Putting yourself out there is more difficult in a Work From Home environment, but by maintaining a strong social media presence, expanding your network online, volunteering your ideas and services and harvesting good feedback regarding your work, your presence and value can be felt beyond the WFH setting.
It’s a truth of working life that it’s not enough to be good at your job to get ahead. You also need “exposure”, to be able to network both inside and outside your organisation, and to be visible to those dishing out the stretch assignments and opportunities.
With many of us now working from home much more regularly and for the foreseeable future (in the UK, the Royal Bank of Scotland recently informed staff that they would be working from home until 2021), how can you ‘be seen’ when you haven’t seen anyone outside of a Zoom call for months? Without your boss’s boss dropping by your desk for a quick chat, how can you let them know that you’ve been smashing it?
Here are some tips to consider if you want to get ahead while working from home…
As working from home becomes more normalised (rather than the ‘trying to work from home during a pandemic’ that we’ve all been experiencing to date), think about how you can remain visible to those that matter. This doesn’t mean ‘digital presenteeism’ (hello, sending 11pm emails…) but rather keeping yourself on people’s radar. Be sure to speak up in meetings and Q&A sessions. Continue to post on your organisation’s internal and external social media channels. Keeping your head down and getting the job done won’t get you ahead.
Just because we can’t see each other in person, doesn’t mean you can’t spend some time on strengthening and growing your networks. Attend those relationship-building virtual drinks with colleagues – or why not set up your own? Connect with those whose opinions you value and who you can learn from over a virtual coffee. Give public kudos and praise to your co-workers (when deserved of course). If you’re serious about your progression, why not seek out a mentor? You can develop a mentoring relationship just as successfully virtually as you can in person. If you think you want to move on soon, develop relationships with recruiters and headhunters, and keep those relationships alive even if you are not looking to move soon.
Keep a record of your success
Procurement and supply professionals have been doing some stellar work during the COVID-19 crisis. Make sure you keep a record of your successes and positive feedback from colleagues, suppliers, clients and other stakeholders. Doing so serves several purposes. It can help you build a case for internally promotion, pay rises and progression. It can help you quickly update your CV when you decide it’s time to move on. And – not to be overlooked – it can help boost your self-confidence if you’re having a bad day or feeling wobbly before an important meeting.
Put yourself forward
If you don’t ask for something, you don’t get it. If there are internal opportunities, such as getting involved with special projects, stretch assignments or joining high potential development programmes, don’t wait to be asked to join. This is particularly important for home workers who otherwise might be overlooked for opportunities. Make sure you keep your ear to the ground so you hear about these opportunities when they arise. And don’t be afraid to create your own. We are heading into a period of immense global disruption. It’s scary, but it also creates opportunity. If you have an innovative idea, pitch it to your boss. What’s the worst that could happen?
Of course, while there are career management strategies individuals can try, this is a bigger issue that relies so much on company culture. Organisations need to be alert to the risk of ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups developing, discriminating against those with caring responsibilities, most likely to be women, or health conditions that prevent them heading back to the office.
Leaders need to carefully consider how to manage career progression in an age of remote working and managers need to learn how to manage by outcomes rather than presenteeism (digital or otherwise). Think about issues like running inclusive hybrid meetings: does it make more sense for everyone to dial in separately if even one person isn’t there in person? Can you invest in technology (like ‘The Meeting Owl’) to create a more inclusive and frictionless meeting experience for everyone, whether they are in the room or not?
When it comes to getting ahead remotely, perhaps the most powerful thing you could do is to take the initiative in suggesting new and more inclusive ways of working. The pandemic has proven that for many roles, where you do them has little to do with impact or productivity. We all now need to play a part in ensuring that isn’t forgotten as we move into the ‘new normal’.
COVID-19 has created a significant opportunity for generation next to lead, grow and advance. Here are five steps to break through.
Are you satisfied with your current position, or are you eager to break out and change the game?
Do same-old, status quo procurement and supply chain strategies work for you, or are you ready to rewrite the playbook for the modern era?
Procurement’s impressive performance during COVID-19, and the critical role the function plays in the ongoing recovery, has created significant opportunity for generation next.
Are you going to take advantage?
The doors are wide open. And the rewards are substantial. Think promotions, increased comp, resources, access to emerging tech, leadership opportunities, validation and trust from the c-suite, and much more.
But the doors won’t stay open forever. Now is the time to hustle and own your opportunity. If you’re not entirely sure where to begin, consider these five key steps to break through in today’s market.
1. Want more attention? Make your mark where it matters.
The fastest way to get noticed: push forward the strategic, board-level objectives of your organisation.
What tops your CEO’s agenda right now? If you don’t know, request an immediate alignment meeting with your CPO or team lead. Our research found that the c-suite’s top three focus areas today are mitigating supply chain risk, containing costs, and driving business continuity.
These three areas are your golden ticket. Get creative and be bold with your recommendations. Leadership is looking for fresh and modern ideas, not a repeat of yesterday’s strategy. Don’t hesitate to share, even if your recommendations represent a new approach for your team.
Start by thinking outside the box: Is there a use case for AI, blockchain or predictive analytics? What about partnering with a peer or competitor to solve the problem? If you can drive the results the company needs faster and more effectively than in the past, the recognition will follow.
2. Market your success like crazy.
It’s always a team game, but if you don’t advocate for yourself, who will?
Keep track of your wins and benchmark performance over time to demonstrate improvement. And report with data, not anecdotes.
Be sure to communicate like an executive when sharing your success up the ladder. The TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) phenomenon is a very real trap. Lead with the headline, back it up with data and close with how you plan to take it up to another level.
Remember, you, and you alone, are responsible for your career growth.
