Tag Archives: career

Competence Is Context Dependant

It’s easy to associate competence with job titles in a generic sense. However, given people’s performance will depend on the context in which they operate, all notions of competence should take context into account…


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The same, but different

Is a graphic designer at a major accounting firm the same job as a graphic designer at an early-stage startup? There is an obvious overlap is functional skills, but that’s where the similarity ends. 

A designer at startup will have limited resources and even less time. They’ll be required to “ship fast” because the clock is ticking and everything is an experiment. Management will have a relatively high tolerance for mistakes, and decisions will be made on the spot. 

Conversely, a large accounting firm will be far less tolerant of risk, decisions are made by committee, perfection will be prioritized over speed and autonomy will likely be low. 

How similar do these roles sound now?

While the fundamental craft is essentially the same, the context is entirely different. Success is measured differently, and the respective operating environments have very little in common.

Context is everything

It follows that the best person to do the job at the accounting firm is probably not the best person to do the job at the startup. In come cases the same person might be able to excel at both roles, but they’ll need to apply themselves and behave quite differently. 

This means that competence is dependent on context, something James Clear emphasizes in his book Atomic Habits

There is no such thing is a “good graphic designer”. Rather, there is a good graphic designer in your particular context. That context might be unique to your company, or it might be broadly applicable to companies in your industry or of a similar size, for example.   

This is a departure from the way many companies, and indeed many talent acquisition professionals, think about competency frameworks. It’s easy to associate competence with job titles in a generic sense. However, given people’s performance will depend on the context in which they operate, all notions of competence should take context into account.

How to build context into your recruitment process

When filling a role, it’s important to think of what it takes to be successful in that role at your company. It’s helpful to divide the requirements into two components. The first is the skills that are specific to the role itself and would likely be required in any context. In other words, what does the person in the role need to achieve? The second component is the skills that are unique to your context. In other words, how do you expect the person to approach their role? This can include cultural aspects, attitude, behavior and so on.

The next step is to come up with a way to test candidates for those skills. Following this logic, a generic “graphic designer test” doesn’t make much sense because it only addresses the first component. In order to identify someone who will excel in a role in your context, the test must take into account both components. It must be context-dependent because competence is dependent on context. 

Thinking about candidate selection in this way will help you identify people who are more likely to be successful in your environment. This makes sense because it’s also unlikely that the people who want to work at a startup will also want to work at major accounting firms, and visa versa.

This article was originally published on Vervoe.

How To Stand Out Through Radical Optimism

Is your news stream flooded with negativity? Do you unknowingly pass this negativity on to others? Perhaps it’s time to try something radical and be optimistic.

By Dean Drobot/ Shutterstock

As a species, the human race is hard-wired to react more strongly to fear and bad news than to positivity.

If you think back to our ancient ancestors living as hunter-gatherers, this biological reaction made sense. It was necessary to keep them alive in the wild, where curiosity about an ‘unknown’ within their environment was more likely to lead to death than it was to a positive experience.

In today’s world however, such life-threatening situations are rarely experienced, yet we still find our monkey brains on high-alert, fed by stories of drama, outrage and anxiety via social media and 24/7 news feeds.

These dramatic, fear-based headlines that are so common in today’s media prey on our anxiety and insecurity and leave us cautious at the best of times.

We find ourselves unable to think rationally or creatively or produce solutions that might otherwise benefit those around us.

I recently discussed this issue on my Inside Influence podcast with Dr Angus Hervey and Tane Hunter, the co-founders of Future Crunch.

Future Crunch believes that if we want to be more influential in our work environment, to think more creatively and produce solutions to problems that might otherwise remain unsolved – we need to become more conscious of maintaining a ‘healthy diet’ when it comes to the information we consume and share.

So how do we do that?

Change your information diet

The first step is to think of your consumption of news in terms of a diet.

Negativity is like junk food – it’s fine to consume every so often but indulge too much and your mental state will start to suffer.

