Tag Archives: developing supply chain teams

5 characteristics that drive high-performing teams

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Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of teams. It’s always interesting to observe the teams and question why some teams succeed, while others flounder and eventually fail. Here are five characteristics the best performing teams have in common.

  1. Clear responsibility, authority and accountability must be assigned to the team. The team with responsibility and accountability is likely to fail if they lack the authority to act.
  2. Vision, mission and alignment to the business plan is a core criterion for success. If a team doesn’t have a charter with an agreed mission, the team will operate like a rudderless ship. It’s essential that the team works hard at the front of a project to understand the vision for the project, mission and joint goals. As part of the alignment of the business plan, the team must also understand how to measure its own performance and the success of the program.
  3. Management awareness and commitment to the team. One of the key elements for high-performing teams is the selection of team members. In today’s business environment when everybody is extremely busy, it’s essential for management to make a commitment of resources to the project. One other essential element is that the team success or failure reflects on the individual’s performance.
  4. Funding is always an issue when it comes to cross functional teams. I ‘ve seen teams struggle and fail when “who is paying for the project?” is unclear. Travel always seems to be a contentious issue when it comes to teams, especially if it’s global travel. One way to be successful is to create a budget upfront or agree with key line managers how much travel is involved and what time constraints will be placed on their department resources for this project. By addressing this issue at the start, team and project leaders can be assured that it won’t be an issue later in the project at a critical point.
  5. Reward and recognition is an essential part to assuring team success. Many team members are working on projects in addition to their regular workload. When a team is successful, it’s the responsibility of management to recognize their contribution to the business and develop some simple reward as a token of appreciation.

Many companies work to drive cross-business teams to meet business goals. Using these key elements as a project leader will improve the chances of having a high performing, successful team.

Will your team succeed?

How serious is your talent development program?

training List

Three myths about training

Over the past two decades I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s greatest companies on talent management programs where dedicated chief executive officers, chief purchasing officers, L&D leaders and HR executives have focused on employee development and growth. The reality is that some companies are dedicated to the overall competency of the individuals in the team, while others are looking to check off training and provide a feel-good exercise with limited results. Those who simply “check the training box” believe they are helping their team because of 3 myths.

Myth 1: online learning works as a standalone solution for development
With the pace of business today, many people delay taking online learning modules until they reach a deadline or their subscription is running out. As a result, many students cram the material to meet deadlines, but the learning is neither used nor retained. Online learning is great as a prerequisite for instructor-led learning or coaching. It enables gaining a common vocabulary, presenting basics and bringing everybody up to a common platform prior to a project, web meeting or a training class. I once had a discussion with an HR director who had an objective to conduct recurrent training. He told me that by using disaggregated online training modules, he meets his objective, has no travel costs and will be considered a hero in his organization. The unfortunate fact is people will be wasting time taking the modules without any impact on the company’s or individual’s overall performance. Many organizations buy online learning subscriptions that are never used.

Online learning is an effective tool when combined with other learning and development activities.

Myth 2: a training workshop will improve competency

While a training workshop will expose individuals and teams to new concepts and ideas, the attendees rarely apply the new concepts and tools to their daily work. Many people come to the workshop, spend several days, make friends, have some fun and return to an environment where processes and hectic schedules do not facilitate the embedding and use of new tools. Most effective workshop programs I have seen have online learning prerequisite requirements, instructor-led course delivery and a project assigned at the end of the course. The project normally is completed in six months and must deliver tangible benefits to the by demonstrating the use of all the workshop tools. The instructor is available to act as a coach and the employee’s supervisor monitors the project through its completion. Once completed, the company provides credit for taking the course and enjoys direct benefits, the employee has embedded the learning and there is a high return on investment for the development program—I’ve personally witnessed a validated return of $40 for every $1 spent in a training and development program using this model. I am now using this model with a subscription-based category management program that is delivering even better results.

A training course combined with a program to embed the learning delivers tangible benefits for the company and individuals.

Myth 3: management can watch from the sidelines

Unfortunately, some management believes training of any kind is good for the team. They’re happy to see it launched, but feel that they already know the course content and see no reason to participate. Without involvement of management, the team fails to take it seriously. On one assignment, I had to stop the training program to develop a crash course for the leaders who realized their team was speaking a new language and using new effective tools that they didn’t understand. Leaders learn a lot by observing individuals and team dynamics during training. Leading by example through participation in the training always delivers higher performing teams with incredible results.

Management participation in learning programs shows commitment to building and retaining top class talent.

Witnessing these 3 myths, I’ve fundamentally changed my approach to learning. Action learning and small group coaching always leads to embedded skills and their application. Long gone are the days where training is just a few days away from the office and training manuals get dusty on the bookshelf.

A radical change to the development of teams and individuals is required. The old methods just don’t work anymore.

Are you still scheduling a training course just to meet an annual objective?

The CPO’s biggest vulnerability – Building and refreshing the team

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On this day after “Super Tuesday” for the US political race, it’s easy to see that the voting population today is not the same as 4 years ago. Campaigns are scrambling to reach both the younger voter and the older voter (Millennials and Baby Boomers) and the establishment isn’t working. The same is true for businesses: org structures that worked 4 years ago are not working now. In the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016 new study, 92% of the top executives surveyed cited organizational design as a top priority and the report highlights the rise of a new “network of teams” org model. I see this in my own practice, especially in procurement and supply chain. For CPOs, leading teams is a real challenge.

To add even more complexity to the team building and refreshing process, ManpowerGroup’s 2015 Talent Shortage Survey found 38% of companies are have difficulty filling jobs due to lack of available talent. No longer can the chief purchasing officer rely on finding individuals who have demonstrated technical and strategic procurement skills. Today, the job requires individuals who are well-rounded and have financial, relationship, influencing, financial, political and collaboration skills. The job no longer requires just the ability to negotiate, communicate and transact. The job now requires architecting the supply chain, integrating suppliers along the chain, quantifying the added value, driving increased levels of performance and building relationships that make their company shine brighter than the competition. Plus, they need to do this as a team. And, Millennials do not expect to work for the same company for decades, so the team must continue to advance as the individual members change.

I worked with a company recently that had 18 people in the procurement department. Of the existing team, 11 people had well over 30 years’ experience in the company and in purchasing. There was no succession plan and new approaches and ideas were limited. For this CPO, bringing in fresh faces was both a do-or-die and a no-win with the existing org structure and culture. It became essential to understand the talent required for generating the kinds of value extraction that will be required from the supply chains in the future and, most importantly, to find ways to foster a collaborative team process.

What’s a CPO to do? Here are five ideas for building and refreshing the procurement team:

  1. Build strong rotational programs so that new hires will rotate through several departments in the organization enhancing their business knowledge, commercial skills and relationships throughout the organization.
  2. Understand the current culture and the desired culture, what works in the current culture, who has the strongest skillsets and who has the weakest (for now and the desired state) and develop a strategy to strengthen the weak links.
  3. Build a strong succession plan for the entire team.
  4. Move more senior team members to different roles to let the newer members develop leadership and other skills.
  5. If you find the right talent, hire that person whether you have the position now or not.

By building and continually refreshing your team, you will assure your longevity as a leader. If you fail to build and refresh your team, you will become victim of the CEO’s plans to build and refresh the team.

Are you ready for the “network of teams” org structure?