Category Archives: Career Management

How to Strike Gold When Seeking a Mentor

Finding a mentor is no longer limited to new starts. Now senior leaders are seeking the benefits of a two-way mentoring relationship.

Mentor

This article first appeared in Women’s Agenda.

I am 45 years old and own three businesses. Yet I’ve had three mentors in the past three months. A chairman, who is helping me navigate the new territory of being an international business owner, and two 25 year-olds who have coaxed and coached me on the power of social media.

Mentoring, it never sleeps.

Apparently I’m not the only “experienced” leader who has sought out a more junior executive to be my mentor. Reverse mentoring has become a bit of a trend.

Procurement and business leaders are facing a race to unearth new opportunities and remain relevant in a rapidly changing digital economy. This is causing a shift in the traditional mentoring framework – senior mentor coaching junior mentee – to one that is more collaborative and co-creative.

That’s not to mean traditional mentor relationships should be thrown out. My first mentor was the traditional type. She was someone I respected, who was more senior than me, who took me under her wing and showed me the ropes.

But the lines are blurring. Whether it’s someone with years of experience under their belt or someone with less years than yourself, finding the right mentor fit is key.

Today, many Millennials seem obsessed with finding a mentor, convinced that it is the magic key to career advancement. Sheryl Sandberg, makes the following observation in her book, Lean In:

“I realised that searching for a mentor has become the professional equivalent of waiting for Prince Charming,” she writes.

“We all grew up on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, which instructs young women that if they just wait for their prince to arrive, they will be kissed and whisked away on a white horse to live happily ever after. Now young women are told that if they can just find the right mentor, they will be pushed up the ladder and whisked away to the corner office to live happily ever after.”

The important truth is that mentors find you, not the other way around. Sandberg believes we need to stop telling mentees, “Get a mentor and you will excel.” Instead, we need to tell them, “Excel and you will get a mentor.”

So how can you increase your chances of a great mentor relationship?

1. Check that you don’t already have a mentor

Sometimes in large organisations there are lots of people advocating for you – you just don’t realise it. Open your eyes and ears to people who may already be informally mentoring you.

2. Get to know yourself and pinpoint where you need to grow

Self-awareness is one of the most valuable traits you can develop as a leader. We can all be our own greatest critics, but we need to take an honest look in the mirror and really understand and reconcile our opportunities for development.

Sometimes we can be attracted to people who are actually a lot like ourselves, when in reality we need advice from people who have strengths in areas we don’t.

3. Be brave and find an “unreasonable friend”

One of the key take outs I got from Craig Harper, High Performance Coach and Exercise Scientist, was that everyone needs an unreasonable friend. That is someone who just won’t tell us what we WANT to hear, but what we NEED to hear.

We need to be brave enough to have someone like this in our lives, and really take their feedback onboard.

4. Relax and let the relationship unfold

If you consciously know that you want a mentor, you will unconsciously seek out that person. Don’t push the universe too much. Wait for your mentor to evolve naturally, then cultivate the relationship in a measured, professional way.

5. You don’t need just one mentor

Don’t feel like you need just one person to give you the answers to all your development questions. We are surrounded by amazing people that we can learn different things from every day. I’m a prime example of that as I learn from people from all walks of my life!

The great mentors of my life have not been created through formal relationships. They have been created in the workplace based on mutual respect, my desire to learn and my mentor’s willingness to share knowledge, promote me to others and, most importantly, help me believe in myself.

What to do When You Feel Like Quitting

Feel like quitting? It’s important to ask yourself some key questions before you hand in your letter of resignation. 

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Moving jobs is consistently rated by psychologists as one of the most stressful events in a person’s life (more stressful, for example, than the birth of a child or planning your wedding). So it’s vital for your own well-being that you manage the whole situation very carefully.

Before you even begin to start the process of hunting for a new job, you need to ask yourself the key question – what’s my motivation?

Why Do People Start Looking Elsewhere?

People look for new jobs for a whole host of reasons, but they generally fall into one of the following groups:

  1. Dissatisfaction with the work they’re doing
  2. Dissatisfaction with their remuneration
  3. Dissatisfaction with their working environment
  4. Dissatisfaction with their manager(s)

It’s interesting to note that people are often only motivated into actively looking for a new job when they are unhappy with more than one of these aspects. If you currently find yourself in this position, here’s my advice.

What to Do When You Feel Like Quitting

Before you storm into your boss’s office with your letter of resignation, you should think carefully about whether your dissatisfactions can be resolved in your current situation. Let’s look at these one by one.

1) Feeling Unsatisfied?

