Category Archives: Life & Style

Halloween – A (Trick or) Treat for Supply Chains

It’s that time of year again. No, not Christmas (yet…), but Halloween.

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The ghoulish ‘holiday’ has, in the past, only truly been embraced by our compatriots across the Atlantic. However, in recent years it has gained a strong foothold in the hearts, minds and, importantly for retailers, wallets of the Brits.

In America, an estimated 157 million people will celebrate Halloween in some way this year, with spending set to total $6.9 billion. An increasing number of ‘pop-up’ stores focusing on Halloween is just one reason behind this level of spend.

Creating a Monster Spend

In 2014, total spend related to Halloween in the UK was estimated at £443 million, made up of the following spend:

  • £148 million on clothing and costumes
  • £132 million on Halloween themed food
  • £92 million on decorations
  • £70 million on entertainment and stationery

If you think that is scary, then further research has also found that in 2015:

  • 29 per cent of UK consumers plan on purchasing some form of Halloween related goods
  • Just 23 per cent of males will purchase something, but will spend an average of £48 each (£20 more than females)
  • 40 per cent of parents will spend on Halloween goods
  • 55 per cent of buyers will be purchasing clothing
  • 52 per cent of shoppers will purchase food and drink

Jack ‘No’ Lantern

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However, despite it being part of the traditional Halloween offering, only 45 per cent of people plan on buying a pumpkin this year.

The news gets worse for any amateur pumpkin carvers out there, as a wet August and less than ideal growing conditions has led to a shortage of pumpkins this year, with yields down to 50 per cent.

Nightmare on Supply Chain Street?

Supply chains will be well prepared for Halloween far in advance of actually getting products into the shops. But the variety of goods on offer could spook many organisations.

Going crazy with seasonal products can put a huge strain on supply chains, cost organisations considerable sums of money, but ultimately not provide a return should the product fail.

From a Logistics point of view, goods need to be delivered at just the right time to stop competitors ghosting in, but not going so early that consumers are trying to carve mouldy pumpkins.

Take into account planning this around Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas and it could suck your resources dry.

Trick or Treat

As these holidays continue to get bigger, it provides both manufacturers and retailers with some tough choices. Don’t get involved enough and you might miss out on that sales bump, make too much and you may end up discounting products you can’t use for another 365 days.

The most successful will asses the situation and work out the best way to be involved, while the consumers will just enjoy the ever-expanding list of products they can get their hands on.

But, if Halloween isn’t your thing, just think, it’s only 53 shopping days until Christmas…

Do Manners Matter for Motivating your Staff?

Manners maketh the Manager?

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Can you remember the last time someone genuinely said to you “thanks for doing that, good job!’?

I bet it felt good.

Even though you had to do whatever that task was, it was great getting that feedback.

I’ll double the wager and say that you thought something positive about that manager and then went about the rest of your day with a little more energy and positivity.

Which is what any good company wants…happy productive people!

Do you encourage your supervisors to be polite and respectful?

Too Soft or Too Friendly?

Are you worried about them being “too soft and friendly” and thinking that the workers will take advantage of them and “goof off”.

Your staff are people, and people at the most basic “human level”, want to feel safe and belong to a group they trust and respect.

And when that happens at the office or on the warehouse floor your business or company are onto a winner!

Those people, be it forklift drivers, pickers, packers or team leaders will be more engaged with their workplace.

I have yet to read a leadership book, or seen it in action, where manners cause sick leave, lower productivity or increase work cover claims.

So the lesson…give big genuine smiles, throw in some please and thank yous, and watch your staff transform.

It doesn’t have to be complicated!

Watch more video content from Productive Minds here!

10 Steps To Achieve Networking Success

Tips to network like a boss

‘It’s not what you know but who you know’ – never has this been a truer saying. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have made it easier than ever to target those in the know and the people who make the important decisions. But, many people just don’t know how to do it right.

Are you the person stuck in the corner of the room, trapped chatting to the same person for the duration of the event and leaving feeling dejected, like it was a waste of time or opportunities? You may have the knowledge and the expertise, but if you can’t connect with the right people, what’s the point?

Don’t worry! You can be the one circulating like a pro, making every meeting count and leaving with a fist full of business cards from the people that matter.

