Category Archives: Career Management

Don’t Be a Good Place to Work – Aim for Great

Is your organisation a great place to work? Going from good to great could unlock huge benefits and it’s not as hard as you think.

great place to work
Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

This article was written by Jim Beretta. This article was  originally published on Customer Attraction and LinkedIn.  

What is one of the best ways to grow a successful business? That is a constant dilemma for CEOs. Of course you have to have a great product or service. Your pricing has to make sense. You must be timely when attempting to solve your customer’s pain. You must build a memorable brand and communicate your brand story.

There are lots of elements in the secret sauce of creating a successful company. A company that people want to work with and to work for. And what is the purpose of starting a company or growing a company? Who are you serving: customer, stakeholders, employees? It is a bit of a chicken and egg question.

But there is a big difference between being an okay company, a good company and a great company. And becoming a great company to work for should be one of the CEO’s top priorities. You want your employees out there saying: “This is a great place to work!”.

When you are a great place to work, the effort and cost of hiring comes way down. You are able to attract top talent and retain them, and that is half the battle.

Start with Management

Your managers are the one of the keys to making your company a place where your employees are happy to come to work everyday. Give them responsibilities, accountabilities, manage to their objectives and cut them loose. Don’t micro-manage them. Set the expectation that they will in turn, do the same for their own staff. No one wants to be micro-managed and successful managers don’t have the time.

Get Picky: Put Recruitment Effort into Hiring the Right Employees

Look for people with passion. Passion for anything! Trained and supported, people with fire in their belly will transfer that go-getter attitude to your workplace. Look for patterns of initiative in past roles, school or community work. Skills can be taught. Experience can be acquired. Invest in your staff for the long term. They will return that investment many fold.

Get Comfortable Hiring Millennials

No matter what you read or hear, Millennials are not really that different from any other demographic group. They have their challenges, but in my experience, those are far outweighed by what they have to offer. Embrace their characteristics and turn them into assets.

Figure out where a Millennial might shine in your organization, give them challenges, stretch their goals and watch them lead. By 2020 this population will make up 50 per cent of the workforce. Put effort into hiring, training and retaining this cohort and this is your competitive advantage.

Treat Your Employees Well

One of our local large employers has a “First Day” policy. Your first day on the job at this company was a celebration. They made it an experience. It was part of the corporate culture of being employee-focused. Did it help them attract employees? Absolutely it did; who would not want to work with a company that celebrated their employees?

Another company in our region allows you to bring your pet to work. Is this problem free? Doubtfully, but for them, the benefits must outweigh the costs, I think, as I share the elevator with a poodle.

Company Culture

There’s something important we’ve forgotten about work: how to have fun. Your employees need a place of trust, of balance, with a sense of humor. We’ve forgotten that work is, or could be, or rather, should be, a community. Employees spend at least one-third of their lives at work.

Workplaces need to remember that their employees have lives outside of work and not grudgingly acknowledge it, but celebrate it. Their families, their partners, their hobbies and pastimes and their volunteer communities. They are proud of these and you should be too.

Brand

We are more brand-aware today than ever before. We all have brand affinities, we wear icons on our clothing, we talk about brand preferences and are acutely aware of brands when we shop or when we choose not support certain brands. CEOs need to think about their corporate brand and brand citizenry.

When employees can be invested, excited, and proud to tell people where they work, they’ll be more inclined to stick around for the ride and tell everyone they know about it.

Connection

Our employees need a connection to the big picture. They need to understand the mission and the vision for the company and how that translates into the goals, and to answer the question “Why are we doing this”? They need to know where their own work fits into realising the company goals and how what they do everyday supports their managers and the CEO.

On the question of who you are serving when you start or grow a company, I am going to go with employees. Without great staff, without motivated employees, there is no innovation, invention and loyalty. Your customers and stakeholders know this and if they don’t, they will. And isn’t that the reputation you want.

Jim Beretta is a strategic marketer and President and CEO of Customer Attraction. He consults companies, manufacturers, associations, technology start-ups and governments across North America and Europe.

The 11 Reasons Your Career Might Fail

Are you going to succeed or fail? It’s not about how good you are at the job – it’s all down to personality.

personality
Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

You probably think that you know yourself quite well. Perhaps you consider yourself to be intelligent, hard-working and, more importantly, ambitious. That means you are destined for the top, right?

Not necessarily. We all have three aspects to our character that are important in terms of career success:

  1. The bright side (the part of us that we show in interviews, for example)
  2. A dark side (which often comes out under pressure)
  3. Our inside (our core values).

While the first one might help us get a job, the last two can derail us. So how do you get a better understanding of 2 and 3?

Knowing Yourself is Key

“What is important is your reputation – how others see you and what you are known as – not who you think you are,” says Dr Robert Hogan of Hogan Assessments, which has conducted almost nine million personality profile assessments globally.

“However, the worst possible way to understand yourself is through introspection, because people lie to themselves.

“We know from our tests that there is not a high correlation between what people think of themselves and their reputations. That is why it is not uncommon for people to say ‘That is not how I see myself’ after undertaking a personality test.”

So, you need to ask other people how they see you. If you are not fortunate enough to have been personality tested by your employer as part of a recruitment process, try a 360 with colleagues and friends. Be prepared for some home truths and to really listen to this feedback.

Are you the Right Fit?

In addition to having the right personality for the job, you need to fit the organisation. In simple terms, if you want to make a difference, but your employer just wants to make profits – you will fail.

 “It does not matter how talented you are, if your values don’t match the culture of the organisation you will not be happy,” continues Dr Hogan. “It is not about being right or wrong, just a wrong fit.”

So before looking for a new job, thoroughly research the organisation – not what they say are their values, but how they live them. 

