Another Ducking Digest?!
May 30th, 2023: Supply Chain Burnout Part II
Welcome to What the Duck?!, a podcast with real experts talking about Direct spend challenges and experiences. And now here’s your host, SourceDay, very own Manufacturing Maven, Sarah Scudder. Welcome to Another Ducking Digest. I am back with new, shorter, more sassy hair. It was time for a change. My long covid hair had to go, and I got into Austin late last night. Spent the last couple weeks in the Bay Area in Danville, hanging with my BF and family and friends. This is a weekly 10 to 15-minute news show, depending on how excited Lindsay gets about the topic. Sometimes we go over our 10-minute mark. And this is a show that Lindsay and I host every single week. We normally do it on Mondays, but because of the holiday this week, we are coming to you live on Tuesday. Lindsay has over 30 years’ supply chain experience and was most recently served as the SVP of supply chain for a mid-market manufacturer, actually based in Southern California. Today we are talking about supply chain burnout, part two. We talked about this last week and had so much to cover. We decided we were going to continue it over to this week as well. So Lindsay’s gonna break our conversation into four buckets, and I’ll kind of guide us through each of those categories. So Lindsay, we’re gonna start off today talking about how someone can recognize the signs of supply chain burnout.
Thanks, Sarah. Yes. It’s, you know, what, what, what comes first, right? You know, what’s the heads up? You know, we don’t just go from a happy place to burnout overnight. You know, there’s something that leads up to that. And it’s more than just, we can’t say, “Well, my job’s hard or supply chain, everything changes every day.” Or, you know, there, there’s so much multitasking required that that’s the normal, that’s the nature of the job. And you know why so many of us thrive on it and love it so much. But there’s a big but there, you know, when that passion moves to tears and I’ve seen that for 40 years. Buyers crying at their desk, anger being physically sick, becoming less connected with cohorts, releasing frustration on suppliers, and/or significant others becoming negative. You know, being consumed with the idea we can’t catch up, you know, overall not being balanced. That’s, that these are clear bad signs that we’re heading in the wrong direction.
So then we move into kind of a bucket or category two. I call this creating a personal inventory of your current state.
Great. And, and, and we should all do this, and we should all have it done. And, you know, if, if you get to burnout without it, you know, it, it, it’s, you’ve left it too late. Cause you want to be able to put together our personal inventory when we’re healthy and objective and pragmatic. And it’s that old Hebrew joke, right? It’s far easier for us to, to spot the of du in someone else’s eyes and it is to recognize the plank in our own eye. So the idea is how, how do we get to be the master of our own destiny? And it’s our personal responsibility. It’s a professional responsibility to know, to know who I am and to understand how, how that plays in my supply chain role. So, you know, don’t, don’t, we shouldn’t wait for outside help. We shouldn’t necessarily, unfortunately, even wait for insight from the media. The media clearly is consumed with outcomes and the current situation overall and far less the struggles of individual supply chain players, especially those leading to burnout. So same with any change management project. Let’s take a page out of that book, right, Sarah, and start with an assessment. Assessment and document the assessment of the current state in two parts. One, me as a supply chain employee, and two, the company. So,
Yeah, I was Lindsey. I was gonna add, add that as well, that I think it’s twofold. It’s your personal state and your personal assessment, but also the state of your employer and what is the culture and vibe and support and the health of your ERP. I think we need to throw that in there as well.
Yeah, absolutely, because it’s, you know, looking back on my job, Sarah, that I’ve had over my career, there are very different levels of effort, very different difficult levels of ease to be effective and add value and very different statuses of ERP implementation. So yeah, beyond tough, who are we? You know, build up that brand, build up a personal style and try and get beyond the superficial, generic, you know, I’m analytical, I’m conceptual, I’m hardworking, I’m administrative, I’m collaborative, I’m type A, I’m a specialist. Or am I a multitasker? Am I a subject matter expert, or am I a generalist? You know, build that profile. And, you know, right or wrong, no wrong answers. It’s just who we are. But it’s very important that we understand it so that we follow a compatible career path.
And so that hopefully end up in, in the right job. So you, beyond these generalities, you know, add some color and texture to it by including our weaknesses. Cuz we’re all mixed vs, right? It’s great for us buyers to be direct with suppliers. That’s the strength. Less so when we’re direct with cohorts. That’s gonna drive stress and, and, and burnout. It’s great for us buyers to be multitaskers, but we’ve gotta be careful not to start too many things that’ll drive stress. You know, you know, so, so stop starting and start finishing, right? It’s great for us to be detail-oriented, but you know, again, careful not to become obsessive to the point that we’re compromising productivity. That’ll drive stress. Great to be a collaborator. You know, who, who heard that? That’s a bad thing. But you know, in the purchasing world, oftentimes we’ve got 20 plus communication channels. You know, that’s one of the challenges out there with some of the apps trying to do robotic process automation with all these different communication channels that come at the buyer. What about, Lindsay, what about when you’re assessing the state of your employer? Touching on how we can assess the state of our ERP, ’cause that’s not always easy to do.
