How confident are you about employees’ capabilities at your organization? I ask because I've been thinking about the results of Deloitte’s “2015 Supply Chain Survey.”


According to the survey results, only 45 percent of supply chain and 40 percent of procurement executives at U.S.-based global companies say they are extremely or very confident that their supply chain organizations have the necessary competencies. Deloitte commissioned Bayer Consulting to conduct the online survey of 400 executives from U.S. companies last fall. Participating companies were required to have global operations, with one or more of the following entities located outside the U.S.: customers, operations or third-party service providers.


What I found more interesting is that the survey results show profound disparities between these supply chain executives and top company leadership when it comes to assessing their supply chain’s talent. For example, in contrast with the supply chain and procurement executives, slightly more than three-fourths (77 percent) of CEOs and presidents say they are extremely or very confident their supply chain organizations have the required competencies. Furthermore, although just over half (54 percent) of the CEOs and presidents say their supply chain organizations receive excellent or very good support from their human resources department, that belief is only shared by 24 percent of other executives.


“Today’s global economy demands a networked and efficient supply chain,” says Kelly Marchese, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and supply chain strategy leader. “The disparities in viewpoints that exist between company leaders and supply chain professionals could materialize into actual barriers to success, particularly as companies try to evolve their supply chains through new technologies and operating model changes. Approaches to talent management must evolve with supply chains to ensure today’s workers can meet tomorrow’s challenges. That can only occur if executives at every level are informed and in agreement when it comes to their talent needs.”


One area perhaps stands out more than others in the report. Only 45 percent of all executives rate their employees as excellent or very good on leadership and professional competencies, such as strategic thinking and problem solving, the ability to manage global or virtual teams, and the ability to effectively persuade and communicate. What’s troubling, is that at the same time, nearly two-thirds of executives say these competencies will become more important to their supply chain during the next five years, which could create a talent gap that may pose serious implications for companies and their customers.


“Companies increasingly must extend their supply chain’s talent base beyond technical skills to bring more leadership and professional skills into more levels,” Marchese says. “This has the potential to empower and inspire employees at all levels to support constant innovation in fast-moving industries, and to generate new forms of leadership that can help create more engaged and effective supply chains.”


Finally, the survey results indicate recruiting new talent is seen as a greater challenge than retaining existing talent. That’s especially at higher levels, which suggests building skills internally continues to become important. For instance, about two-thirds of the participating executives say recruiting senior leadership for the director and senior director level is difficult, while less than half of them believe retention is difficult.


Do the Deloitte survey findings mirror what you see? If so, how does your company address the need for employees to develop key competencies such as critical thinking and the ability to manage global or virtual teams?