10. Are you attending the right events?

Who do you want to meet? Focus on the events where you are going to meet people who will help you. If you’re looking for a new job, identify those where you can meet potential employers. If you’re looking to sell a product or service, e.g. website design, don’t go to an event just for web designers. Identify who may need your service (e.g. bars and restaurants) and attend events where decision makers will be.

9. Entering the room

Enter the room with confidence: stand tall and scan the room to identify people you want to approach. Don’t rush straight for the sides or corners of the room; your underlying attitude is all-important as this is what you will be radiating. If you’re feeling self-conscious then maybe chat to the host to find out who is there. They may put you at ease and they may be able to introduce you.

8. Who to approach

Knowing which groups to approach can be the hardest part of networking.   Look out for groups of three people who are facing out towards the room – these ‘open’ groups are the easiest to join.

And if you need further help in getting into an established group, see if there is a table nearby that you can put a drink down on. This should open at least one person up and you can start a conversation with them.

Avoid closed groups, the ones that have three or four people huddled closely together as these will be the least receptive to interruptions.

7. The Handshake

The handshake gives you an insight into what the other person is like. A firm (not too firm) handshake is sufficient but there are three handshakes you need to be careful about:

  1. Dominant – the finger/hand crusher, implies you’re boss and not going to listen to anyone else
  2. The ‘Wet Fish’ – limp and powerless, this suggests you’re a walk over and
  3. Double touch – grasping both hands or hand and arm together, this can seem over-familiar.

Don’t write someone off completely for giving you the ‘wet fish’ though – they may have a hand injury!

6. Remembering names

If you have a name badge, wear it high on the right side of your body which makes it easily visible to the other person to see. Listen carefully when the other person says their name and repeat it in the conversation as soon as you can, as it will help to cement it in your mind. Word association can also help; try linking their name to a well-known phrase or person. If all else fails, it’s ok to ask and much better than guessing their name!

5. Building rapport

So you’ve made your approach and you remember their name. How do you build rapport? It’s not so much about WHAT you say but HOW you say it. We get on with people who are most like us, so you need to concentrate on two things:

  • Moving and gesturing in a similar way
  • Matching the speed and pace of their voice

Don’t be too obvious about it, wait a couple of second before copying actions, but if you’re able to you’re able to do this, it will make more positive impact on them than what you’re actually saying.

4. Be interested before being interesting…

You will get the most out of networking if you listen to the other person and find out what you can do for them. Ask key questions to identify their needs:

    • What makes a great customer for you?
    • What sort of contacts are you looking for?
    • Is there anyone I might know who could be useful to you?

Givers gain, so if you can help them first, they will be more likely to help you in return.

3. Moving on…

You have been chatting for a few minutes and you realise that this person isn’t able to help you… however don’t write people off straight away – they might be well connected with the people you want to meet.

If you’re in a group excuse yourself politely. If you’re with just one person it’s a bit trickier. Ask them to accompany you to the drinks table – you might lose them on the way, or find someone else to introduce them to while you’re there. If all else fails, it is socially acceptable now to tell them that you are there to network and would like to circulate more, wish them well and just move on.  

2. Work on your social networking personality

These days your virtual presence is as important as your physical presence. Make sure that your Linked-In profile is 100 per cent completed and get people to recommend you, especially from outside of your employment – client recommendations are worth a lot. Linked-In is great for connecting with key decision makers too.

As for Facebook, check your privacy settings. If your settings are set to public, only upload photos and comments that you would be happy for a client to see. If in doubt, tighten your privacy or don’t add it.

1. Following up…

You have attended an event and chatted to and exchanged business cards with a potential new client/employer. What next?

Ask if it’s ok to send them an email or message via LinkedIn and don’t be too pushy about meeting up. Be persistent but don’t pester: ask how you can work TOGETHER and if they don’t reply, back off.

If you have been chatting about a specific subject, send a link to articles or websites of interest. Really personalise the approach – a handwritten letter with an article of interest makes a big impression – and it will have the stick factor.

For more on this, check out my TEDX presentation on Successful Networking

Travelling for Business – A Rookie’s Guide

Travelling for business is one of the things I most looked forward to when I embarked on my professional career (excuse the pun).

