Tag Archives: employee engagement

What to do When You Feel Like Quitting

Feel like quitting? It’s important to ask yourself some key questions before you hand in your letter of resignation. 

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Moving jobs is consistently rated by psychologists as one of the most stressful events in a person’s life (more stressful, for example, than the birth of a child or planning your wedding). So it’s vital for your own well-being that you manage the whole situation very carefully.

Before you even begin to start the process of hunting for a new job, you need to ask yourself the key question – what’s my motivation?

Why Do People Start Looking Elsewhere?

People look for new jobs for a whole host of reasons, but they generally fall into one of the following groups:

  1. Dissatisfaction with the work they’re doing
  2. Dissatisfaction with their remuneration
  3. Dissatisfaction with their working environment
  4. Dissatisfaction with their manager(s)

It’s interesting to note that people are often only motivated into actively looking for a new job when they are unhappy with more than one of these aspects. If you currently find yourself in this position, here’s my advice.

What to Do When You Feel Like Quitting

Before you storm into your boss’s office with your letter of resignation, you should think carefully about whether your dissatisfactions can be resolved in your current situation. Let’s look at these one by one.

1) Feeling Unsatisfied?

If you are finding your current work is unsatisfying, first check if there are other, more interesting projects coming up for which you could volunteer. Or, if you are finding that your expertise is causing you to become “pigeon-holed” into one area, look into whether there are internal opportunities to cross-train into different and more exciting areas, and gain new skill-sets.

2) Struggling on Your Salary?

If you’re unhappy with your salary, you need to check whether you are being fairly remunerated for the work that you do. This information may not be easily obtained within your company because of individual confidentiality, but job-boards contain a lot of data, and sites like Glassdoor will give you a rough idea of whether you are being paid what your skills and experience are worth.

If you have been with the same company for a long time you may find that your pay has only increased by small increments each year, and your own boss may be unaware that your salary is unfair in relation to the market as a whole. Before you hand in your notice, you should at least talk to your manager, armed with the relevant information, to give them a chance to improve matters for you.

But be warned, you may have already hit the salary threshold for your skill-set, in which case you should think about learning new skills, developing niche expertise or taking on more responsibilities.

3) Unhappy with the Working Environment?

Your working environment covers everything from the company culture (which you probably can’t change) to the working hours and your work-life balance.

People’s needs change throughout their careers: if your domestic situation changes because of childcare needs or caring for a relative, talk to your HR department or manager about adjusting your working hours.

Increasingly, companies understand the cost to them of losing experienced staff (and having to find and train replacements) so they are much more willing to be flexible in accommodating the needs of their teams.

4) Bad Manager?

Perhaps the hardest problem to resolve is a bad manager. Micro-manager, absent manager, unappreciative manager, bully…it’s an old truism that “people leave managers, not jobs”.

If you’re feeling unappreciated you may need to run an internal PR campaign and make sure that your boss has realised all of the things that you’ve achieved for the company.

If the person you report to is irrepressibly miserable, or a shameless bully, you may have the capability to neutralise or ignore their toxic behaviour. However, it may be too emotionally-exhausting and this will be all the worse if the company’s senior management don’t seem to care.

Focus On Being Happy

So, if your managers are steering your company onto the rocks, while paying you a pittance for working every hour under the sun…it’s maybe time to go.

At least you have investigated whether the situation can be saved, and by looking at your motivations you will know which aspects are most important for you.

This will save you many hours of pain and stress in the job-hunting process because right from the start you will know what your “red-lines” are.

  • If you absolutely need a certain level of income to support your family then you can rule out everything below that;
  • If you absolutely need to be able to drop your child at school in the morning then you can focus your attention on those employers who support flexible working hours;
  • If you’re committed to learning new skills then you need to find a company who will truly support your drive for self-improvement.

Once you know what you’re trying to achieve with your job-move then you will be focusing on the things that are important to you, the things that are most likely to make you happier and less stressed. This is really important not just for your own well-being but also because there is a huge body of evidence that proves that happy people work more effectively, and so you are creating a virtuous circle for your next job.

And now it’s time to think about the next key step – your CV!

Richard Harris is Managing Director at Mohawk Consulting. Mohawk Consulting is a specialist recruitment company, working within the professional services market, particularly at the level of experienced hire/manager/director.

Smashing through the bamboo ceiling

You’ve heard of the glass ceiling – the male privilege which has historically prevented women from rising to the top of their organisations. Less well-known, however, is the concept of the “bamboo ceiling”.

Bamboo ceilingIt refers to the processes and barriers that serve to exclude Asians or people of Asian descent from executive positions in Western-run organisations. The term was coined by Jane Hyun in her book focusing on Asians in American workplaces, Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians.