3. Champion digitisation and emerging tech.
COVID-19 rapidly accelerated the enterprise digitisation journey and eliminated all the old excuses associated with delayed tech transformation projects.
Every executive is looking to increase resilience, productivity and performance. Digitisation and emerging tech – like AI and machine learning – delivers on all fronts. Those who proactively adapt and modernise are best positioned to lead today and in the future.
If your department is not equipped with the right technology, take a stand and champion the digitisation effort. Executives will take notice. Our research shows that 93% of organisations are investing to enable procurement’s success. There are three primary areas that companies are focusing on to propel procurement forward:
Data and analytics
Development of existing talent
Two of the three are directly tied to digital transformation. For many companies, September marks the start of the 2021 budgeting season. If you see an opportunity, the time to make a move is now. Make the business case abundantly clear by connecting your requests to what matters most for the organisation right now: cash, resiliency, and business continuity.
4. Learn, develop and then learn some more
Fifty-seven percent of organisations are investing in talent development to propel procurement forward, according to our survey research. That number needs to be higher… and you need to make sure you get your fair share of the investment.
Your job: Put forward your personal business case for investment. Identify the skills that you and your team need to survive and thrive tomorrow. And take ownership of your own development.
There are ample opportunities to improve and develop. Our recent survey uncovered five primary talent gaps facing the function today.
Mastering these five areas will push you forward in a big way. Breaking them down, there are three key themes. The first is analytics – leaders that can analyze data, uncover trends and use insights to make fast and informed decisions will remain in high-demand. This should be area number one for professional development and training. The second centers around tech digitisation and modernisation, which we touched on earlier. The last bucket represents the soft skills necessary to be a great leader – emotional intelligence, relationships, and human connection.
Be the leader you want to follow
As you grow, get promoted and gain more influence, prioritize being a great leader. Make it one of the most important things you do every day.
Your leadership approach can either crack the foundation of your team or launch everyone forward. In fact, Gallup says managers account for at least 70% of the variance in team engagement.
But remember, future success requires practice today. According to research from HBR, there are six key areas every aspiring leader should practice right now:
Creating an exciting and challenging vision
Translating the vision into a clear strategy and roadmap
Team management: recruiting, developing and rewarding great people to execute on your strategy
Focusing on measurable results
Fostering an environment of team innovation and learning
Leading yourself — “know yourself, improve yourself, and manage the appropriate balance in your own life.”
If you wait to start practicing these skills until after you get the promotion, it may be too late. As HBR’s Ron Ashkenas and Brook Manville write: “No matter where you are in your career, you can find opportunities to practice these six skills. You’ll have varying degrees of success, which is normal. But by reflecting on your successes and failures at every step, and getting feedback from colleagues and mentors, you’ll keep making positive adjustments and find more opportunities to learn.”
The Clock is Ticking: It’s your time to lead.
For current and aspiring procurement leaders, there’s never been a better opportunity. More than 60% of procurement professionals have seen executive trust increase in the past three months. Similarly, more procurement leaders report having a seat at the executive table today than they did in May.
You have everything we need to step up, lead and earn more recognition and trust. The doors are open: are you going to walk or run through?Interested in learning more about procurement leadership? Get more insights, advice and best practices from our latest report: Procurement’s Time to Lead.
“The international trips that we’ve all been on where we’ve flown over to Europe for a two-hour meeting and flown back…does nothing but beat you up, and you’d certainly be much better accommodated over a video call,” Bastian said.
“But it’s going to be trips that are focused on relationship building or interacting – whether it’s with your customers, conventions, new contacts, reviewing performance on a global scale – those are going to stay.”
Should you ask for a raise during a pandemic? It depends on how well you perform, and how your company is doing.
You consistently deliver, you always exceed your targets, and your boss is thrilled.
Does that mean now the right time to ask for a raise – despite everything going on in the world?
Actually, now could be the perfect time.
It might seem counterintuitive, but economic downturns often mean steady wages, says Dr Michael Gravier, Professor of Marketing and Global Supply Chain Management at Bryant University.
“Layoffs and workforce reductions are done partly to preserve the salaries of remaining workers, and companies know that they must keep up the morale of remaining workers,” Professor Gravier says.
Since recessions don’t last forever, businesses have an incentive to make sure their best employees stick around to ride out the economic storm.
“Companies that are most well prepared tend to come out of economic downturns stronger than competitors,” adds Gravier.
“This means that workers who haven’t been furloughed are, on average, well-positioned to request reasonable pay raises, especially if they’ve shown a talent for doing more with less or improving operations or succeeding despite the odds during these difficult times.”
Where to start
Are you a high performer? Then it sounds like you’re ideally placed to ask for a raise.
Start by understanding how well your company is doing, and its priorities for the next several months.
And don’t be put off by reports that overall wage growth is weaker now. Professor Gravier points out that supply chain industry wages have remained fairly robust.
Bottom line: go get that raise.
Build your case
Start by assembling proof that you deserve a raise. Remember, the topic of your paycheck might be deeply personal and sensitive to you, but it isn’t to your boss. All they want are hard facts that prove you meet and exceed expectations.
For that reason, it’s smart to get in the habit of jotting down this evidence regularly. For example, Professor Gravier set aside time every Friday to write about what had happened during the week, and how key performance metrics were going.
‘“You must first know thyself,” as the old saying goes,” Gravier says. “If workers cannot justify their performance, clearly there is not much need to entertain their request [for a raise].”
So what sort of accomplishments should you record? Anything that proves how valuable you are, says Scott Dance, Director of Hays Procurement & Supply Chain.
“[W]rite down all the things that you’ve achieved individually or contributed to significantly as part of a team, [and] back up these achievements with real, measurable evidence,” Dance says.