If you are finding your current work is unsatisfying, first check if there are other, more interesting projects coming up for which you could volunteer. Or, if you are finding that your expertise is causing you to become “pigeon-holed” into one area, look into whether there are internal opportunities to cross-train into different and more exciting areas, and gain new skill-sets.

2) Struggling on Your Salary?

If you’re unhappy with your salary, you need to check whether you are being fairly remunerated for the work that you do. This information may not be easily obtained within your company because of individual confidentiality, but job-boards contain a lot of data, and sites like Glassdoor will give you a rough idea of whether you are being paid what your skills and experience are worth.

If you have been with the same company for a long time you may find that your pay has only increased by small increments each year, and your own boss may be unaware that your salary is unfair in relation to the market as a whole. Before you hand in your notice, you should at least talk to your manager, armed with the relevant information, to give them a chance to improve matters for you.

But be warned, you may have already hit the salary threshold for your skill-set, in which case you should think about learning new skills, developing niche expertise or taking on more responsibilities.

3) Unhappy with the Working Environment?

Your working environment covers everything from the company culture (which you probably can’t change) to the working hours and your work-life balance.

People’s needs change throughout their careers: if your domestic situation changes because of childcare needs or caring for a relative, talk to your HR department or manager about adjusting your working hours.

Increasingly, companies understand the cost to them of losing experienced staff (and having to find and train replacements) so they are much more willing to be flexible in accommodating the needs of their teams.

4) Bad Manager?

Perhaps the hardest problem to resolve is a bad manager. Micro-manager, absent manager, unappreciative manager, bully…it’s an old truism that “people leave managers, not jobs”.

If you’re feeling unappreciated you may need to run an internal PR campaign and make sure that your boss has realised all of the things that you’ve achieved for the company.

If the person you report to is irrepressibly miserable, or a shameless bully, you may have the capability to neutralise or ignore their toxic behaviour. However, it may be too emotionally-exhausting and this will be all the worse if the company’s senior management don’t seem to care.

Focus On Being Happy

So, if your managers are steering your company onto the rocks, while paying you a pittance for working every hour under the sun…it’s maybe time to go.

At least you have investigated whether the situation can be saved, and by looking at your motivations you will know which aspects are most important for you.

This will save you many hours of pain and stress in the job-hunting process because right from the start you will know what your “red-lines” are.

  • If you absolutely need a certain level of income to support your family then you can rule out everything below that;
  • If you absolutely need to be able to drop your child at school in the morning then you can focus your attention on those employers who support flexible working hours;
  • If you’re committed to learning new skills then you need to find a company who will truly support your drive for self-improvement.

Once you know what you’re trying to achieve with your job-move then you will be focusing on the things that are important to you, the things that are most likely to make you happier and less stressed. This is really important not just for your own well-being but also because there is a huge body of evidence that proves that happy people work more effectively, and so you are creating a virtuous circle for your next job.

And now it’s time to think about the next key step – your CV!

Richard Harris is Managing Director at Mohawk Consulting. Mohawk Consulting is a specialist recruitment company, working within the professional services market, particularly at the level of experienced hire/manager/director.

What the Numbers Say – Behind the Scenes at Career Boot Camp

Numbers don’t lie! Over 6,500 procurement professionals took our Career Boot Camp challenge. Were you one of them?

cbc by numbers

As the dust settles on one of Procurious’ biggest events this year, we’re taking a look at what the numbers say about what our Boot Campers were most interested in.

Which topics were the most popular over the course or Career Boot Camp? Which of our podcast presenters had the biggest audience? What were the podcasts and articles most shared on Twitter?

Membership Boom

First up, the great news for all Procurious members is that our online community has grown bigger and stronger than ever.

Just over 870 new users signing up over the course of Career Boot Camp. That’s 870 more procurement and supply chain professionals for you to share knowledge with and add to your ever-growing professional networks.

On top of this, a staggering 6,500+ visitors listened to at least one of our free podcasts, while nearly 20,000 people read one of the great article that were published during the campaign.

It was great to see so many of you engaging with the podcasts and the content. If we’ve all taken just one lesson from Career Boot Camp, then we can start getting our careers on the right track!

Most Viewed Podcasts

We shared 15 podcasts, coming from a range of fantastic Career Coaches. If you missed out on hearing any of these, you can now catch up with them in the Procurious Learning area.

But which of the 15 podcasts were the most listened to?

