Are you having trouble attracting and retaining talent? If so, have you considered your social media presence as part of the issue? People post about your company on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Glass Door and all over the world of social media. Do you Google/Bing/Yahoo your own company and see what people are saying? Do you search your own name to see what people are saying about you as an employer? Have you searched for pictures of your work and worksite that show your company in a bad light? Within the SIG membership, we have many of "the best places to work" in the USA, so we know good employer brands well. Can you imagine if you work in sourcing for Dish Network and the top searches about your company are about how you are the meanest employer in the United States? How about if you work for Radio Shack and the complaints are mostly about middle and upper-level management and the lack of a consistent turnaround plan? While these reviews may not be focused on sourcing management, a potential employee might make an incorrect inference based on what they see on social media. I have a few suggestions you might consider:
In the final installment of this series, I have the honor of covering our closing keynote speaker, Brian Biro, who delivered an interactive session on leading with passion. I might add that he spoke passionately about the subject too. I have to say, I was a twittering (tweeting?) fool when Brian spoke. He had so many little snippets of wisdom, it was hard to keep up. In our final lunch session, Brian had the entire crowd on our feet and gathered around the stage cheering together as two women in the audience (one, our very own tiny Mary Zampino) broke through a board with a single (well, in one case a double) punch. It was awe-inspiring to watch. In both this session as well as an invitation-only event with an intimate group of CPOs, I took away the following insightful anecdotes:
Breakthrough experiences are always a matter of choice. There's always a way to do something if you are committed to it...but you have to follow through. If you do not follow-through, you will not breakthrough.
If you want to change your life, change your energy. Be fully present in each moment. It is the secret to life balance, not to mention that it will make those around you a lot happier.
The most destructive word in people-building is "blame." Blame kills teams. It is always in the past, not in the present. You must be in the "NOW" not stuck on the road of "AS SOON AS."
In part 3 of this 4-part series, I am covering some of the insights from a powerhouse panel of CPOs and other procurement leaders we had at the last Summit. Our own Dawn Evans facilitated a fireside chat with a group of sourcing leaders, including Linda Behan, Senior Vice President, Iron Mountain; Clyde Dornier, Head of Global Sourcing and Procurement, Visa; Cory Locke, Vice President, Global Categories, Hewlett-Packard; and Todd Podell, CPO, Alcon, who shared some pearls of wisdom on what keeps them up at night and how they have achieved success in their careers. With all due respect, I can't even begin to capture all the fantastic feedback, insights and advice our panel provided, but in my opinion, these are some of the highlights:
Being uncomfortable teaches you to succeed. This nugget came after a question regarding how the panel overcame challenges at the beginning of their careers. If you think about this one, it makes a lot of sense. Innovation doesn't come from the status quo. It comes when people are shaking things up. If you are comfortable in your job and going with the flow, you may not be looking for ways to make things better. But if you are uncomfortable for any reason — worried that something isn't "quite right," you are probably seeking ways to make things better. Makes sense, doesn't it?
You must have tenacity in procurement. It's safe to say that tenacity is a virtue in just about any career, but in procurement, it may be even more critical. Said one of the panelists, "You need to have the doors slammed in your face to become good (at what you do)." Hopefully there aren't too many slamming doors, but the reality is that talking business units into collaborating with procurement isn't always an easy sell. Tenacity is a must.
Several months ago a valued SIG member suggested we consider asking Dr. Tim Elmore to keynote at our Summit. A leading authority on generational diversity in the workforce, Tim has authored more than 25 books and appeared on CNN's Headline News and had media coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes.com, and The Washington Post among others. It was immediately clear that what Tim had to say was something our delegates needed to hear. As entertaining as he was instructional, I once again found myself taking notes as quickly as my fingers could type. Discussing what he calls "Generation iY" — the second half of the Millenial Generation, so called because they've grown up under the influence of iPods, iPads, iPhones, iTunes, etc. — Elmore's keynote was on how to understand this generation to enable them to be successful in the workforce. My key takeaways from this fabulous speaker and my interpretation of how to apply them: 26 is the new 18. In generations past, many 18-year-olds left home to enter the workforce. Not only is this not as common today, but many young adults are living with parents after college, where they still have their cell phones paid for, laundry washed and meals fed. Not a bad gig if you can get it...but isn't this in fact enabling this generation to be narcissistic? Having low empathy, being ambiguous about the future, "slack-tivists," technology-savvy, self-absorbed, and postponed maturation are all characteristics/adjectives that have been used by Elmore to describe the Gen iY group.
Don't let anyone tell you differently. To be great in a sourcing role, you need a special combination of skills. Good sourcing professionals have the unique ability to execute flawlessly, and the personality to sell their ideas internally. Back "in the day" people thought of procurement/sourcing professionals as order takers. Never mind the fact that that description was never accurate...but it is most certainly not true now. Today's sourcing person must be passionately interested in learning. They must be full of curiosity and very observant about the world around them. Current events are filled with things that impact the supply chain—crowd sourcing, the cloud, conflict minerals, sustainability in Asia...every one of these things can have an effect on a sourcing person's role. At SIG we see hundreds of sourcing professionals every year in person. It is very obvious why some of them are successful and why some of them are not. If I were writing a job description for a new sourcing person, I would look for someone who is flexible, passionate about learning, interested in mentoring and very intelligent. In the past, people "fell into" sourcing careers. Today, they are highly-sought after and people often enter them from the most unlikely of paths. We have lawyers, accountants, engineers, and many other hard science professionals that have moved into sourcing by choice. This unique hard science background combined with the other talents seems to be the most successful combination for sourcing leaders. While an engineering or law degree is something that anyone who successfully pursues one can get, coupling that degree with interpersonal skills produces a special breed of person that is not that common. You can't underestimate the importance of being "a people person." Although it seems counterintuitive, this is one area that I feel can actually be taught. When I went into sourcing I was a CPA with a Masters in taxation.
This post originally appeared in the Allegis Group Services blog, but is relevant and with a few minor edits, worth posting here as well. Lets face it...not so long ago, being in procurement wasn't seen as a very sexy occupation. Ok...I know some of you are chuckling thinking it's still not that exciting, but I beg to differ. And I'll give you five good reasons why you should give procurement and sourcing professionals more credibility and respect.
Remember the movie Back to the Future? In it, Doc Brown sent Marty McFly into the future (after going 30 years back in time to help his parents first). Thirty years was a lot to imagine back then and watching it recently, the movie didn’t get it right. We don’t have hover cars fueled by nuclear fusion and the world doesn’t look a lot like the movie set. But seriously, how could they ever imagine iPads in the hands of infants, free world wide calling on Skype, talking GPS on mobile phones, yet alone even the Internet. We need to practice some of the things these movie writers did and quit talking about Talent Retention--that’s the past, not the promise of the future--10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day between now and 2030 according to an Oracle contingent workforce study published in 2010. Therefore, we can only “retain” so many people in our organization—and some we will be glad to see go. So we shouldn’t only be thinking about managing retention right now but also about the organization of the future. What will it look like? We only have to look 5 to 10 years out to know that our workforce is going to look and behave very differently than it does today. To think that people that work in sourcing in the future have the same values as your (or my) generation is crazy. From recent studies on how to retain talent, we know that each generation has different values and is motivated by different things. So rather then focusing conversations solely on "retention," our discussions should also include what skill sets our companies will need for the future…and where they will come from. We should be asking questions like: