There is a story where a retiring home builder was asked to build a final home. He was known for building wonderful homes with every detail precise, and his boss wanted one last house constructed before his retirement. The builder was very reluctant and agreed despairingly.
The builder did not take his time with the home, the materials were not his usual top quality and his work was sloppy. He was tired, and it showed. At the end of the construction, the boss handed the builder the keys and said, “After all your years of service, I wanted to give you this home.”
In life, we are the home and we must make choices on how we want it constructed. One of the choices many people make is to go back to school to learn a new trade or enhance their skills. Working professionals must weigh the options and determine the best learning opportunity for them. I have worked with adult learners for over 12 years and have compiled five things adults should consider:
1. Learning platform/accessibility 2. Curriculum/content 3. Customer service 4. Continued education 5. Recommendations
The learning platform is the methodology of how the information is transferred from the educator to the student. Adult learners must potentially juggle obligations with work, family, social responsibilities and personal leisure, which could get in the way of knowledge transfer. Educators today are focusing efforts on building comprehensive online learning platforms that support the working adult learner. I would look for online education opportunities, but make sure that they have a thorough onboarding process where they provide the tools for a successful learning experience.
Mark Pollack, Vice President, SIG University and Chief Strategy Officer, SIG
It is increasingly difficult, with jam-packed workdays and busy personal lives, to dedicate time to growing our skill sets. More and more, we are turning to online training or "e-learning." With time at a premium, it is critical that once we do dedicate the time to e-learning, that we gain the most we can from the experience. You can't just click through and hope to magically improve your knowledge and skills. I mean if you are going to take the time and effort to enroll, shouldn’t you engage and maximize your experience?
In my career working with adult learners and technology platforms I have noted a few characteristics that separate the high-achieving student from the just-clicked-through-every-slide student. I'll share a few best practices here.
Guy Hanna, Leadership and Higher Education, PhD (ABD)
I have always valued the power of communication. When I entered college, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to study. I realized that although I was “good” at many things in school, there was one thing I excelled at – communication. I was a strong writer, and an even stronger speaker. I saw that when most of my classmates dreaded speaking in front of others, that I always enjoyed the experience, and was excited by it. This was the turning point when I decided to focus my career in communications and marketing.
The power of effective communication cannot be underestimated. It is a critical component of life. I’ve seen the impact of effective and ineffective communication in many types of businesses. Ineffective communication has the ability to break businesses. If you can’t communicate effectively with your customers, your intended messages won’t be received or understood – it’s like you’re speaking an entirely different language from them.
So how can you speak the same language as your sourcing clients?
I’ve worked with many companies that provide services and solutions to sourcing and procurement professionals. It’s very clear what separates the successful providers from the rest of the pack – effective communication with their clients. In order to serve and advise sourcing clients in the best way possible, your team must be able to communicate to them through a common language of sourcing. It’s not just about being highly knowledgeable and educated on all things sourcing, it’s about effectively communicating by speaking their language.
Here’s how you can grow your business and better serve your clients through effective communication:
As a marketer, I know the value of branding. The largest and most successful companies in the world have teams of people dedicated solely to branding. Branding is no longer about using the same logo, trademark, tagline and/or color scheme on all your marketing material. Branding is composed of different components including: brand identity, brand image, brand character, brand culture, brand personality and brand essence. Marketing agencies and consultants charge anywhere between $75,000-$250,000 to develop and manage a company’s brand.
Now here’s the kicker with branding that every marketing professional will tell you – they have no idea how it impacts their bottom line. Branding is the most difficult type of marketing to measure because you can’t easily quantify it. So, why are organizations across the globe spending so much money and time on branding? Quite simply – effective branding creates consumer confidence. Establishing a brand with a clear voice and values will enable your consumers to be loyal and confident when they buy from you. People have a natural desire to evolve with a brand whose products and services help give their life or business meaning and significance.
It’s not just businesses that need to focus on effective branding. If you care about your future as a professional in the world of work, you need to focus on your own personal brand. Personal branding is critical to establishing who you are and what you represent to those around you, the equivalent of a company’s consumers. They are your employer, your manager, your co-workers, your peers and anyone else that comes in contact with you in a professional setting. I’m not just talking about ensuring that embarrassing picture from your cousin’s wedding isn’t visible on Facebook... I’m talking about preparing for the future by branding yourself as a leader in your industry now.
