Tag Archives: personal development

Why Being Reliable Spells Doom to Your Career

Do people in your workplace ever refer to you as reliable, trusty, dependable? That’s got to stop! 

Are you a woman working in procurement? Join Bravo, our specialised group on Procurious. 

Truth or myth

Myth: Having a reputation for being “reliable” and “getting the job done” makes you valuable.

Over the weekend I’ve been helping a friend in a sticky situation. She is downsising her business, which is a smart move.

She has the potential to sell her business, which is a lucrative move.

In either case, she has to make layoffs.

Ouch.

As we strategised together on how to deal with this difficult decision, a staffer’s name kept reappearing.

My friend feels indebted to her for all her years of service.

I asked her what value the woman brought to the team. How does her work enhance results, solve problems, and propel the company forward?

Her answer?

“I don’t know…she just always does what I ask and gets the job done.”

Hire or fire?

We discussed this some more and came to the conclusion that despite her loyalty and workhorse ethic, this staffer would not make the cut and has to be let go.

That’s painful. And I see this a lot.

When I ask women what their special sauce is at the office, I hear “I’m known for my work ethic” or “I always do a good job” or “I’m reliable and get the job done”

I get it. I was once that person, too. And it cost me thousands of hours of my life and hundreds of thousands of dollars that I could have been earning.

Dammit!

Being known for getting the job done is not enough to build value and does not get you the pay scale, nor the flexibility you crave.

And what is even harder to see is that, most likely, working hard feels good. And when something feels good it becomes a hard habit to break.

When you realise how much you’re worth, You’ll stop giving people discounts. – Karen Salmansohn 

There is certainly pride in staying at the office late to produce a stellar result. And it’s nice to be the first one the boss reaches for when there’s a difficult task at hand that will require overtime. Who doesn’t want to feel needed?

Yet, when you are the person who is routinely called in to do the tough jobs that require a maximum time commitment, the only person to blame is YOU.

Sorry.

It’s okay to work an 80 every now and then if you’re in your flow and loving what you do.

And it’s great to commit to a special assignment that will open up doors of opportunity.

But it sucks to work that 80 day-in and day-out while telling yourself “it’s only for a year or two until I prove myself”

Don’t hold yourself back

Finding value in how hard you work is a script from your childhood. And if you’ve watched my master class you know what those scripts do. They hold you back. They make you trade hours for dollars. They keep you from your littles. They pull you off course so you can’t be the real, authentic you.

Defining your value and pouring your heart and soul into developing that is priceless. It’s a linchpin in your ability to create the career you really want.

You just need to hone it, sell it, and make sure the whole world knows your secret sauce solves their acute pain. Now you are simply PRICELESS! (But you already knew that, didn’t you?)

And the best part about this is that anyone can do it. You don’t have to be special, you already are special…you just have to find that special spark inside and nurture it. You don’t have to be lucky, you create your own luck by seizing opportunities and taking a stand for what you care about. And you don’t have to be master craftsman. Women always think they don’t have the skills, experience, or blah, blah to do this. Of course you do!

So when are you going to claim the life you really want? If you’re not living it today, then I suggest now  is a good time, right?

Are you a woman working in procurement? Join Bravo, our specialised group on Procurious. 

This article was oringally published on LinkedIn. In 2003, Kathleen Byars  left her lucrative executive career to go live on an island. Today she specialises in helping corporate women redesign their lives and leverage their talent to create fulfilling, flexible careers without sacrificing the success they’ve earned.

5 Skills To Drive Supply Chain Success This Year

The skills required to drive supply chain success are forever changing. However, there are some skills that will serve you well over time.

Far from abating, the pace of change in the supply management procession continues to accelerate. It’s critical for supply managers and for the survival of the profession itself that practitioners continually update their skill-sets to avoid being left behind.

It doesn’t matter how experienced you are. If you let your capabilities fall behind while the profession continually reinvents itself, you might as well hand in your resignation today.

A common discussion we see on Procurious revolves around the new skills required for today’s procurement and supply managers. The catch is that even the latest skills are likely to become outdated with a matter of months as new technology and unexpected shifts in the global economy change the game again and again.

That’s why the list below is comprised of five skills that will see you through the next year and beyond, despite the galloping rate of change.