  1. Give Your Career a Cardio Boost” – Founder at Procurious, Tania Seary
  2. Incubate Your Big Ideas on the Job” – VP Strategy and Market Development at Coupa, Gabe Perez
  3. Five Surefire Ways to Become a CPO” – CEO at ISM, Tom Derry
  4. Become a Global Player” – Cultural Diversity Expert, Dr Tom Verghese
  5. Take Your Conscience to Work – Finding Meaning in your Procurement Career” – Business and Enterprise Director at Social Enterprise UK, Charlie Wigglesworth

The interesting thing about this top five list is that it’s such a mixed bag of topics. We’ve gone from Tania Seary’s “Kick-Off” podcast that got Career Boot Camp off to such a great start, to topics on progressing in your organisation.

Not to mention the fact that two of our most popular podcasts came from Tom Derry and Gabe Perez, representatives of two of the profession’s important organisations (ISM and Coupa).

Looking further down the list, we see two topics that are front of mind for nearly all procurement professionals. Our increasingly global marketplace is putting demands on our cultural intelligence and diversity knowledge. Dr. Tom Verghese’s message really hit home with you all it seems.

Then we had the topic of social value and social enterprise, with Charlie Wigglesworth from Social Enterprise UK. All professionals, but in particular procurement’s Millennials, want to make a wider difference in their careers.

Working with social enterprises struck a chord with you, and allowed us to build on our learning on the topic from Big Ideas 2016.

Best Reads

As well as article from our Career Coaches, we also invited our influencers and community to share their thoughts. We received an overwhelming number of articles (thanks!), and they really helped spread the word about Career Boot Camp.

Amongst the content were some articles that seemed to inspire you all with the career message. Our Top 5 here were:

  1. Only 24 Hours in a Day – Manage Your Time Wisely (Procurious HQ)
  2. Does Your CV Pack a Punch for a Real Live Human? (Andy Wilkinson, The Chameleon Career Consultancy)
  3. Career Espresso – 5 Minutes a Day Fast-Track to Success (Tania Seary, Founder, Procurious)
  4. The Top 5 Ways to Stand Out In Procurement (Anna del Mar, Head of Learning & Development, Future Purchasing)
  5. How To Land Your Dream Job? You Gotta Work For It (Lucy Harding, Partner and Global Head of Practice at Odgers Berndtson)

The top five most read blog articles show that Procurious readers value practical, actionable career advice.

From tips on how to start on the path to landing a dream job, down to detailed advice on time management, the most popular articles delivered an array of best-practice career advice.

Social Media by Numbers

We also spread the good word on Career Boot Camp across our social media platforms. The articles were well shared and read across the board.

Within the articles, there were a few topics that got people coming to see what Boot Camp was all about. These were:

  1. Does Your CV Pack a Punch for a Real Live Human? (Andy Wilkinson, The Chameleon Career Consultancy)
  2. The Top 5 Ways to Stand Out In Procurement (Anna del Mar, Head of Learning & Development at Future Purchasing)
  3. Irresistible Procurement Candidate? Have a Finger in Every Pie (60 Second with Rhonda McSweeney, Group Manager of Procurement and Contract Management at CS Energy)

It again shows that people were interested in the really detailed tips and career advice. But at the same time, they were interested to hear what our CPOs and influencers had to say for their own career advice too.

#CareerBootCamp: What Twitter Had to Say

The Career Boot Camp hashtag was tweeted out more than 1,200 over the course of the campaign, and reaching a potential audience of just under 400,000 users.

Once again, the Procurious HQ team can’t thank all our followers and supporters enough for their help with this. Your help allowed us boost our numbers and reach a truly global audience.

Global Activity for #CareerBootCamp
Global Activity for #CareerBootCamp

It’s great to see such large numbers of procurement professionals taking an interest in their careers. We hope you got as much out of Career Boot Camp as we did, and that you’ve already started making changes for your procurement career.

Although Career Boot Camp is over, there’s no need to despair. You can still listen to all fifteen podcasts via Procurious for FREE here.

Do What You Love – Chase Your Dream Procurement Job

You can’t just wait for your dream job to come along. If you want to do something you love, you’re going to have to chase your dreams.

Chase Your Dreams - Do What You Love

Imagine working in a role that you love. Being completely satisfied with your work through pursuing whatever you’re most passionate about can make the difference between feeling discontented and uninspired, and moving to a happier, more productive and fulfilling life.

Here are my simple and practical tips towards landing your dream role:

  1. Define your key skills

What are you most passionate about? If you’re struggling to work that out, write a list of what you love to do, what interests you, and what comes naturally to you.

Think about feedback or comments (informal or formal) you’ve consistently received from peers, leaders, friends and family. How do others generally describe you? What do they often say you’re great at?