Just like the physical body, the majority of your mental diet – the information you consume each and every day – should consist of healthier options that nurture, nourish and energise you rather than prey on your mental fears and anxieties.

Remember, all media news feeds (including newspapers) as designed to ‘feed’ us information that we have shown interest in in the past. Each and every time we click on headlines that promote anger, outrage and drama we’re telling these companies that we want to see more of the same.

It’s essential that we make a more conscious choice around the ‘information diet’ that we consume, to minimise the negative information stream and make sure that we’re staying in a productive and healthy mindset.

Now – let’s be clear – this does not mean ignoring important information in relation to your field, industry or the world at large. It helps no one to stick your head in the sand and pretend that bad things aren’t happening.

What this means is that – if you can maintain a healthy balance in what you consume – you will be more resilient when the bad things appear on the horizon. This means you will be able to easily think of effective and creative solutions. As opposed to being so beaten down and overwhelmed – that a fast and considered response is impossible.

Use optimism to stand out

Politicians from Julius Caesar to Donald Trump have always known that fear, drama and outrage are an incredibly effective tool for capturing the attention of others.

Take the rise of automation, for example. How many headlines have you seen out there that focus on the negative possibilities of robotics, such as mass unemployment or even an existential threat to the human race? Good news stories about how robotics will improve our quality of life tend to be lost among the negative noise because – again – we are hard-wired to pay attention to bad news.  

But here’s the secret. If a single person in your network, your organisation or your team chose to reframe these developments. Took the time to research, communicate, or write a list of exactly what opportunities these situations might create – would they stand out?

The answer is absolutely yes. To stand against this negative tide and broadcast their message through optimism and positivity – they’ll get noticed. Not only that – but my money is that that person will be the one invited to the table, offered the promotion or requested at the next high-level meeting.

The positive alternative

Overcoming our hard-wired preference for negativity isn’t easy, but it can be done.

Environmentalists around the globe are today coming to understand that they’ve made a critical error in spreading the message about global warming through a narrative of fear – talking about the disastrous consequences of climate change certainly won everyone’s attention, but progress has been slow.

Compare that to the new messages that are now appearing – where we’re being shown the limitless possibilities of renewable technologies and a greener world. Where we’re being given real and actionable ideas to help the situation.

Now that’s an approach to influence that will change things.

Optimism in procurement

Most procurement professionals will one day face the challenge of trying to get their business stakeholders on board with some sort of change agenda – whether it’s getting them to use a new system, reducing maverick spend, or simply engaging procurement earlier in their decision-making processes.

There are two ways to get people on board – through fear or positivity.

It’s a bit more complex than the carrot versus stick approach, but it boils down to replacing threats and cajoling with a positive, what’s-in-it-for-you message.

Instead of telling stakeholders that failing to engage with procurement will risk their project or earn them a slap on the wrist, educate them instead about the benefits – lower costs, higher savings, and better outcomes that align with their goals.

In the end, you want stakeholders to come on board with your initiative out of enthusiasm rather than out of fear.

In short, be aware of the power of fear and replace it with positivity wherever you can. Most of us made a 2019 New Year’s resolution to improve our diet – now it’s time to pay just as much attention on the fuel we give (and offer) our minds.

Is It Time To Make A Career Move? Mind the gap

When things get bad at work do you find a way to fix it or consider a career move?

The bad days are becoming more frequent, the work is no longer challenging and your procurement career seems to be floundering.   The question arises: what must you do to kick your work life into action?   If you have a general feeling of being undervalued or not being fairly recognised for your achievements, now is the time to take stock. Work takes up at least 40 hours of your week.  Life’s too short to be miserable, this is decision time.

It is unlikely that your current situation will improve much unless there is a radical change in management or strategy.  The options are:

  • Move into a new role at your current employer or
  • Move on to a different employer in a similar or different role 

Assuming that procurement is still the place you want to be, there are some steps you need to take whether you plan to stay with your current employer in another role or move on to new adventures.