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This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Growing up with a father who was forever jetting off around the world, I saw business trips as a great opportunity to see new places, do some shopping (since there were always presents for the kids when he came home) and I assumed some work must be involved but it was never clear what that entailed and how easy or difficult it was.

As a young professional I was fortunate to begin domestic travel in the first year of my career, progressing to international travel the following year and more recently in 2014 travelling to an average of two cities per week and in 2015 travelling to an average of two countries per month. These trips, I came to realize, were definitely a great opportunity to see new places, however shopping for loved ones was rarely on the agenda aside from at airport shops and in fact the amount of work involved before, during and after each trip was significant.

Aside from this realisation, I have learnt a number of basic lessons from the last few years of business travel so thought I would share some of my general tips with you in this post and then some more country specific ones in my future posts. China will be the focus on my next post and then the Middle East after that so keep an eye out! I hope these tips are entertaining as well as useful for you as you either prepare for your first business trip, or read this from your hotel on your 51st trip.

General Tips for Business Travel

As you will have noticed from my first post on networking, I like to think about the work that needs to be done before, during and after any activity. Therefore for business travel I have broken up the information into pre-trip, trip and post-trip:

Pre-Trip

When the requirement for business travel is first identified by yourself or your boss there are a number of questions to be covered before you can begin your pre-trip preparation.

One model I have found useful is the Six W’s which has been adapted from Kipling’s Six Honest Serving Men (What, Why, When, How, Where, Who). By running through these questions you can understand what the travel is, the purpose and goal of the trip, when you need to go and for how long, how you will do it, where you will go, who you will go with and who you will meet with/work with on the trip.

An example is you are going on a sales trip, the goal is building relationships with prospective clients, the trip will be in June and last for one week, you will fly from Hong Kong to Beijing for two days and then fly from Beijing to Shanghai for three days and then fly from Shanghai back to Hong Kong, you will liaise with your local Sales Agent on travel bookings and meeting bookings and your local Sales Agent will accompany you to all meetings which will be with executives from 20 large companies.

Based on this information you can get the practical arrangements made, for example:

  • Book travel and meetings
  • Nominate a colleague to cover your normal duties
  • Purchase travel insurance
  • Pack appropriate business and casual attire
  • Get your passport and papers in order.

Once that is complete you can begin the preparation needed to help you achieve the goal of your trip. I fully believe in the Seven P’s (Proper Prior Planning Promotes Peak Performance) so would strongly recommend you take the time to prepare for your trip whichever way you need to.

Personally, my preparation normally includes some or all of these activities:

  • Research the country I am going to so I can be prepared for any cultural differences and safety considerations
  • Research the people I am meeting with including reviewing their company website and activity in the media and looking over their personal LinkedIn profile
  • Preparing meeting packs including relevant notes, presentations or papers which I will need to refer to in the meeting
  • Writing a clear itinerary showing the time, location, contact, goal and background for each meeting
  • Finally I think it is always a nice touch to send the people you will be meeting with or working with on your trip a brief email to confirm the meeting details, provide a short agenda and tell them you are looking forward to meeting them/ seeing them again.

By understanding the Five W’s and following the Seven P’s you are laying the groundwork for a successful trip and will reduce the level of difficulty and complexity of the work that you will need to do on the trip so maybe you will be able to find time for that quick shopping expedition for the kids or even visit a local attraction or two. Although of course the execution of the trip itself will also need to be spot on if you want to enjoy these perks. Here are my top tips for during the trip.

Trip

Depending on where you are travelling there are lots of ways to make or break your trip. Generally though my tips are:

  • Arrive to each meeting early and be professional and friendly
  • Note all follow-up actions and complete as many as you can straight after each meeting or well within the agreed time-frames
  • Pack muesli bars or snacks to eat between meetings as you often have to skip meals
  • Try to get enough sleep as the days are long and you have to be on top of your game for each meeting
  • If you have lots of meetings booked each day (5 for example) then arrange a driver or negotiate with your first taxi driver to drive you for the whole day as not being able to find a taxi is not an acceptable excuse for being late to your next meeting
  • Have your phone on you at all times as people often have to move meetings forwards or backwards at short notice so you need to be contactable

Speaking of moving meetings – always be flexible and as much as possible work around the people you are meeting with; Try to avoid excessive drinking at night (this could be easy or hard depending on the people you are travelling with and where you are going – I will address this in my country specific posts); Keep up the communication with any colleagues you are travelling with so you can support each other; and finally always thank and show your appreciation for anyone who has assisted you during your trip before you leave whether it is your driver, Sales Agent, local colleague, professional translator etc.

