Category Archives: Career Management

Resilience – Much Ado About Nothing?

What is workplace resilience really all about and where does the responsibility lie?

By Carsten Schlipf/ Shutterstock

Much Ado About Nothing is about resilience. In many places resilience is the new fad, hitting every employee’s mandated training schedule. The good bits are often lost in the hype and the hype is misdirecting what resilience is really about and where the responsibility lies.

What’s it all about?

There are many definitions and schools of thought to explain resilience but I like this one:

“resilience is a combination of assets and resources within the individual and their environment that facilitate the individual’s capacity to adapt in the face of adversity’

Fletcher & Sarkar, 2013; Windle, 2011

Karen Tonkin, a Chartered Organisational Psychologist and Psychometric Specialist here in New Zealand makes the distinction between employee resilience, which concerns the individual, and organisational resilience, which refers to the organisation’s resilience. These two differences are quite obvious but until she had researched this space, there was no empirical studies or evidence connecting the two or investigating casual linkages.

Often workplaces focus on employee resilience in order for the organisation to benefit. These skillsets are sold as desired, or even, required for individuals to build and gain in order to support the organisation. There are usually mandated courses for employees to attend and this is where it starts to go awry.

Traditional approaches to resilience fail by a one size fits all approach

Where resilience training fails employees is that it is often delivered in a group format and it is not tailored to the individual. While you can grow resilience traits and become resilient, it is not as simple as attending a one day course.

There have been new studies that reveal the organisations that do achieve increased levels of employee resilience have a more holistic view of resilience and they target programmes and offer initiatives at an individual level. This way of approaching resilience is successful because it acknowledges that an employee is a person with many different emotions and life circumstances that can come with them to work. The work environment must strive to be supportive and be willing to support employees wellbeing.

Leadership must lead

Organisations that are successful in increasing resilience in their employees are ditching the outdated notion of resilience as “emotional coping” and investing in the development of their people and teams.

How?

Top performing teams were noted as having the following traits in their leaders.

  • Being present
  • Fostering positive work environments
  • Making employees feel valued and supported
  • Not ruling with an iron fist, flexibility around working styles, hours and productivity
  • Creating and maintaining healthy team dynamics 

Organisations need to stop focusing on outdated concepts of resilience, stop one size fits all training, recognise the latest research and benefits of wellbeing. Leaders need to walk the talk as resilience is the cultural heartbeat of a team.

Can we build it? Yes we can!

What happens when an organisation or environment is not supportive and doesn’t tick any of the boxes above? Can you build your individual resilience in spite of your environment? The answer is yes! I have been researching various individual strategies and techniques that can help.

Building micro resilience

The topics covered so far can be considered to be rather macro. If we drill down into the concept of micro resilience, we can start to see how as individuals we can build resilience within ourselves in order be adaptable and healthy in any environment we find ourselves in.

Micro resilience involves a concept of self, it’s about the smaller interactions of the day to day, the characteristics of personality that act as building blocks to make the whole person and the daily actions you take to build your strength of character.

A recent study by Bonnie St John has combined many existing research papers, papers, books and practices to provide helpful information for people to cultivate their own micro resilience in their every day life.

Mirco resilience hacks

  • Note where you spend your time and what you spend your time doing, this is what you’re choosing to define yourself as. Starting point? What drains you? Make a list then think about interventions to minimise these things
  • Look after your health and body
  • Clarify your goals and purpose, know your direction but then set it free. Once the bigger things are set, focus on smaller daily actions that build up to those goals
  • Stake out the time for yourself and your goals, create focus times – even if this means getting away from everyone for periods of time and completely blocking out your calendar
  • Reframe negative emotions into positives or alternative views, writing these down can really help
  • Take your wellbeing seriously, priortise time to wind down when you can. Meditation, yoga, reading, playing in a rock band! Whatever it takes

The important thing is to become self-aware, know where you spend your time, what you want to change or achieve and how you are going to back yourself to get the things you need. Build your own toolbox and keep working with these tools until you can regulate emotions like a pro and take strategic pop shots at life when difficult situations arise.

While the battle grounds of the macro resilience world are most likely too much for an individual to expect to overcome or change, we can take accountability to train our own micro resilience muscles.

Please share any cool organisational training you’ve been involved in or your own personal tips and tricks!

How To Create The Interview Formula That Makes The Right Candidate Stand Out

Despite taking extra steps to evaluate a job applicant, managers too often fail to choose the right candidate. How do you get it right?

By Anatoliy Karlyuk/ Shutterstock

Many recruiters know the importance of assessing a candidate beyond a polished resume and well-rehearsed interview. Yet, despite taking extra steps to evaluate a job applicant, managers too often fail to choose the right candidate. In a 2016 CareerBuilder study, 75 per cent of employers interviewed said they hired the wrong person, costing companies an average of $17,000.

The issue? Recruiters were not interviewing for the actual skills candidates needed to thrive in their new role. During the hiring process, recruiters were relying too much on resumes, misidentifying the skills needed to succeed, or asking the wrong questions. Here’s how recruiters can adjust their approach to interviewing candidates to lead to better hires and improve talent retention.

Identify the non-negotiable skills for each position

Recruiters should begin with a basic understanding of the non-negotiable skills the new hire needs to succeed. Get the entire team involved in narrowing down the essential skills a new hire should possess to help the team to perform better. Walk through a typical work day and identify the inefficiencies or bottlenecks that could be improved by a new hire.   

With this baseline in mind, recruiters set up a case-study scenario or Talent Trial that allows the candidate to showcase their abilities in specific scenarios. For example, Pro R.E.A. Staffing used Vervoe’s “knockout” questionnaire to test candidates on the non-negotiable job requirements. This questionnaire replaced the phone screen, and successful candidates were automatically invited to complete a skills-based Talent Trial containing behavioral questions, tasks in Excel, and writing exercises.

The result? Hiring managers at Pro R.E.A. noticed big differences between candidates’ claims of their skills and their actual skill level. They were able to test skills they previously couldn’t discern, save time, and only progress with candidates who could perform the core skills needed to succeed.

Highlight the soft skills needed to advance in the company

Some employers wait until the first day on the job to discuss company culture with new hires. Instead, recruiters should start this conversation during the hiring process by highlighting the skills needed for the candidate to advance within the company. Successful CEOs emphasize the importance of soft skills – things like leadership and teamwork. But, all too often, new hires disappoint because they lacked the soft skills needed to adapt to their new team, not necessarily the skills to perform the job.

When we talk about “culture fit,” that can mistakenly translate into hiring someone whose background – education, skills, or network – is similar to the existing team. This stifles innovation and diversity. Instead, recruiters should seek out soft skills that will diversify the team, such as hiring someone who values clarity and structure to balance out the visionary but impulsive senior manager.

AI-powered ranking and skills tests are just two important ways to remove bias from the hiring process. Vervoe’s platform has shown impressive stats in hiring for diverse teams: companies who switched to our AI tool and skills assessments saw a 62% increase in female candidates. Vervoe’s library of content can also help hiring managers seek out those critical soft skills that predict long-term success. These validated psychometric assessments are key to assessing “culture fit” in isolation from a candidate’s resume.

Look out for common red flags

There are some red flags that many recruiters miss during the interview stage that can come back to haunt them. For example, referral hires often get a carte blanche during the interview process. If a candidate name-drops during the interview, do not be seduced by his connections if he cannot back it up with examples of genuine relationship building and past collaboration.

Learning from our past hiring mistakes at Vervoe, we created a character assessment so we can avoid making these mistakes in the future. Many of the things we look for – curiosity, grit, collaboration, resourcefulness, tenacity, dexterity – are important in every role at the company. By implementing a character assessment at the top of our hiring process, we screen candidates to between five and ten percent of applicants, who then progress to the next level. An applicant may be a coding magician, but if they won’t be happy at Vervoe, we’re not interested in wasting their time.

This article was written by Emily Heaslip and was originally published on vervoe.

Job Hunting… It’s Now Like A Date From Hell

In some sectors – like advertising, marketing, PR and media – three in ten firms admit they have ghosted applicants.

By fizkes/ Shutterstock

You’ve spent forever trying to find your perfect match. Then, while searching online you spot “The one”. They seem to tick every box…  you connect, it seems like destiny and you are really excited when they want to get to know you. In your imagination, you are thinking of a making a serious commitment (perhaps lasting years) as you start to visualise a new, happier future. Things are really looking up.

Then…nothing! Out of the blue they stop replying to your emails and don’t return your calls. You wonder what you did wrong.

You’ve been ghosted.

If this sounds like a dating experience from hell, think again.

This is increasingly what it’s like to be a jobseeker.

In some sectors – like advertising, marketing, PR and media – three in ten firms admit they have ghosted applicants.

For some bemused candidates, the ghosting can come even after a “successful” interview when they’ve shaken hands with the boss and been told “you’d fit right in here”. After assuming they’ve got the job, they then hear nothing, ever again. If this is the case, you’ve probably dodged a bullet. Who would want to work for a firm like that?

Are you just as bad?

However, skills shortages mean the tables have turned, with employers and recruitment firms desperate to find the right talent.

As a result, it is increasingly the candidate that’s doing the ghosting according to a survey by education and training specialist TheKnowledgeAcademy.com.

One in four applicants in the business, finance and the legal spheres have admitted to ghosting a company during the job searching process. Ouch! Come on… this is your personal brand we are talking about. At least, do the recruiter the courtesy of saying “Thanks, but no thanks”.

Cat and kittenfishing is rife too

However, ghosting is not the only dating misdemeanour that is now rife in recruitment.

Kittenfishing (a bit like catfishing) is the most common HR practice according to research commissioned by JamieAi, an HR tech start-up.

Three in ten job seekers have fallen victim to hype – the practice of making a job seem a “bit” better than it really is just to grab the candidate’s interest.

Catfishing – where the job is described as being “far” better that it actually is – to the point where it does not match reality, was also experienced by nearly three in ten job seekers.

If you have ever been on a date where the person you met is nothing like their description, you will know how disappointing this can be as well as a total waste of your time.

However, with a job, you may only find out once you start.

Players and rostering trip you up

Rostering is a problem for one in four with a quarter of candidates finding they are waiting for ages for a yes or a no, because they are actually the second-choice candidate. This is a bit like waiting and waiting to find out if you are going to meet on a Friday night because your date is hoping for someone “better” to come along.