“Your fundamental objective is to prove that you’re an asset to the business and that you have made a significant contribution during what has been a particularly challenging time for many organisations.”
Know your market value
The next piece of evidence you need is your market value, says Jacqui Paterson, Director of Supply Chain and Procurement at UK recruitment agency Drummond Bridge.
“I would advise [employees] to look at all of the factors associated with their current role, [like] ease of location, job satisfaction, working conditions and then research what the current market rate would equate to for the role they deliver,” Paterson says.
Paterson also recommends asking yourself questions like:
How long ago was my last pay rise given?
Can my company accommodate a rise right now?
Are my skills in high demand?
It’s all about doing your homework first so you’re prepared, professional, and ready to make a strong case.
Choose your timing
People often ask for a raise during a performance review. But that’s a mistake because many other employees are asking for a raise then too, Paterson says.
When is a better time, then? Paterson advises to “time the conversation strategically – perhaps after a series of successful, valuable contributions have been delivered.”
And don’t forget to approach your discussion diplomatically. “A confrontational or “expectant” pay rise conversation doesn’t usually end positively,” Paterson warns.
What if they say no?
Even if you make a convincing case, you might still get rejected.
What should you do next? Find out why you were turned down, says Paterson. “No to a pay rise just now does not mean never.”
“If the [employee] is generally happy where they are, this can be the trigger to initiate conversations in writing that if certain savings, KPIs etc are met that the raise will be reviewed after a three-month period.”
After all, “[n]ot all businesses can afford to consider a salary rise in the current market conditions, or they may want to review how business is moving when the economy shows signs of improving before committing to any salary rises,” Paterson adds.
Another possibility is your boss can’t give you a raise, but they can sweeten the deal by giving you other benefits.
These could include a job title change, extra time off, or the ability to work from home permanently.
So before your conversation, you should consider if you’ll only accept more money, or if you could be satisfied with recognition in other ways.
Is it time to leave?
Only you can decide if you’re happy sticking around without a pay raise. If your top priority is a bigger salary, leaving may be your only route.
“If your current employer can’t meet your requirements in terms of salary or otherwise, it’s certainly worth testing the waters and seeing what you could be getting elsewhere,” says Scott Dance from Hays.
“Despite ongoing uncertainty, there’s no reason why you should hold off looking to the future and considering how you can make your professional ambitions a reality.”
Dance advises updating your CV/ resume with any new skills or expertise you might have learned over the last few months of lockdown.
“Refreshing your CV might open up new avenues which you thought weren’t possible before,” Dance says. That’s why you should be open to trying something new.
“The long-term reality of the Covid-19 crisis may mean that we see surges in demand, industry shifts and emerging trends that impact the jobs market,” Dance adds.
“Being flexible and open-minded about your career may help you secure that pay rise you’re after and take your career in an exciting new direction.”
Do you have any tried-and-true advice? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
While after-work drinks used to be a staple of office life, new drinking trends, sobriety challenges and negative effects on mental and physical health have highlighted alternatives that better promote team building and could spell the end to “work drinks” trends.
As pubs and bars in the UK reopen their doors and many businesses head back into the office, many people will be thrilled to be finally meeting colleagues and friends for a post-lockdown drink. However, there has been a distinct change in drinking habits during quarantine, while 57% of Brits are consuming alcohol as normal, 17% say they’ve been drinking more, and 25% are actively cutting down on their alcohol consumption, according to YouGov data.
During lockdown, the government recognised mental health implications caused by the pandemic and the media helped to raise awareness and provide resources to support the public during this time. However, the ongoing impact of alcohol consumption on mental health is nothing new and is rarely addressed, even as research showed that consumption patterns changed during lockdown. As the workplace evolves with new ways of working and environments where people socialise change in response to public safety concerns, will after-work drinks become a thing of the past? We explore the relationship between alcohol and the workplace and how perhaps the pandemic has served as the catalyst for changing the way we work and help us to discover alternative ways of expressing ourselves and connecting with others.
There is no doubt that the media’s glamourisation of alcohol, especially amongst women, has helped to normalise more frequent and heavier drinking of alcohol in work environments, at the Friday afternoon drinks trolley or ‘swift-half’ after work. Post-work drinks have been assimilated as a way to wind down after a stressful day for decades and used as a reason to build personal bonds with coworkers – even used as means to get ahead in the workplace. More formal industry events are often held on the assumption that everyone will be networking with a drink in their hand. This drinking culture not only alienates non-drinkers, but it also has a variety of negative effects on our health, both mental and physical.
Mind & Body
In addition to the well-publicised physical health issues caused by continued alcohol consumption, such as liver disease, heart disease, and high blood pressure, there are a host of mental health issues that alcohol can also contribute to. Approximately one-third of individuals struggling with alcohol abuse also suffer from mental ill-health, and the number of people admitted to hospital with alcohol-related behavioural disorders has risen in the last 10 years by 94% for those aged 15-59, and by 150% for people over 60.
Alcohol is a depressant, disrupting our thoughts, wellbeing and actions in the short term, and causing long term mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and OCD. When alcohol is used as a coping mechanism for stress or as a social lubricant, it often has an adverse effect. Studies have continually linked alcohol abuse and addiction to violence, domestic incidents, and suicide, making it one of the biggest killers globally.
According to pre-pandemic research by the Economic Research Council, the risk of ‘problem drinking’ is heightened when individuals are working in conditions such as: isolated away from friends and family, with extended working hours, in dangerous environments, and when we’re at risk from organisational change such as restructure or redundancy. This list makes it clear why alcohol consumption has increased during the COVID-19 crisis. Sarah Hughes, the chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, said ‘Those employers that ignore the issue, or who undermine the mental health of their staff, risk not only the health of the people who work for them but the wealth of their business and the health of the economy as a whole.’
