Many companies today, are struggling with talent development and as a result, suffer needless staff turnover and engagement issues. The few that get it right however, seem to share a set of common values and principles regarding the professional development of their employees.
In this post, I want to share 6 tenets adhered to by certain companies which in my experience, make them stand out as exceptionally good educators and consequently, as employers that have little problem attracting and retaining high quality supply chain talent.
1. Supply Chain Education is Not Owned By the HR Department
Companies that are smart about supply chain education don’t leave talent acquisition and development in the hands of their HR department. Instead they foster a collaborative partnership between HR and functional supply chain leaders.
These companies know it’s essential to pool the skills of HR professionals and operational managers, in order to align professional development with the ever changing and evolving needs of the supply chain.
2. Supply Chain Education is Monitored and Measured
Most of today’s supply chain operators utilise metrics to track performance and progress toward strategic goals. For some reason though, many exclude talent development and education from their KPI selections. This might be due to a belief that it’s not possible to tie education to financial results.
The leaders in the supply chain education field know that it’s not only possible, but essential to measure training and development in terms of outcomes and to link those with overall operational performance.
3. Costs and Benefits are Always Evaluated
Smart companies evaluate every training, education, and development investment to arrive at a forecast return, just as they would any other investment. That’s why they are able to invest effectively in development of existing employees before hanging out the “now hiring” sign. By developing clear strategies for internal talent development, these enterprises are able to minimise the amount spent on hiring and training new employees.
4. A Horizontal Approach to Supply Chain Education
Companies that really understand supply chain education are careful to train their best employees in a range of disciplines, rather than emphasising technical expertise within a single function. They’re also prepared to train their employees in fields beyond the limits of supply chain, in order to develop a multi-skilled and flexible workforce.
5. Supply Chain Education is Tailored and Targeted
While they ensure employees are trained across a broad skills base, the companies which excel in supply chain education do not implement general, wishy-washy training programs. All training activity is developed or procured to meet very specific objectives. This ensures that education is integrated meaningfully into the supply chain strategy.
6. A Balanced Blend of Internal and External Training
When a company is smart about supply chain education, its leaders and HR managers don’t discuss whether to develop internal training programs or to outsource. Instead they use a combination of both, in order to leverage distinct advantages offered by internal and external training.
For example, smart companies know that their own employees can benefit from becoming trainers, mentors, or coaches. They understand that when we teach, we tend to become better students of the subject in which we instruct others. As trainers, employees develop a habit of challenging and improving the way they do things–an obvious benefit to the employing company.
At the same time, educationally adept companies recognise that external training is an opportunity for employees to network and gather intelligence about the wider industry and market. They are also willing to accept that greater teaching expertise may exist outside of the company and that when it does, it should be drawn upon to challenge perspectives and bring fresh ideas to the organisation.
Education: An Investment that Returns
For companies that find their training and education efforts don’t seem to add much value, the above principles bear some study. There are returns to be had when supply chain training is given an appropriate amount of attention. Those companies that have it right are enjoying very real cost savings, efficiency improvements, and most importantly of all, don’t have to deal with constant employee churn.
Remember too, that there’s never a good time or indeed, a bad time to start doing things differently. There’s nothing to be gained from leaving education improvements on the back burner. As companies that lead in employee development have discovered, investments in your workforce are some of the smartest you can make.