For example, you might be a fluent writer. Maybe you have the gift of the gab. Perhaps you enjoy analysing data and making meaningful sense of it. You could be a great coach, and know how to get the best out of others. Or are you the person with all the big ideas?

  1. Uncover the role fit 

Now that you’ve got your list sorted, identify and search for roles that call for those skills.

For example, if you’re able to think strategically, if you’re good at problem solving, have strong emotional intelligence and display outstanding interpersonal and communication skills, then a leadership role could be the way to go.

If you love working with numbers, data, spreadsheets and providing commercial insights then a role in analytics and reporting will suit.

Perhaps you’re highly relationship and customer focused with sound analytical, negotiation and commercial skills. Sounds like a career in Procurement might be right for you!

  1. Network, Network, Network!

The percentage of unadvertised roles is estimated to be between 70 and 80 per cent, which suggests your next amazing role is sitting somewhere within your professional and personal networks.

  • Start connecting (and reconnecting) with your networks – who can they introduce you to?
  • Form a relationship with a specialist recruitment firm. Recruitment consultants are a great source of information and can certainly guide you in the right direction.
  • Attend industry networking forums and events.
  • Actively connect with professionals on sites such as LinkedIn or Procurious, the world’s first business networking site for the procurement and supply chain profession. Get noticed by sharing articles, joining relevant groups and contributing to discussions, or for those that love to write, demonstrate thought leadership through regularly posting blogs (something I must do more often!).

Be proactive, targeted and considered in your job search. Whether you’re connecting face to face, on-line or over the phone, effective networking will be key to your ultimate success.

People generally like to help others so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance – you will also bring value to that connection in some way.

Go ahead, chase your dreams and do what you love!

The Source is a specialist Procurement mid to senior and executive recruitment and search firm with national reach. We provide tailored contract and permanent recruitment solutions to leading organisations in the Australian market.

Why the Traditional Procurement Skill-Set Won’t Make a CPO

Perfecting a traditional procurement skill-set traditionally is a sure-fire way to stop your career progression in its tracks.

skill-set

 

A large part of my professional career has been devoted to leading global procurement organisations around the world. My business partner, Sammy, and I have collectively spent the better part of five decades doing this.

It’s true enough that we gave it all up and we are now in our own practice (The Beyond Group AG), following our own rules. However, those years instilled in us a number of ideals, which, on reflection, were less crucial than we were conditioned to believe in the earlier stage of our careers. Luckily, we have been smart enough to realise it over time!

It’s Time to Check Your Skill-Set

What am I referring to?  As we develop our procurement careers we have a notion that a certain skill-set is expected of us. Proficiency in category management, price analysis and negotiation tactics, to name a few, are most typically associated with the procurement function.

Whilst softer skills come into play as you advance into more senior roles, procurement professionals are expected to demonstrate aptitude for these sharper procurement skills from the offset.

We spend the vast majority of our professional lives honing these very same capabilities.

In my experience, these skills can only get you so far and certainly not into the CPOs chair. In today’s world, there is an important arsenal of skills demanded of CPOs.

These skills, as well as scoring above the traditional ones, will largely supplant the capabilities procurement professionals have been diligently polishing for so many years.

Organisations will simply demand of us that we are much more than we are today.

Where’s the Proof?

For the last five years, The Beyond Group has been at the forefront of dealing with the issues pressing the procurement function to change. We hold annual Think Tanks where a limited number of invited companies send their senior procurement people to deeply delve into a specific topic over the course of 4 and a half days

In 2016 we addressed the skills and capabilities needed by procurement professionals in the future.

Over the course of our three sessions we brought together practitioners, academics, professional recruiters and insightful speakers to help us pinpoint the skills that will differentiate between simple buyers and the new leaders of the function.

Assess, Analyse, Solve

Our sessions follow a specific agenda.  In the first session of the Think Tank we assess the real issues we are trying to solve. Then, in the second session we analyse options and debate outcomes.

In the third and final session we get to the bottom of the issue and try to solve it by coming to a collective understanding and collaborative solution. This year was no different.

This year the collective output of the group was that three sets of capabilities will define the CPO of the future:

1. The Business Partner (know your customer)

  • Intrapreneurial agility
  • Game Changer capability
  • Credible Experience

2. The Cross-functional integrator (manage your internal relationships)

  • Consultative skills
  • Project manager
  • Credible performance

3. The Alliance Manager (know your market)

  • Big Picture view
  • Ambassadorial skills
  • Risk and conflict manager

Most interestingly, despite the fact that we had a roomful of procurement professionals, not one of the “traditional” skill-set appeared anywhere on this list of the skills future CPOs need.