Many people recognised the negative effects of alcohol on wellbeing long before lockdown, and this is particularly apparent in millennials (or those born between 1981-1996). According to a 2019 report, 56% of millennials consider themselves ‘mindful drinkers’ compared to only 37% of baby boomers. This has been attributed to millennials’ desire to be more conscious in all aspects of their lives, which has also contributed to a rise in vegan and cruelty-free lifestyles.
Young professionals also benefit from hyperconnectivity and increased social media use, giving them the opportunity to instantly catch up with friends or family online rather than in person, over a drink. Virtual communities also exist online to help people in times of worry or stress, meaning they’re less likely to turn to alcohol to self-medicate. We’re also seeing a rise in ‘sober-curious’ people, who are looking to cut down on alcohol, but still enjoy an occasional drink. So, when working within a millennial team, it might be time to ditch the boozy activities in favour of more sober socials.
Luckily, it’s never been easier to drink less, with a variety of alcohol companies releasing soft drinks or 0% alcohol variations. In May 2020, during the height of the pandemic, sales of non-alcoholic beer were up 44% in the US compared to the same period in 2019.
However, alcohol-free employee activities need to be more creative than simply replacing cocktails with mocktails or switching to alcohol-free beer. After-work drinks essentially provides human connection and serves as a way of employees switching off and bonding. Here are a few alternative ways to provide that social connection which don’t revolve around alcohol, are available around the clock and are inclusive for entire organisations.
Research shows that increasing numbers of people are actively drinking less to improve their health and wellbeing, why not incorporate this into employee wellbeing social activities? Switch the drinks trolley for yoga classes, meditation, book or cinema club, cooking classes, or sports and outdoor games. All of which are more fun, release countless endorphins and provide fuel for conversation enabling employees to find out more about their colleagues, beyond what they order at the bar.
This not only shifts the focus away from alcohol, but also acts as an opportunity for managers to dig deeper into what employees actually want to achieve from team activities. Employees may be looking to unwind and escape from the office, but is heading to the pub or offering complimentary drinks in the office just a lazy substitution for resolving wider issues such as disjointed teams or excessive workplace stress? By discovering why employees are utilising alcohol as a buffer will lead to a better understanding of their needs as both in and out of the workplace.
This article was originally published on HappyMaven on 16/7/20 and is republished here with permission.
You’re being asked to source more sustainable products, meet climate goals, anticipate post-pandemic supply chain shifts and reduce end of life impact. It’s a challenging task, particularly with IT products. The good news is, many procurement professionals have taken on this assignment before you, and they’re here to help.
With more than 50 million metric tons generated annually, e-waste has become the world’s fastest-growing waste stream. Only around 20% of global e-waste is actually responsibly recycled.
With the typical IT contract based on a three-to-four-year use cycle, the piles of e-waste are growing ever larger. While procurement with a purpose can net you impacts across the organisation, the solution is circularity, an approach gaining traction around the world.
Transitioning from a linear to a circular economy can solve some of society’s most pressing sustainability challenges when it comes to IT products. In this blog, we share expert tips on how to source sustainable products, cut costs and meet climate goals through circularity – the solution for circular procurement of IT products.
In a linear economy, we make products from virgin natural resources and we discard those products once we’re done using them — often after a relatively short time. Today’s linear consumption creates substantial carbon dioxide emissions, exhausts natural resources and creates vast amounts of hazardous waste.
In a circular economy, resources are handled more responsibly, with a goal of extending the lifetime of products and recirculating all materials without producing any waste. Circularity means no waste, lower emissions, longer lifespan, lower costs, and a cleaner environment.
Where do we start?
Circularity isn’t an abstract notion. Many organisations are practising it now. They’re demanding – and getting – change from suppliers.
A new report from TCO Development, the organisation behind the leading global sustainability certification for IT products TCO Certified, offers concrete examples of organisations and manufacturers practising circularity. The report sets out how the circular economy helps solve many of the most pressing sustainability challenges associated with IT products. They’ve distilled their research into 33 tips for bringing circularity to your organization.
Based on the interviews with experts around the globe, here are the top five tips to make your procurement more sustainable.
1. Use your IT products longer: this is the single most important thing you can do to reduce the consumption of natural resources and cut greenhouse gas emissions. And it cuts costs.
The studies show that simply adding two years to a laptop’s life reduces emissions by 30 percent per year. And extending the life of a computer workstation from three to six years saves 28 percent on costs. To keep computers in circulation longer, buy durable products that are possible to repair and upgrade, and choose models with enough performance to cover long-term needs.
2. Work to gradually implement circular practices in your organisation. Take-back programs are an easy way to start.
Large brand owners such as Dell, HP and Lenovo are starting to see IT equipment as a service. They, and all other brand owners with products certified according to the criteria in TCO Certified, have programs that take back computers after your organisation is finished with them. It’s an easy first step to add this to your organisation’s purchasing process.
3. Think circular when you purchase IT products. Use circular criteria.
For example, add specifications for durability and repairability that will allow you to keep products longer, and criteria for reduction or elimination of hazardous substances that make materials more recyclable. Communicate your goals and tactics with internal and external stakeholders throughout the IT product life cycle.
4. Give your IT products a second life by reselling them.
Even if they no longer meet the needs of your organisation, your equipment still has value. Discuss resale options with a reputable refurbishment or remanufacturing firm that also ensures your data stays secure. Consider charitable donations or surplus resale to employees.
5. Acknowledge that circularity is a team effort and that no one can do it alone. Internal and external cooperation is crucial!
Invite decision makers and specialists from at least your IT, procurement, sustainability, finance, facilities and communication teams to create circular practices inside your organization. And don’t go it alone – team up with other buyers to increase your purchasing power and influence. The Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council is a good place to start. Learn more about TCO Certified and get free support with your sustainable IT procurement.