1. Becoming a lifelong learner

The most important skill for 2017 is more of a habit. Starting a new, lifelong routine of daily learning will open your career horizons, keep you informed of disruptive technology, and will rapidly transform you into the best-informed member of your team.

Your daily routine may involve reading industry news and blog articles, or targeting your capability gaps with online microlearning. Investing only a few minutes of professional development every day will make an enormous difference.

2. Improving your cultural intelligence

Although globalisation suffered at least two body-blows in 2016 (UK’s Brexit and Trump’s protectionism), it’s safe to assume that supply managers will increasingly work across borders and, subsequently, across cultures. The best global procurement and supply professionals have high cultural intelligence. This means they:

  • have the drive and curiosity required to understand the norms and behaviours found in different cultures
  • actively seek to understand cultural similarities and differences to avoid cultural missteps
  • plan ahead for cross-cultural interactions – making the time to learn common phrases such as greetings and farewells
  • are flexible enough to adapt their tone and manner during cross-cultural interactions according to their observations.

3. Mastering your elevator pitch

Every procurement and supply professional needs an elevator pitch. This is important not just for the benefit of your own career, but for the profession as a whole.

Even in 2017 we’re still in a situation where there’s a vast ignorance out there about what procurement is, and what we do. Being able to confidently spread the word with a short, engaging summary of procurement’s value will help your own prospects, improve stakeholder understanding of procurement, and (most importantly) help attract top talent to the profession.

4. Building your brand online

Are there still some stalwarts out there who are holding out on embracing social media as a career-building tool? Again, this skill-set is not only good for your own networking and career development, but very important for the wider profession.

We need as many people as possible being positive about procurement and supply management online.

Why? Because the alternative is a mire of online negativity from disgruntled stakeholders or suppliers with a grudge. Join two or three social networks, talk up the profession, and reap the professional benefits of a strong online network.

5. Embracing social procurement

Social procurement has gone from a nice-to-have, good-for-the-brand exercise to an integral part of business strategy. Before launching your first social procurement project in 2017, ensure you’re able to articulate how it benefits the business by aligning your efforts to enterprise-level targets and organisational values.

ISM’s Jim Barnes: three major L&D challenges for procurement

Are you clear about the capabilities your role requires? Do you regard yourself as financially acute? Does your organisation have processes in place to capture vital knowledge from departing professionals as they retire?

Jim Barnes

Jim Barnes is a busy man. He’s the managing director for ISM Services, the Institute for Supply Management’s team learning and development arm, and the nature of his role means he’s on the road, or in the air, for much of his working week. His team and its affiliates are truly global, working around the clock with top corporations across the US, Latin America, Europe and Asia – in Barnes’ words, “the sun never sets on ISM Services”.

Procurious was lucky enough to get some time with Barnes at ISM2016 in Indianapolis. We asked him for his top three concerns for the future of learning and development in procurement. From his unique viewpoint near the pinnacle of one of the biggest supply management associations in the world, Barnes sees the following three shared challenges:

1. Lack of clarity around procurement roles and competencies

With procurement role definitions and responsibilities becoming increasingly fluid in modern businesses, Barnes has become aware of confusion around what many roles actually entail. “We’re seeing a lack of alignment between job roles and organisational needs. There’s also a lack of clarity in what it takes to get to the next level in your procurement career”.

ISM’s solution was to launch the Mastery Model, which CEO Tom Derry has referred to in the past as “the world’s greatest collection of job descriptions”. All of ISM Services’ content and training now maps to this model, and it’s part of Barnes’ role to ensure the model itself stays relevant in a fast-changing profession. “We’re constantly updating the Mastery Model”, he says. “That’s the whole point – procurement has moved so fast that we’ve almost outstripped the ability to have formalised career structures, but the model is designed to stay ahead of the latest trends.”

ISM Services surveys individuals to determine their competency levels across no fewer than 73 sub-competencies in the Mastery Model, identifying individual or group-wide gaps and devising a targeted investment plan for training and career feedback.

“There are so many ways people can be up-skilled”, says Barnes. “It could be formal training towards ISM’s CPSM or CPSD, or eLearning, or on-the-job mentoring and coaching. It’s all about targeted investment to address identified gaps. Most importantly, the Mastery Model helps procurement professionals understand what competencies they need to excel in their current roles, and what skills they’ll have to master to move to the next step in their careers.”