Place for ‘Hard’ Skills

This is, of course, not to say that hard skills no longer hold value in the procurement industry. It’s crucial that procurement pros master the skills associated with an interconnected supply chain: horizontal networking through social media; big data & analytics; and cognitive computing (e.g. Industry 4.0).

However, it is my belief that these will be rudimentary in the future and, as such, it won’t be necessary to call them out. They will simply be part of the assumed knowledge that everyone will have. We will continue to explore this theme in our future Think Tanks.

Sammy and I have taken to heart what a respected mentor once said to us: “You must lead with your head, heart, hands and guts”.

This has a very different, and more profound, meaning than it did some years ago in the procurement world.

Giles Breault is Principal and Co-founder at The Beyond Group AG, a specialised research & advisory firm focusing on the topic of “what’s next” in Procurement, and Business Productivity.

Some Procurement Lessons Just Can’t Be Taught

Not everything in life can be taught. Why is attitude more important than aptitude…(and almost everything else).

taught a class

David Hearn is the Chief Advisor at CPO Advisement Services, specialising in effective change management and the successful implementation of eProcurement tools.

With 20+ years leading direct and indirect sourcing and procurement groups under his belt, David has some great advice to offer regarding the importance of building good relations, retaining millennials with challenging roles and what defines the procurement talent gap.

David keenly asserts that the attitude of his employees is of the utmost importance. Only with a good attitude, good relationship building skills and effective collaboration can you build a successful career. Everything else can be taught.

1. What were your first 3 jobs?

My first job was as an engineer for General Motors where I was responsible for sourcing parts.

I moved on to the telecommunications company, AT&T. As a system consultant here I developed skills in selling, influence and relationship building. 

My third job was at Sun Microsystems as global sourcing manager. Whilst here, I honed skills gained from my first two jobs and learnt more about business partnership. 

2. What’s one thing you know now, that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?

 I wish I’d understood the importance of building relationships with the people you work with, internal and external. Good working relationships enable you to accomplish so much more, faster.

3. How can CPOs attract and retain millennials?

There are a number of ways to retain the enthusiasm of millennials in the workplace. Don’t given them boring, stereotypical procurement roles. Instead, craft new roles which allow them to learn on the job whilst delivering tangible results that they can be proud of.

Millennials want to contribute to the common good so it’s a good idea to find projects for them which have a positive impact on the world.

Finally, it’s a smart move to rotate millennials through multiple roles quickly.  Keep them learning, motivated and challenged.

4. Does the procurement talent gap exist? Or is it just as perception problem?

The only gaps are in soft skills such as relationship building, influence and collaboration. These skills are necessary in order to be a success as a trusted business partner.

5. What’s more important for your hires – attitude or aptitude?

Attitude – 100 per cent. Anything else can be taught but you can’t teach attitude.

6. What key skills are critical for procurement in the next 5 years?

  • Relationship building
  • Collaboration
  • Influence
  • Selling
  • Leadership

The Procurious Career Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you stand out from the crowd.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!

6 Ways to Attract and Retain Procurement Talent

Procurement job openings are on the rise and, as organisations squabble over the best talent, it’s important to make sure you’re doing the right things to attract the crowd you want!

how to attract top talents

Recent studies reveal that the number of advertised procurement and supply chain roles increase by 22 per cent each year, demonstrating a huge demand for talent in the industry.

As more people consider making the move into a procurement role, it’s important for organisations to find ways to attract the best possible employees.

I’ve come up with six innovative methods that will help you to attract, and then retain, the top talent out there.

1) Emphasise Your Standing Within the Industry

The position your company holds within the industry plays an important role in a potential candidate’s decision to apply or not.

Demonstrating extensive experience and knowledge of your industry will show candidates that you are a firm to be taken seriously. It’s crucial that you explain the influence your company has within your sector by highlighting the key successes you have enjoyed.

2) Offer an Attractive Salary

If you want to recruit the best talent, you need to offer a competitive wage. It’s important that you look at what similar businesses are offering, and how you’re able to match it.

If an employee is deciding whether to go with you or another employer with a better wage, chances are they will pick the higher salaried position. If you can’t quite match the salary your competitors are offering, investigate how to make your position seem more attractive by offering employee benefits and rewards.

3) Provide the Training and Support Needed to Succeed

Showing that you value your staff and take their development seriously is a great way to attract talented professionals to your available roles – think what training or support you can offer that will encourage professional growth.

Those who are serious about their career will actively seek out any opportunities to advance their skills and knowledge. Employers who can’t offer a competitive wage may find that by showcasing the importance of training and support within their company, they can still attract a high calibre of talent.

