Category Archives: Life & Style

Social Enterprise Creating Oases in Food Deserts

The concept of food deserts is nothing new. However, it’s presenting ongoing opportunities for social enterprises to make a real difference.

Food Desert Store

Food deserts are not a modern phenomenon – the concept has existed for the better part of 20 years. However, efforts to eradicate these deserts have stalled somewhat, and there are now calls for more work to be done to eliminate them entirely.

The food desert concept was first introduced by the UK Department of Health in 1999. They defined it as, “areas of relative exclusion where people experience physical and economic barriers to accessing healthy foods.”

Put simply, these deserts exist where access to affordable, healthy food is either restricted or non-existent for consumers. This would be due to the lack of stores or supermarkets in the area, within convenient travelling distance.

A report by the US Department of Agriculture in 2009 estimated that 2.3 million people in the USA were living in food deserts. This is the equivalent of 2.2 per cent of the entire population. However, it’s difficult to fully gauge the impact of food deserts, as global figures are less well documented.

Measuring Food Deserts

Food deserts have traditionally been measures as the distance from households to their nearest supermarket. The original measure, still used by the US Department of Agriculture, is for low income households living more than 1 mile (urban), or 10 miles (rural), away from their nearest supermarket.

The map below shows how that looks across the USA today:

Food Deserts in the USA Based on Traditional Measures (Source: USDA Economic Research Service)
Food Deserts in the USA – Source USDA Economic Research Service

However, there is little consensus on which measures should be used to define food deserts. Some studies have used the measures of the type and quality of food available to purchase, while others have focused on the ability or inability of consumers to purchase them.

Other issues lie in the categorisation of stores. In parts of the USA, small retail outlets that sell food are classed in the same category as larger supermarkets. This is done even when the retail outlet in question sells limited, or predominantly junk, food. This has led to concerns that some food deserts are being missed entirely.

Access Only Part of Problem

Controversy also surrounds the simplification of food deserts as an issue over access to low-cost, healthy foods. Critics have argued that proximity alone would suggest that nearly all of rural America would be classed as a food desert.

In one study in Flint, Michigan, even when a local grocery store was introduced to a food desert, community attitudes and practices didn’t change. In fact, the amount of prepared and fast foods consumed during the 17 month study period actually increased.

Other factors that experts have argued for the inclusion of include poverty (it’s widely acknowledged that low income and poor nutrition are directly attributable), and education or attitude to foods (the fact it’s often cheaper to buy chocolate than an apple).

In the UK particularly, there is still a perception that healthy foods are more expensive. There are also concerns that as confidence and skills in creating meals from scratch decrease, junk food habits will rise further.

Social Enterprise Solutions

Definitions aside, it’s clear action needs to be taken in order to combat the issue of poor nutrition.

There are a number of small businesses and social enterprises in both the UK and USA helping to bring affordable, healthy food to communities.

Fresh Range

Bristol, in the UK, is one place affected by food deserts. Although the city has been awarded a silver ‘Sustainable Food City‘ award, there are still areas suffering from a lack of access to healthy food.

In light of this, in 2015, small company called Fresh Range was formed. Fresh Range sources directly from producers, enabling them to charge lower prices for fruit, veg, and meat. It even offers doorstep delivery for £1 on orders over £20.

On top of this the produce is all locally sourced, meets sustainability and the highest animal welfare standards. The company also re-uses and recycles packaging in order to keep running costs down.

Fare & Square

In the USA, the baton for combatting food deserts has been picked up by social enterprises. The two which have received the most support and airtime are Fare & Square in Chester, Pennsylvania, and The Food District in Columbus, Ohio.

Both are non-profit organisations, however they offer slightly different services.

Fare & Square is a crowd-funded grocery store operating in a food desert. It has committed to charge 8-10 per cent less for produce than other stores. It also offers a further 7 per cent discount for customers meeting poverty guidelines.