Sadly, players are also rife – promising you that you are the lead candidate while also saying the same thing to several others. Don’t fall for their patter. Wait until you have signed your employment contract before handing in your notice, or you could find you are left with no job instead of a new job.

Get savvy to protect yourself

It’s relatively easy to protect yourself from these practices.

  1. Don’t take it personally: If you are aware that jobs are oversold, recruiters may never return your calls, your CV will be lost in the ether and even after an interview you might get ghosted, you should just put this down to experience. Don’t let it knock your confidence. If an employer cannot be bothered to reply, then they are not the sort of firm you should want to work for.
  2. Do your homework:  Websites like Glassdoor.co.uk let you check how the employer is rated by their employees. If the firm has a reputation for not acknowledging CVs or providing feedback after interviews, you will know that it’s not you that’s the problem.
  3. Don’t give up: Find out the name of the hiring manager, and send an email direct to them or even better connect to them on sites like LinkedIn. Often, firms are inundated with applications and they may have found a suitable candidate before your CV even landed in their inbox. However, if you really like the company, there is no harm in letting them know you would still love to work there.
  4. Double check your application: There may be a reason why they have ghosted you. Perhaps you did not put the job reference number or correct title on your application? Or did you forget to cover all the “must haves” on your CV? Often applications are screened electronically and if you haven’t included the key words your CV may have been rejected before a human even set eyes on it. To pass the application tracking system software test, use the job spec as a guide and include the EXACT words used. Also. double check the instructions – if the request was for a pdf of your CV not a word document, you might have been rejected for failing to do as asked.

Finally don’t be tempted to get revenge

If you are fed up with being catfished or ghosted, you may think that as these practices now seem to be acceptable, there is no problem if you do the same.

However, it could backfire. If you ghost recruiters or become a player and keep various firms interested as a back-up plan, you might get away with it….or you could find that the people you have treated badly, then move to another firm and remember you as the candidate from hell. Remember, it’s a small world and social media makes it even smaller.

Catfishing is also dangerous. If you exaggerate your skills, you might not pass your probationary period and you will be left without a job, and without a good reference. Remember, firms are struggling to recruit … if you’d been honest and said you were prepared to learn, you might have got the job anyway, without having to lie.

Are You In The Right Job?

The average working life is more than 3,500 days, so that is a long time to spend doing the wrong job. The sooner you switch, the easier it is. So how do you begin?

By FuzzBones/ Shutterstock

If you dread going to work in the morning, get a sick feeling every Sunday night, or spend hours sitting at your desk desperate to be anywhere else, then it’s obvious that you should find a different job.

However, is it really the career path that’s wrong for you?

Perhaps you are doing the right job, just in the wrong place… or with the wrong people.

If you work in a toxic environment or with the boss from hell, there is no need to make a drastic career change. All you need to do is find the right employer.

You don’t have to hate your job for it to be the wrong one

However, not everyone who is in the wrong job is miserable. Many are just not fulfilled or energised by what they do.

Nearly nine in ten UK professionals are considering moving jobs right now, according to CV-Library – and they want to move for a range of reasons from career progression to a pay rise.

Only one in ten (13 per cent) of UK employees are actually unhappy at work according to research by recruiters Robert Half UK.

Although that is still 4.3 million people nationwide, that a lot less than the number wanting to leave for pastures new.

So, don’t assume that you have to hate your job, for it to be the wrong one.

Simply ask yourself this: “If I am still working in this type of job in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time, will I look back with regrets that I had not done something else – or be happy to have done a job I loved for so long?”

The average working life is more than 3,500 days, so that is a long time to spend doing the wrong job. The sooner you switch, the easier it is. So how do you begin?

Step 1: Take the test

Before jumping into another job, it pays to work out what career path you should be on.

Many of us fall into a particular career and often end up accepting a role because we were offered it, rather than because it was the job of our dreams.

One of the most highly regarded tests is a Myers & Briggs personality test. If you have never taken one, you can pay for one online (myersbriggs.org) or do a similar free test such as 16personalities.com or humanmetric.com.

Whichever test you take, it’s important to be honest – then read through the results to gain a better understanding of what types of careers could suit your personality. Giving some thought to your strengths and weaknesses is a great way to reassess why you do what you do.

If you are an extrovert, who is intuitive and relies on your feelings when making decisions, then being stuck behind the scenes in a process-driven, methodical, technical role, might understandably make you miserable. Or if you are naturally quieter and more reserved, being thrust into the limelight and forced to make presentations, might be your idea of hell.

So if you are the proverbial ‘square peg in a round hole’ it is time for a change.

Remember, it is much easier to change your job than trying (and failing) to change your personality – after all, one is what you do, the other is who you are.

Step 2: Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis

If you are in the wrong job, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about what else you could do – but are then deterred because you don’t have the qualifications/ don’t have the experience/cannot afford to retrain/ cannot afford to step down the career ladder…. and so on.

It is easy to come up with dozens of reasons to stay where you are.

That means you will inevitably stay just there.

So stop thinking, start doing. Talk to people who are doing the jobs you are interested in, join a networking group for that industry sector, seek out others who have made a career change – and step out of your comfort zone. Once you can visualise a new job for yourself, it will be easier to start making the change.

Also visit careershifers.org for some inspiration. When you read other people’s stories you will realise they were all just as terrified of making the wrong career move…and once you discover how they overcame their fears to find a more fulfilling working life, you will realise that it is possible to do something that makes you want to get out of bed every morning.

