Tag Archives: career management

5 Steps to Building an Amazing Presentation

No matter what you’re doing, it’s hard to think you’ll avoid doing a presentation at one point or another. So how do you deliver thrill rather than dud?

awesome presentation
Photo by 祝 鹤槐 from Pexels

If the thought of delivering a presentation to your team, key stakeholders or even the C-suite leaves you in a cold sweat, don’t worry – you’re not alone.

Presenting might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean it’s something you will be able to avoid forever, particularly as your procurement career progresses. At some point you’ll be required to communicate the profession’s value-add or pitch ideas to decision-makers in your organisation. And that means it’s worth getting your skills up-to-speed so you are ready to step up to the plate in style when the time comes.

Fortunately, whether you are delivering a keynote to an audience of thousands or to two members of the senior leadership team, there’s a proven formula to getting it right every time.

One person who I always look to as a mentor in this space is Colin James, an expert speaker and facilitator who has spent the past 25 years working with senior executives around the world, helping them to master their presentation and storytelling skills.

In a recent conversation with Colin for Inside Influence podcast, we discussed the key steps to getting it right when you’re given that all-important hour to present to the CEO or CFO.

Step 1: Walk the (right) walk

The very first thing that you do on stage or in a meeting is vital – it sets the tone for the rest of the time you have. When you enter a room for your next meeting, ask yourself what the way you walked in says about you, your attitude and your intentions for that meeting.

When someone arrives with energy and urgency, sits upright in their seat and makes eye contact with others it signals something very different to a person who slops in and collapses in a chair.  The latter says “I don’t care, I’m exhausted, what am I doing here?” Incredibly, this is all being communicated without a single word being uttered.

What your physiology says about you in the first 30 seconds really counts. Colin’s main simple but effective tip (especially for people seeking to build their professional brand) is this: simply walk faster. Walk faster into the room; walk faster into that meeting or onto the stage – walk faster everywhere you go! The increase in pace will increase your energy – it will also increase the perceived urgency of your objectives.

Step 2: Start strong and finish strong

Any good presentation needs a clear concept (a title) that makes it immediately clear to the audience what your presentation is about – and what you’re trying to achieve. A misleading, ambiguous or dry title could lose your audience just as easily as a muddled or confused structure.

You can’t impress people that aren’t in the room – so first rule of thumb – get a title that’s going to peak the interest of your target market.

It’s also important to bookend your presentation with strong opening and closing statements. The reality is that information communicated at the beginning or the end of an educational episode is far more likely to be retained by your audience than the content in the middle.

The age-old advice on public speaking is useful here – “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them again. Then tell them what you’ve told them.”

Step 3: Divide (into chunks) and conquer

Colin recommended embedding three or four major themes – chunks – into the body of the presentation. These are the ideas, or principles, you want to get across to your audience.

Each chunk should have a principle, and each principle will support your overall concept. The connected detail, i.e. the stories you tell within each principle, should validate that principle and ultimately connect to your concept and title.

So as an example – what three things would your audience need to think, believe or do differently in order to take advantage of what you’re offering in this presentation?

Step 4: Tell a story

Once you have the principles in place – now it’s time to bring them to life through storytelling. Colin recommends that within each principle you need at least one story that illuminates the application of that principle in the world.

This can be a story from the past, an imagined scenario, or a potential event; so long as it is something that allows your audience to see your ideas applied in the real world. Telling a good story requires the following structure:

1. The event: The where, when, who, how and what.

2. The point: Your story needs to come to a clear point. If you’re pitching to decision-makers, this means you want someone to say yes to your idea. People are naturally influenced by social proof. If other people have done it or supported the idea or concept you are pitching – tell them! We don’t search for online reviews and testimonials for no reason – positive social proof makes us far more likely to take action.

3. The link: Your stories should be linked to the outcome you seek. In other words provide an actionable path to a desired outcome for our target audience.

Step 5: Take out 50 per cent

According to Colin, the most common mistake presenters make is to overpack their presentations with content. His advice? Design and plan your presentation for whatever time you have – then take out 50 per cent of the content.

It’s exactly the same concept as packing for a holiday. Most people going on an overseas trip over pack and then spend two weeks dragging around an enormous amount of excess stuff they neither use or wear. The same goes for presenting. Less is more.

So why is all of this important? Most presentations don’t fail because of a lack of good, valuable or important information. Or due to a lack of skill, intent or commitment from the person delivering. Most instead fail because the structure of that information isn’t compelling enough to hold our attention.