We’ve recently witnessed a cultural shift in our most progressive organisations wherein gender equality in the workplace is now firmly on the agenda. There are a host of agencies such as Catalyst and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency that are working to address the imbalance, although there is a long way to go.

The difference between the glass and bamboo ceilings, however, lies in the fact that while a company may admit to historic gender bias and pro-actively work to address the problem, racial bias remains in the shadows. Cultural diversity quotas and programs do exist, but the statistics at the executive level are particularly damning. In the US, for example, Asian-Americans hold only 1% of board seats. Australia shares this problem: a recent report by Diversity Council Australia revealed that while 9.3% of the Australian labour force is Asian-born, only 4.9% make it to the senior executive level. Similarly, only 1.9% of ASX 200 senior executives are Asian born, despite 84% of surveyed Asian talent saying they plan to advance to very senior roles. There’s a huge disconnect here – if you are Asian in Australia, chances are very slim that you will make it to the top, no matter how ambitious you are.

The consequences are alarming. 30% of Asian talent have said they were likely, or very likely, to leave their organisation within the next year. For one in four, negative cultural diversity factors significantly influenced their decision.

Tony Megally, General Manager of specialist procurement recruitment and search firm The Source, says that while Australian organisations are hiring more Asian-born talent than ever before, there are still significant cultural barriers to overcome.

“We’re seeing a trend where talented Asian professionals feel they have to change, or Westernise, their names in order to make sure their resumes aren’t passed over”, Megally says. “This shows that there’s still significant cultural bias in Australian organisations, although no recruiter would be willing to admit they passed over a candidate due to a hard-to-pronounce name.”

Bias holding back Asians in business – even in Asia
Even more alarming is the existence of the bamboo ceiling in Asia itself. According to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, locals rise only so far at Western firms, with multinationals still relying on ex-pats to fill top jobs decades after expanding into the region. Tellingly, 40% more Westerners are placed in CEO-type roles in the region compared with other roles.

Dr Tom Verghese, author and founder of Cultural Synergies, says there’s a real lack of Asian leaders in the top echelons of business. “I’ve been working on developing Asian leaders in the market for 12 years”, says Verghese, “but multinationals do have some understandable reasons for using expatriates in Asia. All global companies inevitably have their organisational culture rooted to their country of origin. There is something in having a person familiar with your language and culture as that link with head office. A very human tendency that we need to be conscious of is our sense of comfort – or bias – that ‘same is safe, and different is dangerous’. Companies want one of their own ‘guarding the store’, and there can be advantages to having an outsider in the top job because they can make changes that an insider would hesitate to make.”

Bad for business
Having less diversity at the top can be bad for business. Companies need to reign in their use of ex-pats, in part because they are expensive hires, and having white-majority executives means a lack of understanding of consumer needs, trends, purchasing power and brand positioning. In short, organisations are excluding the very people who know Asia best.

Multinational organisations in Asia need to focus on the following ways to shatter the bamboo ceiling:

  • phasing out the reliance on expatriates for top roles
  • actively developing and grooming local talent for leadership positions
  • training local talent to fill perceived capability gaps rather than looking elsewhere
  • seeking out talent that knows the local market and understands cultural hierarchies
  • setting quotas for local representation in executive teams
  • understanding the difference in what a good leader looks like across different cultures.

“Multinationals need to embrace cultural intelligence and develop a much broader context around what global leadership looks like”, says Verghese. “A facilitative leadership style may be effective in Australia, for example, but a directive style works better in Asia”.

The Faculty Asia Roundtable hosts quarterly meetings in Singapore, where CPOs from the region’s leading organisation meet to share learnings and best-practice. Please contact belinda.toohey@thefaculty.com.au for more information.

Supply Chain Sustainability as a Competitive Advantage

Industry leaders understand that supply chain sustainability can be a competitive advantage. Utilised effectively, it brings a wealth of opportunities.

Sustainability Competitive Advantage

Read the first part of this article here.

Global brewing giant SABMiller embraces the idea that water is strategic. It cut its water consumption by 28 per cent, now only using 3.3 litres to make 1 litre of beer. It is on track to achieve its objective of 3 litres by 2020. Iconic sports brand Nike has adopted 3D printing to eliminate waste.

Companies not focusing their supply chain efforts on differentiation are at risk of falling behind. Innovation can also involve changing consumer behaviour. Here again, collaboration is key between different functions, from R&D to marketing and procurement and supply chain.

One of the three pillars of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan is to halve the environmental footprint of their products by 2020. They have developed a purpose-driven strategy to double their revenues, while still having a positive social impact. Their business model has put supply chain sustainability at the heart of strategy, and they use innovation to embrace it.