2. Procurement professionals need greater financial acumen

“If you’re in procurement, you need to ensure you have a basic understanding of business finance and accounting. For example, when selecting suppliers, you should be able to look at the financial data around their business to understand their dynamics”, Barnes says.

Being able to speak intelligently about finance will greatly benefit your ability to engage internal stakeholders and talk their language. “This is especially important when engaging with Finance, of course, and the C-level will expect you to have a good grip on business finance.”

Barnes says that more and more universities are offering quality courses in procurement and supply chain that address the gap in financial knowledge. “We’re seeing some terrific graduates coming out of these courses, including this year’s impressive group of Richter Scholarship recipients”.

Barnes’ advice to newly-minted graduates looking for a great role in procurement? “You’ve got to be willing to travel’, he says. “Lots of manufactures have plants in regional areas, often in the middle of nowhere – we can’t all land jobs in San Francisco”.

3. An ageing workforce

US electricity and gas company Duke Energy, says Barnes, is a prime example of the ageing demographic in procurement. “Over the next five years they’ll lose two-thirds of their supply chain staff. They’re replacing 200 people a year”. Barnes’ main concern with the demographic shift is capturing lost knowledge. “Of course there’s going to be a ‘brain drain’ – companies need to be very proactive about capturing as much knowledge from outgoing professionals as possible. But it’s also an opportunity to shift the skill set in procurement from old-school tactical to cutting-edge strategic.”

Barnes notes that ISM is on the front foot when it comes to developing millennial talent, most noticeably in its 30 Under 30 Supply Chain Stars program (in partnership with THOMASNET.com) and through its innovative eLearning initiative.

“The eISM online learning options make skills acquisition so much more accessible. We’ve now got people in remote places accessing our guided learning by webcam – they may not have been able to attend a workshop in person due to time constraints and travel expense. Trainers have to be able to accommodate people’s needs – and some procurement and supply chain professionals simply can’t find the time to leave their jobs”.

Virtual learning benefits trainers, too

On a personal level, Barnes is very pleased about the increasing popularity of virtual learning. “There’ll always be a need for face-to-face learning, networking and workshops, but one of the great benefits for me is that hopefully I won’t need to be on the road quite so much in the future!”

In Search of Influence – The Traits of Influential People

With an understanding of what influence is, and how procurement can leverage it, we can now look at what the common traits of influential people are, and how to develop them.

Influential People

In my previous article, I reviewed some of the available literature on influence and influencing skills, in this article we look at what the key traits of influential people are, and how to best develop these skills ourselves.

These key traits and ways to develop have been identified following a range of discussions with a variety of procurement leaders.

1. Excellent Communication Skills

The most important trait to of influential people was the ability to communicate effectively. An example of effective communication was described as, “when they spoke to a room, it felt as though they were personally being addressed”.

This ability to communicate to many people, and make each person think that the message is for them, was identified as a key communication skill.

The research identified that there are different aspects of excellence in communication skills, which can be summarised as:

  • Develop and adapt communication plans based on the listener

When developing communication plans, it is imperative to consider how the person being communicated with likes to receive that communication. This then drives the method of communication – be it face to face or electronic, as well as the actual content. This adaptability of communication is again one of the key traits of influential people.

Goleman[i] suggested that effective planning specifically for the individual is a critical success factor for effective communication.

  • Make persuasive arguments

This links to making points in specific language that the listener understands. In other words, when making persuasive arguments, influential people spoke the language of the listener, rather than their own procurement language.

  • Listen to the responses and read the room

Listening and active listening is a key trait of an effective communicator. That it is more than what is being said that makes an effective listener.

2. Delivered results and built trust

The need to deliver on the promises that have been was seen as a ‘ticket to entry’ to a wider discussion. Therefore the ability to keep ones promises, i.e. contractual trust[ii], was identified as a non-negotiable to build trust both for the individual and the function.

The leaders influence increased within their businesses the more they delivered either on bottom line savings or on specific projects that they were asked to deliver.

