Tag Archive: skills

The Skills Gap in the Modern Era

October 2nd, 2019

People are the #1 topic on our most successful clients’ executives minds. That’s because these clients realize that even the best strategies and plans will fail without people.

On the other hand, we have seen clients who appear the least likely to succeed, overcome great obstacles to not only become competitive but also to gain a strategic advantage in the marketplace. The secret ingredient is people. As a former VP of Operations and Supply Chain, there was no doubt that my success was directly correlated to the strength and attitude of my team.

Since it is such a key topic to ensuring growth and profitability, we wanted to dig into the current state of the skills gap. As a follow up to our research several years ago when we found that 87% of companies were experiencing a skills gap, we wanted to understand the current state of this topic and how it has evolved as we are knee deep in the technology era. For example, there is quite a bit of discussion on the topic of people vs. robots. Do we need to think about the skills gap if robots can take over? In other circles, the talk is all about artificial intelligence (AI). Will AI transform the industry? For example, there is a concern about this happening in the accounting profession. However, it might just mean that those trusted advisors must add value to what can be taken over by robots. That is certainly true in manufacturing environments. The skill requirements are changing. Perhaps we need people to interpret data? And how about to get people and technology to work together?

Please take our skills gap survey as we would appreciate your feedback into the following types of questions:

  • Which skills do you need the most?
  • Are technical skills enough? Do you need a savvy communicator as well?
  • How do you find your best talent?
  • Do you offer incentive to keep top talent such as rewards and recognition programs, performance management programs (tied with compensation systems) etc.?
  • How have you seen these requirements changing with the hot bed of technology?

A few highlights from what we’ve seen at a cross-section of clients across closely-held businesses to private equity backed companies to global enterprises:

  • Broad skills: Companies are looking for a broader base of skills. It is no longer sufficient to be an expert in a specialized area.
  • Presentation skills: Those who can present ideas effectively succeed whereas the most talented resources will struggle if they can’t get their ideas across.
  • Technology overload: Although everyone is interested in the latest technology, we are overwhelmed with all the options. Selecting just enough technology to advance a key point is often the best course of action.
  • Your network is your most valuable asset: It doesn’t matter if we are talking about a new hire, sourcing a supplier or getting just the ‘right’ trusted advisor at just the ‘right’ moment, the best way to find these resources is through your network. Are you nurturing your network?

The bottom line is that the most successful companies pay close attention to their #1 asset, their people. This idea extends to your customers, suppliers, trusted advisors and more since your face to your customer will be inclusive of each of these people. As the rubber meets the road, navigating your skills base will be of paramount importance.

Participate in our skills gap survey and we will ensure you are the first to receive the findings to help all of us successfully navigate the skills gap.

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on this topic:

People and Robots Can Coexist Successfully

Profit Through People



Are You Retaining Top Talent?

July 19th, 2018

 

Several clients have been short on top talent. With virtually zero unemployment, the traditional job search programs yield virtually 0% talent.  Even with an executive recruiter, you may be prone to lose your candidate at the last minute when his/her current job figures out they need to do a better job of retaining them and they take action.

 

To give you a few sagas from recent client examples:

  • I was helping a client determine what he needed (skills, aptitudes, behaviors). I agreed to review resumes to see if potential fit exists and to interview candidates.  Although he received lots of resumes, less than 1% were even worth a phone interview. My guess is less than 1% of those would be worth hiring. Talk about a SLOW road to filling an immediate gap.  
  • Within the last month, two clients used a recruiter (thank goodness as we didn’t have to take the slow boat to China).  They found a great candidate and lost the candidate at the last minute to an offer from the current employer who figured out they didn’t want to lose their employee.  Frustrating!

Instead of either of these scenarios, why not retain your key performers?  Start with the following:

  1. #1 People work for people; not companies.  Who are your leaders? Are you developing them?  In the last six months, this too has arisen. That’s an exciting part of consulting – you get to see it all!  In this case, it wasn’t good. Good people left a new ‘leader’. Think about the productivity of the ones staying to finish that ‘last year before retirement’.  How awful!
  2. Provide training opportunities.  People want to develop skills and advance their career which can be a win-win in terms of gaining skills to help you achieve profitable growth.  Check out APICS-IE’s classes for starters.
  3. Mentoring. The only way to improve behavior is through trial and error and modeling behavior.  

What are you doing to retain your top talent?