Post-Trip

To make sure you achieve the goals of the trip, it is important that you allocate time to your post-trip work, for example:

  • Prepare and then complete the action list from the trip which would normally involve things like sending promised information to people and saying thank-you for their time
  • Update any reports you need to with meeting notes and agreed actions
  • Put away your passport somewhere safe
  • Prepare your travel expenses for reimbursement
  • And of course give your loved ones any small presents you brought home.

Business travel is loved by some for the experience of visiting new places and hated by others for the long lines at the airport and the stress of rushing around a new city, but overall as long as you allocate sufficient time to the pre and post trip work and keep your head in the game during the trip then you should be able to meet all the goals that you set and perhaps even have a good time.

If you have any tips of your own on business travel please feel free to post them in the comments section!

Madeleine Tewes is the Head of Business Development and Marketing at Apsiz Services.

Watch Your Step! Pitfalls In Social Media To Avoid

Career bear-traps to avoid… 

Pitfalls in social media to avoid

It’s a major crisis for the company – the phones are ringing off the hook as the comms team is bombarded with furious questions from journalists, customers, shareholders, regulators. Announcements, FAQs, press briefings need preparing at lightning speed, and frustratingly every single one has to be approved by the lawyers before they go out. The pressure is on: this could cost the company business, there may be lawsuits – and anything said right now will be cited in those – the share price may come under pressure.

And into the midst of this, a colleague completely uninvolved in what’s going on decides to Tweet their personal view of the crisis. 

Procurious ran an excellent workshop at eWorld last week, talking about how procurement people might get more involved in social media. It’s a great subject, the profession has definitely been slower than some other disciplines in embracing these great communication channels. It was suggested though, that the comms department might get leery – having sat on the other side of that particular desk, here’s why.

Journalists, customers and the world at large don’t distinguish that much between official corporate statements and things that employees of a company happen to say. Especially in a crisis, any quotable quote or accidental off-hand comment will get used and repeated over and over – especially if the ‘proper channels’ have been locked down to repeating very limited information. As a fair few people have discovered in recent years, that can be career limiting – or, indeed, career terminating.

Here are five suggested rules to live (or at least, post) by, all from real life experience:

This isn’t personal

Our social media channels are our own personal domains. Right? Wrong. If you’ve chosen to use them to talk about your work then they’re properly of interest to your employer, too. Your contract and HR handbook will have blurb about confidentiality and not bringing the company into disrepute, and there’ll probably be a social media policy somewhere as well.

Our highly valued customer is useless!

So, you’ve read the policy and placed the disclaimer, ‘all views expressed only my own’ – so you can say what you like now, surely? Not quite. As a consumer, you may want to vent about the terrible service you received from some company: if they happen to be one of your firm’s biggest customers (and if your social media identifies you with your employer) you can expect an awkward conversation the next morning. If nothing else, it’s plain courtesy to your colleagues trying to renew that account not to make their job harder. 

A Tweet is for life, not just for Christmas

That was a witty comment about your big competitor, wasn’t it? So good it went viral, ended up all over the web. And on the desk of the grumpy interviewer when you apply for a job there three years later…

I probably shouldn’t say this, but 

You’re right, you shouldn’t say it. If you feel the need to write – as in the recent LinkedIn photo debacle – ‘this is probably horrendously politically incorrect’, then you can be pretty certain you shouldn’t go any further.

Crisis? What crisis? 

When your company is going through a crisis, let the team appointed to handle it, handle it. They may do a great job, they may make a mess of it, but sticking your oar in isn’t going to help. So your tweet was nothing to do with the crisis, it was just a photo of staff having a great time at a party. Oddly, that’s still not going to help the company’s reputation when the comms director has just reassured the world that every sinew is being strained to fix the problem.

Social media are great – there’s a whole other post in that. But tread carefully – or you may have that long and uncomfortable walk to the comms director’s office. Trust me, neither of us want you to be there.