Do a personal gap analysis

Take a deep, introspective look into yourself. The aim is to identify the knowledge gaps between the skills you need for your chosen direction and those that you currently have.  What changes should you begin making to prepare yourself for the kind of job you want? As Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”   Be realistic about your current capabilities.  Then go and fill the gaps.

Consider further education   

There’s no doubt that further education and continued professional development play a part in opening up opportunities. The reality is that most the attractive roles require some tertiary education or certification, especially in a tight job market. If you are lagging in this area it may be an opportune time to upgrade.   If your current employer can subsidise your work-related studies, take advantage.    No funds?  There are lots of free training available, there’s no excuse.  What about a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)?

 Learn the new skills

There are roles that didn’t exist ten years ago and those are where experience is in short supply.  The application of I.T. technologies to procurement problems is growing fast:  consider data analysis and warehousing, supplier relationship management (SRM), and procure-to-pay (P2P).   Also, both the public and private sectors struggle with issues of fraud, corruption and conflict of interest. Companies need people who can exercise constant vigilance over supplier risk, governance and contract compliance.

Sustainability issues are placing new demands on procurement leaders and their teams.  “Green” procurement is a growth niche where there is a limited number of experienced applicants and pressure is building on companies to limit their negative impact on the environment.  Focusing on fields that concern you (and the consumer) and those that play to your strengths will deliver the most work satisfaction.

Get a grip on the numbers

Whatever direction you choose, advanced analytical abilities are becoming mandatory.  An in-depth understanding of financial ratios and the triple bottom line can give you the edge over others competing for similar roles.  If you don’t know what macros or what a cash flow crisis is, now is the time to find out. If your current company offers in-house courses that can enhance your computer skills, sign up.

Influence and persuasion

A survey conducted recently by Accenture amongst global CPOs noted that traditional areas of knowledge and experience are less important to success than the ability to develop and sustain high quality internal and external relationships.  Stakeholders can influence your project’s success or failure.  Good stakeholder management just means being able to win support from any and all interested and affected parties such as end-users, subject matter experts and key suppliers.

Attitude is important, that much is clear.  It seems behaviour and demeanour can impact on career progression as much as technical know-how.  Always do what you promise to do.  To paraphrase  J.F.Kennedy,  don’t think about what your stakeholders can do for you, think what you could do for them.

Communicate your successes

Keep an on-going record of what you have done well, e.g. reported cost savings, accolades you have been given, and positive feedback received from internal customers.  This information can be used to enhance your CV.  Don’t be shy to share your successes; it’s a good confidence booster.

Moving employers   

Moving on to another employer or launching yourself as a consultant or contractor may be a choice, or it may be thrust upon you.  Protecting yourself fully from downsizing and “restructuring of the workforce” is pretty much impossible.  Don’t despair. Review your achievements to date, fire up your CV and take yourself to the market.    Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to move forwards.

The best a person can do to rise above the mainstream is to have a good attitude, stay relevant, keep up with trends, communicate well and keep the networks alive.  Sometimes the current environment is not going to deliver the options you need. Then it is time to move on.

Where Are All The Great Procurement Jobs? Broaden Your Vision

Looking for a new procurement job? The good news is that there are a whole load available that are yours for the taking… you just need to broaden your vision!

Do you have your eye on an exciting opportunity in international category management, predictive data analytics, or do you have a passion to make sourcing more sustainable?  The good news is that new job roles like these are emerging in procurement and they are waiting for you.  Conventional manual processes are disappearing as we automate routine tasks, even contract management is deemed at risk: artificial intelligence and algorithms are already being used to draw up “smart” contracts.

Where are all the great jobs?

Corporate companies

Traditionally the most desirable careers were to be found in the big multinationals that have mature procurement organizations; this still holds quite true.  Some of the companies in the fast-moving-consumer-goods (FMCG) sector are leading the way in strategic procurement.  Unilever, P&G, Amazon and Coca-Cola are listed in Gartner’s Top 25 companies in supply chain.  Any one of these companies may be a good place to get a foot in the door and gain solid early experience.