As manufacturers are moving circularity forward through product design and service offerings, what’s the role of procurement? Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council CEO Donna Westerman sees procurement professionals as key to driving demand for change.
“Procurement has the power to influence an entire product ecosystem. The decisions made on what to buy impact not only product design but also how those products affect our environment and business resiliency.” Westerman said. ”Now, more than ever, procurement is at the forefront of what a sustainable future can look like.”
Take the first step
The key learning from all the interviews with industry leaders and organisations is simple. Get started. The transition to the circular economy is essential, and we all need to play an active part in it. It doesn’t matter so much what the first step is, as long as you take it. As Chris Fielden, Group Supply Chain Director for Innocent Drinks said, being unafraid to fail is key.
To see the 33 hands-on tips for circular management of IT products from TCO Development, and read the full report, Impacts and Insights: Circular IT Management in Practice, click here.
When things get too hard, do you ever want to give up? Here’s how to persevere when you get that uneasy feeling
This year more than ever before, we’ve heard the word ‘new normal.’ We know that life may not go back – soon or ever – to what it was before. But how do we adapt to that? And when things get tough again, which invariably they will, how do we persevere through the challenges and come out on top?
One incredible person who certainly knows a thing or two about how to adapt and persevere is Nicky Abdinor, a clinical psychologist, ability advocate, and founder of the non-profit, Nicky’s Drive. Through her work as a psychologist and her own incredible life experience, Nicky deeply understands what it means to adapt and persevere, and her advice is an inspiration to us all.
Here’s what you’ll learn in our incredible 15 minute podcast with Nicky:
What does adaptation and perseverance really mean?
Nicky is not simply a scholar who understands a concept – adaptation and perseverance have been her personal life mantra since she was born. Nicky was born without arms and also with shortened legs. Nicky’s parents, who had no idea that she had a disability until she was born, were totally unprepared for it. But instead of focusing on what Nicky couldn’t do, her parents decided to focus on what she could do. Growing up, Nicky firmly remembers her parent’s attitude towards everything:
‘From the beginning, my parents decided to focus on my strengths. Instead of thinking “oh, can Nicky do that?” they instead said “How can Nicky do that?”’
Given her disability, things that came easily to others were not always easy for Nicky. She didn’t focus on that. Instead, she quickly learnt to be flexible in how she approached challenging situations, and adopted a problem-solving mindset. Everything she did, she approached with curiosity and decided that adversity could be to her advantage.
Adaptation and perseverance, Nicky, represents exactly this. Having the mindset and flexibility to navigate difficult situations, and persevering through them, even under challenging circumstances.
How do we overcome a lack of self-belief when we need to persevere?
At times, all of us struggle with our own self-belief, and it can get in the way of us persevering through challenging situations. We have to turn that self-belief on, says Nicky, and simultaneously turn off the voice in our heads that tells us we can’t do it. And she has an intriguing recommendation for how we do so:
‘To overcome the idea you might have in your head that “I’m not good enough,” you need to recognise that your brain has its own hard drive, and it has the tendency to store things that are quite critical.’
Nicky gives a good example of this – something that we can all relate to:
‘Say you did a workshop and you asked for feedback, and nine out of ten people said they loved the workshop. But one person said they didn’t learn anything.’
‘The hard drive of your brain would be more likely to store the feedback of that one person, and you might dwell on that.’
In order to overcome that hard-wired negative feedback, Nicky recommends you focus on one thing and one thing alone. Discover what that is in the podcast.
How do we get better at adaptation and perseverance?
For Nicky, one of her favorite quotes that is now more meaningful than ever, is from Viktor Frankl, author of ‘Man’s Search for Meaning.” After his time in Auschwitz, he wrote:
‘When we’re no longer able to change our situation, that is when we are challenged to change ourselves.’
What this means is that in many situations, we may not have control of much, but what we do have control of is how we perceive those situations, and how we change our behaviour accordingly. This might sound easy, says Nicky, but behavioural change is hard. It takes more than simply reading an article entitled ‘10 steps to stop procrastinating’ or ‘5 steps to a more positive mindset,’ for example.
If we want to make sustainable changes in our behaviour, Nicky says, we should ask ourselves these four important questions:
What is the behaviour I want to change?
When do I need to change it?
How can I change it?
Why do I want to change this behaviour?
Nicky emphasizes that we need to be clear about our answers to these questions, though, one question is far more critical than the others for a very important reason. Find out what it is and why in the podcast.
How do we pick ourselves up again when we’re down?
A big part of perseverance is picking ourselves up when we’re feeling down. Usually, when we’re down people tell us to focus on the good things in our lives. More importantly, Nicky actually believes that we need to be a little more accepting of the vast spectrum of our emotions:
‘In order to persevere, we actually need to accept that the entire range of emotions, from joy to sadness, are part of life. We don’t need to feel happy all the time.’
‘When we try to avoid difficult feelings, that can do more harm than good. Right now, we’re all on an emotional rollercoaster. We need to allow ourselves to feel.’
In order to smooth the rollercoaster though, Nicky recommends we do a few important things. Discover what they are in the podcast.
Nicky Abdinor’s podcast on adaptation and perseverance is part of our IBM Sterling Supply Chain Career Bootcamp. Designed to power your mind and help you excel, the Bootcamp consists of 6 electrifying podcasts with internationally renowned experts and speakers. Sign up here if you haven’t already.
Reaching influencer status on social media in any industry comes down to two things. Procurement and Supply Chain Influencer, Kelly Barner reveals what what they are and why it is important…
With world social media day only moments away, it’s time to reflect on how far the procurement profession has come in promoting itself to the broader business community and the world.