Stuart Brocklehurst is Chief Executive of Applegate Marketplace. His past roles have included Group Communications Director of Amadeus IT Group SA and Senior Vice President for External Relations at Visa International CEMEA.

6 Tips To Ensure You Make The Most Of Your First Procurement Job

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It was 9 years ago (almost to the day) that I applied for a job in the finance department of Alcoa (a mining company). Not long after that application, I was contacted by someone in the HR team and asked if I would be interested in interviewing for a role in procurement. I didn’t know what procurement was (it wasn’t mentioned in university courses back then), but needed a job, so I answered that question with a resounding yes.

Somehow I managed to get through the interview process and shortly after kicked off my career in the function.

My ignorance of what procurement was ensured that my learning curve would be a steep one. I have compiled my advice to procurement and supply chain graduates below, perhaps you can learn from my mistakes?

  1. Pitch up on time

This is critical. When you are the new guy (or girl), it’s inevitable that people within your organisation will be questioning your maturity, your experience and your capability. If you can’t get to a meeting on time, or haven’t prepared for the ensuing discussions, you’ll go a long way to confirming these fears. It’s simple, get there on time, be prepared and you’ll find you’ll alleviate lot of the unfounded concerns about young workers.

  1. There are no stupid questions

I spent the first two months of my procurement career not knowing the difference between direct and indirect procurement (despite the fact that it was discussed daily in my office). There were also scores of internal terminology that I didn’t understand. It took me months to figure this stuff out because I was too scared to ask my superiors questions for. It’s important to remember that you are new, you’re not meant to know everything on your fist day and while you might feel stupid asking simple questions, trust me, you’ll feel a lot more stupid when you’ve been in a role for months and still don’t know the difference between direct and indirect procurement. I found that a great way to open a dialogue and get answers to your questions is by saying “I was wondering if you could help me to understand xxx?” People like to ‘help’ one another, it gives them a chance to show off their knowledge and this makes them feel happy and important.

  1. Be confident

With all the new terminology, older co-workers and an unfamiliar corporate environment it’s easy to get intimidated in your first procurement role. But remember this, you’ve passed the exams, got through the application process and managed to impress someone enough in your interview that you warrant this position. You deserve to be where you are. Everyone started somewhere. Someone once said to me “your boss puts her pants on one leg at a time in morning just like you do”. There is no need to feel intimidated.

  1. But leave your swagger in the nightclub

There a toxic phrase that has entered the business lexicon recently (I think we’ve got Silicon Valley to thank for it) it goes like this: “fake it till you make”. I despise this expression. There is simply no faster way to isolate yourself from your co-workers (and your boss, your suppliers, your friends and actually from anyone you’ll ever meet) than to pretend you know more than you do. In a technical profession like procurement, you can’t fake experience, you’ve either ‘got it’ and you know what you’re doing, or you’re ‘learning it’. As a graduate, you fall in to the latter category. Be humble and leave the swagger and showmanship for the bar on Friday night.

  1. Do what you said you’ll do

Our founder Tania Seary recently pointed this out in her blog for those striving towards a career as a CPO, so this is sage advice to remember throughout your career. At university, it may have been possible to get around the commitments to your group assignment with a few well-positioned excuses. In the workplace, this won’t fly. If you commit to doing something, it’s your responsibility to see it through to completion, no excuses. If it looks like something is running over time or is getting derailed, it’s your job to get it back on track. Chase people up if they don’t respond to emails and communicate openly with your boss about any issues. Believe me, if a savings target looks to be in jeopardy, your boss wants to know now, not in three months time when it’s unsalvageable.

  1. Learn to answer the phone (and the other basics…)

I’m not sure if it’s still the case, but when I was at university, PowerPoint, Excel and such programs were dealt with in three 30-minute tutorials. This meant that while we could all develop a strategic plan for the corporate restructuring of a multinational company (Organisational Behaviour 243) and had memorised the date that the Corn Laws were repealed (Economic History 331), we were completely incompetent with the tools that would comprise the bulk of the first five years of our corporate existence. Learn pivot tables (and Macros if you’re a gun), figure out how to create an engaging PowerPoint presentation, learn how to answer the phone politely and how to construct an email that will lead to a positive response. This is what you’ll be doing for the next few years, so do it well. The corporate restructuring can wait until you’re the CEO.

But above all, just have fun!