Cost of Sustainability

A common misbelief is that sustainable solutions cost more. In most cases, they are more profitable, with a faster return on investment. Business and sustainability go hand in hand, and better solutions have emerged, both for businesses and the planet.

True, there are more expensive examples. Traceable palm oil, which ensures zero deforestation during production, is one of these. However, renewable energy solutions, such as windmills and solar panels, can be profitable immediately.

Many companies also put a lot of effort in reducing transportation, with the objective to decrease gas emissions, as well as the transportation cost itself. From a labour perspective, the overall cost could be diminished by improving productivity and respecting minimum wage.

When companies take the long-term approach that sustainability requires,
 initiatives can be cost neutral or 
better. Some companies have increased their revenue by as much as 20 per cent, while reducing supply chain costs by up to 16 per cent. According to the World Economic Forum report written with Accenture, this has been done by implementing sustainable supply chain practices.

Best practices have been identified to support companies achieve a “triple supply chain competitive advantage” of increased revenue, reduction in supply chain cost and added brand value. The result is improved competitiveness and reduced operational risk.

Employee Engagement Key to Sustainable Success

46 per cent of CEOs reported that employees would be among the most influential groups in guiding their action on sustainability over the next five years – second only to consumers.

When it comes to employee engagement, it is important to communicate internally to all levels of the organisation. Best practice should come from within, and companies should ensure that their external actions on sustainability are also reflected internally.

Taking care of the workforce, engaging them in implementing a corporate commitment to sustainability, will drive greater productivity, and thus greater profitability.

Giving employees a purpose and empowering them to have ideas and find solutions at a local level could make a real difference in supply chain sustainability. It is more challenging to have sustainable operations in some global regions than in others. Leading supply chain executives encourage their teams to go beyond their own boundaries, inspiring, guiding and supporting them.

Companies who are leveraging supply chain sustainability as a competitive advantage are outperforming their less sustainable peers. Many studies show that these sustainability leaders have higher, faster-growing stock value, better financial results, lower risks, and more engaged workforces.

Aligning employees’ engagement with supply chain sustainability strategy is key to building an innovative, environmentally responsible, and socially conscious business. Workers on the front line are often in the best position to identify inefficiencies and propose solutions.

The best companies integrate their sustainability strategies into their employees’ day jobs. This is done by incorporating sustainability targets into the employee’s annual objectives, and incentivising them.

Shared Responsibility

Sustainability is the responsibility of everybody, but especially those involved in the supply chain who are in a position to act.

Communication and training are important factors in generating awareness across the workforce. To attract talent, particularly millennials and future generations, companies behind on the subject will lose in this battle too.

Many multinational organisations have set sustainability targets to be reached by 2020. Winning companies will master the balance between commercial gains and “it is simply the right thing to do”. They will embrace internal and external collaboration and will drive supplier and consumer behaviour.

In a world where social conscience is fed by social media, and fear of the speed and scale at which information can disseminate globally, it is crucial to behave responsibly. Those organisations which do not act now on supply chain sustainability face the risk of long term brand and reputational damage.

Dear Boss, I Quit! Why Good Leadership is Key

Looking for the real reasons your staff are leaving? Instead of focusing on the ‘business’, you may want to take a look at your leadership.

I Quit - Leadership Key

This article was first published on Boxchange.

I’m sure that you, like me, are saddened every time someone in your team has resigned, (apart from the one or two rare exceptions when I have actually danced a celebratory jig around my desk, but that’s for another article!).

Mostly, my natural reaction has always been a human one I suppose. “Why would they do that?” or, “What’s wrong with them?” or even, “The fool must be leaving for money!”

But as the years rolled by I have become much wiser.

Lack of Leadership

Experience tells me that people don’t change jobs solely for money, and they almost never resign on a whim or in a fit of anger. People joined your company because they believed it was right for them, and they desperately want it to be right.

However, something, at some point, makes it wrong and if you are able to uncover their real reasons for leaving, and you should, you will find that it’s not ‘the company’ they blame. It’s not the location, or the team, or the database or the air-conditioning…

…it’s the leadership!

Of course they very rarely use that word. They may not mention management at all.

Instead they talk about “morale,” or say “communication is poor”, and, when they express frustration at the lack of clarity for their career progression, they are telling you that it’s the leaders they are leaving. After all, leaders are responsible for morale, communication and career path.

Discover the Real Reasons

And don’t be fooled by the results of your employee engagement survey – they rarely get to the heart of the matter. A ‘company’ is just a legal entity and a ‘business’ is simply a building containing a collection of desks and computers. No one resigns because of that.

It’s the decisions, the motivation, the atmosphere, the ethos, the support, the training, the vision, the inspiration and the direction set by the leadership that your employees will follow…or leave!