3. Top influencers have empathy (and not sympathy)

Sympathetic listening is defined as how we care and show we care about the other person, and that we pay close attention and maybe share their feelings. Whereas when we listen empathetically, we go beyond sympathy and attempt to seek a fuller understanding of how others are feeling.

Empathetic listening means listening to the responses and asking more questions to understand the points made, which requires excellent questioning and close attention to the nuances of emotional signals.

4. The best influencers have great knowledge and great passion

Top influencers need to have credibility in order to be considered influential. When reviewing top influencers, all of those people had “been there, done that”, and were able to bring a huge amount of experience and credibility.

This referencing of credibility has an interesting link to the French and Raven work on expert power[iii].

Having passion in the field in which the influencers excel, be it procurement, or other topics, allows the influencer to demonstrate knowledge about their subject matter, which will increase the ability to deliver great outcomes.

5. Network and built great teams

The idea of networking with other senior leaders and influencers is an important leadership development tool. Harvard Business Review identified networking as operating at three levels, Operational, Personal and Strategic.

In order to be an effective influencer, the procurement professional needs to operate at all three levels.

How to Develop Influence

So if these are the key traits of influence, how do we go about developing these skills?

  • Observation is king

The number one thing that influential people do to develop their skills is the observation of others, especially those that they felt were influential.

This is then internalised by the individual to consider what it meant to them, and whether they felt it was something that they could do themselves, or something that they did not wish to do, or could not apply to their own style of influencing.

Top influencers have stated that they learnt as much from bad influencers as good ones, as this leads to things definitely not to do.

  • Training programs can add value…but need to be linked to on the job development

Attending a specific training program can provide lightbulb moments in terms of developing influencing skills. Many top influencers stated that this was unlikely to be a “learned skill” from a textbook, but more of an acquired skill through observation and mentoring.

This seems to add credence to the 70-20-10 learning methodology[iv], its application for active learning programs, and the use of formal mentoring or coaching activities.

  • Feedback loops from trusted and diverse sources

The requirement for an independent person to review performances and give detailed feedback on what was done well and not done well was considered to be a key ingredient to developing these skills.

The trusted sources could be a mentor, either formal or informal, potentially someone that the individual trusted or rated as a top influencer. Some have also mentioned that having a different diverse perspective in giving this feedback was a great way to develop skills, both in general and in relation to the topic of influencing.

  • Practice makes perfect

The need to practice the new skills when they had learned them links back to the earlier identified method of more on the job based training, or more planned activities following specific training programs. Top influencers have stated that the more they practiced and prepared the better they got.

Summary

  • There is a need to identify who you are trying to influence and decide on the best way to influence that individual.
  • This means that the practitioner needs to have multiple ways to influence rather than rely on the same approach for all.
  • If you want to develop your influencing skills then there is a key need to understand the way you process information and learn new skills.
  • Observational skills are paramount to increasing your influencing skills.

[i] Goleman D (1998) Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ; Bloomsbury Publishing

[ii] Sako M; Does trust improve business performance? London School of economics 1997

[iii] French, J. R. P., Jr., & Raven, B. H. (1959); The bases of social power. In D.Cartwright (Ed.),Studies in Social Power (pp. 150–167). Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research

[iv] Kajewski K, Madsen V, (2012), Demystfying 702010. Deakin Prime

Your Number 1 Resolution – Learn Something New

This is the time of year when most of our resolutions (lose 10lbs, get back to the gym, drink less, do something useful for the community) have fallen by the wayside. There’s one thing you can still do to make a difference in your life – learn something new.

Learn Something New

If you are a millennial, you probably know plenty about social platforms and the innermost workings of WhatsApp, but what about taking a course in supply chain dynamics or an appreciation of jazz? You can learn about almost anything on-line, and most of it is free.

Find a MOOC to suit you

MOOC stands for a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). These courses are offered by universities and other quality education providers via the internet and are free. There is a huge range of subjects that have quality content, although they do not normally provide certificates or academic credits on completion.

Many of the courses are developed by universities, but are structured and presented by training organisations, like edX, using specific technology that supports interactive and other forms of on-line learning. When you sign up, you are committing to the class time and assignments (which is good). You can register for classes offered by many leading USA and UK universities including Harvard, Stanford and Yale.

What are the course options?

The choices are vast. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a leader in this field. It is “dedicated to advancing knowledge and educating students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.”