Also do a 360 – ask people you trust what career they see you doing. They may say ‘I always imagined you as a teacher’ or ‘Why aren’t you in marketing, you love being creative and persuading people about your ideas’. Remember, to listen.

Step 3: Try before you buy (into a new career)

Before handing in your notice, and taking up one of these new career paths, give it a try.

Take two weeks off and find someone to work shadow. Volunteer in the sector. Use LinkedIn to reach out to those working in roles you are interested in and talk candidly about their careers.

If your personality tests show you would make a great teacher, but you really think you would lack the patience to deal with dozens of children every day, give it a go – volunteer as a reading partner or to help run a school club. You will still find out if this is something you are going to love – or hate.

The other drawback of a career change to something more fulfilling is that many rewarding roles are low paid.

The solution? Stick with the day job, and have a side-hustle doing something you really enjoy. So, if you have always wanted to be an artist, illustrator, cook, actor, gardener, photographer or fashion designer, then do this part-time while seeing your day job as a means of funding your dream career.

At least that way, you won’t have any regrets when you look back on your working life – instead of a “I could have been” you will be an “I was”


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

Do Fringe Benefits Increase Productivity?

Does employee happiness improve productivity and which types of workplace benefits produced the greatest productivity gains?

By fizkes/ Shutterstock

Until we are all replaced by robots, there are very few businesses where employee productivity is irrelevant.  It is self-evident that fringe benefits which increase employee happiness and reduce stress are likely to increase productivity.  But until now there has been very little hard data around this concept.

A recent series of studies by the University of Warwick, Department of Economics, looked at whether employee happiness improved productivity and, more specifically, if they do, which types of workplace improvement produced the greatest productivity gains. 

The series of experiments was based on creating ‘happiness shocks’ in one group and not doing it in a matched group.  Both groups were then asked to perform a series of easy mathematical additions under time pressure.  They were paid about 50c for every correct answer, so there was incentive to take the test seriously.

Everyone was also asked to provide their most recent school level results in mathematics and do a separate mathematical reasoning test so that adjustments could be made for individual mathematical ability. The time-pressured mathematical test was designed to simulate the type of work done in typical white-collar job in a precise and measurable way. 

The happiness shocks in the first two experiments were created by showing the group a 10-minute movie clip of a well-known comedian performing comedy sketches.  Based on their own assessment, on average people shown the clip were 1 point (on a 7 point scale) happier than people not shown the clip.  In an attempt to make the happiness shock more closely reflect real-world examples, in the third experiment the participants were given chocolate, fruit and drinks instead of being shown a clip. They were given 10 minutes to consume whatever they wanted.  This was equally effective in raising the mood of the participants.

All three experiments showed that the happy people were more productive than the people who weren’t shown the clip or given treats.  Both groups were paid for their answers, but the happy group shown the comedy clips attempted 10 per cent more problems and got 10 percent more correct answers after adjusting for mathematical ability. 

The researchers analysed those results in detail and found that the improved outcome was entirely due to attempting more problems. The happy workers were more motivated to put in more effort. The improved mood did not make them smarter or better at maths. If they were bad at maths before the experiment, they still were when they were happy, they just attempted more problems and so had a greater chance of getting correct answers.  And the same was equally true of those that were good at maths before they started. The improvement was uniform across all ability levels.

The improvement was approximately doubled in the experiment were the ‘happiness shock’ was snacks. Interestingly one of the experiments involved not telling the participants that they would be paid for correct answers.  It made no difference to the outcome.

The researchers also tried a variation where they attempted to see if recent ‘bad life events’ in the participants real life showed up as having any effect on their happiness and their performance. In this experiment, no ‘happiness shocks’ were given, and they were asked to perform the timed task after they reported their self-assessed level of happiness.  After the test, they were individually asked if they had, at any time, experienced one of more of: close family bereavement, extended family bereavement, serious life-threatening illness in the close family or parental divorce.

People who had reported one of the ‘bad life events’ within the last three years were measurably less happy and less productive.  They were at least half a point lower on the 7 point happiness scale, they made 10 percent fewer attempts at the maths problems and got around 15 percent less correct answers.  The more recent the ‘bad life event’ the lower their initial level of happiness and the worse they did on the test. If it happened more than 3 years ago, it made no difference to either happiness or performance.  When they looked at how people who had suffered bad life events had gone in the other experiments they found that the ‘happiness shocks’ were just as effective at improving their performance.

When the researchers separated out the results by the type of event experienced, they found that ‘parental divorce’ probably didn’t qualify as a ‘bad life event.” It had no effect on happiness or productivity and in some instances actually improved both. 

These are obviously not real-world experiments, but they do a reasonable job of simulating the effect of delivering happiness to a workforce.  Happy workers try harder and do more immediately after receiving a ‘happiness shock.’ And their cash reward for the work, their pay, had little effect.

Translating those findings into the workplace suggests that if an employer provides “extras” which the majority of their workforce regard as a treat, the workers are likely to be at least 10 per cent more productive.  As long as the cost of that benefit is less than the measured productivity increase, then employers would be mad not to do it.


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6 Recruitment Mistakes To Avoid

Here are six pitfalls to avoid in order to create a better recruitment process for all involved.