Know Your Derailers

The things that makes us good at our jobs, can also work against us, so it is also important to be aware of what personality traits could derail your career.

“Someone with high scores for paranoia, for example, will be really good at organisational politics,” continues Dr Hogan. “They are astute and will know who is out to get them. This can be a strength in certain circumstances but can become a problem if taken to the extreme”.

Most of us will exhibit a number of the 11 dark side personality traits identified by Hogan Assessments.  So do you recognise yourself in any of these?

Excitable

You have lots of energy and enthusiasm for new projects.

Derailers: You can become quickly disinterested when things don’t go according to plan and are in danger of expressing your frustrations with people and projects (often publicly).

Skeptical

You tend to be distrustful of others, believing they will stab you in the back if you let your guard down. This makes you attuned to the sometimes-ugly underbelly of organisational politics.

Derailers: Being trustful works both ways – you might not be able to gain anyone’s trust. You may also be too secretive.

Cautious

You live in constant fear of making a mistake. Always operating with the worst-case-scenario in mind will ensure you think everything through carefully, which can be an asset.

Derailers: You may be reluctant to try new approaches or to make-decisions. As a result, people might work around you so you could be side-lined.

Reserved

You believe that work is done best when people can focus in complete solitude. Which might be a great character trait if you need to focus or work on complex tasks such as computer programming.

Derailers: Locking yourself away (particularly when things get stressful) can leave you out of the loop. You may also be seen as unsympathetic or unhelpful.

Leisurely

You are probably liked and respective as you are polite and socially skilled.

Derailers: You might not be very productive – particularly when faced with challenges. As such you may tend to find ways to avoid and deflect responsibility.

Bold

You are inspiring, courageous and confident – great character traits for those who like to get things done.

Derailers: You might not be a good team player as bold people tend to take the credit for wins, but blame everyone else for failures and they don’t always recognise the hard work of others.

Mischievous

You love thrill and excitement, thrive in high-octane situations, are willing to take risks and spring into action taking on large, ambitious projects.

Derailers: Not putting in the groundwork and not considering the hard work of others who help make things happen.

Colourful

You like being the centre of attention and enjoy the fame and attention of running big projects.

Derailers: Watch out for being poor at organisation, indecisive and erratic and chaotic. 

Imaginative

Highly creative, you love to engage in brainstorming sessions coming up with solutions – often ones that are highly innovative.

Derailers: Making simple problems immensely complex, becoming easy bored by daily tasks and easily distracted. You can be seen as unfocused and impractical.

Diligent

You are a perfectionist and the go-to person to get things done.

Derailers: Taking on more than you can manage which can slow down productivity. A tendency to micro-manage and you have a hard time delegating.

Dutiful

You rely heavily (too heavily) on other team-members hoping they will carry the project through.

Derailers: You lack initiative and resourcefulness and pass the buck – quite happy to not take any real responsibility or make any risky decisions.

The Good News is You Can Get Better

If you recognise yourself in any of these dark-side traits (perhaps you are excitable and easily bored), you now know what could derail your career.

The next step is to get professional coaching. “Just as professional tennis players get a pro to help improve their game, you can do the same,” says Dr Hogan.

This Halloween Beware the Scary Old-World CPO

It’s Hallowe’en! Is your boss scarier than your average ghoul? Is your career in the grip of a scary, old-world CPO and doomed to wither?

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

– Lewis Carroll, 1871

You’ll know a scary, old-world CPO when you see one.

I had almost forgotten about them until I found myself in a meeting with one last week. Somehow in recent times I have escaped the horror of hearing such old-world, closed network thinking like:

  • “I don’t want my team on social media, someone may poach them”
  • “We’re too busy working to be looking at what’s happening in the rest of the world”
  • “We know our business best”
  • “What if my team spends all day on social media?”

To the team at Procurious, these comments are like blasphemy. We’re on a mission to change the face of procurement, and give the images associated with the profession a makeover. We want to replace the old brown cardigan-clad stereotype, with fresh images of procurement as the “smartest guys in the room”.

My meeting with this archetypal nemesis reminded me of all the reasons why we founded Procurious. It gave me increased motivation to continue our mission, and gave rise to an overwhelming urge to protect all the amazing rising stars in procurement from the soul-crushing dictatorship of a scary, old-world CPO.

The Old-World CPO

Let’s face it, if your personal characteristics and actions portray an image that you’re living in the past, the chances are good you are. People don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.

As such, we want to reward the great bosses, those leading by example, keeping their teams energised, investing in individuals’ careers, and continuously pushing procurement to excel.

What are the tell-tale signs of a scary, old-world CPO? The next time you’re going for an interview, or looking at your current boss, don’t fall for the flashy suit, big title, or even the big brand name they represent.

If the person opposite you falls into one of these categories, the chances are your career development will come to a screeching halt under such a draconian regime. 

The (Digitally) Invisible Man…or Woman

Check whether this CPO has any sort of online presence. Tell-tale signs of invisibility include profiles with no photos, or inappropriate photos, scant, or no, information, and no visible mentions in a Google search.

There may have been a freak internet-cleansing event, wiping out all references to this person, but the reality is that they probably haven’t spoken at any events, written anything interesting, taken the time or effort to understand social media, or understand the fact that you will be researching them online.

Also, beware those CPOs who have fewer than 500 connections in their network. Some CPOs do make the case of quality vs quantity. But, if you’re working in a large company, have a large team, and work with an extensive supply base, shouldn’t 500 quality connections be expected?

You (and the majority of your peers) want to work for someone who is an influencer. You want a leader with a wide range of connection they can introduce you to, and broaden your horizons. Working with someone with a limited network can be a road to nowhere for your career prospects.