“Education,” wrote John Dewey, “is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” That’s a philosophy that SIG has from its inception held very close to its heart: the idea that throughout our lives and our careers we should continue to learn and develop, not simply for the benefits that learning brings us – and our community – professionally but also because education is a good in itself. Hence the strong focus at SIG’s Summits, Symposiums and Roundtables, in our webinars and our Student Talent Outreach program – truly, in everything we do – on growing our members’ knowledge and understanding of the practice of sourcing and the environment within which we work.
Jamie Liddell, Editor, Outsource and Co-Head of EMEA, SIG
As the editor of Outsource (a member of the SIG family, of course, since January this year) it’s my great privilege to publish articles by some of the best-known figures in the space: authors whose very names have become synonymous with cutting-edge thought leadership and the kind of insight which itself drives change within this dynamic, fascinating industry. However, it’s also always crucial for me to remember that great insight and high-quality communication are not the sole preserve of the established sourcing superstar; that right now, out there scattered across the wide, wild world are a host of undiscovered B2B literary marvels – as-yet-unsung thought leaders whose talents lie like diamonds, buried but waiting only for the miner’s pick to swing in the right direction.
Well, it’s time for Outsource to go mining…we’re launching a writing competition aimed at discovering those diamonds and bringing them out into the light – and, what’s more, thanks to our excellent colleagues at SIG University we’ve got the perfect prize with which to tempt the next generation of outsourcing authors to sharpen their quills: a place in the next semester of the Certified Sourcing Professional course! (And if the winner doesn’t meet SIG U’s entry criteria he or she can transfer the prize to a colleague who does; how’s that for a way to grab the attention of the top brass?)
Jamie Liddell, Editor, Outsource and Co-Head of EMEA, SIG
We spend months preparing for each Summit...and then a week getting ready for the arrival of our delegates...and then a few days with them...and then in a blink of an eye it is over and we start again. It goes by too quickly but the lessons learned are vast and permanent. Over the next few blogs, I'll share some insights I gleaned from our keynote speakers at the last SIG Global Executive Summit. The first was retired Colonel Anthony (Tony) Wood, best known for his heroic role in the evacuation of Saigon in April 1975. Colonel Wood addressed SIG in a general session and also spent time with our most senior delegates in an exclusive CPO Roundtable. These were my key takeaways from his two presentations.
Moral courage is knowing what to do, even when you know it may cost you. Colonel Wood shared a story of leading civilian volunteers through the most unimaginable circumstances. Risking their own lives, roughly 100 American civilians in their 50s and 60s, volunteered to help evacuate 5,300 people from Saigon, a city that was collapsing. In the face of an advancing enemy army, this incredible group of people put the lives of others before their own. In a business context, knowing what to do and actually acting on it, even though it may not be in your own personal interest to do so, is difficult...but having people with that attitude on your team is enormous. Moral courage is a critical piece of business leadership.
I recently had a sneak peek at Dawn's "President's Message" in our latest (soon-to-be-released as of this posting) InsideSourcing newsletter. In a nutshell, she talked about the fact that SIG is not just a "membership" organization, but should more appropriately be thought of as a "training" organization — a place where professionals come to learn more about the latest best practices in sourcing, outsourcing, procurement and so much more. Read her newsletter article for the many things SIG provides in the way of training — I won’t restate it all here — but I would like to expound a bit on the benefits of engaging in professional development for yourself and your team: It exposes you to the latest innovations. When you attend classes, conferences or events, you gain access to new ways of thinking. Sure, you can read about new innovations online, but the most tangible way to learn is to hear how someone has applied best and worst (more on that below) practices. You learn from other industries. At a recent SIG Summit, we had a speaker, Stephen Shapiro who extolled the virtues not of "thinking outside the box," but rather in "finding a better box." What does that mean? Well for one thing, sometimes looking inside your industry for all the answers may not be the best place to find them. If you attend a conference where many sectors are present, you might just have an "aha!" moment by hearing how people in other industries have approached, applied and solved problems. It motivates your team. Don't underestimate how important it is to provide your team with opportunities to network and learn. Sure, you might offer courses in-house, but imagine what it means to your team to give them the chance to meet peers in other organizations and hear the latest innovations.