By providing the training and skills needed to succeed, you’ll show a determination and passion to help your employees climb the career ladder.

4) Stay On Top of Industry Trends

Is your company making any broad moves to digitise how its employees work? The procurement and supply chain industry is continuously facing rapid technology change. With new software and developments changing the way the industry works, you need to stay on top of these changes in order to attract the best staff.

The latest E-procurement software allows businesses to smoothen out operational processes. By having up-to-date tools, you will demonstrate to both current staff and potential candidates that you are keen to stay ahead in the technology game.

5) Clearly Articulate the Skills Required

When advertising your job offerings, it’s pivotal that you understand the role fully.

Fully articulate the skills and abilities you’re looking for and you will attract the relevant procurement staff. Being thorough and clearly describing the role will show talented individuals that you know your industry.

6) Forging Strong Relationships with Other Departments

Procurement seeks out new ways for organisations to work, throughout every department in the company. It is essential that your procurement department have strong relationships with other members of the organisation in order to work effectively.

When advertising new positions, demonstrate how well departments work together and how the role of procurement comes into play within your company. This will help to show potential candidates just how seriously you take procurement.

Attracting the Right Candidates to Succeed – In Summary

To appear attractive to potential candidates, it’s important that you speak their language.

Using the correct business jargon, thoroughly explaining the role and outlining how your organisation is beneficial to their career success will help you draw in the right people for your procurement roles. Knowing the industry will also help to retain your best talent.

With the procurement sector receiving a huge demand for roles, it’s vital you find how to reach the right people who will not only work for you but stay with you too.

Adam Maidment is a content writer for Portfolio Procurement, a procurement recruitment specialist which focuses on managerial roles through to executive appointments in procurement, category management and leadership.

5 Reasons Why Your Organisation Needs to Offer Sabbaticals

Sabbaticals were once confined to a few professions such as academia and the clergy, but are increasingly working their way into the HR policies of businesses across every sector.

quitting-job sabbaticals

You’ve just lost one of the most valuable members of your team because your organisation’s inflexible HR policies meant she couldn’t take six months off to travel with her family. Offering a sabbatical would have saved you the time and expense needed to recruit and train a replacement.

Does this sound familiar? How many of your best workers have quit for this reason? Where once sabbaticals were only offered to a select group of people, more and more organisations are offering them as part of their employment strategy.

Here are five reasons you need to offer sabbaticals to your team. 

  1. Retention

Let’s face it. Businesses across the board are struggling with retention, with millennial staff generally jumping ship every 2.5 years.

A sabbatical policy might just be the magic bullet you’ve been looking for to increase retention and longevity of employment. For example, you could offer a short sabbatical (paid or unpaid) after 5 years’ employment, a longer sabbatical after 10 years, and so on.

Remember, the alternative is having the employee quit to pursue their dreams, while you’re left with the expense and trouble of finding a replacement.

  1. Rejuvenation

There are so many reasons employees may want to take a sabbatical: study, travel, volunteering, health, family and so on.

But one of the underlying motives for people to take a career break is that we’re not machines – after a few years in the same role it’s natural to start feeling burnt out or stuck in a rut.

That’s why sabbaticals are essential for revitalisation, giving employees an opportunity to rediscover their mojo, rebuild their enthusiasm for their career and come up with new ideas.

  1. New ideas

As mentioned above, sabbaticals are traditionally associated with academia, wherein researchers take a paid break to spend time on activities related to their career or research, usually in a different geographic location.

The reasoning behind this is that people can’t be expected to come up with new ideas or creative thinking by simply sitting in their office – they need to find inspiration in other parts of the world and meet colleagues who are approaching shared challenges differently.

There’s no reason why this same concept shouldn’t apply outside of academia. A sabbatical will give your employees the opportunity to bring new thinking and creative ideas back to your organisation, even if they didn’t engage in any strictly career-related activities on their break.

  1. Expect career breaks to become increasingly popular

According to Elizabeth Pagano, cofounder of YourSabbatical.com, “the concept of working for 40 years and then retiring is outdated. People should be able to inject bursts of time off into their career paths.”

Putting off the pursuit of dreams such as travel or studying until you’ve retired (and over 60 years of age) can mean that you run the risk of no longer having the health or energy necessary to do those dreams justice.

Another reason sabbaticals will become increasingly popular is the security they offer for people taking a career break. Knowing that your job is being held for you is immensely reassuring.

The alternative is to quit your role, which could mean you’ll worry about your financial future during your precious time off and spend the last three months of your break on the phone to recruiters.