The Food District also offers access to affordable healthy food. As well as creating jobs and ensuring that produce is sourced locally, the Food District offers community education and training programmes to overcome all the causes of food deserts.

Time for Action

There are plenty more social enterprises around the world helping to tackle the problem of food deserts. However, the issue of food deserts is still on the rise. And it’s clear that more needs to be done to help everyone in the world have access to healthy, affordable food.

Why not have a look into what’s happening in your local area? You could help out with, or donate to, your local food bank. Or help local charities who are delivering food to people who can’t get out themselves.

If you have a social enterprise in your area, contact them and see what you, or your company, could do to help? If we all take action now, collectively we stand more chance of eradicating food deserts for good.

Talented New Mothers – Please Don’t Quit!

Are you a new mum? Thinking about starting your own business? Tania Seary lays out the benefits for new mothers of staying employed in the corporate world when children arrive.

New Mothers

The wait leading up to our launch of Procurious was killing me.

It was like re-living those last few weeks waiting for a baby to be born. There’s not much I could do other than hope and pray for a safe delivery. Fortunately we launched successfully and have had some great traction so far.

This waiting period, in conjunction with my eldest son’s 9th birthday (yikes!), and the daily juggle between work and family, gave me cause for some reflection on the whole topic of motherhood and career.

Australian procurement superstar Georgia Brandi recently posted this very thought-provoking article on LinkedIn written by Sramana Mitra. Dramatic opening paragraph aside, the rest of the story covers just about every tricky point of this highly political debate. To stay at home, or not? To work for someone else, or yourself?

Career Super Women to Working New Mothers

I’ve had some flashbacks of those awkward first days transitioning from career super woman to working mummy. Highlights of which mainly focus around breastfeeding, but, given we have a mixed audience here, I’ll save some of those stories for another forum.

I could write a book about my journey as a working mother. But in the interest of brevity, I would like to put forward my thoughts on the benefits of staying employed by a company, vs. opening your own business, when women become new mothers.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love owning my own business, I have had a fantastic time, working with, and for, some great people. But it hasn’t been easy. Also, my business was a few years old when I had my first child, so I wasn’t exactly starting from scratch when I first “went on maternity leave”.

Employee vs. Mumpreneur

I had a lot of reasons for wanting to start my own business. Primarily I had a strong vision of what I wanted to create – I wanted to create a specific workplace culture, more than a specific company. And twelve years on, I’m happy to say that culture is alive and well.

I also wanted to do my own thing, be free of the corporate hierarchy which I found very frustrating. I was tired of being judged by peers and leaders I didn’t always respect. This of course was a very naïve reason, as you will always be judged – when you’re in your own business, your clients/customers are the ultimate judge!

I also wanted to have children and travel with my busy husband. So there were lots of forces driving me to do my own thing.

But of course, the path I chose took a lot of hard work and perseverance. It took a year before we won our first big client, so I had to fund the business (and myself) during that period.

And then we needed to (and still do!) keep proving ourselves and winning new business, while we’re working on producing quality outcomes. When I had my children, I asked different people to help run the business, with varying degrees of success.

But in the end, it has all worked out. And if you’re feeling an affinity with all the above, I fully encourage you to pursue your dream.

However, I can also see many benefits in remaining employed by someone else during your child-bearing years.

Here’s my top 5 reasons to work for an employer when having children:-

  • Do it for the Sisterhood

Australia (and the wider world) still has an appalling lack of female representation at the highest levels of business. The more women that actually stay in the workforce will provide us with the greatest chances of increasing the number of women in the senior ranks.

  • Do it for the Money

How much money you generate from your own business in the early days totally depends on the business model. However, in my case, I had to fund the business for at least the first 12 months of operation. You need to be prepared for this loss of income.

On the flipside, if you stay with a corporate employer today there is more financial support than ever before. When you return to work, you will continue earning at the same rate as previously, and hopefully continue on your career trajectory, which will be compensated with salary increases.