Like any exchange of energy – there is a formula we can replicate to get the right results. Once we break that formula down to its most simplistic components – and start consistently applying those rules to our own presentations – the impact takes care of itself.

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

5 Ways to Stand out From The Crowd

New Year, New You. New Job? Don’t wait until 2020 to start your search or you might struggle to stand out from the crowd.

stand out from the crowd
From Pixabay on Pexels

More than half of us are planning to change jobs in 2020. So, don’t wait until January to start your job search – there will be far too much competition. Instead follow these steps to get ahead on a new you for the New Year.

Looking for a new job takes time. In fact, an average of 40 days from submitting a CV to being offered a new role.

Factor in searching for a suitable job before you even send off your application and then the wait while you work out your notice (generally at least one month) and it could be a nearly Easter by the time you move jobs.

So why not start preparing for your search now?

The Market – The Crowd

It could pay off. More than half of the 16,000 UK employees surveyed by Totaljobs and Universum say they are planning on moving jobs in the new year, so January will see a huge surge in the number of candidates on the market.

To put it into context, that could be half your workplace actively scouring job sites and that means an awful lot of competition for the best roles.

“If you also factor in Christmas bank holidays then the optimum time to start applying for jobs is mid-November,” says Nick Kirk, UK MD of recruiters Michael Page who warns: “Securing a new job can be a lengthy process, with applicants and employers needing to be sure the right person is being offered the right role.”

Where Competition is Highest

The professionals who are least satisfied in their current position and most likely to want to move jobs work in logistics, media and e-commerce so anyone working in these sectors is likely to see tough competition from colleagues who are also looking for a new role.

In contrast, auditing and accounting and legal and law professionals are the least likely to leave their jobs, because those usually have higher salaries and a lot of opportunities to up-skill. For example, an accountant could become a CPA just by passing an exam and completing the licensing process.

However, much depends on your employer. If you have any concerns about the future of your organisation you will not be alone – so start your job search sooner rather than later.

Preparation is Key to Success

Although around half of us are expecting to look for a new role, only one in ten expect to be successful.

So how can you boost your chances? Nick Kirk has the following advice:

1. Be clear about your reasons for leaving

Are you sure you want to leave your job, or are you feeling pressured to start afresh in the new year? Establish the reasons why you want to leave your current job and, if you can, speak to your manager about your concerns. Once you’ve had these frank conversations and are certain that moving on is the right decision, you will be able to make smart decisions about your next role.

Often it is not the money that’s a problem – in fact, two thirds of British workers would stay in a job they enjoyed rather than move for more money.

For those intent on shifting jobs, the biggest drivers are career progression (30 per cent), professional training and development (32 per cent) and the feeling that their current roles and responsibilities are unlikely to grow (25 per cent). These can be relatively easy to address.

For example, your manager may not be aware that you want a promotion or more training and may find these requests easier to accommodate than a pay rise – after all, if you demand a substantial salary hike everyone will want one, whereas a career development plan is tailored to the individual and it can also benefit the organisation in terms of improved productivity.

2. Think about where you want to work next

Candidates and employers are now placing more value on workplace environment and ensuring the right team culture when hiring.  It’s crucial to be sure that you know what kind of role, company, and working environment you are looking for in your next position before you start your job hunt. If you find an environment and culture that matches well with your personal values, you are more likely to be happier at work.

One of the key requirements is flexibility – often employees are prepared to sacrifice salary for the option of working a condensed week (cramming 5 days into 4), the option to work at home one day a week or an early start/early finish.

3. Keep an open mind

Adopt a positive and flexible attitude to your job search. Listen to what opportunities are in the market and remain open-minded to different companies and locations.

In keeping your mind open, you may be presented with opportunities which may be worth changing location or industry for – a real new year overhaul!

Also by narrowing your requirements, you are limiting your choice which means you could be languishing in a job you hate for too long. Today we have less of a career ladder (organisational structures are flatter) so it may be hard to move for a promotion, but that does not mean you cannot find a more rewarding role with a sideways shift.

4. Update your LinkedIn profile and CV

Your LinkedIn profile and CV are your gateway to a future position. Most employers will cross reference the information before deciding on whether to progress your application, so ensure both are sharp and accurate to avoid your application being discarded at the first hurdle.

Also make sure that all your job applications are tailored to each role.

So start with a tailored personal statement to your prospective new employer, highlight your key skills, use a spell checker and whatever you do, don’t lie.

Employers are struggling to find the right candidates, so increasingly accept that they will have to find a good fit rather than the perfect fit so you don’t need to tick every box.

5. Prepare for your interview

This may be a busy time of year, but an interview is the time to make a great first impression on a potential employer. Do your homework on the company – look at its latest news, work or any award wins. Have an understanding of where you can fit into the organisation and its culture. Anticipate possible questions and rehearse your answers too, as this will help you to deliver seamlessly on the day.

Good luck!

Adventure, Exploration and Gold – Why Supply Chain is the Career of the Future

Time to step out of your silo, get your body and brain ready for the future, and find your inner gold. Catch up with Career Boot Camp to get yourself on the track for the summit.

supply chain career
Photo by Simon Migaj from Pexels

The supply chain profession attracts some of the best minds and biggest thinkers around. Are they drawn to the chance to travel the globe, have diverse experiences and learn lessons from a myriad of people? Are they energised by the idea of finding a role that gives them a broader perspective and makes them a more well-rounded person?

Or maybe it’s the chance to enact real change, set bold personal goals and aim high?

It is, in fact, all of the above. Don’t just take our word for it – these are the thoughts and experiences of the fantastic trainers from Career Boot Camp 2019. Here are just a few of the insights from this podcast series:

Change Your Career Trajectory to Aim Higher

The strange thing our trainers all had in common this year was that they weren’t initially directly involved in supply chain, or didn’t set out for a career in it. But, far from falling into it, three made active choices to change their careers to supply chain.

Dr. Alexis Bateman, Director MIT Sustainable Supply Chain, started out with a degree in Environmental Management Planning and then gained a PhD, but wishes that she had found a supply chain earlier in her career. This view was echoed by Supply Chain Executive, Steve Day, who, after starting out in Engineering and Telecoms, found that his supply chain career was some to “feel energised about”.

And Ron Castro, Vice President, IBM Supply Chain, didn’t gain qualifications in supply chain, but has found that supply chain has opened doors for him around the world, giving opportunities he may never have had otherwise.

Cultivating the Common Habits

All five of our trainers picked up on some key habits from their careers and experience that they have cultivated to reach their own summits. Could you do anything differently in your career in the future?

  1. Be curious – don’t tell yourself you can’t do something. Replace limiting thoughts and see what’s possible.
  2. Don’t believe that you only need training in one area – broaden your perspective, and then bring this perspective into new roles to enhance your expertise.
  3. Be a more holistic thinker – get a rounded experience, have a passion and set ambitious personal goals that allow you to aim high.
  4. Take the chance when it’s presented – it might seem like random chance or something out of the blue, but you won’t know unless you try it.
  5. Keep current but also talk about broader topics than just your area – it will show a broader knowledge that could change the trajectory of your career.

Learn from the Past, Look to the Future

Dr. Karen Darke MBE believes that we should learn from the past, but not to let it define us. Your behaviour and emotions in the moment can actually shape your future, through the power of your mind.

The way you think and feel can impact your own reality. Study of the mind was also part of Professor Moran Cerf’s podcast as he discussed why the human brain might still surpass AI and machine learning. The brain is still one of the most power muscles we have and we should still be training it, just like our other muscles when we, for example, go out for a bike ride!

Whatever trajectory your career is on right now, know you have the power to change this. By applying yourself, training hard (your body and your mind) and setting your sights on what you want to happen, you can be the master of your own destiny now and in the future.

It’s not too late to catch up on all the Career Boot Camp podcasts and access all this great thought leadership. Sign up here now!

Step Out of Your Silo to Propel Your Supply Chain Career

Are you ready to step out of your silo to share skills and expertise freely with other areas? 

CBC Day 3 escape your silo

Dr. Alexis Bateman, Director MIT Sustainable Supply Chain is our coach on Day Three of Career Boot Camp 2019Sign up here to here her podcast now.

Dr. Alexis Bateman, Director of Sustainable Supply Chain at MIT, believes that a career in supply chain has the potential to be varied and exciting.  “I’ve been able to bring new insights and fresh thinking [to my role] and in some ways I wish I’d found supply chain earlier in my career,” she says. And she is clear that an open approach to ideas and people could be the key to an upward career trajectory.

Many people and Many Views

The variety that’s embedded in a career in supply chain comes, in part, from the departments of the organisation with which the function needs to interact. Alexis loves the way that this collaboration exposes her to many different points of view. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to interact with so many people,” she says. “Almost everyone has something to teach me.”

Alexis describes her sustainability and supply chain role at MIT as one of working with people from different disciplines who have a variety of conceptual experiences. She believes that working across organisations can really help us to think more broadly about issues and projects.