By Yeexin Richelle/ Shutterstock

Creating a better candidate experience seems simple enough and creating an experience that continues to improve is even better. Recruiters are often under tremendous pressure to recruit top candidates from hiring managers, organisational objectives, and the competitive landscape. Below we discuss six pitfalls recruiters can avoid to create a better recruitment process for all involved.

1. Posting Vague Job Descriptions

Posting a generic job position can ensure that a large pool of candidates applies. What it doesn’t ensure is that the candidates’ skill sets will accurately align with the functions of the position. A vague job description is a problem for both the hiring manager and candidate, as it effectively means that either someone’s time is wasted during screening and interviews, or a candidate will be hired for a position that doesn’t match their skills.

2. Not Engaging Hiring Managers/Operations Team Leaders

There are functions of a human resources department that need to be sealed off from the rest of the company. For instance, compensation, firing, promotion, etc. However, recruitment shouldn’t be as confidential. Recruiters should engage with hiring managers and operations leaders to build job descriptions and create recruitment processes that create an optimal candidate experience and hire the best talent available.

3. Creating a Time-Consuming Application Process 

An extensive application process is perceived as a strategy for recruiting only the most serious and interested candidates. Is it though? Front loading information gathering into the online application process will get you just that – people who are good at sitting at the computer and applying for jobs. What it doesn’t confirm is if the human behind that computer is the person best suited for the position you’re filling.

4. Having an unprepared interviewer 

An unprepared interviewer can send a “disturbing signal” to the candidate, leaving them turned off by the experience and the brand. Recruiters should conduct prep meetings, provide sample questions, and confirm interviewers are aware of the entire process and desired results before an interview is conducted.

5. Failing to Stay in Contact for Future Opportunities 

Failing to engage a quality candidate who was not given an offer is an enormous waste of resources. Sometimes great candidates don’t receive offers simply because there was a better-suited candidate for the position. If there is mutual interest, there should be a process in place to remain in contact with them for either future opportunities or current openings they may fit into.

6. Not Soliciting Candidate Feedback 

There is always room for improvement. Giving candidates an opportunity to provide feedback on the recruitment process gives recruiters some valuable insights which could help improve the process you currently have in place.

This article is written by Phillip Gold of empireresume.comand was originally published on vervoe.

Why Do Introverts Make Great CPOs?

Recent research suggests we might be selling more introverted professionals short.

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Unassuming, cautious, reserved – these probably aren’t the first words that come to mind when you think of an effective Chief Procurement Officer. More likely, your ideal CPO exudes confidence and commands attention. They’re a charismatic extrovert who feels most energized and productive when they’re surrounded by others. It’s not surprising that the stereotype of the camera-ready executive has persisted. Throughout our lives, just about all of us are encouraged to speak up, take initiative, and fearlessly make a name for ourselves. Conventional wisdom suggests that anyone who can rise through the ranks and serve as the face of a business unit has done all of that and then some.

In the age of social media oversharing and open office environments, introverts can find it challenging to function in procurement, let alone distinguish themselves. The world has rarely looked more hostile to independent work and quiet reflection. It’s only growing more tempting to assume that all effective leaders are extroverts.

Recent research, however, suggests we might be selling more introverted professionals short. While they’re less likely to seek out leadership opportunities – and less likely to earn high-level appointments – they are no less effective at driving change and empowering their peers. In fact, the CEO Genome Project found that “introverts are slightly more likely to surpass the expectations of their board and investors.” And that’s not just a matter of setting the bar low.

Publishing their findings in the Harvard Business Review, the CEO Genome Project identified four key traits that all effective CEOs share. The most essential was not ambition, charisma, or a collaborative spirit. “Mundane as it may sound,” the report reads, “the ability to reliably produce results was possibly the most powerful of the four essential CEO behaviors.”

Introverts are rarely flashy, but they’re nothing if not reliable. HBR suggests that consistent performance is generally preferable to the sudden spikes in innovation and productivity that might characterize a more extroverted executive’s leadership style.

If your organization is looking to appoint a new Head of Procurement, don’t forget to look past the most vocal and most obvious candidates. It’s possible – even likely – that the best candidate is the one who’s least likely to make an impassioned case for themselves. Here are a few of the reasons an introverted leader could be the right pick to drive Procurement into the future.

1. Introverts are Great Listeners

How many times have you come prepared to a meeting with insights and suggestions only to find yourself talked at? Nobody likes this experience. Leaders who talk more than they listen tend to stifle creativity. At worst, they can instill a sense of fear that will make collaboration all but impossible. Not all extroverted leaders bowl over their teams and toss out constructive suggestions, but few if any introverted leaders do.  Introverted executives come to both meetings and one-on-one conversations looking to absorb wisdom from members of their team. In doing so, they foster an office environment where no one is afraid to speak their mind and mutual respect rules the day.

2. Introverts Build More Genuine Connections

At a glance, it’s easy to tag an introvert as disengaged or disconnected. Dig deeper, however, and you’ll see that the introverted conversationalist is probably doing the same. Rather than speaking just to speak or networking just to network, they’re identifying opportunities to introduce real insight and build a meaningful connection. This makes them especially adept at carrying out interviews. Rather than talking about themselves or professing to know what the candidate wants to hear, they’ll listen intently and identify opportunities to make the candidate feel at home. An extroverted leader might enter the interview process with a list of talking points designed to sell the position. In some cases, they could come off as aggressive and cow a candidate into silence. Someone more introverted, on the other hand, will let a candidate speak for themselves and encourage them to describe the experience they’re looking for. Where it makes sense, they’ll connect their organization to the candidate’s interests and experience. Once they’re on-board, these candidates will feel connected to their new employer and confident in their ability to make a difference.