  • Do it for the Recognition

I am going to make a broad assumption that most corporate women have reached their late 20’s, mid ‘30s when deciding to have children. This means you have reached a certain level of success and have built a reputation within your internal stakeholders, suppliers and other third parties.

Starting a new business is very humbling (I’m trying to be positive here). You will have many setbacks on your journey to success..and when you do achieve success, it will be only you and your team there to recognise you.

In a corporation, you will be recognised and rewarded (well, not always, but more so than working for yourself!).

  • Do it for your Development

There’s no doubt that you learn a great deal running your own business, but nothing as formal (unless you organise and pay for it yourself!) as the quality and frequency of training you receive in a large organisation.

Think about it. Companies train you on everything – from Microsoft office, to the latest legals, compliance and your professional training. And there’s maybe even the odd corporate off-site or incentive travel.

  • Do it for your Sanity and Self-Esteem

Really, this is a point in favour of either working for yourself or someone else.

If you’re the kind of gal that finds domestic life a struggle, just knows she needs to work, or has the all-important financial imperative – then you will no doubt need to get back into the workforce in some capacity.

I’ll never forget those early days going back to work. Buying a cup of coffee from my favourite barista, then sitting at my desk in a zen-like state for at least five minutes soaking up the serenity.

That was heaven. It saved my sanity and definitely kept my struggling self-esteem somewhat in tact.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Have I been too harsh on the entrepreneurial option? We’d love to hear from all the new mothers (and any career super women who are also supermums) on how you made the choice.

5 Things To Know When Looking for a Job Abroad

Moving and finding a job abroad is something that many people do during their lives. But what do you need to know before you start looking?

Job Abroad

Leaving your home, friends and family behind and moving to another country, where everything that surrounds you is completely different from that to which you are used to, is not an easy task.

New countries have different people, different cultures, different food and sometimes even a different language.

However, for some people leaving their country of origin and traveling to settle down for a while on the other side of the planet represents a personal goal or even a milestone they need to achieve.

In order to get established in a new country, there are some important things you will need to take into account: finding a job, a house, a room or an apartment, learning the native language, basic cultural norms, and so much more! But let’s focus on finding a job for now.

Follow these simple recommendations and you will be well on your way to successfully finding a job abroad:

1. Do your research

Before applying for a job abroad, you need to be informed about how they manage resumes in the country you are moving to. Do you need a cover letter? Short or long resume? Do you need to attach your certificates? Or is your resume acceptable as is?

In some countries including a photo is the norm, in others it is frowned upon. In some cases, you will need to translate and notarise your degree and other certificates, so it is very important to do your research.

2. Spread the news

Once you make a decision about the place you are going to be living next, tell every single person you know. This way, you will probably meet people who went through a similar experience or that are native of the country you chose.

Your aunt will always have a friend of a friend who spent their summer in a far away and exotic country.

3. Consider all your possibilities

Before quitting your job and booking the first ticket to Timbuktu, find out if the company you are currently working for offers exchange programs, or if you have the possibility of being transferred to another branch.

Other options are searching online for a job abroad, as well as searching your alumni networks and social network connections. Volunteering is also a great way to work abroad – it’s also a very rewarding experience.

4. Be smart

Always let the employer know, in your cover letter or during the interview, that you have done your research about the different aspects of their country and that you are willing and prepared to start working. Furthermore, assure them that you are flexible enough so as to adapt to a foreign environment.

5. Don’t be scared, relax

You have done your research, and have talked to every person you know about working abroad. You have looked for jobs online, and you know everything there is to know about your target country. And you have saved enough money to survive at least two months without a job. You are officially ready.

Of course it is scary to live somewhere completely new, but it will probably be the most exciting adventure of your life. So go for it!

Vanessa Fardi is the Leader of US, Central America, and Latin America Team for Canadian startup neuvoo. Neuvoo is a job search engine that indexes jobs available online in one unique platform, without any charge for the source of the job. It was created in 2011 and is currently available in more than 60 countries.

How to Draft the Perfect CV

A good CV is critical to getting your foot in the door in the recruitment process. A perfect CV can help you get the job of your dreams.

