Tag Archive: APICS 2014

APICS 2014: New Orleans State of Mind

October 20th, 2014

supply chain

I arrived in New Orleans to speak at APICS 2014 on empowering and engaging employees, and so I’m in the New Orleans state of mind. Certainly, as my bio confirms, one of my favorite spots anywhere is Cafe du Monde. Where else do you have so little selection yet it is jam packed almost anytime of the day? I consider it a “must”! They have created an iconic brand that no traveler can do without.

After beignets at Cafe du Monde, we walked by a parade with great music – at first we thought it was a funeral as they are quite the affair here; however, it turned out to be a wedding. The entire bridal party & guests looked like they were having a great time. Perhaps we should all take a page from the New Orleans handbook and make icons and fun out of everyday events and experiences.

One tip to implement this week: Take a step back from your everyday work life and “smell the flowers”. Take a day’s vacation or set aside time to reflect. It’s hard to have ideas when you are dealing with 1000’s of incoming messages every moment of the day.  Instead, think about how to create excitement with your business and/or teams as you reflect with a New Orleans state of mind.

What can you do that would be different and refreshing that might create a buzz about your company, you and/ or your products?  In essence, how might you stand out from the crowd? Ask your colleagues for ideas. Consider going to a new environment for the afternoon for brainstorming. Sometimes it takes shaking things up to stimulate new thinking. Give it a try and you’ll likely be surprised and pleased with the results.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain talent? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


Employee Performance: Do Not Ignore Your Stars

October 2nd, 2014
human capital investment

Identify and focus on how to nurture your higher performing employees to net a better return on your human capital investment.

Since the beginning of 2014, the job market has been robust and employers are struggling to find high-skilled, qualified candidates for key positions. I’ve talked frequently about this skills gap and performed research on the topic as I am convinced that those who get ahead of the skills gap will thrive and leave the rest in the dust. Join me at APICS 2014 to hear more about my research findings and strategies for success.

One key component to succeeding while others continue to struggle with the skills gap is to retain top talent. I cannot tell you how often employee performance is overlooked at my clients and in organizations across the globe. My estimate is that 80% of companies under appreciate their top talent. Thus, why is it any surprise when top talent heads for the doors?

Luckily this problem is resolvable.  If you follow a few key steps, you will be far more likely to KEEP your stars. 1) Take stock of your talent. 2) Focus on leadership. 3) Address poor performers.

1. Take stock of your talent: Get off the daily treadmill for a “talent strategy session”. If you do not prioritize your people, how do you expect to drive growth and profit?  Set aside the time and gather up your management team. Go through your talent. How do you identify your top talent? Some might seem obvious. Although it’s a start, it is not enough. Look for your “hidden treasures”.  Who consistently gains results and comes up with new ideas?  Don’t look in the obvious areas as I find top talent is often overlooked.  Think about who you would struggle without.  Oddly enough, think about who might annoy you by bringing up potential roadblocks.  Your stars are thinking 5 steps ahead and it might not make them popular. In my experience, the first time leaders realize a top talent has left is when what seemed to be easy and “just happen” no longer occurs. Don’t wait that long!

Once you identify your top talent, take stock of their employee performance. What is important to them? What do they value? How likely are they to consider the “perfect job” if a recruiter happened to call tomorrow? Trust me, a recruiter will eventually find them or they will get frustrated and explore opportunities.

2. Focus on leadership:  Next, go back to basics. People do not stay for the money. The lack of money is a demotivator; however, money is not a motivator. So, why do they stay?  I often work with these stars as they are vital to achieving project results, and so I listen up!  In essence, once your star is being paid in alignment with the salary range for the job, leadership will make or break your success.

Do your leaders seem to appreciate their hard work AND results? Or, are they caught up in whoever “kisses up” to the boss? Your stars will know. Do your leaders ask for input and feedback? Is it a give-and-take conversation?  Listening alone is worse than not listening. Stars want to know their thoughts are not only heard but that they are incorporated into a plan or that they learn what could be improved for next time. Learning opportunities and challenging environments are a must.

Do you provide opportunities for advancement?  For an outsider like me, it can get to be humorous (if I wasn’t so frustrated) – sometimes, we overlook obvious steps. Find out what they do and have done in the past. For example, one client thought giving a star a new challenge would make up for the lack of advancement; however, they didn’t bother to figure out that she had already done that job in the past and found it less challenging than the one she was in!

A simple way to consider whether you are focusing enough on your stars is to think about where you spend the majority of your time: with your non-performers or with your high performers?  What other ways can you monitor employee performance?

3. Address poor performers:  Last but not least, you must address non-performers. There is nothing worse than seeing a non-performer carry on for a star. They want to know that what they are doing is a value-add.  If an obvious non-performer is ignored, it signifies that it is OK to be a poor performer.  Perhaps high performers aren’t even valued…

I would bet significant money that if executives found their true stars and focused half the energy on their stars as they do on fire fighting, they would be wildly successful. Why not give it a shot?

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on other ways to Profit through People:

 Develop a Talent Edge

Critical Priority–Retaining Top Talent


How Empowered and Engaged Employees Can Fill the Skills Gap

September 30th, 2014
Playing on the strengths of high performing employees can lessen skills gaps within your organization while motivating everyone to perform at a higher level.

Playing on the strengths of high performing employees can lessen skills gaps within your organization while motivating everyone to perform at a higher level.

Not a day goes by when an employee, volunteer, Board member or colleague doesn’t retire, get promoted, move companies, change roles within the company or at least think about any one of these. For the vast majority of my clients, they run lean and are challenged to source projects even when fully staffed; thus, a skills gap is left in its wake.

I’ve found a key strategy for success in this environment is to simply KEEP your high performers. It seems much easier than it is to execute unfortunately. Pay is simply not enough. Pay is not a motivator; however, the lack of pay is a demotivator. Certainly if you do not pay within comparable salary ranges, you aren’t even in the game. On the other hand, you could be in the high end of the range and you’ll still lose top performers if you do not retain top talent.

My firm’s research study on this topic found that retention must become a critical priority. In my experience, the single largest key to retention is leadership.  Leaders create an environment for empowered and engaged employees. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Thus, it requires the rare leader who will make the tough call and who will support his/her people when the going gets tough. Who will behave as an empowered employee if they fear getting beat up?

To learn more about the key strategies to successfully empower and engage employees, join me at APICS 2014 for my education session “Cultivating Empowered and Engaged Employees” in New Orleans on October 19th. Go to educational sessions, and look under the category for Professional Development.