It’s your first ‘real job’. Enjoy it! Enjoy the consistency of monthly salary, enjoy not having to study any more, enjoy no longer delivering pizza for a living, enjoy having a bank account that remains in the black and enjoy Friday night drinks.

Now is your time.

10 Sleep Tips for Supply Chain Managers

Reduce your daily work pains by getting to know your bed better…!

10 tips to help you sleep better

It’s 7.46 am and you’re sitting at your desk, your daily planner is chockers and your admin support have already started doubling-up your “must do today… or else” meetings.

Your phone is constantly vibrating like it’s having an epic seizure… because people want to dump their problems on you as quick as they can handpass the footy before getting crash tackled by a 180 kg centre-half back!

And you feel like crap… tired, grumpy, irritable.

Jay, your operations manager walks in and starts going on and on about the latest stuff up on the warehouse floor last night and wants you to deal with it – like… why me?

Your “primitive “part of your brain kicks in and…  you explode!

How’s ya sleep going, want some tips?

  1.  Your body loves a good routine

Start an evening ritual so that your brain recognises you are getting ready to sleep, get your PJ’s on, clean your teeth at a particular time.

Get up at the same time; even on the weekends… yeah I know that one sucks!

Heard of Jet Lag? You don’t even have to leave home.

Stay up late Friday night, sleep in Saturday morning, Do a “Real” late one Saturday night “coz you’re an 18 yr. old again,

Sleep in till Sunday lunch, then struggle big time when that 5.45am alarm screams at you to get your butt outta bed Monday morning! Fun hey!

  1. Turn you damn TV, Smartphone and Tablet OFF hours before bed!

You know that social media doesn’t stop… there’s always your cousins first born child’s monumental first-steps on YouTube that ya gotta look at. Or your LinkedIn group chatter about ‘the best bully busting tactics”.

Read some fiction, look at a travel brochure, talk to the person next to you… then go to sleep.

  1. Get rid of the Floodlight!

If you read in bed, bung in a 20 watt lightbulb, or better still a fridge lightbulb anything that mimics the power output of a caveman candle.

Lights over 40 watts stimulate our brains and that’s what we don’t want when trying to induce sleep – same reason why electronic blue light-emitting things suck before bedtime.

4.  Caffeine – yeah we love it… so just leave it alone!

That’s right… in the mornings only! Especially if you are sensitive to it.

This stuff is wonderful for creating short bursts of energy, but like any drug “what goes up… must come down”. It also messes up stress hormones, so ease up on the late arvo double shots.

This drug can hang around your system for 6-12 hours, so if you like listening to your partner snore, get another short black into you after dinner!

  1. The stuff fish swim in…

Yup, that’s right good ole fashioned water… minimum of 2-3 litres a day depending on what you’re up to.

  1. Liquid in fancy bottles and cans

You know what I’m talking about… it’s the stuff that humankind has taken a shine to over thousands of years – Alcohol.

Yeah sure it can help put you to sleep, but plays havoc big time with the quality and quantity of your sleep. I mean really… have you ever woken up refreshed after drinking?

Do I need to say more… well unless you’re an alcoholic, and that then becomes a whole different conversation?

  1. Who you sleepin’ with?

So your partner is HOT, well lucky you, or maybe you poor thing!

Did they buy the 15 tog duvet and memory foam mattress that slowly roasts you all night long? Waking up sweating, tossing and turning?

Well here’s an easy fix: Buy 2 king singles stick ‘em together, they get the Arctic-proof duvet and “basting” mattress while you happily get a good firm bed with “sensible” cotton blankets.

8.  An occupied mind

So this one is a biggy to deal with, because it’s different for everyone and dependent on what’s going on in your life at any given time.

Be it: Marriage probs
Wayward teenage kids
Mortgage payments
And…
Your Job!

There are lots of techniques around managing thoughts and stress which I’ll cover in a future article.

  1. Unsticking the Velcro from your butt and chair

It’s called exercise, walking, swimming, riding, chasing the kids around the house.

Or trying to put your teenage son down in a classic UFC submission hold on the back yard lawn…. why not, he probably deserved it! This is good for the brain – free feel-good endorphins and it’s legal. Get some today!