Perfect CV

When it comes to finding a job, besides having the will and disposition to do it, it is essential to know how to present yourself! That is why you should be thinking very carefully about drafting the perfect CV.

A CV is a document that summarises detailed information about you. The importance of having a good CV generally lies in the fact that it is the first requirement when applying for a job. Your CV will be the main source of information —and first impression— that the company will receive from you.

The Perfect CV

If you are not really sure what type information to add to your CV or how to organise it, do not worry! Neuvoo have prepared a list of recommendations just for you:

  • Country Format

Check if the country where you want to apply for a job offer has a specific format before designing your CV, as this may vary.

  • Specificity 

Try to be as specific and to the point as possible in the information you add to your CV.

  • Personal Information

Add your personal information: full name, age, career and courses, address and contact information. Furthermore, along with your phone number, include an email address and, when possible, add the user name of your social networks.

Nowadays, many companies consider the content and the use you make out of them very important. Try to keep all that information in a visible place, it may be at the top of the page or, if you want to explore a design variation, you could add a left-hand column with all this information.

  • Skills Summary

Summarise the skills and abilities you have. It is essential for a business to know which are your strengths. They will take you into consideration if you have what it takes to perform well in your job.

  • Work Experience

Add previous work experience, in chronological order. Be specific in the tasks you performed. Include the name of the company you worked for and the period of time you were there.

  • Additional Information

Do not forget to mention the courses you took, additional studies and, if you master one or several languages, include them as well!

Vanessa Fardi is the Leader of US, Central America, and Latin America Team for Canadian startup neuvoo. Neuvoo is a job search engine that indexes jobs available online in one unique platform, without any charge for the source of the job. It was created in 2011 and is currently available in more than 60 countries.

Navigating Rule Based Cultures

When dealing with different or rule based cultures, it’s important to remain mindful of differences, so as to avoid misunderstandings.

Rule Based Cultures

Last month I had an assignment in Japan.  On our first night in town, five colleagues and myself met in the bar of a major hotel where we had planned to have a pre-dinner drink and decide on a dinner location.

Upon arrival, we ordered our drinks and were each served a very small bowl of nuts. After a brief discussion, and review of the hotel menu, it was decided that we would eat at the hotel restaurant.  Given that we didn’t have to travel anywhere for dinner, we decided to spend a bit more time relaxing and catching up before heading to the restaurant.

One of my colleagues politely asked the barman for a second bowl of nuts, to which the barman replied, “No, it is only one bowl per drink.” After some discussion it was clear that the barman was not going to bend the rules, there wasn’t going to be a second bowl of nuts unless a second drink was ordered.

In response to this inflexibility, we decided against having another drink and eating dinner at the hotel restaurant.  Following our earlier conversation with the restaurant manager regarding the menu, on our departure he questioned why we were leaving.

We told him of our reason for leaving, to which he was very apologetic, thanked us for the feedback and then proceeded to escort us to the concierge, while also suggesting other local restaurants.

His friendly manner persuaded us to dine at one of the other restaurants within the hotel. We appreciated his demeanour and kind generosity – providing our table with a surprise complimentary bottle of wine.

Appreciate the Differences

The point of this story is to emphasise the differences of rule based cultures, that some cultures are bound by rules, formalities and regulations more than others. This doesn’t make one better than the other, more rude or generous than another, it just makes them different.

We need to understand and appreciate these differences. In the moment they may seem significant or even pedantic but their effects can be long reaching and detrimental toward future relationships, behaviours, attitudes and biases.

Strong rule based cultures tend to encourage conformity, embracing the status quo, while other cultures tolerate greater degrees of flexibility and adaptability.

The key to successfully navigating, working and interacting within and across cultures is to understand that these traits are often hidden, unspoken, understated characteristics that are bound up in the unspoken cultural rules, expectations, systems and processes.