 



Collaboration in the Supply Chain

May 31st, 2018

To succeed in today’s Amazonian environment, we must keep strange bedfellows.  We just love the Amazon example of innovation – partnering with the U.S. Postal service – known as one of the least-innovative organizations out there.  But it works! Who ever thought you’d see a U.S. postal service mail truck delivering on Sunday for Amazon?

cross-functional teams

 

At the Southern California E-Commerce and Logistics Summit, there were several intriguing collaborations:  

  1.  Union Pacific and BNSF Railway – Although there was a healthy competition over resources (not surprisingly since both are experiencing a skills gap), there was also much collaboration over issues.
  2.  The AQMD and Staunch Opponents of Indirect Sourcing – Although there is little compromise in the widespread concern over indirect sourcing, there were panelists who are working to bridge the gap.
  3.  Political leaders and Business Owners – Working together for progress, even with the distractions and disruptions that occur on a daily basis.
  4.  Amazon and their Latest Partner – Doesn’t it seem like there is a new intriguing partner announced every week.  Kohl’s could be considered a foe but partners for win-win results but it is ‘old news’.  Recently, Amazon announced another competitor partnership with Best Buy. Who will be next?  Are you thinking about how to partner with competitors?
  5.  Technology companies and all others – In the era of data and technology, people like Google, Microsoft and Apple are collaborating with everyone – car companies, IoT devices and machinery manufacturers, systems providers and many more.  

Are you taking a hard look at your collaborations and partners?  Perhaps take a more innovative approach to what you might have “assigned” to procurement last year, so you’ll be around next year.

 



The Skills Gap Emerges as #1 at Prominent Supply Chain Conference

May 28th, 2018

At the Southern California Supply Chain and Logistics Summit conference, there were several keynote speakers from industry icons such as Amazon, UPS, Union Pacific and more.  One might expect quite a lot of interesting insights into the latest supply chain trends yet the most common theme among the presentations tied back to the skills gap. It boils down to having the “right people” for success – both in terms of employees and supply chain partners.

 

Several of the themes emerged the supply chain summit:

  1.  Automation: Friend or Foe? With the advances of automation in the supply chain, there is much worry over the impact on people. Yet, several speakers said they HAD to automate and leverage technology just to have a hope of keeping up with the expected growth over the next several years.  When adding in the retirement of baby boomers, will you have the skills to support your business growth?
  2. Someone has to be behind the robot – Even though some robots use artificial intelligence concepts, they aren’t programming themselves.  There is someone behind the robot – programming, maintenance and more. Are you preparing for a job that can be replaced by a robot or are you programming the robot?
  3.  Robots and people side-by-side-  There are some tasks that robots can automate and improve upon whereas there are others it makes sense to employ workers.  Are you preparing your resources to see value in both?
  4.  Matching skills with roles – How does your company stack up?  Another topic of much discussion – mentioned by panelists and attendees alike – the vast majority of executives feel they are falling short when it comes to gaining the skills they need to run their business at the “right” margins.  How clear are you on what you need to successfully run your business? Or are you living on hope it will all work out?
  5.  The rise of flexibility – With the rise of e-commerce, we have BIG spikes.  We need to be thinking about how to incorporate flexibility into our thinking. How flexible are you?
  6. Would you want to be in the role?  There are some jobs set up to be thankless (such as drivers in several environments).  If you wouldn’t want to do the job, how can you expect to keep your workforce?

Since having the “right” talent in the “right” place at the “right” time is #1 to success, investing in talent could be your most important investment of the year.  Do you spend as much time thinking about your people (whether current or new) as you do a major machine or technology purchase? You should!

 



How to Get Out of an Escape Room & What It Has to Do With Work

June 9th, 2017

My ProVisors group had two competing teams working to get out of an escape room (my team is pictured below). Thanks to James Valmonte for such a great idea and coordination! It was an exciting experience to work through the clues and figure our way out of the room. Although I was a Nancy Drew fan when young (and even wrote a Nancy Drew-like novel with my childhood friend Vonda Zwick that won an award), I wouldn’t say this was an easy process in the slightest. It took the full team to have any hope of figuring it out. It certainly brought quite a few skills to the forefront that are valuable in all aspects of life.

Escape Room - ProVisors

One tip to implement this week:

Getting out of an escape room requires many skills needed to succeed in business. There is little to no hope of getting out while working in isolation; a team with varying skills is needed. Working in collaboration is essential. Thus, even though it might seem easier to do a task yourself, think first. Take a step back and consider your end objective. What do you want to achieve? Then, think about the skills and/or resources that would be helpful to best achieve that objective. Gather your team and tackle the issue.

You might not want to collaborate with people you think will disagree with your approach or aspects of your project; however, think twice before dismissing that thought. Instead, think about how to pull different opinions and perspectives into the mix to gain a better solution.

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