It was only six short years ago that we launched Procurious as the world’s first online network for procurement and supply chain….and since then we have seen a plethora of social media influencers emerge representing our profession.
But before any of us burst onto the scene, Kelly Barner was already here, promoting the work of our profession on Buyers Meeting Point, publishing books and writing original content to help upskill the profession while promoting key individuals, brands, publications and events within the industry.
Thinkers 360 and CPOStrategy Magazine recently recognised Kelly as the number one influencer on social media for procurement. So what has been her secret? How do you become the most influential person in a space where everyone is vying for attention? I reached out to Kelly to find out.
Kelly Barner: In my opinion, reaching influencer status on social media in any industry comes down to two things:
1. Consistently working at it day in and day out. I’ve been sharing and engaging on social media since 2010. In the early days, I didn’t have a following, but I stayed on course, actively promoting my own content and following others and commenting on their content. I use some platforms to help me automatically promote content periodically after the main promotional window is over, but I do 99% of my social media work the ‘old fashioned way’ – I do it myself, as me, every day. If your online brand is important to you, you can’t fake authenticity. Give it 5-10 minutes a day, every day. That is enough to make a noticeable difference.
2. Not generating a following for the sake of the following, but looking at it as a natural (and very valuable!!) byproduct of doing excellent work, writing excellent content, and building real connections with real people. If you are just focused on building up your numbers, you will end up with an audience built for the wrong reason, and those connections won’t help you achieve your primary mission.
Tania: When the field is open wide, it can often be tough to find the courage to “be the first” and get started. I know it found me a while to “find my voice” (and I still may be looking!), but it took a lot of courage to get started sharing my stories on social media.
Kelly: This is one of those cases where it helps not to have any idea what you are doing. I’m sure I made a lot of mistakes along the way (and continue to make them to this day), especially since I don’t have any training in marketing, PR, or social media strategy. But it has helped to have good friends by my side along the way. The procurement community is made up of amazing, generous, inspiring people that never fail to inspire me with new ideas and approaches to tough problems.
Tania: But now the field isn’t wide open, we have a lot of influencers in our space, and in some ways, that could be more daunting – you could feel that you don’t have a unique story to tell, that it’s all been said..and maybe by people that you think are better than you.
Kelly: Everyone has a unique perspective to offer – that is the first, most important lesson I learned from Jon Hansen. He has been my mentor since day one, and early on I asked him why he was helping me. We both had blogs, and I wondered why he didn’t see me as a competitor. He pointed out (in his friendly, genuine way) that as long as we both write from our own point of view, there is no such thing as competition. No one can ever be you, and as a result, you will always have a unique offering to bring to the market. You can also beat people on time and quality. Work faster, and make sure your work is cleaner, that everyone else’s, and the readers will follow.
Tania: I’ve always encouraged our community that they have a lot of great stories to tell. We have such interesting careers, interfacing with so many interesting, unique issues every day.
Kelly: The secret to great writing and social media engagement is… READING! I know that isn’t the most popular activity these days because we are all so busy. But it is absolutely critical. Read content on procurement, supply chain, business, communication – absolutely everything you can get your hands on. I read several newspapers every day as well as blogs, and monthly/quarterly business journals. It is amazing how often inspiration and insight come from unexpected sources. And – back to the idea of having a unique point of view – since no one else will be reading the same mix of sources as you, no one can duplicate your perspective.
Tania: With due cause, COVID has been a hectic time in procurement and on the news scene. Our recent How Now report showed how well our profession handled the stress and actually have an increased interest and commitment to building a career in procurement and supply chain.
Kelly: I think procurement has done an outstanding job keeping the lights on in these unprecedented times. Who else knows how to get hard to find products and services? Who else can be creative about solving problems on the fly? Our companies have relied upon our agility and determination, but so have our families. I’m sure I am not the only procurement professional who applied her knowledge of supply chain management to keep the house stocked with food, medicine and – yes – even toilet paper. We’ve had some odd meals (turkey kielbasa, stewed tomatoes, and buttered toast, anyone?) but we always had something to eat – and I never missed a deadline at Buyers Meeting Point.
Given the additional information supply chains have received since the pandemic began, I think there is good reason to be hopeful that a flood of talented, hardworking professionals from other fields will join procurement and supply chain because of what they have read and seen during the shutdowns.
Tania: Speaking of increasing influence, Kelly, you have just made a big strategic decision to purchase MyPurchasingCenter from another female entrepreneur.
Kelly: MyPurchasingCenter was owned by MediaSolve Group, a B2B Marketing Company led by Michelle Palmer, and it was edited for a long time by another well-known figure in the procurement industry: former Purchasing Magazine Senior Editor Susan Avery. They were both determined that ownership of MyPurchasingCenter go to someone that wanted it for the right reasons; not to part it out or gut its assets, but who would show respect for its legacy as a standalone information resource.
I worked on this acquisition for A LONG TIME. I knew Buyers Meeting Point was uniquely positioned to show the respect that Michelle and Susan wanted to see (and rightly so!) and to create tangible value with the MyPurchasingCenter brand, content, and social media accounts.
Tania: Just like when you started Buyers Meeting Point, this acquisition is a big step, it must have taken courage. Were you nervous about the next step. Can you give any advice to people wanting to take that first entrepreneurial step?
Kelly: My short answer to that question would be, “Just GO!” With the exception of ensuring your personal finances are in a state to support the leap before making it, you can’t overthink the decision to step out on your own. If you do, logic will stack up against the decision to become an entrepreneur every time. Nothing in the world can prepare you for starting a business, but no professional experience offers more riches. The highs and lows, gains and pains are like nothing else. I highly recommend that anyone who gets the ‘itch’ seriously consider acting on it!