Reflection and Mindfulness

They can appear when you are engaging in cross-cultural social and professional interactions i.e. different expectations and formalities of hierarchical and equality based structures, during negotiations, navigating through ambiguous, tense situations or when establishing and maintaining trusted working relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

The barman serving us was not rude, rather he was efficiently performing his job, behaving in a manner that was appropriate for a barman in his role, respecting the rules and processes of his job. Our observations and expectations of the barman’s behaviour and attitude were considered through our own cultural lenses.

This example highlights how interpretations of social rules and behaviours can quickly become construed as impolite, disrespectful and inappropriate. Reflection and mindfulness are valuable skills, especially when interacting with differences of any kind!

Dr. Tom Verghese is the Founder and Principal Consultant at Cultural Synergies, a leading global intercultural and diversity consultancy that specialises in developing and sustaining cultural intelligence.

16 Harsh Realities To Get Used To

There are some harsh realities in life and work that we just have to deal with. Here are some of the major ones.

Harsh Realities

For decades, our senior team and consultants at Boxchange have been studying the mechanics of business improvement – and how it can be best used in organisations to create significant and sustainable performance breakthroughs.

Along the way, we’ve learned a lot about achieving success that even the head down, hard at it kind of people don’t know about. There are some major realities that hold them and their organisations back.

I’d like to share what they are, and what to do about them.

Reality #1: The leadership style you needed during the recession is ineffective now.

Reality #2: It takes a lot of repetitions of behaviour to establish ingrained working habits.

Reality #3: More than half of people leave their boss, not the company – but they won’t tell you that.

Reality #4: Employee surveys tell you little about what’s really going on in your business or how your people feel.

Reality #5: Most of the money invested in learning and development in organisations is wasted.

Reality #6: Embedding new work habits or new ways of thinking doesn’t happen quickly just because you’ve got clever, or motivated people.

Reality #7: Just because people know what to do (because you keep telling them), it doesn’t automatically follow that they will do it.

Reality #8: Almost 70 per cent of change initiatives and new strategies fail to deliver the benefits promised because organisations fail to achieve real buy-in.

Reality #9: Many managers waste time and effort dealing with symptoms – not the causes.

Reality #10: Diversity and inclusion policies rarely translate into a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Reality #11: Department heads convince you they’re on track, but overall the company is behind plan.

Reality #12: The person you thought you hired isn’t always the one that turns up for work.

Reality #13: Recruitment companies can negatively impact your ability to attract the best quality talent.

Reality #14: It’s hard to create performance breakthroughs on your own.

Reality #15: Organisations that have “innovation” as one of their values or pillars rarely achieve it.

Reality #16: Many organisations embark on new initiatives and strategies without first assessing their capability to deliver it.

If some of the above are familiar to you it’s almost certain your organisation, department or team is not performing to the best of its ability.

If you need help to change some of the current realities I’d be happy to share some of our insights into what you and your team can do about them if you contact me.

Boxchange Limited has created a “one-stop-shop” for business change, transformation and improvement with their core services including consulting, leadership, diversity & inclusion, behavioural assessment, recruitment and interim placements.

I Can’t Get No (Job) Satisfaction

A third of workers are in struggle town to get job satisfaction and almost one in ten say choosing the wrong career is their biggest regret in life.

satisifaction

A study commissioned by Start Profile has indicated that job satisfaction in the UK is low, with many workers wishing they were doing something entirely different with their lives.

The Satisfaction Results

 The research into job satisfaction uncovered that:

  • 39 per cent of people are happy in their career
  • 24 per cent confessed that they ‘fell into’ their profession
  • 36 per cent are unhappy at work
  • 14 per cent actively admit to seeking new job opportunities

The results are a little alarming, indicating that 61 per cent of participants are unhappy in their current jobs. The research went on to reveal that in Britain, people working in retail were the most likely to seek alternative employment opportunities, closely followed by the transport and healthcare industries.

So why is job satisfaction so hard to come by?