Robinson Crusoe – the Loner

This CPO really is an island.

They don’t believe in networking, collaborating, or outside knowledge flow, and believe information is for their own personal advantage to build their power base. The Robinson Crusoe profile can physically manifest itself as an executive sitting in a corner by themselves, with their back to the team.

This information block exists not only within their psyche, but extends to the procurement team itself. This old-world CPO has particularly old-world views, and creates a knowledge hierarchy, where they take all the great (and politically advantageous) ideas as their own.

Another problem with this approach is that it encourages working in a closed network as part of the norm. These scary old world CPOs end up staying in the same profession, peer group, company, or industry, invariably associating with people they already know. This peer group continues to reinforce their outdated approach to management, and their thinking is never challenged.

The new world CPO is collaborative, a “true influencer” and shares their knowledge freely and widely.

My view is that a CPO’s main job is to not only drive change and innovation (and make a couple of deals on the side), but to give their team the opportunity to access tools and discuss ideas with other professionals, thought leaders and experts from around the globe.

Yet I still see CPOs encouraging teams to work in isolation, unaware that there is whole universe of knowledge to help them grow and excel in their jobs.

The Devil Wears Prada – The Career Crusher

Their desk calendar reads 2016, but their attitude towards employees is stuck in the 1950s.

Yes, your boss should have an overall plan for how their team is delivering against the overall business strategy. But they should also have a plan for you – both for what you need to deliver, and how you need to develop in the future.

They should be committed to diversity and promoting young talent, to making sure their team reflects this commitment and is generating opportunities for the next generation of talent.

The best CPOs are obsessed with finding the best people and helping them develop. They send their people out to be trained in the skills they need, expose them to new opportunities, and build peer networks that will develop leadership skills.

The worst CPOs keep their category managers locked away from the rest of the world in fear that their people will be poached. A great CPO doesn’t need to worry about this. They know that they have developed a great employee value proposition that keeps their team engaged and retained.

Reverse Mentoring

Let’s not be too hard on these talented Heads of Procurement. They can’t all be cut from the same cloth.

Why not get on the front foot and try and initiate some reverse mentoring. With a few polite, and well-placed pointers, I am sure you could help turn your scary, old-world CPO into a procurement rock star.

Sharing your skills and knowledge could help your CPO become increasingly tech savvy and an advocate for technology, including social media, for procurement. And just in case you need some more points, you can find a 5-point checklist on being a great procurement boss right here.

We look forward to seeing you both on Procurious soon!

Your Top 4 Tech Tools for Influence

Want to up your influence and get some engagement for new ideas? Then you need these tools to help out-contribute the competition…

Photo by Elijah Macleod on Unsplash

Influence is always a matter of consistently making a more valuable contribution to your target market than your competitors. The challenge is that consistency takes time – how much time depends on how smart you get.

Recently I was speaking with a procurement professional who was struggling to find time to create content. His influence within his networks was growing, but he was stuck in the trap most of us get caught in – focusing on stakeholder management. My advice was to apply the 6:3 rule. Schedule and commit to six solid hours once a quarter, then three hours every week to ‘out-contribute’ your network.

To break 6:3 down into its simplest form – once a quarter you focus on creating a large piece of cornerstone value. This could be a video, podcast interviews or an emerging trends report. The most important factor is that it’s tailored and valuable to your target audience.

This then gets broken down into a number of smaller pieces of content over the next 90 days, such as articles, social posts or ‘Trend Update’ emails. The three hours each week is then spent keeping on top of industry news and trends. Pulling out key insights, saving them for the next quarters content drive and sharing them within your network via email or social media.

Sound like too much? Consider this. The latest research shows that it takes 10 ‘touch points’ to get someone to take action on a new idea or product. However unfortunately most of us give up after one or two attempts to get real engagement. The good news is it’s easy to increase your output with the right support. Here are my top four simple tech tools to keep your influence on track:

Flipboard

Flipboard runs my brain. It’s an online magazine that allows you save articles straight from your smart phone under a variety of different topics. Any time I find something interesting, I save it to my Flipboard magazine and then once a week (usually early Monday morning over coffee) I go through everything and decide what to share. I have a magazine for content, one for possible podcast guests, one for industry events, and so on.

Buffer

Buffer is a great social media scheduling tool. There are tons out there at the moment, with varying degrees of functionality. However I’ve found Buffer has the simplest interface on a mobile device – which is where I spend most of my time. It basically allows you to create and then schedule posts across nearly every social media platform. In just half an hour (again usually a Monday morning) I can schedule the core posts for the week and then just top up as the week unfolds.

Unroll.Me

This website changed my email life. It’s a free tool that takes your email address – then scours your account to find every single subscription – creating a long list from which you can unsubscribe en mass. However that’s not all. You can then add the rest to your ‘Rollup’ – which gets sent as a short summary of every single newsletter you wanted to keep – all in one email. Hours of Inbox space given back. You’re welcome.

Canva

Canva has been a complete game changer for graphic design. A super-simple design platform – it offers a huge amount of quality free presentation slides and social media templates for those that want impact without the hassle. However, if you want to take it up a level – you can also upload your own templates and change the text and images as you need them. Best of all you can do it all on your smartphone in 30 seconds from the back of a cab, which is my test for anything that claims to be time-efficient.

Staying ahead of the ideas and trends in your space – then having the time to translate them with your own insights takes work. If it didn’t, everyone would do it. But if you can get the right schedule and tools in place, “I don’t have time” should never be an excuse.

Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the soon to be launched weekly podcast Inside Influence. An exploration into what it takes to find and own your voice – and then use it to drive a conversation, an idea, an industry or a Nation. To subscribe check out iTunes or her website.