3. Introverts are Humble

For the introverted leader, good listening and a facility for collaboration stem from a strong sense of humility. While they certainly trust their own judgment, they never forget that they’ve still got a lot to learn. That’s why they’re quick to consult with their teams before kicking off an initiative. It’s also why they tend to avoid the spotlight. Rather than leading to earn personal plaudits, an introverted executive seeks to empower the entire organization. They would rather see a member (or several members) of their team earn recognition than collect an award for themselves. In their work, they will always emphasize the personal growth and development of their team rather than personal gain. This wealth of humility will ultimately build a sense of trust and rapport across the organization. It will quickly become clear that leadership is acting with the greater good in mind.

4. Introverts are Thorough

Introverts don’t rush into things. Quite the opposite. They leverage both collaborative sessions and private periods of introspection to make solid, strategic business decisions. Though they’re not opposed to risk-taking, introverts are far less likely to make hasty suggestions. Their prudence often pays dividends in the form of solutions that are both creative and low-risk. It’s not just about avoiding unnecessary hazards. The tendency to carefully mull things over and consider every option also means that introverted leaders are unlikely to settle. In other words, an introverted CPO won’t rush to implement a strategy that’s ‘good enough’ just because it looks like the best option at a given time. Rather than encouraging over-caution, their attitude will build a culture where mediocrity is never an option. Initiatives might take longer to get going, but they’ll enjoy a greater chance of producing results and elevating the entire organization.

This is not to say that extroverts cannot make effective CPOs. It’s entirely possible that your organization will thrive under the command of a more outspoken leader. The changing nature of Procurement and Supply Management, however, certainly calls for some broader definitions and more open-minded thinking. The same qualities that defined the function for generations are beginning to evolve. So, too, will the qualities that define its leaders. If you’re looking to appoint a new leader, don’t limit yourself to the most obvious options. Take a page out the introvert’s handbook and carefully reflect on every option. That introvert who’s sitting quietly through meetings and working independently might be a world-class CPO in hiding.

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

How To “Flip” Fear As A Driver To Greater Influence

Everyone – without exception – lives with fear. But only a few know that fear and anxiety can be turned to your advantage. Influence guru Julie Masters discusses the keys to dealing with fear with former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb.

Whether we’re in critical negotiations with suppliers, asking for a raise at work or presenting in front of our peers, fear is one of those unwanted emotions that we find ourselves encountering all too often.

Like it or not though, fear is something we have to deal with, and the sooner we can make it work for us, the more effective and influential we can be in our own lives.

Recently I was fortunate enough to interview Brandon Webb on the Inside Influence podcast to talk about doing just that.

Webb is a former US Navy SEAL sniper who worked as an experimental aircraft pilot, helicopter Search & Rescue swimmer and an Aviation Warfare Systems Operator.

After completing four deployments to the Middle East, you would be forgiven for assuming that Webb is as close as they come to being fearless.

It’s surprising to learn then, that Webb had to deal with his own fears and anxieties throughout his entire military career, gradually teaching himself how to identify and change the conversation that took place in his head.

Webb has since left the military and has gone on to become a successful entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author, sharing the journey he has had with fear and the methods he has used to overcome it in his book Mastering Fear.

Webb’s message is applicable to anyone facing fear, no matter the context – whether it’s being involved in a life-or-death situation, or standing up in front of work colleagues to deliver a presentation.

Here are Webb’s five tips on mastering fear to increase your influence.

Redirect the momentum

If you see fear as the enemy, you’ve already lost.

Fear can never be overcome, beaten, or evaded. The feeling of fear is part of our physiology and treating it as an adversary will only set you up for failure.

Rather than treating fear as a wall that you need to break through, Webb suggests using the power of fear as a force to harness and redirect.

Try to observe and acknowledge the feelings that come up – the adrenaline, the nerves, the tension – and use those feelings to propel you to achieve the task that’s in front of you.

It’s the difference between telling yourself “I’m not scared”, versus admitting “I am scared, but I’m going to use these feelings to help me move through this situation.”

Imagine what you could achieve if you stopped fearing fear itself. How many times would you put your hand up to speak? Offer your expertise or ideas? Request that seat at the table – confidently backed up with all the reasons you can add significant value?

Flip the mental switch

We’ve all been told that staying at our peak is more about mindset than it is about our physical state, and mastering fear is no different.

Monitoring, recognising and changing your internal dialogue – the mental chatter in your own head – is a key step in mastering fear.

This often involves taking a step back from the situation that’s brought up those feelings, recognising those feelings for what they are, and making a conscious decision to take a different direction rather than remaining overwhelmed.

Despite what we may think about what it takes to be a Navy SEAL, Webb points out that mastering fear isn’t about being stronger, tougher or more aggressive. It’s simply about being able to change the conversation going on in your head – something anybody can do. 

The most influential people I have ever met – in industries, politics and organisations – all have that ability in spades. The ability to identify the internal story that keeps them – or their idea – on the sidelines. Then shift it to one of empowerment.