On an interesting note, the study revealed that nearly 1 in 10 participants stated that choosing their current career is the biggest regret in their life. A further 17 per cent wished that they had followed their dream instead, while 11 per cent are just putting up with the job.

Andy Pickles, CEO of Online Careers Service at Start, commented that, “Many of us end up in a job we don’t enjoy because of decisions we make at a young age, whether that be choosing the wrong subjects, or not having enough guidance at school.”

Interestingly, a third of respondents said their parents had provided the most influence on their careers. 9 per cent indicated that it was their teachers who inspired their career path, and 6 per cent claimed to have been influenced by a literary or TV character.

satisfaction

With Job satisfaction getting harder to achieve, is salary the key to our happiness?

The relationship between money and happiness isn’t as straightforward as we might think. Michael Page, the British based recruitment business, used data from the Cabinet Office’s Wellbeing and Policy report to plot salary against happiness of 260 occupations.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 12.09.21Click here read more on Salary vs. Happiness

‘Happiness’ was measured as the mean life satisfaction rating (a score out of 10) taken from the Annual Population Survey 2011-2013. The life satisfaction ratings were grouped as followed:

  • 0 to 4, (low);
  • 5 to 6, (medium);
  • 7 to 8, (high);
  • 9 to 10, (very high).

Salary data has been sourced from the 2013 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

The Happiness Curve

The happiness curve indicates the overall relationship between happiness and salary. Compared with the general trend, occupations appearing above the curve are happier than you might expect for people on their salary, and those below the curve appear less happy than you’d expect.

Who are the happiest outliers?

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 14.13.54

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 14.13.48

Happy outliers are those jobs which appear furthest above the curve. The biggest outliers are fitness instructors, who despite earning significantly less than many occupations, are actually happier. Dental nurses (who are happier then dentists) and school secretaries follow closely after fitness instructors.

When you look at the top happiest jobs, we see a huge salary range from £18k for company secretaries, to £117k for CEOs and senior officials. The clergy come out on top in terms of happiness, despite earning nearly 6 times less than CEOs and senior officials, who sit in second place.

How does Procurement stack up against job happiness and satisfaction?

According to happiness curve, the procurement profession is holding steady, with buyers, procurement officers, and purchasing managers and directors having a high happiness rating of 7.4 (the red dots on the happiness curve below).

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 14.31.46

Procurement Leaders highlighted a fascinating point about job satisfaction and happiness – satisfaction levels tend to fluctuate, and can be dependent on a particular day or week.

Furthermore, in the 2016 Procurement Leaders Salary Survey, which provided an insight into the earning potential of those working in roles across the procurement function, it found that there was a clear relationship between earnings and satisfaction. The survey indicated that the more you earn, the happier you tend to be.

The survey also revealed a difference between men and women. Men’s satisfaction levels increased with their earnings, whereas women’s satisfaction levels did not follow the same pattern.

Throughout the results, the conclusion is clear – job satisfaction is the dependent variable. Happily, the procurement function is positioned uniquely to offer global travel opportunities, participation in stakeholder negotiation and collaboration on an internal and external levels.

Combined with higher than average pay, and the chance to create meaningful impact across organisations, this has the potential to make procurement a very attractive career choice (and not one to regret!).

So maybe Mick Jagger was wrong after all…

Working from Home: Heaven or Hell?

Working from home has become the latest trend and we are talking globally here. Every day, more and more companies are allowing their employees to work from home at least once or twice a week.

Working from Home

And even more companies are looking to outsource, looking for employees who can work from home and, sometimes, from a different country. We can see these “work from home” job offers increasing every single day on the different job boards and people are really starting to get into this new groove because, let’s face it, staying at home has to be better than going to the office every day.

However, this is not true for everyone. Working from home has its pros and cons, but, in the end, it depends on each person.