Are You Working for a Narcissist?

Leadership styles are under the microscope – with Trump and Boris being analysed endlessly. However, the so-called “great man” style of leadership is not always an easy one to live (or work) with.

narcissist
Photo by Fares Hamouche on Unsplash

Humans instinctively respond to confidence in a positive way. Experts who sound the most authoritative are generally listened to more and believed wholeheartedly.

As a result, it is the most self-assured in their pronouncements who tend to be held in the highest esteem – regardless of whether they are telling the truth or are being accurate or not.

The problem is that while this may help these individuals rise to the top, they might not be great for your organisation…or your career.

Narcissists are Highly Believable – So Try to Keep an Open Mind

So how do you spot a narcissist? Well, it is important to analyse what your existing/future boss is saying rather than being fooled by how they are saying it.

According to The Myers-Briggs Company (one of the world’s largest business psychology providers) experts who “sound” the most confident are also more likely to get things wrong. “Therefore, overzealous and over-confident leaders can mean potential dangers for both the political scene and the workplace,” it warns.

So if you are in a toxic workplace – or are thinking of moving jobs – avoid the over-confident leader particularly if they do not like being challenged (which they will see as a threat). They could be running the organisation into the ground.

Other tell-tale signs are a “lack of warmth” (although they might be charismatic, they may have followers rather than friends).

If you are Forced to Agree with Everything they Say, Walk Away

Narcissists have positive and inflated views of themselves and this can become a problem when they “maintain these views despite contrary evidence, and often at the expense of others”.

While you may be tempted to argue your points, present all the facts and enlist the support of others to make your case, this is not going to work with a narcissist, because they are always right.

If you are in an interview and feel your thoughts are dismissed, perhaps this is not a good boss to work for.

They will Blame You (Not Themselves) – So Avoid Them

“Leaders sometimes think there’s a problem with their team, when in fact it is the leader who is the real issue”, warns Myers-Briggs. There is evidence that individuals who are more narcissistic are not only more likely to become leaders, but they are also more likely to perform less effectively in this role than others.

So, while it might be frustrating to work for someone who always knows better, the narcissistic trait that can be most damaging is that you will find that everyone else – including you – is to blame when things go wrong. You could miss out on a promotion or worse, get fired, or be forced to leave with a bad reference, because the person you work for cannot admit to making any mistakes.

Lack of Diversity is a Red Flag – So Look Around

Additional research from The Myers-Briggs Company on narcissism and leadership has demonstrated that this kind of behaviour can lead to women being less likely to seek out leadership roles, even when they are as well or better qualified than men.

So, if the you are looking for a new job avoid the organisations that look stale/male/pale.

Will you be Heard? Group-Think is Another Killer

Narcissism is the rejection of others’ input. Along with overconfidence, this can lead to ‘group think’, where in the rush to make decisions, information that is inconvenient to the story constructed by the leader is ignored.

Myers-Briggs research also demonstrates that overconfident and dominant leaders can actively inhibit the exchange of information between members of a group, worsening the negative effects of this group think. 

So not only will your voice not be heard, you could be working for an organisation that is heading for failure.

Those Who Admit to Weaknesses Are the Strong

So what makes a good leader?

Well a boss who can admit to having a few weaknesses is going to be more self-aware. As a result, he or she will be better able to build teams that help address their shortcomings. What is needed in a successful organisation, is a good mix of different skills and personalities.

A good leader, will also create a culture and systems that inspire the people around them, so do not just look at the boss’s qualities, see who they surround themselves with and how varied and valued they are.

How to Deal with a Narcissist

The first thing is to not blindly follow them. Focus on facts that you can verify and not their opinions.

Work on building your network. The future is a “wirearchy” people whose power and influence is based on connectedness and the flow of information rather than a power base. This can help insulate and protect you.

John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company, says it is also important to build self-awareness. “By becoming more aware of their personality and biases, individuals can make more informed decisions, helping them to overcome the pressure to follow ‘group think’ and narcissistic leaders,” he says.

At the same time, avoid challenging a narcissist (remember they are always right) or angering them by undermining them (they rely on a power base, so avoid office gossip in case it gets back to them).

Treat them in the way they would expect: listen, agree, respect them, follow their instructions etc… and accept responsibility/blame for any failings (even if they are hers/his).

Then, try to make a quiet exit. If a narcissist gets wind that you are looking for another job, they will see this as a betrayal. So play your cards close to your chest and when you resign make sure your letter is full of flattery about how much you have learned from your boss and how inspirational he/she has been.

Confident or Arrogant? The Fine Line Between Success and Failure

Confident? Arrogant? What traits impress employers the most? And which ones could cost you a job? It would be good to know before you apply for that new role…

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

It probably comes as no surprise that when hiring, firms are looking for people who are confident. In fact, this personality trait is a top priority for six in ten employers (61 per cent) – only slightly behind being reliable (62 per cent) and just above being honest (58 per cent).

So, when looking for a new job or a new promotion, a confident character is the one you need to project.

After all, being see seen as self-confident and self-assured inspires others to believe in your ability to do the job. And nobody is going to get hired if they admit they are “not sure” they can do something or “will give it a try”. What are needed are positive answers like “Yes” and “Of course”.

However, don’t go overboard in boasting about your abilities and or bragging about your achievements. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance when making that first impression. Cross this line and it can be career suicide.

In fact, employers believe arrogance (which scores 65 per cent) is worse than dishonesty (at 62 per cent) and is the No. 1 turn-off when hiring new recruits, according to a new survey from independent job board, CV-Library and CV-writing firm, TopCV.