As a place to start, ask yourself these questions: What currently stops me from making the highest value contribution I could make to this space / industry / conversation? What would be the first step in letting that story go? How would I feel if I did?

Use the charge

A typical adrenaline rush (a hormonal symptom of fear) can briefly turn us into superhumans – our heart rate increases, our blood pressure spikes, we can take in more air, and our blood is quickly redistributed to our muscles for increased strength.

Webb likens these physical changes to a “static charge” that can be harnessed to electrify rather than paralyse us.

Successful procurement professionals proactively seek out this charge as one of nature’s best tools to sharpen their abilities when they’re under pressure, especially in tough negotiation settings.

Harnessing this energy is a great way to take fear and proactively use it to move forward, rather than remaining paralysed when the going gets tough.

So the next time you feel the charge – stop, feel it – and then consciously decide to channel it as the super human burst of energy it was designed to be.

Use fear in rehearsal

When Webb was working as a search and rescue helicopter pilot, he very nearly lost his life when a mission went wrong.

One of the two pilots he was on a flight with suddenly suffered from vertigo, dropping the helicopter from altitude and plunging its bottom half into the ocean.

The pilot was overwhelmed by fear – unable to act or respond to the crew screaming at him to regain altitude.

The co-pilot, however, was able to calmly lift the helicopter out of the water and back into the air, saving the lives of Webb and the other crew members.

Webb’s theory is that the panicked pilot had, until that point, rarely experienced a level of adversity or stress throughout his life – that would have allowed him to work through the situation in his head. He had effectively ‘frozen up’.

His co-pilot however, had come from a lifetime of adversity. He had been bullied at school when he was younger and had grown up having to mentally work through his fears in order to carry on successfully.

Webb recommends that even people who have led a comparably stress-free life can artificially rehearse the feeling of fear – by role-playing frightening situations and having to move through a level of decision-making to get to an effective outcome.

You might be familiar with role-playing at work – usually practicing ideal scenarios – but how many of us role play difficult scenarios? Where we’re really challenged to make tough decisions and actually work through our fears?

So what now?

While we’re all undoubtedly going to experience fear throughout our lives – especially in the quest to become more influential. The tools that we have on hand to deal with that experience can make all the difference when it comes to cracking under pressure or rallying successfully.

So as a first step – start recognising fear as an energy source that can be harnessed, that we can make work for us in incredible and unlimited ways. If you can master that – you will have truly ‘flipped’ the power of fear to your advantage.


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Is The Gig Economy Changing The Way We View Work?

The ‘gig economy’ is just a hipster way of describing people who contract their labour rather than being full time employees. But is it changing the workplace?

By LightField Studios/ Shutterstock

We are constantly told that the ‘gig economy’ is about to destroy the workplace as we know it. We apparently have entered a brave new future where workers are no longer tethered to a business and lack the protections of employment laws written in a bygone and largely irrelevant era.  But the evidence tells a very different story.

The ‘gig economy’ is just a hipster way of describing people who contract their labour rather than being full time employees.  In that sense, gig workers have always been part of our economy.  Most tradespeople, for example, run their own businesses and contract their labour to multiple employers, often simultaneously. 

Recently however, contracting or ‘gig working’ has bled more and more into jobs previously occupied by full-time employees.  Taxi drivers are the most obvious modern example.  Formerly a driver worked for a company who owned and serviced the car.  The driver worked for a wage or for a percentage of the fares collected.  With the advent of Uber, the car is owned and serviced by the gig worker and they get to keep a much bigger (in theory) proportion of the fares earned. And it doesn’t stop there.  Gig workers are doing a similar thing when they turn their home into a hotel and themselves into hoteliers using AirBnB.

But for all the headline-grabbing hoo-ha about Uber, AirBnB and Lyft etc., gig workers using electronic platforms still only account for about 1 percent of the workforce. If we include contractors, temps and on-call workers of any description in the definition, about 10 per cent of the US workforce is part of the ‘gig economy’.  And that percentage has not moved at all since 2005.  The overwhelming majority (90 per cent) of workers had full-time jobs in 2005 and they still do.

The introduction of electronic platforms like Uber, Lyft and AirBnB may not have changed the overall numbers but it has changed one very important aspect of contracted labour, the age of the person doing the work.  Between 2005 and 2017 the percentage of ‘gig workers’ aged 35-44 dropped from a quarter to a fifth.  Meanwhile the percentage aged 55-64 increased by 25% and the numbers aged over 65 almost doubled.  Today’s ‘gig workers’ are increasingly older workers who in earlier times might have been receiving a government pension or living out their golden years on their savings. The reality couldn’t be further from the youth culture branding of the digital platforms.

Gig platforms may be growing but they are largely not replacing more standard work patterns. The JP Morgan Chase Institute (JPMCI) tracks payments to the bank accounts of workers in the ‘gig economy’ (via the platforms that arrange the work).  Their data shows that, for most of those workers, gigs are sporadic and are usually a second job done in a household where another member has a fulltime job.

And far from suffering lesser conditions, data from the US Labour survey shows that the group of gig workers growing fastest (those over 50) had the highest weekly earnings and greatest level of health insurance and retirement coverage of any age group.  All of those measure increased significantly between 2005 and 2017. 