  1.  Be wary of the big bad wolf…

Think twice about long term use of sleeping medication, be it the stuff your GP prescribes, or your friend’s sister gets from somewhere.

… Or even the nicely packaged bottles from your health products store or local pharmacy. They can make things worse.

So have a think about these tips, try them out, and it will have to be longer than a week or two, and yeah it means changing some parts of your life. But if its help you, then your work colleagues and subordinates will love you a just little bit more and your stress levels will drop like a thermometer in a blast freezer!

What Can Art History Teach Procurement Pros About Executive Presence?

Power poses and swagger portraits…

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After Karen Morley’s great presentation at last week’s CIPS Australasia conference, I was inspired by her words on how “power poses” can be used to increase your executive presence. Investigation into the topic led me to the authority on this topic, social psychologist Amy Cuddy, whose 2012 Ted Talk entitled “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” launched awareness of the importance of power poses onto the world stage.

Cuddy talks about how body language, or “non-verbals” govern not only how other people feel about us, but can affect how we think and feel about ourselves. Mirroring behaviour seen in the animal kingdom, humans make themselves bigger and stretch out when they feel powerful, and make themselves smaller by closing up when they feel powerless. Cuddy takes the audience through a range of high-power and low-power poses, including this great pose dubbed “The Wonder Woman”.

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Body language is inextricably linked to power dynamics (or power dominance) and is, unsurprisingly, an important part of gender dynamics. Unconfident, shy, “powerless” people can practice high-power poses until they feel more powerful, with the ultimate goal of faking it until you become it.

A Google Image search of “power poses” makes for entertaining viewing. Alongside Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman, there’s Frank Underwood from House of Cards leaning forwards with both palms flat on a table, IMF’s Christine Lagarde physically dominating ex-Greek PM Lucas Papademos at a Euro Conference in Brussels, and Beyonce striking a high-power pose on stage.

Power posing isn’t new. As an art history buff, the concept immediately brought to mind the “swagger portrait”, an artwork commissioned by powerful patrons to emphasis their status and dominance. I wanted to share a few of these historic power poses with you on Procurious so you can learn from some of the greatest swaggerers in history, who were predominantly clustered in the flamboyant 16th century. At the top of this article we have King Louis XIV of France (a la “The Sun King”) who isn’t afraid to awe his detractors into submission with the cut of his stockings. He’s joined by…

Henry VIII (1491 – 1547)

Check out that swagger:

Henry_VIII_Ditchley_Portrait_after_Holbein

Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603)

Emulating her father’s swagger with an enormous neck ruff and none-too-subtly dominating the entire globe with her right hand:

800px-Elizabeth_I_(Armada_Portrait)

Richard Sackville, 3rd Earl of Dorset (1589 – 1624)

Proving that shoe pom-poms were back in fashion…

800px-Richard_Sackville_Earl_of_Dorset

George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland (1558 – 1605)

His lance is longer than yours…

418px-Nicholas_Hilliard_-_Portrait_of_George_Clifford_Earl_of_Cumberland_-_WGA11421

So, if you’re feeling powerless or need a bit of confidence before an important meeting, why not take some inspiration from the 16th century and add a bit of swagger to your power pose.

 

Dr Karen Morley Asks What’s YOUR Leadership Narrative?

X Factor Research from The Faculty

Dr Karen Morley – Executive Coach, Associate Dean at Mt Eliza Education, expert on gender-balanced leadership and registered psychologist, took the stage at this week’s CIPS Australasia Conference to give a brilliant presentation on setting the bar for world-class leadership. 

Procurement professionals love hard facts and figures. That’s why it was so satisfying for the audience to see that Morley based her analysis of what makes a good CPO on an excellent paper produced by The Faculty Roundtable in 2012 – The “X Factor” Leadership Research. The X Factor model breaks down what is required of a world-class CPO to deliver competitive advantage for their organisation into four key areas: functional excellence, leadership attributes, people leadership, and commercial leadership.

In line with the conference theme of “Raise your game, raise your voice”, Dr Morley discussed the vital need for CPOs to be able to share their stories about the difference they’ve made to their business. She shared with the audience the stories of four past winners of The Faculty’s CPO of the Year Award, all of whom demonstrated strength and balance across the four categories of the X Factor model. Importantly, the four winners (all highly-regarded Australian CPOs) were able to successfully articulate and promote their achievements. The message is clear – don’t be shy to shout about your accomplishments. 