Benefits and Balance

Let’s begin listing some of the pros:

  • No commuting – That alone should convince you to stay home. No traffic, no public transportation, no people on top of you during rush hour, just bliss while you walk from your room, to the office space.
  • Flexibility – of both hours and in managing that time. Most of these jobs do not necessarily have a rigid schedule you need to follow, so you are able to manage your own time, especially if you are a freelancer.
  • Less stress – Since most people working from home are their own bosses, or their bosses are nowhere near them, stress can be reduced to a minimum.
  • Fewer distractions – hence more productivity. No useless meetings, no coworkers telling you about their 13 cats or children, no running around the whole office looking for a photocopier that actually works, no wasting time with small talk, just you and your family.
  • More family time – Since you are already at home, there is a really good chance you can spend more time with your family, or your dogs, while working from home. You just need to be organised, and know how to manage your time in a productive way.

Not All Good

Even though you are now probably ready to pack up your desk and go home, you need to know that working from home also has its disadvantages:

  • Isolation – Even though some people prefer being alone, others would rather have some company during the day, but if you have a family, this is not really a problem.
  • Distractions – we might have more distractions in an office, but that does not mean there are not any at home, browsing social media becomes your biggest enemy while working from home.
  • Separating work from home – this is probably one of the worst disadvantages of working from home. You need to be able to organise your day in a way you get to spend enough time working, and enough time with your family or friends. Try to have a separate space for working – do not stay in your bedroom, find a good nook in the house to do so.
  • Working endlessly – Since you have no one controlling your hours but yourself, you might feel the need to work at all times. That is why you need to be very organised with your time and prioritising your responsibilities.

Now you are ready to consider your options and decide whether you are a good candidate to work from home or not. Welcome to the future!

Vanessa Fardi is the Leader of US, Central America, and Latin America Team for Canadian startup neuvoo. Neuvoo is a job search engine that indexes jobs available online in one unique platform, without any charge for the source of the job. It was created in 2011 and is currently available in more than 60 countries.

How Middle Managers Can Make or Break Supply Chains

Can middle managers or supervisors make or break your supply chain company? Are organisations selecting the wrong people for these roles?

Middle Managers

To watch the video of this article, click here.

Over the years working and consulting in a wide variety of business, health, and education settings, I have noticed a common and obvious trend. The selection of supervisors or middle managers from the existing employee pool.

For some workplaces this is a smart choice. You know the person, their work history, and their technical skills, and, as the senior manager or company owner, you generally like them.

Plus, it saves a truckload of recruitment time, costs and fees.

Capability Struggles

So what’s wrong with this common practice?

Well it depends. Often the successful employee displays all the seemingly right characteristics: reliability, dependability, happy to go the ‘extra mile’, and deference to their superiors!

But what happens when they now have to supervise and direct their former colleagues? Did they suddenly get an USB stick full of management and leadership skills to download into their brain?

Did that person immediately demonstrate new behaviours, negotiation skills, creative and collaborative thinking, and ability to motivate their team? Probably not.

They usually struggle big time with the change. They’re like a duck on a pond – seemingly calm upon the surface, but paddling away furiously under the water.

They have no idea how to manage and lead their people. The shelf life of these middle managers is around two years if you’re lucky.

Some senior managers may think, “when they resign or burnout, I’ll just promote someone else”.

Cultural Harm

But what’s the real issue here for your company? It’s culture destroying. Supervisors or middle managers who are thrown into the deep end of the pool without a buoyancy vest usually sink.

And they will take down the rest of the workforce with them.

It’s usually a slow insidious slide:

  • grumblings from workers,
  • dissatisfaction on how they’re being treated or spoken to,

with a resulting in a decrease in productivity, increase in accidents (real or concocted), sabotage of company assets, absenteeism, and an unhappy workplace.

Why would any CEO or business owner want that?

What can you do?

Invest in them – train, educate, coach and mentor them. A one off induction just won’t cut it. It takes time, practice and a willingness to master new skills.

If you have ever been motivated by a inspirational person at any time in your life be it a footy coach, church leader, primary school teacher, or the old guy/gal next door, then you know how it affects you and your environment around you – in a great way!