The same survey did however identify a different and more concerning trend for younger workers when compared to its 1995 results.  There is an undeniable decline in work conditions for workers in general.  There is less job security, fewer opportunities for promotion and the increasing probability that their job will be outsourced to a company paying lower wages and offering less benefits.  This is increasingly being driven by the deliberate creation of ‘contracting’ roles which in reality are being performed by people who on any reasonable measure are full-time employees.  The contractor status gives the employer much more flexibility but destroys job security for the employee.

There is a lot of spin associated with the story of the gig economy and it is probably driven by tech companies which have a lot to gain by us believing they are much more important than they are.  The reality is that gig work is not increasing.  All that is changing is the method of arranging it and the age of the people doing it. 

But all the noise about the gig economy hides a more important story.  Full-time job security is declining and with it, people’s overall earning capacity and sense of worth and well-being.  We need to care less about the marketing spin emanating from the ‘gig economy’ and more about the very real declines in job security. 


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Where Does Your Supply Chain Begin and End?

Supply chain professionals are no doubt an important link in any supply chain but it is but one link in the end-to-end process.

By releon8211/ Shutterstock

Working in any supply chain management role can be all-consuming as well as challenging -but we can’t work in a vacuum. Supply chain professionals are no doubt an important link in any supply chain but it is but one link in the end-to-end process.

In the simplest type of supply chains, items and services are sourced from suppliers and converted into products and delivered to the customer or end-user.  During this process, both products and information move forward through the chain.   In the same way, products and related information move back up the chain.   

If only it were that easy. 

Any supply chain involves interactions between people, entities, information, and physical resources that combine, hopefully harmoniously, to sustain a company’s competitiveness.  It also has an objective to reduce overall costs and speed up the production and distribution cycle. As supply chain professionals know very well, if a supplier is unable to supply on time, and within the stipulated budget, business is bound to suffer losses and gain a negative reputation.

Q.  What is the main goal of an efficient supply chain?

A.  To get the customers what they want, when they want it, at least cost.  

If a company fails to focus fully on the consumer or end-user its ability to surviveis severely at risk. 

How to improve your supply chain

Sourcing is an early activity in the supply chain but demand planning comes first. By sharing projected requirements with your suppliers you can assist them to manage their own sourcing process and their inventory. Any forecasts that you supply them may not be cast in stone but they help to take the guesswork out of your order process.    Your Tier 2 suppliers, i.e. your supplier’s suppliers, are the ones that provide the items and services needed to fulfil your orders.  What products do they supply, what are their costs and what are their lead times?   

 The automotive industry is particularly good at this.  Modern vehicles are made up of more than 30 000 component parts.  Most leading vehicle manufacturers have a close grip on their Tier 2 suppliers: the parts suppliers for engines and equipment and computer software and hardware needed to make them run.

Technology in the supply chain 

The use, speed, and capabilities of technology are defining the trends in modern supply chains.  The cost of these technologies is starting to decrease making automation more affordable for mid-size companies. 

Demanding and techno-savvy customers are effectively re-shaping supply chains in the e-commerce world.  Customers expect to receive their order within a day or two whether it’s food, fashion or new bed linen.  They can choose not only what to buy, but who to buy it from and how to buy it.  E-commerce is creating new challenges throughout the supply chain from demand planning through procurement to warehousing, distribution and logistics.  Whether a customer is shopping in-store, on their laptop or mobile device, they expect their experience to remain the same, wherever they are in the world.  Retail companies that can adapt their supply chain operations to the new era of e-commerce will have the best chance of success.  

Global supply chains

Global supply chains are becoming very fragmented and dispersed and so require lots of resources and technologies to function well. Complex supply chains such as those in aerospace, hi-tech, chemicals and pharmaceuticals are becoming more difficult to design and manage.   According to Gartner, some of the most efficient global supply chains are in fast-moving-consumer-goods (FMCG) companies such as Unilever, Nestle, Nike and Inditex (Zara).  These companies have close relationships with their suppliers, even owning some of them, which is contributing to their successes. 

Johnson & Johnson is a confirmed leader in the healthcare industry due to its on-going focus on its supply chain capabilities such as end-to-end visibility.  The company prides itself on being a customer-centric organization.  It is an early adopter of new technologies such as 3D printing which it is using to enhance its manufacturing and distributions operations and unlock new opportunities.  Its global team has played a large part in streamlining the sourcing processes for both ingredients and packaging.    They realized that their supply chain was not as nimble and agile as it could be, and they weren’t leveraging their global scale in sourcing enough.

The professional association for supply chain management and the leading provider of research and education (APICS) provides a supply chain operations reference model (SCOR) on which you can assess your current abilities. It identifies steps in four measures:  process, performance, practices and people.    

The SCOR Model

APICS proposes that to improve your supply chain you need to:

  • Analyse your supply chain business processes and their dependencies with the SCOR framework in mind
  • Document and design your supply chain strategy, processes, and architectures to increase the speed of system implementations
  • Design internal business processes while taking organizational learning goals into consideration
  • Simulate the process to identify bottlenecks, gaps and process enhancements to improve supply chain performance

Underlying any successful supply chain is a strong organizational structure, up-to-date technology and strong leadership. An organisation’s supply chain is a significant source of competitive advantage and business leaders are embracing it as a strategic capability. 

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