  1. Win the war for talent with attractive sabbatical offering

As sabbaticals become more widely accepted, expect job-seekers to ask about your sabbatical policy as they consider if your company is right for them. I

f a star candidate is choosing between your company and a competitor, a generous sabbatical policy might just be the factor that gets them over the line.

Remember, sabbaticals will not only help you attract talent, but retain people for years longer than the rapidly shrinking average term of employment.

Five tips for HR when building an offering for sabbaticals

1. Create a policy

A sabbatical policy will help you attract and retain talent, give employees a goal to work towards, and lay out a clear framework about how sabbaticals work.

It’s important to be absolutely clear on what activities would constitute a paid sabbatical, but keep in mind that for unpaid sabbaticals, the reason for the employee requesting the career break isn’t relevant.

2. Be flexible

A sabbatical could be your best way to retain a valued team member who was otherwise likely to quit.

Flexibility is key – even if that person hasn’t met the criteria such as the minimum period of employment, offering a sabbatical may still be a better alternative than letting them go.

3. Plan ahead to fill gaps

Ask the employee for a detailed handover plan well ahead of their career break, and consider involving them in the hiring process if a replacement is needed to fill the gap while they are away.

4. Discuss contact during the sabbatical

Many sabbatical-takers would choose to have zero contact with their workplace while away, and that’s fine.

Others, however, may want to retain a level of contact through regular emailed updates, or simply through social media.

5. Organise a return-to-work interview

Bring the employee up to date on organisational developments, projects, and new goals and targets that have occurred while they were away. A return-to-work interview will also enable you to capture any new ideas they will bring back to the team.

Does your organisation offer sabbaticals? If not, how would you convince your boss to offer one? Leave a comment below!

The Accidental Procurement Engineer

What makes the exciting world of procurement the perfect place for a curious engineer?

Procurement engineer

Some people begin their procurement careers with a big bang. Others start theirs with lots of sweat and toil. I started mine with a freak event. I was an Accidental Procurement Engineer.

Since this freak event, I have never looked back. I went on to have a fifteen-year career that would take me across North America, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. Now I work on improving the Procurement experience with the software solution, POOL4TOOL.

Procurement is an ideal career for an engineer at the beginning or in the middle of their career, especially if you’re looking for a little more from life.

Procurement by Accident

Let’s start with the freak event. I was working for a large multinational company headquartered in France. My job was based in Turkey and was technical. It also happened to be the first job I had after the completion of my engineering degree in France.

Following Turkey’s 2001 economic crisis, the stock market crashed and the interest rate shot up to 3000 per cent. There was an immediate slowdown in our business activities and an immediate impact on my income.

The Turkish Lira lost approximately 50 per cent of its value against foreign currencies which meant that, in one day, I had lost 50 per cent of my salary against the French Franc.

These circumstances, of course, made me consider leaving Turkey. I got help from the local management who took my CV and forwarded it to their network in the company.

Among the proposals was the offer of a position in Procurement for manufacturing plants in France. I knew nothing about Procurement so I rushed to the office of the Purchasing Manager in the Turkish plant and within two hours had made my decision.

I was going to become a Procurement professional! It was a perfect career move: an ideal profession for the Curious Engineer.

The Curious Engineer

In recent years it has become evident that Procurement is an ideal professional path for engineers. Many people choose to embark on this path at the start by studying Supply Chain Management.

More and more mechanical engineers are coming into the profession and the Head of Material Flow & Logistics at the famous Fraunhofer Institute has even campaigned for there to be educational opportunities for Procurement Engineers.

What makes Procurement a great career path for engineers? The field of engineering attracts curious people and, whilst many engineers are curious about how things work, some have an even broader scope of curiosity.

They are interested in a wide range of fields and want to pick up skills outside of what is normally associated with engineering.

Procurement and Supply Chain gives these people the opportunity to exercise their technical knowledge but also allows them to follow market and business developments and develop networking and people skills. It’s a place to use both your right and left brain.

The Pros of Procurement

1. Procurement is a Great Place to Use Technical Knowledge

A technical background is a clear advantage in direct procurement, in fields such as discrete manufacturing. It’s important to understand how your company’s product is made and what material properties and specifications are needed and why.

Moreover, a technical background gives you insight into quality management and standards. Be it consumer goods or automotive industries, understanding quality standards is useful when it comes to sourcing parts and selecting the right suppliers.

2. Procurement Satisfies Your Analytical Side

Engineers are trained to be analytical and data-driven. We design and then we implement – with analysis being a key preparation process of the design. Procurement and supply chain produces a vast amount of data to analyse.