Tania: What do you think the profession will look like in five years? What will MPC/Buyers Meeting Point look like in five years?
Kelly: In five years, I think procurement will be a primarily data-driven profession. Technology will be able to handle a lot of the process work we do today, leaving us to analyze data and work at the highest levels of the enterprise to inform and contribute to the development of corporate strategy.
My plan for BMP and MPC is to continue supporting all of the information needs of procurement and supply chain professionals. Five years from now, I imagine the full MPC content archive will be back online and I will have had some other creative spark about how to perpetuate the brand on my own. I can’t wait to find out what I come up with!
Tania: There’s a few things I’ve always admired about Kelly (being a lovely person would be the first), but from a business perspective, that she’s achieved this number one status, that she’s managed to do this without having to leave her family and travel like a madwoman around the globe to build her network and that she’s a great collaborator.
We’ve talked about the achievement of her influence, but what about being able to build this global network without travelling. Kelly, what’s your secret? Do you think face to face is a myth? Has all our Zoom, Webex, etc during COVID proved your approach?
Kelly: This is absolutely a unique point about my experience. I was a consultant traveling almost 100% of the time when I had my daughter 12 years ago. Overnight, I went from jetsetting to full-time first time parent, and it was quite a shock. I joined Buyers Meeting Point in 2009, 4 months before my oldest son was born (referring back to my point about about not overthinking the leap to entrepreneurship – logic would have told me that was a TERRIBLE idea! Who starts a business with a newborn and a 20 month old?). My youngest son was born in 2012, so I have had babies and/or kids for every minute of my entrepreneurial journey. It is amazing what technology will allow you to achieve. I don’t even have a home office. Before COVID-19, I worked at the kitchen table, and after my family all came home to roost full time, I moved to the dining room because I didn’t want peanut butter and jelly splattered on my laptop.
I’m also lucky that I live about an hour from Boston, which brings a lot of people into my backyard. I make the most of those opportunities, and I have met many of my global colleagues – including you, Tania! – in person. There is something magical about sitting face to face across the table from someone you already have an online relationship with.
There is no question that being able to travel would have accelerated my career and influence, but not being able to travel wasn’t a deal breaker. Now that everyone else is in the same boat, I have an advantage because I’ve been working this way for over a decade.
Tania: And collaboration, you’ve always collaborated with others in the profession – Jon Hansen, Phil Ideson, and Stephanie Lapierre to name a few. I totally subscribe to this, we’re going to get a lot further promoting the profession if we all promote each other. What’s been your approach to collaboration? How do you choose who you want to collaborate with? Will you be collaborating more or less with others into the future?
Kelly: Deciding who to collaborate with has always been a gut decision for me. If I like you, there is almost nothing I won’t do for you. I received a ton of goodwill from people who were practically strangers when I was first on my own, and I have made a point of paying that generosity forward. This is another one of those areas where you can’t fake authenticity. If you really like someone, the collaboration comes naturally. If you don’t ‘click’ with someone, nothing can fix it. I’ve actually gotten stomach aches from dealing with certain people over the years, and I trust that 100%. After all, what is the good of taking on all of the risk of being out on your own if you can’t reap the benefits of being able to decide who you will work with and for?
I hope that leaves everyone inspired, with some great practical tips for increasing your own social media influence.
From my own perspective, building a really compelling profile on Procurious is a great way to start promoting yourselves to 40,000 other procurement and supply chain pros around the world…and also connecting with them to solve your daily challenges.
Do you know the difference between strengths and skills? Discover what it is and how to use your strengths to your advantage.
Have you ever been so focused on a task that you completely lost track of time? Do you ever do something, and then ‘light up’ without even realising it? If you do, then it’s most likely that you’re using your strengths and that’s a good thing too – playing to your strengths is key to career performance, productivity and personal wellbeing. But if you don’t know what your strengths are, how do you discover them? And can you help others do the same?
As an occupational psychologist, helping others discover and utilise strengths to boost their performance has been the focus of my career and most recently, the focus of my work with some of the world’s most well-known organisations through my business, Bailey and French.
I recently shared some compelling insights with Tania Seary from Procurious, as part of the IBM Careers Bootcamp series. Here is a brief overview of what we discussed in the podcast, and why it’s a must-listen for anyone wanting to boost their own professional and personal performance:
What are our strengths and why do they matter?
Have you ever been asked what your strengths are? We all have. But in my experience, being able to provide an answer to that question doesn’t mean you actually know what your strengths are. In fact, many of us confuse strengths with skills, but they are fundamentally different. Let me explain.
People often make the assumption that if they’re good at something, that represents a strength for them. But if you are good at something, that’s a skill for you. A strength is so much more than that. A strength is something that you’re not only good at, but that you also truly enjoy doing.
Another point of confusion I’ve discovered is that many of us believe we develop our strengths at work. This isn’t true, though. We develop our strengths in a unique period of our lives. I explain more about when this is in the podcast, listen to it here.
How do we discover our strengths and how should we use them to boost our professional success?
Online, you’ll find a myriad of tools and tests that purport to help you analyse and discover your strengths. But in my experience with positive psychology, you don’t need complex tests to discover your true strengths. The answer is much more simple than that.
In order to discover your strengths, I usually recommend that you start keeping a diary. In that diary, over the course of a few weeks, write down all of your experiences, both positive and negative, and both inside and outside of work. Then, go through your diary and look at themes. These themes are important, as usually you’ll find that there are a lot of activities you do on autopilot, and some that really stand out as enjoyable.
Once you’ve identified your themes, in order to further identify your true strengths, I recommend that you ask yourself the following questions:
When was the last time I was totally absorbed in what I was doing to the point I lost track of time?
What was the best day of the last week and why?