So why not get your newly appointed supervisors or middle managers on the leadership bus?

The ROI will be worth every cent! You’ll have functioning teams, increased productivity, less absenteeism and WorkCover claims, and a place employees want to continue working for.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?!

Learn more about developing leadership skills, both your own and your team’s, and get to grips with some great life and style thinking at www.productiveminds.com.au.

The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Niche Social Networks

Social media has enabled global collaboration on an unprecedented scale. But as attitudes towards the major platforms change, it’s actually niche social networks where the future lies.

Niche Social Networks

In the interests of full disclosure, I do work for a niche social network. So yes, I am slightly biased. But stay with me, as you’ll see why the argument for niche social networks holds weight.

It might seem strange to talk about a more narrow focus when technological advancements have ensured that we can speak to anyone, in any corner of the world, at any time. But as the world grows, it’s important to ensure that you are speaking to the right audience.

We only have a finite amount of time during the day to engage with colleagues, peers and stakeholders, read interesting articles, and share our experiences with others. If you’re spending that time talking to the wrong people, then you are potentially missing out on great new opportunities.

Facebook-isation

Does this post look familiar to you?

Niche Social Networks

How about this one?

Niche Social Networks

These and countless others pop up on the major social networks on an hourly basis. And while you may think I’m talking about Facebook, these were actually lifted from LinkedIn in the past week or so.

Yes, that’s right, the world’s largest networking site is now beset with endless maths problems, selfies, family photos and quizzes. While presumably posted by well-meaning members, they serve to create friction on what constitutes an ‘appropriate’ post for LinkedIn.

And it doesn’t stop at the main network feed either. Speaking to procurement professionals at conferences and events in recent weeks, many have voiced the opinion that LinkedIn’s Groups and Discussions have become “spammy”.

There are a couple of possible explanations for this turn of events. The first is that, with over 300 million members, the network has grown too large while trying to cater for too wide an audience. The other is possibly that for many users, LinkedIn represents their entire social media presence, which is why there are Facebook-type posts appearing on it.

Both LinkedIn and Facebook aren’t going anywhere. They are great networks for connecting with people and, on a professional side, LinkedIn remains the place to be for marketers and recruiters. But for individual professions, the future lies in niche social networks.

Finding Your Niche

For many professions, relevant discussions, content and connections are lost in the noise on the larger networks. This was one of the primary reasons that Procurious was founded, and why it has grown as it has. People know that the site provides up to date, relevant content for procurement and supply chain, all in one place.

Procurious caters to the procurement and supply chain audience, but there are many others you can find, depending on your profession and interests.

  • Spiceworks – A network for over a million global IT professionals, providing content, and a free IT help desk for all its members.
  • RESAAS – Over 300,000 global real estate professionals, providing leads and listings.
  • Doximity – Over 60 per cent of US-based doctors as verified members, and possible expansion to overseas markets.

The list doesn’t end there, and there are countless others for a whole host of professions that are getting started every week.

Benefits of Niche

The benefits of a niche social network are along the lines of what I have said already. Joining one of these network allows you the following:

  • Connections – Surely the Number 1 aspect of social media are the connections we make. Niche social networks offer people who could really help with your latest issues or questions.
  • Content – Is a post about global politics interesting? Probably. Is it relevant to your next negotiation? Maybe not. Niche social networks offer articles relevant to your day-to-day work (although we do throw in the occasional off-the-wall topic to keep you interested!).
  • Learning – Whether it is eLearning, or learning by asking questions to other network members, niche networks are more likely to offer a more focused, better answer.
  • News Feed – What all the sites I have mentioned have in common is a collated news feed. This means up-to-date, relevant headlines, brought together in one place.
  • Events – An events calendar for all the major events for your profession. Quickly see what is near you and decide which one you want to attend.

By being able to access all of this in one place, you can spend less time wading through irrelevant posts to find good information, and more time connecting and collaborating with the right people.

So if you’re only going to use one platform for your social media activities, why not think about a niche network.