Procurement solutions providers and consultancies

With the development of software solutions for procurement functions such as strategic sourcing, contracting and supplier management, many companies are outsourcing some functions to technically proficient service providers.  These problem solvers service a range of industries, locations and functions. Spend Matters publishes a list of the top 50 solutions providers To Know and another top 50 to Watch.   This list includes some consulting firms, both big and small.  Phil Ideson of the Art of Procurement says that this type of experience can be valuable if you want to go back into a corporate leadership role.  He says “I am a believer that procurement is a service provider to our stakeholders and not a function. Being with a solutions provider really helps you experience the need for customer centricity.”

Not-for-profit and Public Procurement 

Public sector procurement is a real job option.  Don’t disregard the experience that you can get from working on big-ticket items and major projects that positively affect your region or your city. It may not seem as cool as working for Apple Inc. but it may be more rewarding.  There is some perception that working for a non-profit organization means a drop in pay, not so.  Love to travel?  Opportunities to work abroad abound in the many divisions of the United Nations, the World Bank and the Red Cross, at market-related salaries.

Should you get certified or get a degree?

Unlike in finance and legal, there isn’t a license to practice in procurement. However, most employers prefer candidates with a least a bachelor’s degree in business or a professional certification in supply chain or procurement. Which one depends on whether your targeted employer has a preference for certification over a formal degree and what your desired end-game is.

1. Getting certified

Many of my colleagues without a professional certification have never felt that that impeded their career growth or work opportunities.  However, in the early stages of a career, it may be useful especially in locations where professional certifications are held in high esteem. CIPS, CAPM, IACCM and ISM are examples of certifications and affiliations that you could follow. In the UK and in Australia the push for certification and affiliation is stronger than in some other parts of the world.

2. Educational qualifications

Formal degrees in procurement are actually quite rare but there are lots of possibilities in supply chain management (SCM), of which procurement is a key element.  Leading employers source their talent from the best-ranked colleges internationally that offer supply chain advanced education and from the top UK universities with registered supply chain degrees.  If you are thinking it is too late to start, it really isn’t.  Many of these degrees are available online. Always take advantage of an offer of financial or other educational assistance from your employer.

Sometimes it’s all about the piece of paper, sometimes it’s about the affiliation.

“If I knew then what I know now”

I asked some mature and experienced colleagues what they would tell their 21-year old self and this is what they said:

  1. Be curious

Soak up everything. Read widely to stay on top of new trends, changes in regulations and advances in technology.   Don’t always accept commonly held positions, beliefs or strategies as absolute truths.  Question what you see and what you hear. You can look at everything with a fresh pair of eyes.

  1. Get wide exposure

Take advantage of any job rotation that you are offered,  opportunities to get exposure to many industries and many categories don’t come along every day.  Be open to change and chances to diversify your skills. Transitioning between functions helps you build your knowledge and helps you to better understand your stakeholders.

  1. Find a mentor

It may be useful to get guidance from someone who has been through a similar experience.  A well-chosen mentor provides advice and helps navigate you through the trials and tribulations of your career.  Gordon Donovan (FCIPS), of Epworth Healthcare, says a mentor can come from anywhere, even another industry.

  1. Ask for feedback (and act on it!)

Actively seek feedback on the things that you do well and things that need improvement. Sometimes it’s hard to take criticism but it can help develop both your technical and behavioural skills.

  1. Network

Networking does not come naturally to everyone but it is worth developing some skills in this area.  Meeting new people is so important because you never know when it’ll be someone who can help you to open doors or change your direction. Tanya Seary is a champion of networking, you can follow her example here. 

6. Job descriptions are not cast in stone

Many advertised jobs that you come across may be cut-and-pasted from descriptions used in previous recruitment activities.  Too many times employers and recruiters look for what they looked for last time, not what they need now.  If you think you would fit their needs, go for it, there’s nothing lost.

