Article by Lora Cecere from Supply Chain Shaman; published on September 20th 2013
Supply chain talent is a growing gap for leaders. The impact is great. The biggest issues are in mid-management roles. Let’s examine some of the facts from recent research. Today, 60% of companies have open positions. Fifteen percent of the planning positions are open for an average time of five months. An IBM surveys report that 51% of companies are seeing an increase in turnover of supply chain leaders. Have I convinced you yet to be worried?
If so, let’s start working on an answer. Let me give you the first clue. The answer is not recruiting more college recruits. There is currently a 9:1 demand to supply ratio for supply chain graduates, and the skill level of new hires cannot stretch to fill the missing mid-management gaps.
It starts with leadership. This week, I have been reviewing supply chain strategy documents for companies planning their 2014 strategies. I love talking to supply chain teams about their future. However, I am surprised that most companies do not see the gap in supply chain talent as a critical need to fill. The plans that they are sharing are not including the need to move aggressively on building supply chain talent. There is just not the understanding that the WORLD TODAY is not the WORLD of FIVE YEARS AGO. Five years ago talent was plentiful, companies could easily recruit for supply chain planners, and it was easier to recruit supply chain graduates. Not so today….
If only more companies had the view of Mike Corbo, current leader of the Colgate supply chain team. In my recent interview with Mike, he said spent 30% of his time on team development. Notice how talent management is at the top of his mind in my recent interview of him:
“As an organization, we believe in building talent systems and hiring from within. I take my job as the leader of the 22,000 global members of the Colgate supply chain team seriously. I oversee succession planning for the supply chain organization. When it comes to talent management, it is a “single threaded needle.” While I am supported by an experienced and talented supply chain human resource team, managing talent is a large part of what I do. It takes time. It is 30% of what I do on a day-to-day basis. As a result, the reward and feedback systems for talent development are very consistent. The leader of the supply chain team has led succession planning for the last twenty-five years.
When people come to see me and ask for career advice, I tell them to do their current job VERY well. My advice is to “get real good at something and drive value today.” I believe that success is not always about moving up. I encourage members of the team to take enrichment opportunities in other areas of the company or other geographies; but I don’t want them to just spend time, I want them to contribute and learn. I believe that we should encourage people to move across the organization to get a greater understanding of the business. We do succession planning three times a year. I value cross-functional experiences.
I strongly believe that we cannot let regions operate as islands. We hire with the expectation that people will spend time in multiple regions and multiple functions.”
What do we do about it?
So, when companies agree that this is a problem, the next question is, ”What to do about it?” Here are five steps that I think that supply chain leaders can take today:
These are my thoughts, but I would love to hear from you. Please let me know what steps you are taking. For more on the supply chain talent gap check out these resources.
Presentation from the Supply Chain Global Summit:
With a large number of companies stuck, and the ends of the supply being weak, can taking 5 steps enable you to be part of the solution instead of the problem?
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