Take the time to have an honest look at your business or department without further delay. If you’re losing too many people, (or have high absenteeism), you need to discover the real reasons why.

If you’re not sure how to get to the root cause then ask. My colleagues and I are happy to offer our free advice, and it could transform your performance and results in 2016.

Boxchange offers a fully integrated business change solution that fits almost every conceivable change challenge your business may, or is currently facing. We focus on delivering value, return on investment & ensure effective knowledge transfer throughout.

Transforming the Procurement Function from Within

It’s a tall order to come in and completely transform the procurement function within an iconic global company.

Kelly Irwin - Head Procurement Function Holcim

But Kelly Irwin didn’t beat around the bush when she started as Head of Procurement at the Australian subsidiary of Swiss group at Holcim (which has since merged with the French group LaFarge) five years ago.

The company, which is a leading supplier of aggregates, concrete and concrete pipe and products, had plenty of room for improvement. In fact, the company’s procurement department was mostly handling complaints, rather than handling strategic buying for their future.

The 20+ year procurement industry veteran soon realised the magnitude of the role, so set about implementing improved systems and processes for the procurement function. The first step was to establish a centralised purchasing model, then build a talented procurement team to support her role.

“It was a very dysfunctional team that had little direction, that wasn’t aligned with the company’s strategic directions,” Irwin says.

Building an Effective Team

Today, Irwin heads of a team of 34 people and manages a mind-boggling AUD $900 million budget. She has implemented and centralised structure and processes within the procurement function. She has previously worked in procurement for Qantas and building firm Boral, though this role with Holcim Australia is her first where the procurement buck stops with her.

With those changes bedded down, her remit is again broadening, and she will now handle all buying across New Zealand for the company, with a recent trip across ‘the Ditch‘ to establish processes there.

Not only this, Irwin has developed a highly effective procurement team, which has been awarded the Internal Customer Excellence Award for Holcim Australia for three years in a row.

Her approach has transformed the procurement function for the company, with her team has an 80 per cent engagement score, which was the highest in Holcim Australia in 2015.

Irwin has strong capabilities in building effective working relationships with teams, development of Procurement strategy, management of supplier and keyholder expectations, highly developed negotiating skills, contract management, risk management and compliance expertise and operational experience through the implementation of change initiatives and process improvements.

Irwin was also recently awarded the CIPS Procurement and Supply Chain Management Professional of the Year.

Building Individual Engagement

Irwin keeps staff informed on all aspects of the business, has an open door policy, and doesn’t mind being contacted after hours.

“I recently read that people play harder when they know the score. This is something Holcim Procurement do well. Not only do we have clear goals, (quantitative, savings targets), but we have the measurement tools the accountability element to keep score on how we are tracking.

“I believe this shared goal, as well as individual accountability to reach this goal builds individuals’ commitment to team uniformity direction, and overall engagement,” she says.

To emphasise her point, she recalled talking to someone in procurement who had major issues trying to speak to the head of the department. This was slowing down their ability to tackle their own role.

“This person would need to book a meeting with their superior two or three weeks ahead, and it was usually a walking appointment as he was always in between meetings. I honestly don’t know how someone can be that busy, that they’re practically unavailable for their own staff. You’ve got to make sure your staff feel engaged and supported, and that you’re a team.”

Nearly 70 per cent of her team is degree qualified, though that wasn’t a prerequisite when she entered the industry more than two decades ago.

“I always look to hire people that complement the skills we have, and find people who have talents in areas we need to improve in.

‘Be Inquisitive Problem Solvers’

Like so many working in procurement, it was never a deliberate decision to follow this career path.

Irwin deferred university and entered the workforce before stumbling into a procurement role, with the sound of buying things for a living appealing to her. She’s since completed a number of qualifications, certificates and management courses that support her role.

“Procurement is one of those professions that you’ll excel in as long as you’ve got the right soft skills.”

Irwin describes herself on being approachable, down to earth and honest. And she doesn’t take herself too seriously.

“Though depending on where you’re standing, that can be a bit rough as well,” she admits.

Procurement professionals need to be inquisitive problem solvers with strong communication skills, she says.

“While your superiors might be great at what they do, with all due respect, they don’t necessarily know more than you about your function within the business. Realising that you could well have a far better idea of the best approach than other senior people within your business can be professionally liberating.”

As far as the future goes, Irwin says the procurement function has an increasingly broadening remit.

“Procurement was entrenched in a brown cardigan mentality in the past, but that’s changing, and we’re now a business function that’s well respected across the globe.”

Kelly Irwin is one of the leading Australian professionals to speak at the second annual Women in Procurement 2016 event, which inspires leadership, advances careers and drives innovation in procurement, and supply chain function and practice. The event will be held in Melbourne in 21-23 March. Book your ticket here.