Supply Chain Talent: Why It’s More Important Than Ever

In the supply chain and logistics world, we often talk about the importance of people, process, and technology. The people side, however, often gets overshadowed by the other two, especially by technology. The reality is that developing and retaining supply chain talent is more important than ever. Why is that so? What are some of the challenges associated with talent development? How can you drive continuous improvement in supply chain talent development and retention? Those are some of the key questions I discussed with David Silvashy, Sr. Manager, Managed Analytical Services, and Alan Pyrett, QA Manager, Managed Analytical Services, at BluJay Solutions, during a recent episode of Talking Logistics.  

Supply Chain Talent is More Important than Ever

We began our discussion by exploring the question of why supply chain talent is more important than ever. David says, “We are seeing a substantial uptick in the demand for supply chain talent. In fact, demand is outpacing the supply of talent by something like six to one. Working in a managed services environment, the ability to develop and keep great talent is key to generating results. There are no perfect candidates for these jobs coming in, so you have to have a clear plan to fill those gaps for where they need to be in six to twelve months. 

“We’re in a real dynamic environment right now due to COVID, with people working remotely or hybrid, and with a volatile freight market, so keeping talent development top of mind is going to help drive results,” David continues.

The Challenges with Talent Development

Alan agrees with David’s assessment and notes that this market growth really increases the need for talent development. “We’ve had to reevaluate our original approach to talent development to mitigate the risks of limited talent availability,” states Alan. “For example, we created a small team with the goal of creating a comprehensive logistics analyst development plan based on knowledge-sharing, mentorship, and scalability. One of the challenges was combining and categorizing all of the tribal knowledge into a single source.

“Another challenge is making sure industry leaders understand the constantly changing environment surrounding logistics workers,” says Alan. “We have to continue to update development plans to keep pace with changing logistics functionality. A logistics talent development strategy is never complete. It is a continuous improvement effort to meet changing customer needs.”

COVID’s Impact on Talent Development

David had mentioned earlier the impact of COVID on talent development, so I asked him to elaborate. David explains that COVID didn’t change development strategies as much as it increased the urgency and how those strategies play out. “You have to be more intentional on how you carry out that strategy,” he says. “The details may change, such as using video for remote interviews, but you have to maintain the same development processes. COVID made things more unpredictable and increased the development need, so we had to increase the focus on how we can conduct the development.”

Driving Continuous Improvement in Talent Development

I next asked Alan how companies can continue to improve their talent development. Alan gave an example of how BluJay designates subject matter experts who share the challenges and solutions they have encountered through recorded sessions. These are stored and categorized into a portfolio so other employees can refer to them later. “This allows us to share complex information learned by one individual with the rest of a 240-person department,” Alan states. “This avoids having individuals reinventing the wheel. I believe companies have to value talent development and prioritize operational excellence, which is the alignment of continuous improvement, innovation, business strategy and corporate culture. This will propel your business toward success.”

Getting Buy-in

Creating a company culture that embraces continuous talent development requires getting buy-in from a lot of people within the organization. Alan comments that to achieve this requires companies to enable, invest in, and reward their people. He says you get buy-in from those who embrace the company culture and want to grow with the company. “You have to show people that they own the trajectory of their careers,” he says.

Employee Retention

As important as developing your employees is retaining them to continue to leverage their gained knowledge. I asked David to discuss strategies companies can use to retain their employees. I encourage you to watch the full episode for his insights and advice on that question, as well as his and Alan’s perspectives on other aspects of talent development. Then post a comment and share your own ideas and experiences related to talent development and retention.