amenable to negotiation and compromise.
Step 2: The meeting – put your best negotiation skills on
Remember the nerves you felt in your first supplier negotiation? Undoubtedly, you’ll feel those one-hundred fold when negotiating for yourself. As such, consciously employ these tactics to ensure you present your best pitch:
Get your confidence on
Some people think of confidence as something you do – or don’t – have, but in reality there’s lots of things you can do to make sure you look and feel more confident.
One such thing is to employ what Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy calls a ‘power pose.’ A ‘power pose is where you stand tall with your hands on your hips and your chin and chest raised. Executing one of these, even if it’s in your office prior to your negotiation, helps raise testosterone, which in turn increases confidence and reduces stress.
You can also make sure you look and feel the part, says self-improvement researcher James Clear. To do so, choose an outfit that makes you feel your best, and make sure you enter the negotiation room with your head held high, eye contact and a confident smile. ‘The way you enter a room can dictate how the rest of an interaction will be,’ James asserts.
As you’d know from your supplier negotiations, you’re always in the best position when you’re armed with as much information as possible. Likewise, as counterintuitive as might seem, the first thing you need to do in your salary negotiation is to listen.
What have our key successes been, you might ask. Or alternatively, what’s the road map for the future and how will be measure our success? The answers to these questions may well cause you to adjust your pitch, depending on what your manager highlights as their most crucial priorities.
Now you’ve listened, it’s time for your pitch. When you’re discussing your achievements, keep everything professional and fact-based, referencing your business case as needed.
Use your pitch to present your ‘first preference,’ whether this simply be a pay rise or a combination of pay and other conditions. Don’t mention other options as yet – these are for later down the track if negotiations don’t go as planned. Also take care not to mention anything non-business related, as relevant as it may seem (for example, I need a raise as my rent has increased, or I need a raise because I learnt my colleague who doesn’t work half as hard earns more). Mentioning personal reasons for a pay rise will distract from the value you add to the business, which is what your salary is fundamentally about.
Step 3: The big ask – will you get the pay rise?
Once you’ve prepared to ask for your pay rise and presented your case, your work is almost done. But there’s still the hardest part – actually asking for the raise. How do you do that? Here’s some tips:
Skirting around the topic, waiting to be asked for a number, or putting too many words into your request can all, unfortunately, be a sign you lack confidence in what you’re asking. The best way to ask for a raise is simply to ask, referencing everything you’ve presented. Try something along the lines of:
‘Based on the evidence I’ve presented here today, including the research I did on market range, I’d like to request a pay rise to XX.’
Be positive, not pushy
If the first response you get isn’t a straight yes (it almost never will be), you need to resist the urge to sound pushy, beg, or get offended or defensive. If the initial response to your request isn’t positive, ensure that stay positive and continue to lead with the value you’ve added. If you manager wants to dispute or further investigate anything you’ve presented, simply say that you’re happy to provide further evidence.
This is especially important if you feel yourself getting emotional. Even if you have further evidence at hand, it may be better to present it at a later point when you’re feeling more composed.
Send evidence via email
From an HR perspective, it’s unlikely that even if your boss agrees with your request in principle, he or she will be able to approve it straight away. Also, he or she may need to provide evidence to senior management or HR as to why the decision is being made.
To get on the front foot with this, send your manager an email after your meeting, detailing your request and your business case. Ensure you give your manager a deadline for responding, so you’ll know either way how to move the negotiations forward, if need be.
Step 4: Dealing with a no
When we enter a negotiation, the last thing we want is to receive is a ‘no.’ Yet at the same time, we do need to prepare for this as a possible outcome. Here’s how you do that while maintaining your professionalism and your job (if that’s your intention):
See no as a path to yes
When it comes to salary negotiations, it can be tempting to see a ‘no’ as a personal indictment on your performance, but according to Forbes, it’s anything but this:
‘We’re often reluctant to negotiate past no, but we shouldn’t be. After all, it’s not really a negotiation if we’re asking for something our bargaining partner wants.’
‘Negotiation is a conversation whose goal is to reach an agreement with someone whose interests are not perfectly aligned with yours.’
If we wanted something from our supplier, would we take no as an answer? Probably not. Employ that same ethos in your salary negotiations.
Make a counter offer
The beauty of having pre-considered options for your negotiation means that if you get a no to your first request, you can proceed down the list. If you need to do this, continue to lead with value and sell the reasons why the benefits you’re asking for are beneficial to the business, for example, ‘Working a compressed working week has been shown to boost productivity, and I’m confident, given my track record, I can deliver that.’
Keep the conversation open
Did you know that some of the world’s most famous negotiations took years, and even decades to pull off? While you’re unlikely to want to wait that long for a pay rise, know that it might take some time to achieve what you’re asking for. Stay positive, make SMART goals (for example, I’d like to discuss this again in 6 months, when I’ve done XYZ) and continue building your business case.
Have you tried to negotiate your salary? Any other tips for success? We’d love to hear them – please let us know in the comments below.
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