In this profession, you collect and analyse data to then be able to make optimum sourcing decisions, be it operational or strategic. You also need to calculate hidden costs and incorporate business priorities and market behaviour into your decisions.

3. Procurement Takes the Curious Engineer Into an Exciting World

Procurement gives you the chance to add to your knowledge and skills well beyond traditional engineering. It requires you to hone your people and networking skills.

This means managing not only suppliers, but also relationships with other departments. It requires sales skills: selling change and ideas to your colleagues across the organisation. And, of course, a whole new set of skills comes in with Change Management.

I’m a huge advocate for engineers considering procurement careers as a serious option. It will be interesting to see if more educational and training opportunities come up for this kind of talent in the future and how that changes peoples interest in the function.

Bertrand Maltaverne is Senior Business Consultant and Product Marketing and Content Manager (Int’l) at POOL4TOOL. POOL4TOOL is the market leader for electronic process optimisation in direct procurement. 

Time Poor at Work? There’s An App For That!

We’re all aware of the concept of ‘time poor’. At least in a work setting, there’s an app or two to help you out.

app-for-that

Do you frequently feel like you’re short of time at work? Most people start the day with great intentions of how much they’re going to get done. But throw unexpected meetings, phone calls, e-mails and tasks into the mix, and all of a sudden time feels like it’s running out.

Happily, there’s a plethora of apps on the market that can actually bolster your efficiency levels at work. Everything from note-taking, file-sharing, to expense claims and networking can be easier with the help of an app.

And, of course, if you need an app to help with your procurement knowledge and networking, you can download the Procurious iOS app!

Dropbox

Digital storage and file sharing has been revolutionised by Dropbox. It has simplified the way people work together by allowing people to securely store and share files and collaborate on work, whether they’re working alongside each other or on other sides of the world.

Dropbox Business comes with as much storage as a company needs.

Slack

Slack is a cloud-based collaboration tool launched in August 2013. It helps teams communicate and carry out everyday activities like filling out expense reports or scheduling meetings.

As well as cutting down on inter-company e-mails, it also saves valuable time from switching around different applications to do everything you need to handle at work.

Locomote

Companies of all sizes use Locomote to simplify corporate travel and to save costs. Locomote enables organisations to ditch the long email threads and spreadsheets to authorise bookings and claim expenses on any device anywhere in the world.

Feedly

This app enables to you monitor content on industry websites using websites’ RSS feed. The site allows you to collate everything you need to be reading in one spot.

Google Drive/Google Apps

This is a safe place for all your files, photos and videos and include a suite of productivity tools utilised by executives around the world.

Asana

Team and task management tools such as Asana and Basecamp make it easier than ever to track who needs to handle what aspect of a project, and where each project is at. Give your team access and empower them to update the management tool at each stage of the project.

Evernote

A great place to capture what’s on your mind, whether that’s the minutes from a meeting, today’s ‘to do’ list and share your ideas on any device. Great for note-taking on your phone and then emailing to your PC.

Way We Do

This app helps businesses get teams to consistently and diligently follow procedures in their day to day workflow. The app allows you to organise one to 1,000 team members to create and use an operations manual, meaning you can make policies and procedures a daily routine.

LastPass

This is a great app to help you improve online security while also removing the hassle of remembering passwords. It allows you to create complex passwords that you don’t have to remember, with the app logging you in securely.

Buffer

The app that enables you to multi-stream content across social media. This is a great tool if you or your team needs to schedule company social media content for the month ahead.

Cozi

This app allows everyone in your team, or family perhaps, to access the shared calendar app. This means you can put appointments in the calendar that everyone can see, and you can see what others will be doing next Wednesday so you don’t double-book, for example.

Expensify

This app helps simplify your accounts by allowing you to import scanned receipts, which can be matched to expenses. This means you no longer have to manually type in expense details.

You can also import your cash, credit card and other billable expenses, or directly import your bank account details to manage your business and personal credit cards from your mobile device.

LinkedIn

A successful business owner needs to keep on top of your competition and networking. The LinkedIn app is a great way to do this.

You can network with people in your industry by connecting to other relevant people, businesses and groups.

BRiN

Created in collaboration with over 250 business experts around the world, this provides free business advice and access to a video and audio library covering 80 topics, with more updates to come.

This chat interface enables BRiN to understand and pinpoint your business problems and give you solutions and recommendations within micro-seconds.

Pocket Save

This app, previously known as Read It Later, allows you to ‘save’ an article or web page to read later. This means that next time you come across an article, video or link you really want to read, but you’re about to step into a meeting, you can save it to read later.

You can also save articles from your email and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

The Procurious Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!