So, alright, let’s, let’s, let’s work towards that. You know, they certainly rule in other people’s perception of us and start understanding how others view us. Do you know what traits do they see that they value? And that may not be in our best interests, but we want to listen very hard. How, how others say those of us who haven’t had the benefit of a 360, you know, if we don’t know how others perceive us, then just ask. And they stay poker face, stay objective and, and listen hard. Try and smile. Try and anticipate what the top three observations might be beyond, you know, you work hard or you’re always here or you’re a great firefighter, ’cause these can actually be red flags for our own personal burnout. You know, I’ve heard emotional buyers say, you know, I’m, I, I, I’m here on my own on Saturday and no one cares.
So that kind of extended workers or on top of 10 or 12-hour days, that, that, that’s a surefire recipe. You know, in the small manufacturer environment, the red flag is where everyone’s working these long hours, right? So yeah, looking, drilling into the perception of supply chain beyond what is, is it everyone that’s in supply chain that’s perceived this way? Is it, is it just, is it a functional issue or is it a personal issue? Because that’s, you know, personal burnout, you know, that’s, that’s where we want to understand. Is, is supply chain collectively being recognized or criticized? Or is it, is it me? Is it just me? Right? So yes, let’s look at, look, look at the employer, Sarah. Look at the employer environment. How they perceive, how they perceive supply chain. Easy, easy to say that people don’t quit bad companies, they quit bad leaders.
But, you know, we’ve got to understand, do I have a tough job or do I have a bad job? Very important that we have that clarity. And when we make that assessment, get beyond just thinking about the people. Remember, it’s always systems, process, people. So to your question, Sarah, yes. Yeah. In the supply chain world, the system will be the ERP. And in 2023, clearly, the need is for our ERP implementation to be really tight. And if not, then the company needs to, the small manufacturer, medium-sized manufacturer needs to be revisiting and investing in getting those loose ends, those last details, nuances, pain points of the ERP implementation addressed. And purchasing can help with that by going into the conversation rather than saying, you know, the world’s all messed up or ERP’s broken, here’s my top three or top five, hopefully not 25 recommendations to improve ERP to allow us to operate more efficiently in the coming year.
So, Lindsay, too many Oh, oh, I, I didn’t mean to interrupt. Finish your thought and then I was gonna say something else, but you go first.
Oh, I was just gonna say that too many small manufacturers run ERP for too long in that limp home mode. So we’ve got to, you know, one of the great insights into a manufacturer is, is what corrective action do they take? And please don’t say none. You know, whenever ERP doesn’t run crashes overnight or it’s unstable on a day-to-day basis. So, you know, it’s one thing for a medium-sized manufacturer not to invest in new tools like SourceDay, but it’s completely another not to have basic checks and balances in place that specifically address known organizational weaknesses.
So, Lindsay, to bring home our conversation today, I’d like to have you close out talking about some actions that supply chain leaders who are working for smaller mid-size manufacturers can take to avoid burnout. They’re listening today or maybe they’re starting to see some signs of this. What can somebody do now immediately to prevent full-blown burnout?
Yeah, great, great lead, Sarah. The, it behooves us all to have a plan. We’ve got tough jobs, we’re professionals, and it’s across the board, right? You know, every expediter, every junior buyer, every commodity manager, every supply chain manager, every materials manager, purchasing manager, even, you know, global supply chain manager can do this. So the homework would be, you know, decide on our personal development plan, write it down, set goals, and assign a timeline to it. Now the timeline can be, you know, a week, start with a week, a month, three months, a year, five years. And that’s the standard goal-setting protocol. But basically, through all that, or from that, discern what direction do I want to go in? Do I need to do personal development? Do I need to learn new skills?
Does the organization need to adjust their ERP implementation? Do I need to go and find a new employer? But knowing my mixed bag of weaknesses and strengths, strengths and weaknesses, as well as the company’s current state, how do I restore and maintain a good, healthy balance? What behaviors do I want to develop, hold onto? What behaviors do I want to develop and build on? And what behaviors working Saturdays do I need to move away from? And who do we let ourselves become? Yeah, the bottom line, Sarah, bottom line is, you know, we want to have that. I think you said at the start of the call, that passion, depending on how passionate we get, right? You know, how do we get passion? It’s important to enjoy ourselves. So we get passionate about, no matter how hard the job, we get passionate because we know we’re doing what we enjoy, we know what we’re doing that others recognize us as doing a good job of doing well, and we get fulfillment from that. So have a plan for how do I get there?
Two things I’ll add. First is very, very basic, but I think can make a big difference is put breaks in your day. Whether that’s walking around your office for 15 minutes, taking a walk outside. But if you are stuck sitting at your computer technology devices for eight to 10 hours a day straight, it can really, really be tough. So very small breaks. If you need to put ’em in your calendar, put an alarm clock on your phone. And the second is make sure the actions that you’re doing are going to progress your career. If you’re gonna bust your butt and go way above and beyond, make sure you have a plan in place of how you’re gonna get visibility and how you’re going to elevate your brand within your company and help progress your career with that. Wanna thank you for joining our Another Ducking Digest. Lindsay is going to Europe for the month of June. Him and his wife are going to have a fabulous vacation. So we have a guest who will be stepping in for Lindsay. He is an awesome leader in the manufacturing space, is a friend of Lindsay’s. Lindsay actually recommended him for the so, so Jeff Brown will be joining us for the month of June to share weekly wisdom, direct materials, spend updates, and tips for you all.