Personality is now the Deciding Factor

“Historically, assessing job seekers was contingent on two factors – experience and skills – but our survey reveals that more intangible qualities, such as personality, are determining which candidates rise to the top,” says Amanda Augustine, careers expert at TopCV. 

“Today’s hiring managers are tasked with assessing whether a candidate will fit in with the company culture, and this determination is primarily based on how the candidate behaves during an interview.”

So, it is not just your CV that can make you appear arrogant. You also have to be careful with your body language – as well as the language you use too.

Facts Beat Fiction Every Time

Getting this balance right means starting with the basics: skills and experience are still vital to secure an interview and, as such, score slightly ahead of personality.

So, focus on these and be factual and truthful (remember dishonesty comes a close second to arrogance in the list of top “hates”). Quantify each statement so that each “claim” can be verified. Rather than stating that you are a “confident and competent team manager”, demonstrate this using facts and stats.

For example, “I directly manage a team of six”, “Over the last three years, the cost control programme that I manage has resulted in £Xk of savings” or “I have helped to mentor five junior members of the team who have all been promoted.”

It is a case of “show” rather than “tell” on both your CV and during the interview.

If you have ever heard the expression “Confidence speaks for itself”, then you will know what I mean. Leave an impression that you are confident and competent without actually using these words.

Cheats and Liars are NOT Welcome

Do not be tempted to lie: it is relatively easy to check things like your job title or years you have worked for an organisation. Not only could this cost you a job, it might not be necessary anyway.

 “In the current market, where skills shortages are making it harder for companies to find the right hires, employers are increasingly opting to recruit on potential over experience.

“So, if you’re looking for a new job right now, you’re in a good position; as long as you impress with the right personality traits,” says Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library comments.

Interestingly, when asked to choose between experience, education and potential, employers believe potential (62 per cent) is more important than experience (35 per cent); while only 2 per cent say education is most important. 

So why jeopardise your future claiming to have 1st class Hons degree when you only have 2:1? Employers (on the whole) really don’t care. However, if they check and find you have lied then you have failed to meet No 3 and No 4 in the top traits list – honest and honourable.

How to Avoid Crossing the Line

During an interview, when you are racked with nerves and desperate to make a good impression, it can be difficult to get the tone right. Your enthusiasm might come across as having too high an opinion of yourself…not a good look.

Remember, confident people have high self-worth, while arrogant people overcompensate for having low self-esteem.

To avoid falling into the latter category, spend some time boosting your self-confidence.

Start by identifying your strengths and weaknesses

The better understanding you have of your abilities, the higher your self-worth. If you are not sure what your strengths are, ask for feedback from colleagues and friends.

Focus on these strengths when identifying new opportunities – if you are a team player, then look for roles where this is important. However, if you like to be told what to do, roles looking for a “self-starter” might not be for you.

Be honest with yourself to be honest with others

Arrogant people are not good at acknowledging they have weaknesses and are not great at hearing criticism either (so if this sounds like you, then be aware that you could come across as having an over-inflate ego). Remember, nobody is perfect and it is important to acknowledge that this includes you!

Also, if you are asked one of those tricky interview questions such as “If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?”, you need to have enough self-awareness to recognise your weaknesses. Saying “Nothing” is the fast-track route to rejection.

Mind your language (verbal and otherwise)

Being self-centred is another character trait employers dislike so avoid talking about yourself all of the time – think of some questions to ask the interviewer and take an interest in what they are saying. Tone down your use of ‘I’ and do not constantly interrupt (it shows you think that what you have to say is more important than what the interviewer is trying to tell you).

Also watch your body language. Leaning too far back, smirking rather than smiling or being too relaxed might make you appear arrogant. But avoid going too far the other way – folding your arms across your body, failing to make eye contact, uncomfortable silences and lowering your head do not convey confidence…and that is your goal.

Want to get your wheels turning towards a supply chain career one could only dream of? Then don’t miss our upcoming Career Boot Camp with IBM – a free 5-part podcast series with some of the very best of the best. Check it out here: https://www.procurious.com/career-boot-camp-2019

Stop Freaking Out, Checking Out and Burning out

So much to do, so little time to do it. Are you one of the people who need to stop freaking out long enough to stand out?

Photo by Atul Choudhary from Pexels

You’ve got a million and one things to do today. The house must be immaculately clean before bedtime, you haven’t made lunch for the kids, a three-hour morning meeting in the office looms and you simply can’t delegate a single task – because only you know exactly what needs doing and how it needs to be done.

In times like these it might be worth taking a step back, reflecting on your current state of mind and getting your boundaries in order before you freak out, check out or burn out.

We’ve all been there, or know and love someone who’s been there. It’s easy to feel trapped in a cycle of self-inflicted pressure and high expectations. But according to Alison Hill, a professional psychologist (or self-titled “head mechanic”) who has spent many years tweaking the minds of top performers in some of the world’s largest companies. It is possible to stop oscillating between these three states and embrace a fourth alternative: to stand out.

I recently interviewed Alison for the Inside Influence podcast and she offered some amazing tools to stay in that mode.

Know your boundaries

For Alison, knowing your boundaries means being really clear about what’s ok and what’s not ok for you personally. When you set your boundaries in any given situation; whether it’s in the workplace or in your personal life, you need to establish what’s your ‘flex’ and what’s your ‘non-negotiable’ line in the sand. When you take a moment to unpack where all of your energy is going and where your biggest frustrations and anxieties are coming from, setting your boundaries becomes easier.

For example, if you’re due in a meeting that you know you don’t have the capacity to be present at (physically or mentally), there are more options than simply going or not going.  As Alison suggests, you could attend some but not all of the meeting, give someone your notes to take along, join the meeting via Skype to avoid unnecessary travel, talk to someone on the phone to get the key points, or send a representative in your place.