When did I last ‘light up’ or get excited when talking about something I did?
Keeping a journal, and asking yourself these three important questions should help you discover your strengths.
Throughout my career, I’ve seen an extraordinary number of organisations focus on fixing weaknesses. But ultimately, this is misguided. We all stand to gain so much more from discovering and utilising our own strengths (a key premise of positive psychology), as well as helping others discover and utilise theirs.
But how do you help others realise their strengths?
One method I always recommend is to offer people specific feedback when you see them doing something really well. This feedback, though, can’t just be any feedback. It has to be detailed enough to help them identify what they’re truly good at.
An example of this might be the feedback after someone has given you a report. Instead of simply saying ‘that was a good report,’ try to be more specific around what was good, for example, ‘the patterns you derived from the data in that report were extremely insightful.’
Why is this important? It’s because helping people realise their strengths is not just good for them, but it’s great for your team dynamic and for the relationship in general, for one important reason. Listen to the podcast to discover why that is.
Also in the podcast:
I discuss my key strength and how I personally discovered it
I detail why it’s so easy to talk about weaknesses.
Alex Bailey’s podcast on strengths and positive psychology is part of our IBM Sterling Career Bootcamp. Designed to power your mind and help you excel, the boot camp consists of 6 electrifying podcasts with internationally renowned experts and speakers. Sign up here if you haven’t already.
What trait will be the key to your success in 2020? We believe it will be resilience, and here’s why…
Right now, no person in the entire world would call 2020 ‘easy.’ Whether we’ve been challenged personally or professionally, this year has been like no other. Which is why this one particular trait is more important than ever, and it is…
In recent years, resilience has become somewhat of a buzzword within management circles. But what really is resilience and why do we need it?
Resilience, and more specifically, how to obtain it and use it to your advantage, has been the focus of my work for the last decade, and has inspired my now internationally-acclaimed book, Rise Warrior Rise. Through authoring my book, as well as working with numerous different organisations to help them transform their leadership capabilities through my Excelerate program, I’ve discovered what we can all do to build resilience and use it to accelerate our own personal and professional performance.
Doing so was the topic of my discussion with Tania Seary from Procurious, as part of the IBM Careers Bootcamp series. Here is a brief overview of what you’ll learn in our podcast:
What is resilience?
Resilience is often said to be the ability to recover from adversity, and cope with change and uncertainty. But does being ‘resilient’ then mean that you won’t experience emotions in times of stress?
From my research, I’ve discovered that being resilient doesn’t mean that you won’t experience life’s ups and down, in fact, it is only natural to experience these. Instead, resilience is the ability to still experience this depth and variation of emotion, but while doing so, be able to keep in touch with your best self.
In my experience, resilience is far more than what people typically describe it as. In fact, I believe resilience has another aspect to it entirely.
Why is resilience so important for professional and personal wellbeing? And what are the benefits of being resilient?
Resilience has become a buzzword for a reason – we all know it’s important. But why?
Professionally and personally, this year has been a challenge for all of us. And even though not every year will be as difficult as this one, we’ll always experience some challenges. This is exactly the reason why resilience is important – because we’ll always need it.
While researching for my book and throughout my career in general, I’ve come across a lot of people who may not be as resilient as they could be, and that has resulted in some concerning behaviours. For example, if something bad happens to someone who isn’t resilient, typically they get stressed, and then withdraw. From there, they occupy their mind with negative self-chatter, and then they can end up feeling anxious, depressed or worse.
But in good news, with resilience, the reaction can be the complete opposite. Instead of engaging in negative self-talk, those who are resilient typically tell themselves that the situation is temporary. And instead of getting stressed, their emotional and physical wellbeing stays intact, and they don’t lose touch with their vision for a great life.
The benefits of being resilient extend way beyond how you react when things get tough, though. From my experience, those who are resilient are more likely to lead abundant and opulent professional lives, and also are more likely to have success with their family and personal pursuits. In summary, resilient people are more likely to lead a full and rich life, without regret.
Think this sounds wonderful? It is, and there’s one more critical reason why. Learn what that is in the podcast.
How can we become more resilient?
It’s clear that being resilient pays off, both personally and professionally. How do we get better at it, though?
To help, I’ve created a 13-step framework for people to increase their level of resilience. If that sounds daunting, don’t worry – you don’t need to be good at every step. Excelling at just a few steps is all you need in order to make a substantial difference.
I won’t detail the 13 step framework here, but there is more information in the podcast if you’re interested. One important point, though, is that you do need to develop practices to keep you strong. An area that I recommend everyone works on is that of negative self-chatter.
We all experience negative self-chatter at some point, and this is because the mind can be fickle and it often focuses on the negative. How many times have you found yourself in a situation where someone has said something awful, and it’s completely ruined your day, despite many other positive things happening?
This is common, and we all need to do what we can to develop our own mechanisms to address it. For me personally, I’ve developed a unique routine to keep the negativity at bay. My routine includes getting up early in the morning, and doing some exercise (this might be yoga, walking or some weights). After I’ve done this, I then do exercises to regulate my breath. Even if I can’t regulate my mind, I try to regulate my breath. Finding something to focus on, for example my breath, enables me to enter a calm state. Then, I share positive words. I find that wholly rejuvenating.
This type of self-care is critical for all of us, as it replenishes our ‘fourth being.’ More on that in the podcast – listen to it here.
Remember, whoever you are and whatever your circumstances, you can build, and benefit from, resilience. I look forward to exploring the topic with you in more detail.
Roh Singh’s podcast on resilience is part of our IBM Sterling Career Bootcamp. Designed to power your mind and help you excel, the Bootcamp consists of 6 electrifying podcasts with internationally renowned experts and speakers. Sign up here if you haven’t already.