Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Labor As THE Supply Chain Disrupter

The October 31st issue of the online The McKinsey Quarterly discussed a global survey of executives on supply chain issues. According to this report "Nearly two out of three executives who responded to the latest global survey of business executives conducted by The McKinsey Quarterly1 say they face increasing risks to their ability to supply their customers with goods and services cost effectively." Further they say "Most of the surveyed executives say supply chain risk is growing . The executives most likely to say that their company's level of risk has risen are those in retailing, manufacturing, and energy; those in the energy industry are by far the most likely to say their risk has increased significantly. Professional-services executives are the least likely to have seen an increase in risk, but even there, nearly half have done so. Executives at all levels share the view that risk is on the rise."

Topping the list of risks most likely to disrupt supply chains is the availability and quality of LABOR. This was true around the world, with the exception of Latin America, where regulation was the reason at the top of the list. "Among respondents who identify labor as a significant issue, almost two-thirds are primarily concerned about the availability of well-trained labor. Indeed, though the level of concern varies somewhat, a shortage of high-quality employees remains the top issue among those concerned about labor, regardless of their company's size or location. Among those concerned about labor, labor cost is their biggest worry; only 3 percent of them cite labor disruptions and less than 1 percent of this group cite diseases or pandemics." Despite this few executives said they had formal program to access the risk and fewer still said they had plans to mitigate the risks.

This is the challenge to pro-active HR departments. Get your executives to understand the "people" issue of supply chain problems. What are the disruption possibilities in your industry? Feeling them already? What are the possible solutions to this disruption?

  • Better hiring?
  • Better and more training?
  • Better sourcing of candidates?
  • Better retention?
  • Changes in technology to remove more "bodies" from the equation?

Of course to make this argument the HR executive needs to understand supply chain management for their industry. If you can't make your suggestions in terms the executives can buy into then they will not listen.

But this is your chance to make a major impact on your company.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Starbucks Union? Surely You Jest.

I'm flabbergasted. There is apparently a group that is trying to unionize Starbucks employees, and they seem to be gaining support. The City Council of Cambridge Massachusetts late yesterday became the first local government in the nation to condemn Starbucks'...

This is, in my opinion a misguided effort on the part of the union and the employees. But the company should be paying attention, because some manager is not managing the way the company wants it done.

Read more

Body Art and the Dress Code Revisited

Just less than a week after I posted about body art this AP article about body art, piercings and the dress code appeared. Very interesting. Take a look and consider what you need to do. Post and let the rest of us know how you have dealt with this. Are you leading or lagging? Has it hindered your hiring?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Body Art and the Dress Code

I was reading a post by Jack Yoest on body art in the workplace and got to wondering about what companies are doing today. As a consultant I get asked about about dress codes, but no one has ever asked me about body art and other adornments. With the proliferation of tatooing today it is going to be a "problem" you are going to encounter the more you are hiring younger workers. So you may want to think about it now. What is going to be your criteria? Ability to do the job? What kind of contact with the customer? How visible? There is no "one" answer. It will depend on your business, your culture and your needs.

But, I would suggest you make that decision now, instead of "being caught with your pants down" (and your tatoo showing).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Search for Talent as a Search for Talented Teams

I was reading Bob Sutton's blog on his take on an article in the Economist about Human Resources view of "talent." He makes the comment that "If you read this issue of The Economist, if you consider standard HR practices for recruiting, hiring, evaluating, and compensating employees, if you listen to most HR consulting firms, and if you look at how employee records are organized in enterprise software you will see that the – usually unspoken but pervasive – assumption is that a focus on people means a focus in hiring the most talented individuals. Indeed, talent is the word people like to use talk about good people, a word that conjures up images of superstar actors and athletes." He further states that "Certainly, having talented individuals is important. But focusing on individuals alone – as the HR mindset seems to do, in an automatic mindless way without ever questioning the assumption – is a dangerous half-truth. It blinds managers and executives to a growing body of literature that shows performance is heavily dependent on having people who are experienced at working together and who work together for a long time."

This dangerous half-truth is that for companies to be more successful they should be looking for talented teams of people not just the talented individual. As he says in discussing a number of studies "The implication of this research is pretty clear and shows the limits of modern HR practices, assumptions, and even the enterprise software systems that they use. If you are going to hire some “talent,” don’t focus on just landing that lone star – focus on hiring as much of his or her team, or network, as possible. You win the war for talent by bringing aboard talented sets of people, not talented solo acts." He cites one study in particular that dealt with GE executives who had moved to other companies. The study found that executives who moved by themselves had a negative effect on the company they had moved to. However, executives who moved and brought a team with them, a group of people they were used to working with, had a positive effect on their new companies.

Sutton concludes with "...as the war for talent seems to be heating up again, companies that fight it right will spend less time looking for solo stars and more time looking for dynamic duos, teams, and networks of people that have worked together in the past and want to work together more in the future. And perhaps it is time for modern HR practices to catch-up with the evidence."

I agree with his assessment. Perhaps you do as well. Look at your companies, look at the effects of teams versus the effect of the solo star. When you need to recruit you should start looking to hire teams that the "star" is used to working with in order to take best advantage of that "star" recruit.

Read his blog for a more complete discussion of this point.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Value of Reading

I made the comment the other day that HR people do not read enough. To me, to be a great, proactive HR professional you have to read. And not just HR "stuff'. The value of reading however, was really brought home to me when I was reading an online article on some of the self-made billionaires in the US. As I read their answers to a set of questions about their lives I was struck by the fact that each of these BILLIONAIRES reads at least an hour a day and in many cases far more than that. Contrast that to how important they thought an MBA was, only half felt that one was needed. Part of the reason is that with the reading they do they get the equivalent of a Master's degree each year, according to Brian Tracy. So read this article Forbes on Entreprenuers and see for yourself the value of reading.

It broadens the mind. It gives you ideas. It gives you experiences with out having to actually have the experience. It prepares you to deal with the future and the day-to-day.

Friday, October 06, 2006

HR as a Maverick

I was reading a blog by William Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company on his book Mavricks at Work. He lists the ten points from his book:
1. Is there a distinctive and disruptive sense of purpose that sets you apart from the competition?
2. Can you be provocative without provoking a backlash?
3. If your company went out of business tomorrow, who would miss you and why?
4. Are you the kind of person that other smart people want to work with?
5. Can you make innovation fun?
6. Do you treat different customers differently? .
7. Why should great people join your organization?
8. Do you know a great person when you see one?
9. Does your organization work as distinctively as it competes?
10. Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?

I was struck by the fact that at least 9 of the 10 points, if not all 10, are in reality HUMAN RESOURCES ISSUES. He is not talking about things, machinery, raw materials, etc. He is talking about people and ideas and attracting stars and learning.

This book gives you an idea how IMPORTANT a great HR department can be to a company. Are you an HR MAVERICK? Take a look at this list and blog and book and see where you can make a difference.