Go guilt-free

So many of us want to live a big, bold life. We want to influence the world around us and do grand, amazing things. And yet, we often come to the realisation that this desire impacts our energy, time, health and well-being.

Alison came to a point where she was completely overwhelmed. Her ongoing worry was that if she were to drop just one ball, her whole world would come crashing down. When she finally allowed herself a day to rest and recuperate, there was so much noise reverberating in her head: “What are you doing? You can’t do this! This is valuable family time! How can you be so selfish that you take a day for yourself?”

Yet, she argues, it has to be ok to just let it all go. Hating yourself for being selfish will mean you don’t get anything out of this reset time. Spending time justifying your actions to yourself and alleviating guilt lays on too much pressure to be perfect; to be high-achieving even in a time that’s supposed to be relaxing.

Support freak outs

If you’ve managed to maintain your boundaries and reined in your lifestyle to reach a level of contentment, how do you then support those around you who are going through a period of freaking out, checking out and burning out?

When someone enters a meeting flustered or agitated, the natural response is to go into solution or fix-it mode. Your troubleshooting instinct is to immediately get to the bottom of what’s going on and determine how to fix it so they (and you) can move on.

Whilst this can be useful, Alison argues that the most important response is compassion. Think about what you can do right now for that person. It might be as simple as making them a cup of tea or listening while they get something off their chest. Or it might be something they can’t talk about at that moment, and need some time away from the office.

It’s also important to avoid taking on a colleague’s freak out as your own. Often we can find ourselves getting caught up in a story that may have nothing to do with us. Let that go, listen, support and focus on being a role model instead.

Live a stand-out life

The idea of living a stand-out life conjures up images of fame, celebrity and influence. But, for Alison, that’s not the point. This point is really focusing on building alignment between your intention and your purpose.

Having a clear sense of purpose can transform even everyday things – such as conversations with a colleague or time spent with your children. Ask yourself: why am I having this conversation, why am I spending time doing this activity? What is the intent, and does it match with my overall purpose? Then act accordingly.

Standing out comes from a combination of decisions. However most importantly, it involves focusing on the things that light you up. Then deciding to no longer waste precious energy on anything that involves you freaking out, checking out or burning out.

Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the soon to be launched weekly podcast Inside Influence. An exploration into what it takes to find and own your voice – and then use it to drive a conversation, an idea, an industry or a Nation. To subscribe check out iTunes or http://juliemasters.com/inside-influence/.

Why Leaders Shouldn’t Leave The Stories To Marketing

Are we all too busy getting on with the business of running the business to be telling stories? It’s an easy thing to think until we understand the value and power of stories...

By Johanna Altmann/ Shutterstock

Once Upon a Time……And so the story goes….. There wouldn’t be too many of us who cannot remember even one story from our childhood. It might be something we liked to have read to us on repeat, no doubt driving our parents crazy with our enthusiasm for the same thing over and over. And as we develop our own experiences, we create our own stories to capture the big moments.

Who hasn’t been to a milestone birthday, wedding or other celebratory event where the speeches section of the evening engender dread that they will never finish? Or laughter and delight at the humour and good nature of reflection and personal insight?

On a professional level, we develop stories also. Our resume becomes the formal story of record of our work history, references the story of our previous performance. We share stories about an interview we had, a great outcome we achieved, as well as a failure for something that has not gone as intended.

Science of Stories

The science of story telling is something well out of my area of expertise. I know enough to be able to rather simply explain that there seems to be a consensus that as humans, we had storytelling in us from the get-go. Before we wrote, we spoke, and stories were the way that individuals and tribes shared achievements and tribulations, their history and their myths. 

Studying classics, I participated in more than a few heated debates on whether Homer really did author The Odyssey in the way we understand authoring today, or whether he simply documented stories told by others and deftly added his by-line to a transcript that has become a classic for many different reasons.

Organisations tell their own stories too. It is not just Hollywood that understands the commercial value and engagement of a superhero’s origin story (As big of a Marvel Universe fan that I am, I have to give it to DC for the Wonder Woman movie). How powerful is the origin story in helping us understand the culture, intent and values of an organisations?

In my time with Hewlett Packard, the story of Bill and Dave in the garage was told over and over, and with IBM, the legacy of the organisation in its role in advancing racial and gender diversity, as well as its integral role in the Apollo space mission were part of the stories that help employees understand the scale and capacity to achieve great things that the organisation is capable of.  

Organisations Telling Stories

In today’s digital world, it’s not only the mature organisations that understand the value of the story in creating and evolving their brand. Digital natives tell stories of their inspiration, entrepreneurs tell stories of the many failed attempts to become an overnight success, and if you spend any time on social media, you will have read, followed or liked personalities, products and groups for the stories they shared that would have resonated with you.

It’s actually the stories that form part of the personal or organisational brand; the idea for Facebook originating in a dorm room, Air BnB from a trip to San Francisco with no accommodation available and Space X as a lifelong ambition of a very, very young Elon Musk.

On a more practical level, organisations tell stories about their products, or their services. It might be the juxtaposition of the before versus the after scenario capturing us with the promise that we too will be able to replicate the same level of success if we buy or consume.

Or it may be the a carefully crafted script on how a product is made, the people who made it, and how it will make our lives so great we are likely to wonder how it was possible to live without it. Other times, it is much simpler.

Product placement on the screen allows us to create our own story; that we too can be like the people in the movie and share their success, superpower or characteristic that made them so memorable (I am not sure this aspiration should extend to villains however owning a car based on a great car chase may be fair game).

What Can Leaders Learn?