Having set the bar for what distinguishes a leading CPO from the pack, Dr Morley challenged the audience to step back from their day-to-day concerns and begin crafting what she called the “leadership narrative”. A leading CPO takes time to focus on what their story is and crafts a consistent message to help people understand where they’ve come from, what they’re focused on now, and where they’re going. Dr Morley puts it this way:

“Imagine you have lived your life as the leader you want to be and you are at your retirement party. How do others regard you?” 

Shape your story through:

  • Setting 3–5 year and 5–10 year goals
  • Creating a tagline – what’s unique and special about you?
  • Shaping your story by thinking consistently about capability, identity, values and core purpose.
  • Focusing on what’s critical – the X Factor model points to commercial leadership and personal attributes as the most critical areas for a CPO.

Dr Morley gave the audience some very practical advice on how to raise their voice. It’s all about “executive presence”. To increase your executive presence:

  • Project a calm and relaxed manner
  • Keep your conversation focused and to the point
  • Connect through sincere emotion
  • Adopt a “power pose” to give you confidence (“fake it, and become it”)
  • Attract and hold the attention of others – in Dr Morley’s words, “attention is the currency of leadership”.

To boil Dr Morley’s advice down to three key points, procurement leaders who want to stand out from the pack should firstly understand exactly what it takes to be a leading CPO (using the X Factor Research), create a leadership narrative to craft their own story, and finally, raise their voice by increasing their executive presence.

Read our previous interview with Dr Morley here.

Which Of These Sixteen Personality Types Are You?

Which of these sixteen personality types fits you best?

Which of these personality types are you?

Isabel Briggs Myers created the sixteen personality types with the help of her mother, Katharine Briggs, and the theories of psychologist Carl Jung. Since then, much research has been done into how each type functions at work, at home, and in relationships.

A recent post in the Harvard Business Review pours salt on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (or MBTI for short), saying:

“Myers Briggs—and I would argue any personality assessment—is neither valid nor reliable. These tests identify a black and white version of people, a reduction of who they really are. They offer us the illusion of understanding at the cost of truth and freedom. Sure, they may make people more comfortable (‘Oh, I understand you now’). But it’s a trick.

It continues: “Self-assessments, by definition, reinforce a person’s self-image. You tell the assessment what you think you are like and then the assessment tells you what you are like. Which, of course, would incline you to think they’re valid. But they’re just telling you what you told them… Personality tests reinforce our blind spots.”

Not to be downhearted back in July we asked the Procurious community whether they thought there was a ‘typical’ Myers Briggs profile for procurement pros. There’s been 33 answers to-date, so it’s clearly a talking-point among members.

We’ve helpfully wrapped-up the results thus far (25/08)

ENTP 9, ENTJ 6, INTJ 5, ENFP 2, ISTP 2, ENFJ 1, ESTJ 1, INFP 2, INFJ 2, INTP 1, ISFJ 1, ISTJ 1

It appears the most common trait is ENTP and from 33 responders E is included in 19 out of 33 profiles.

Things to consider

Mike is just one of many who has asked an interesting question on the findings. He wants to know:

“Do you think you have a different profile depending on the role your fulfilling in the company? I run a consulting business and recently created a new commercial model for procurement, so maybe its no surprise I am currently a ENTP but I haven’t always been one.”

A few of you have picked-up on the changing classification too. Monica Palacios said: “I agree with the idea that we evolve with our roles. I took it at the beginning of my career ENTJ; some years before I found it was ENTP.”

Glen Lovett: “I’m an INTJ but given the changing face of procurement I would suggest that ‘E’ is becoming more valuable.”

Chris Roe notes: “We seem well represented for a type that makes up 3 per cent of the population in this sample…
I guess making decisions based on logic and facts rather than emotion is a desired trait!”

Judging by your individual test results there just may be some common traits among procurement professionals after all. Matt Cockfield exclaims: “Wow, what a great question. I’m not sure I ever thought of connecting the two — MBTI with the procurement discipline. Apparently, there is a correlation here!”

Do you see value in such tests, or are you like Iain Wicking who claims they’re just “a superficial way of assigning traits… I would not take it too seriously.”