The opportunity to work in a team with many perspectives is something that Alexis sees as being a key part of a supply chain professional’s role. From engineers, technicians, analysts, and strategists, every discipline and perspective can be part of a supply chain team. Close collaboration and problem solving, she says, is just what’s required when you’re working to improve sustainability.

When she’s leading teams at MIT, Alexis’ role is to make sure these roles are aligned, and voices are heard equally. In her experience, “all voices are there for a reason and unique perspectives can push a project forward or enable the team to think of something really innovative.”

Get Out of Your Silo

“A silo view of the organisation and consequently the topics covered in learning and development is the wrong way to progress a supply chain career,” warns Alexis. She advocates against a heads-down, staying in your comfort zone approach. In her experience, where someone broadens out their perspective to think about how they can apply their expertise and knowledge, a range of opportunities to progress will appear.

Alexis urges people to think more broadly about what they do next. “In supply chain, expertise can really be moulded to different positions,” she reports. And the good news is that, in her experience, having an open mind can be a chance to advance your career.

Thinking about your supply chain career trajectory is something that Alexis would encourage all supply chain professionals to do. Supply chain looks at the organisation from many different perspectives: sustainability, logistics, procurement, last mile, and this means that are many roles where different expertise is required.

“There’s so much upward mobility in supply chain,” she says, “from Chief Supply Chain Officer all the way to the CEO.” Alexis is optimistic about the opportunities that are out there for supply chain professionals who love variety and are prepared to broaden their experience and their skills.

Making Variety Part of What you Do

So how can you seek escape the silo and understand the world and the variety of opportunities out there? Alexis has these tips that you can use to embed the search for different into your routine:

  1. Read a lot – try to fit lots of reading into your life;
  2. Read daily – set a slot aside each day when you make time to read;
  3. Read about different subjects – it doesn’t always have to be about supply chain;
  4. Listen to podcasts – they’re a great way to absorb new information particularly when you’re on the move.

Why not embrace variety into your life by becoming a reader and podcast listener? Follow Alexis’ tips to unlock the potential for success in your supply chain career that could take you right to the top.

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

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

great place to work
Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

Start with Management

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

Get Picky: Put Recruitment Effort into Hiring the Right Employees

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

Get Comfortable Hiring Millennials

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

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

Treat Your Employees Well

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

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

Company Culture

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

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

Brand

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

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

Connection

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

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

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

The 11 Reasons Your Career Might Fail

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

personality
Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

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

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

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

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

Knowing Yourself is Key

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

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

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

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

Are you the Right Fit?

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

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

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

Know Your Derailers

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

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

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

Excitable

You have lots of energy and enthusiasm for new projects.

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

Skeptical

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

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

Cautious

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

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

Reserved

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

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

Leisurely

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

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

Bold

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

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

Mischievous

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

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

Colourful

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

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

Imaginative

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

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

Diligent

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

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

Dutiful

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

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

The Good News is You Can Get Better

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

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

This Halloween Beware the Scary Old-World CPO

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

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

– Lewis Carroll, 1871

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

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

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

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

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

The Old-World CPO

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

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

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

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

The (Digitally) Invisible Man…or Woman

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

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

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

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

Robinson Crusoe – the Loner

This CPO really is an island.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Devil Wears Prada – The Career Crusher

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

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

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

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

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

Reverse Mentoring

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

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

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

We look forward to seeing you both on Procurious soon!

Are You Working for a Narcissist?

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

narcissist
Photo by Fares Hamouche on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lack of Diversity is a Red Flag – So Look Around

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

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

Will you be Heard? Group-Think is Another Killer

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

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

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

Those Who Admit to Weaknesses Are the Strong

So what makes a good leader?

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

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

How to Deal with a Narcissist

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

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

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

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

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

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

Confident or Arrogant? The Fine Line Between Success and Failure

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

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

Personality is now the Deciding Factor

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

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

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

Facts Beat Fiction Every Time

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

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

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

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

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

Cheats and Liars are NOT Welcome

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

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

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

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

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

How to Avoid Crossing the Line

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

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

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

Start by identifying your strengths and weaknesses

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

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

Be honest with yourself to be honest with others

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

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

Mind your language (verbal and otherwise)

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

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

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

Stop Freaking Out, Checking Out and Burning out

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

Photo by Atul Choudhary from Pexels

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

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

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

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

Know your boundaries

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

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

Go guilt-free

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

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

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

Support freak outs

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

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

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

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

Live a stand-out life

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

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

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

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