Savvy marketers are well aware of the impact of stories and how they can initiate dopamine and oxytocin and translate this to brand awareness, a purchase and more importantly, brand loyalty. It’s what makes consumers stick with you, even when confronted with products or services that don’t meet market expectations, and it’s also what drives profit and growth. The challenge and cost of keeping a customer is much less then the cost of attracting new ones.

So what can leaders learn from all of this? Aren’t we all too busy getting on with the business of running the business to be telling stories? It’s an easy thing to think until we understand the value and power of stories.

Attract the best talent

If it is a great strategy to attract new customers, why would it be any different for attraction of employees? In a market where employees have choice about how they work and who they work for, organisations looking to secure a reputation for employer-of-choice would do well to have their leaders understand that stories matter in attracting those who not only perform well, but also align with the values and mission of the organisation.

And as with customers, hiring the right people is only a very small part of the talent challenge. Retaining employees in environments that are challenging, constantly changing and demand more, can be a competitive advantage.

Connect and engage

When stories are shared, they can create connection and engagement. In fact, they can also create empathy. And in today’s digital environment, the constant change, always being on, and the reactiveness of many organisations means leaders need to be vigilant to signs of change fatigue and disengagement.

Storytelling can span reasons for an initiative, shared success, and even foster a learning environment from failures. They can help leaders and organisations re-write the narrative on culture, performance and why what is being done matters, helping harness purpose through inspiration and a focus on the outcome. Hopefully with some learning and laughter along the way.

Fillers and Facelifts: How Far Do Men Go to Look Young at Work?

With more over-65s staying in the workplace, how can young people stay competitive in the recruitment game?

Photo by Wendy Scofield on Unsplash

Let’s dispel some myths. Its men – not women – who are most likely to experience age discrimination at work.

And you don’t actually have to be that old to be a victim.

Nearly four in ten say that age has been a factor preventing them from advancing in their career since turning 40. This drops to just a quarter of women.

From then on, (whatever your gender) things only get worse. You are most likely to experience age discrimination aged 51 according to the Hiscox 2019 Ageism in the Workplace Study.

So, some of us are resorting to desperate measures to stay young particularly anti-aging procedures from dermatologists. ever heard the expression, “If you want to get ahead, get Botox”?

Well, in the USA which naturally (or maybe not so naturally) leads the way, the number of injectable filler procedures on men has risen by 99 per cent since 2000 with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons saying cosmetic procedures are up 29 per cent over the same period.

So, what will you do when you’re 65?

If ageism is a problem in your 40s and 50s, imagine how damaging it could be to your carer when you hit your 60s.

Whatever you think of your job today, can you really imagine doing it when you are heading for 70 – or even older?

The state retirement age will rise to 67 from 2028 and then to 68 and possibly 70. So most of us will have to keep working for many years to come.

But if it is hard to get ahead in your 40s and 50s, who is going to employ you when you are in your seventh decade?

Older Jobseekers will be Everywhere

By 2050, one in four people in the UK will be over 65 (it’s currently around one in five) according to recent forecasts from the Office for National Statistics.

That’s an extra 8.2 million older people – a population the size of London – and many of them will be wanting to work.

The next decade or so will see people who were born too late to benefit from generous ‘gold plated’ final salary pensions reaching retirement. Without a decent retirement income they may have no option but to keep in work. Also many want to keep working – feeling they are too young to spend the next few decades playing golf and pottering around in the garden.

More than half of those age 65 plus say they are ‘not ready to retire’ according to insurer Aviva.

That means there will be plenty of them looking for a job – and if you are one of them, how can you compete?

Plan Ahead and Play to your Strengths

What do more mature employees have to offer compared to younger ones? Well, topping the list are invaluable skills, experience and knowledge that they can share with colleagues.

You might believe keeping these to yourself, will protect you – but most employers don’t value these attributes (yet). So, build up a reputation for mentoring and developing younger colleagues.

Continually Up-skill to Remain Relevant

Also address the misconceptions about older workers – they have out-of-date skills, struggle with the latest technology and find it difficult to learn something new.

Some of these myths are based on truths. Four in ten Baby Boomers (born between ‘46 and ‘64) in the UK feel they ‘don’t have the skills needed to win a new job’ according to a Docebo survey with around half feeling younger employers had better tech skills.

Mature workers might be reluctant to demand extra training – not surprisingly. It effectively tells your employer your skills are not up to scratch. So stick to online learning tutorials (preferably ones which lead to recognised qualifications that you can put on your CV). Search coursera.org, udemy.com, futurelearn.com and look at courses offered by professional organisations.

De-Age Your CV – It’s Easy

Well, the good news is that you don’t have to pay for fillers, veneered teeth or spend every waking hour in the gym in a bid to defy age.

One of the biggest challenges once you hit 40 is finding a new job. As increasing numbers of applications are now made online, it is a computer algorithm (rather than a real person) who decides whether you are up for the job. And it’s much easier to fool a computer than an eagle-eyed HR professional who can spot the crow’s feet around your eyes, the sagging jowls and the incongruously youthful business suit.

Also, with candidate shortages, you are increasingly likely to be approached for a new job, rather than applying. So make yourself as appear as employable as possible in the virtual world. You can then work on your real-world appearance when it comes to the interview.

So get rid of:

  • Listing what you did in your first job and early 20s (unless you are in your early 20s!). A longer career history is a tell-tale sign that you’ve been around for quite a long time.
  • Dates – unless they are more recent. So no need to write the dates you were at school or university.
  • Your age – amazingly (even though this is not required for most jobs) some CVs still feature a date of birth. Employers are not allowed to discriminate on the grounds of age, so they are not allowed to even ask! Don’t tell them.
  • O Levels and any other qualification that no longer exists – today, it’s GCSE equivalents that count.

