One of the things I heard at the NPX exchange put on by The Mpower Group is that there are companies out there looking to hire 50, 100, and even 200 Supply Management professionals — right now. What, what, what? I can’t believe I just heard that. While I’m sure most of you are saying that’s great news because, in your opinion, that means jobs are returning and/or faith in Supply Management is finally getting to what it needs to be, I can assure you this is not great news.
What this really signifies is that there is a deep fundamental problem in the organization in question. A well-run company should not suddenly need 200 people in its Supply Management organization. The first thing one has to ask when hearing that a company needs that many people is why. And “we’re centralizing operations” or “we’re expanding our global footprint” are not good reasons.
A company doesn’t have to hire more people to centralize operations, even if it is moving Supply Management headquarters. It simply has to relocate some staff on location and everyone else can work wherever they are. Now that most people have affordable video conferencing on their desktop, and it’s quick and easy to get just about anywhere in the world within two days, there’s no excuse for not letting people work where they are. (And any HR professional worth their salt will tell you that it’s much cheaper to relocate talent than to hire new talent and get them up to speed.) If the organization needs new people because it just got rid of a bunch, one needs to ask why. Did it really have that many people who couldn’t cut it and, more importantly, couldn’t be trained to cut it? If so, there is something fundamentally wrong with its hiring practices and talent management and it’s probably not somewhere anyone would want to work.
A company doesn’t have to hire that many more people to expand its global footprint either. It just has to hire a few local resources in the region and open an office. That’s 20 people, tops, not 200. If it needs more, then it’s expansion plans are too agressive. There’s no way you can parachute 50 to 200 people into an organization and not expect everything to come to a screeching halt for 6 months. Even if you can figure out where to put 200 people, you need to get them equipment, train them on general organizational processes, assign them specific jobs, train them on the appropriate technology and specific processes, hold their hands until they know how to do their daily jobs, and have mentors readily available to answer questions for up to two years as they learn the ins and outs of the more complex aspects of their assignment.
In short, jobs returning to Supply Management are a good thing, but only if they are added in moderation.