Why openness is key for successful supply chain teams

Date : 28 November 2018

We hear a lot about businesses making efforts to work closer together in order to 'uncover mutual benefits' or 'create cost savings', but what about the benefits for people? It’s no secret that collaboration is a core part of any successful business approach, but making it a core part of a personal development programme may be less obvious. Suzannah Murphy, Supply Chain Analyst at IGD, explores why openness and creating collaborative leaders of the future is key to your team’s success.

Creating collaborative cultures

At IGD, we’re always looking for great supply chain stories to tell. This year, I’ve heard about some fantastic work that businesses in the industry have done to create collaborative cultures between teams and businesses. Projects that initially began to streamline processes blossomed into open, trusting partnerships. It’s clear that by starting this collaborative process earlier in people’s careers, we as an industry can help embed a collaborative culture into the day-to-day, which can in turn play into a successful business strategy. It’s a win-win all around.

As these projects take time and resources to set up internally, it may be some time before you see the benefits. So, how can you create a culture of openness and trust with your trading partners, without so much of the work? We've got the answer: IGD Mentoring.

What's IGD Mentoring?

A programme that has been referred to as "the best initiative I've been involved in" and "the highlight of my 2017" by industry participants, IGD Mentoring is a free, award-winning mentoring initiative for supply chain teams.

We work with businesses around the industry to match rising stars with industry leaders and experts. And here's the best part: it's a cross-company programme. Everyone involved is partnered with someone from another, non-competing, business, usually between customers and suppliers. Having started as a handful of supply chain directors and senior managers, we’re now working with around 300 people from almost 60 businesses this year alone.

Inside your industry; outside your organisation

For these participants, what's made the programme stand out is that it's inside your industry, so you speak the same language and face similar challenges. But with a mentor who's outside your organisation, there's the opportunity to have truly open and honest conversations with someone whose only goal is to develop you.

More than a conversation

What began as an opportunity for people to broaden their horizons has transformed into so much more. Whenever I meet an IGD mentor or mentee, I'm always surprised by how much they pack into their partnership.

From coaching discussions to factory tours, IGD Mentoring participants have a broad range of experiences. Here are a few examples of what participants are getting up to in their meetings:

  • Walking the supply chain to help the mentor understand the mentee's challenges at work
  • Discovering that their mentee had only ever worked with supermarket retailers, a mentor organised a day of company inductions for their mentee, to help them better understand foodservice
  • Attending and providing input to part of their mentee's end of year review

It's not just about the mentee though. Mentors are also reaping the benefits of their involvement, spending time shadowing their mentee at work and having their teams taken around their mentee's facilities. By being a mentor, they also enable someone else from their business to be a mentee.

The sense of giving something back has been a highlight for many mentors: "It was hugely satisfying to work with a totally engaged individual who was prepared to listen to advice and accept coaching. To see my mentee develop this year has been a highlight for me."

Leading to greater things

Beyond personal development, I've also heard of instances where the connections formed between businesses has been so successful that they've begun working on joint projects together, learning from each other's experience to create a more streamlined supply chain. It's at times like this when you start realising just how important networking is. In fact, networking ranked as one of the most important skills this year's mentees were looking for.

Want to get involved?

As one mentee puts it, “Grasp the opportunity - IGD Mentoring will deliver as much as you put into it. Take this wonderful initiative with both hands.” So, there you have it. Give yourself and your team the opportunity to be open, and experience the benefits to your business by starting your collaboration journey.

If you work in supply chain, logistics or distribution, then we've got great news: we’re accepting mentor and mentee nominations from now. If you’re the person in charge of supply chain within your business, even better. Register your interest and we’ll take you through the nomination process: igd.com/mentoring

Suzannah Murphy

Suzannah Murphy

Supply Chain Analyst

Boost your development and grow your network by joining this award-winning, cross-company mentoring programme for people working in supply chain, logistics and distribution.

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