Then add in:

  • Every single quality required on the job advert – if a computer algorithm is searching your CV or application letter, you want it to recognise you have all the skills required. If you don’t quite have the skills listed, try to find a way of including them. For example, “Leadership experience or experience managing a team” could relate to managing a project (with your colleagues) even if your job title is not team manager.
  • Proficiency in the latest software and technology – even if it is not a requirement. It will portray you as “tech savvy” rather than a dinosaur.

But don’t:

  • Tell an outright lie – you can fool technology some of the time, but organisations do check qualifications, references etc. So make sure your social media profile, particularly LinkedIn, matches your CV.

Want to get your wheels turning towards a supply chain career one could only dream of? Then don’t miss our upcoming Career Boot Camp with IBM – a free 5-part podcast series with some of the very best of the best. Check it out here: https://www.procurious.com/career-boot-camp-2019

6 Sure-Fire Ways To Become A Head Of Supply Chain

We explore six ways that can guarantee you that dream head of supply chain management job…

head of supply chain
By fizkes/ Shutterstock

Firstly, take time to find out what the job is really about. At its simplest level in manufacturing, for example, it means leading the sourcing and procurement of direct and indirect materials from suppliers, production, warehousing, transport and the distribution to the customer and/or end consumer.

A simple supply chain

Secondly, jobs may not even have similar titles: it could be Executive Vice President of Global Supply Chain, Supply Chain Director or just Head of Supply Chain. The job content differs widely across industries so no two jobs at this level are the same.  There is no one definitive job description.

Whatever the title, the Head of Supply Chain is responsible for integrating and optimising all the processes that are involved in every stage of getting a product or service to a customer. If your desired role is in an industry such as agriculture, healthcare, or I.T and telecommunications, there are other considerations including security, waste, safety, managing returns and many other different risks. 

In reality, it has become much more complex. It may rather look like this.

Let’s look at the 6 ways that can get you that dream job.

There is no substitute for experience

Prospective or current supply chain managers that aspire to reach the top job in supply chain should acquire in-depth working experience in at least one of the functional areas within supply chain.  Heads of Supply Chain, in the list of the top 25 leading global supply chains as identified by Gartner in 2019, have all got extensive and relevant work experience, usually in their industry sector.

In fast-moving-consumer-goods (FMCG), global leaders also need expertise in distribution technologies, emerging markets and sustainability.  For example, Sandra MacQuillan, the Executive Vice President, Integrated Supply Chain at Mondelez International, has “a wealth of international expertise in sustainable supply chain and technology strategy, with vast experience in packaged goods at global companies where she has built world-class supply chain capabilities,” according to the CEO.

Get an educational qualification   

The competition for the top jobs is tough, without a recognised qualification it is almost impossible to get hired. An exception may be where the candidate has a spectacular skill in a tight niche where there are no other suitable applicants, but this is rare.   

The most common route into supply chain management is to take a foundation business, finance or engineering degree, and then an advanced diploma or certification in an area such as logistics or procurement within supply chain management.

Demonstrate the required technical skills

As a leader, it may not be necessary to be an expert on all the technical skills that exist in your teams, but some level of proficiency in most of these will provide you with a certain level of respect. 

  • Knowledge of the raw materials, manufacturing processes and distribution methods in your business
  • An understanding of business and management principles and strategic planning
  • Well-developed analytical skills and attention to detail
  • Knowledge of economic and accounting principles, ERP/MRP systems, forecasting, and budgeting

Show your ability to lead others and drive change

Building relationships and influencing others are fundamental to the role.

Change management is ultimately about people and your capability to guide them in a particular direction.  Some of the elements that lead to success in leading a team are:

  • An open and participative style when collaborating with influential stakeholders and their teams
  • Well-developed verbal and written communication skills and the sense to know when and how to use which channel 
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced dynamic environment while keeping calm under pressure
  • Solving problems based on available information
  • Dealing with ambiguity while providing positive outcomes and minimising risks.

A leader will spend a fair portion of their time on employee competency development, building capacity and understanding what people need to perform well.

Keep up with the program!

Because the role is essentially process driven you should be comfortable when implementing new technological solutions. Digital technologies are inserting themselves all over the supply chain from data analytics and e-sourcing through to automated picking and drone deliveries.

The implementation of digital solutions is redefining supply chain operations at leading companies such as BASF, Cisco, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, BMW and many others. As Head of Supply Chain you may not need to be head geek, but you will need to understand the basics of the various applications of each type of technology and be alert to trends. 

Have a global view with a local focus

The head of supply chain often has global responsibilities that entail maintaining supplier relationships across continents and cultures. Understanding these complexities is essential in supply chain planning and its execution. 

It is becoming increasingly important for supply chain leaders to have had global business exposure, either from working in virtual teams or preferably having completed international assignments.

David Cutter, as President, Global Supply & Procurement, for Diageo, a major supplier of alcohol beverages, is responsible for a world-class supply chain delivering their brands to over 180 markets around the world from over 100 production facilities located in some 30+ countries.  

Leading firms are looking for those people with process-driven experience, often in similar size companies, attained from outside their home country.   

There is no one accepted preferred career path or basket of skills that you need to become the head of a supply chain.  However, you will need to be able to apply modern methodologies and solutions to a wide range of responsibilities across the entire supply chain. 

Want to get your wheels turning towards a supply chain career one could only dream of? Then don’t miss our upcoming Career Boot Camp with IBM – a free 5-part podcast series with some of the very best of the best. Check it out here: https://www.procurious.com/career-boot-camp-2019