They have courses that will teach you how to manage and harness the dynamics and interactions between firms and other entities within a supply chain. They also have courses like Drugs and the Brain and Introduction to Algorithms.

There’s a course coming up at the University of West Virginia called The Science of How Communication Technology Shapes Our Social Lives. Presumably this will be suited to more mature students who are bemused by the growth in the use of hand-held devices and mobile technology.   

Some courses are on not on a fixed schedule but are self-paced, and more suitable to those of us with challenging day jobs. Social Media Marketing for International Business from the University of Salford’s Business School is one of those that you can fit in with other extra-murals. 

It’s not all about work

If that all sounds a little heavy, how about a Jazz Appreciation Course from the University of Texas? You can listen and learn about the artists, eras, and musical methods that make jazz a great original art form. Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker. John Coltrane. You’ve heard their names, but do you know what makes them great? It doesn’t even sound like work!

You can try Lynda.com for video-based courses on Photoshop or Lightroom, which cost a small fee. These are great skills to have for improving the visuals in your slide presentations and management reports. How about learning something that will let you have a serious conversation with your I.T manager without feeling inadequate? The Khan Academy is a well-established not for profit organisation that provides free courses on many subjects.

If you want to try something that is directly related to improving your skills on the job, how about: Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel or Career Edge: Communication and Teamwork. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something!

Why It’s Critical to Keep Your Skills Up to Date

Technological change is disrupting every industry and profession around the world, and obliging professionals to ensure their skills are up to date.

Keep your skills up to date

In recent weeks, Procurious has published a number of articles on personal development, training and up-skilling. The idea of keeping skills up to to date, and making time for learning and development, are applicable not only in procurement, but also to virtually every profession in every country.

However, this is not to say that all the onus is on the individuals to take responsibility for their development. It’s important also for organisations to ensure that resources are made available to allow employees the opportunity to take advantage of the training that is available.

AT&T – Remaining Competitive

AT&T is a US-based telecommunications company, currently owned and operated by SBC Communications. In the USA, the company is the second largest provider of mobile phone services, and the largest provider of fixed phone services. The company also provides broadband services.

The rapid pace of technological change in the telecommunications industry has left AT&T vying to remain competitive against larger technology organisations, such as Google and Amazon. Part of the strategy for remaining competitive in this industry is ensuring that employees’ skills are up to date.

It was estimated that approximately 280,000 employees need to update, or learn, coding skills, something that the organisation is supporting through the provision of eLearning. The company will reimburse around $8,000 (USD) per year per employee for this training, although this will still mean employees are funding some of the training themselves.

Up-skill. Or else…

While this may sound like the organisation is being supportive of employees’ efforts to ensure they have the skills they require to perform their job, there is something of a darker undertone. In essence, AT&T are forcing their employees to learn these skills, or find that their career choices are “very limited”.

CEO, Randall Stephenson, has been quoted as saying people who do not spend 5 to 10 hours per week in online learning will “obsolete themselves with the technology”. The time commitment involved means that many employees are now working evenings and weekends, on top of their day jobs, just to keep up to date.

The company also plans, eventually, to include personal development and learning as part of performance reviews too. This will be based on what people have studied, how well they did, and whether they are willing to keep learning.

The Right Reasons

It would be easy to point the finger at AT&T and say that they are being unfair. That they shouldn’t be forcing employees to learn skills, or essentially be out of a job. However, there are many organisations who do not offer the support that AT&T are giving their employees.

Yes, employees own time and money are required in order to keep pace, but if these employees don’t have the same skills as those at competitor organisations, then the chances are good that AT&T will cease to exist, and those employees will be looking for new jobs in an ultra-competitive job market.

It is also not to say that AT&T are leaving their employees to fend for themselves. The company has a programme called “Vision 2020”. It combines online and classroom-based work in subjects like digital networking and data science, but also looks at old skills that can be transferred to new careers.

AT&T management want to ensure that the company has a future, and the employees have got on board with this, and are actively working to make sure that they have the necessary skills to do so.

Stay ahead of the personal development game by making use of all the eLearning resources at your disposal. Check out the Learning Hub on Procurious for over 80 free video and audio resources, from learning about procurement, to learning from the experts.