What the under 30’s say

Most under 30’s surveyed agreed with the boomers talking to their 21-year-old selves.  They suggested working hard to keep learning and gaining new qualifications and ask lots of questions.  As Christina Gill, one of the “30 under 30” stars with over a decade of experience in supply chain, said, “This is an exciting time in your career. Be open, be adventurous, be a sponge, listen, learn, and take risks in your career.”

A final thought: organisations that focus on supplier collaboration, unlocking innovation and making the best use of their precious data make attractive employers.

Bridging the Talent Gap in Procurement: Attracting New Hires in a Digital World

Want procurement teams to attract the best talent? Show us your stuff!

oatawa/Shutterstock.com

According to The Deloitte Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2017, 87 per cent of the respondents agree that talent is the single greatest factor in driving procurement performance. But the rates of new hires and recent graduates pursuing a career in procurement is decreasing.

That translates into a problem for the future of this function – a talent gap in procurement. But why?

Procurement is More than Cost Savings and Compliance

There are several reasons we can speculate as to why the workforce is pursuing careers outside of procurement, but in my opinion the overarching problem is that procurement is not seen as a ‘sexy’ career path. In the world of tech startups, innovative products, self-made social media sensations, and more, the idea of focusing on corporate cost-savings and spend compliance just doesn’t appeal – especially to the up-and-coming millennial workforce.

But the truth is, procurement is more than policing the organisation and saving company money. It’s about building relationships with internal stakeholders and external suppliers, drawing strategic insights from data to help others and using unique talent to solve problems.

Confession time: I’m also a millennial, and I think we have an opportunity here to fill the talent gap with eager new hires by showing what the new world of procurement is all about.

Show Us Your Stuff, Procurement

As employers and providers in the world of procurement, it’s up to us to make procurement a strategic and desirable field to enter. Hiding in the back office has made many of us modest, but it’s time for us to show off a bit to demonstrate the true strategic value procurement brings to the party. In reading The Deloitte Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2017, there were clear trends on how CPOs feel about the state of procurement, which led me to think about how we can apply those insights to address the talent gap.

Here are 5 ways to bring procurement careers into the modern world…

1.Create a digital culture

I’ll admit, I stole this one right from Deloitte’s recommendations because it’s spot on. 75 per cent of the survey respondents agreed – “procurement’s role in delivering digital strategy will increase in the future and are also clear that technology will impact all procurement processes to some degree.” And you know who grew up with technology from day 1 and is perfect for navigating a digital procurement world? You guessed it – millennials. Demonstrate to this up-and-coming workforce that your procurement department is committed to leveraging technology to automate and outsource the repetitive tasks, expedite the pace of business and enable them to focus on strategic initiatives. Invest in digital procurement today and think about how emerging technologies like AI, machine learning and robotics influence the procurement world. And best yet – involve your entry level procurement team members in these discussions. Give them the opportunity to shape and influence the path of technology at your organisation and make recommendations on your digital future.

2. Invest in employee development

According to the survey, 60 per cent of CPOs do not believe their teams have the skills to deliver their procurement strategy, yet investment in on-going training and employee development remains low. Demonstrate to your current staff and those entering the workforce that you recognise that people are key to procurement success and invest in their future with procurement and non-procurement training programs.

3. Dial-in on data

Data is the alpha and omega of the future and 60 per cent of the Deloitte survey respondents regard analytics as the most impactful technology for the function over the coming two years. So, this is a two-part recommendation: 1) Make sure to capture 100 per cent  of your financial data, and 2) Properly train current and future procurement professionals on data analysis. Analytics and technologies like AI and machine learning are only as good as the data that feeds them, so it’s imperative to build a complete data set for your employees to leverage. Gartner also says that data science and analytical skills are required in procurement to leverage a future with AI. Many professionals enter procurement to be hands-on in solving problems across the business – this could be saving money; negotiating better contracts; optimising the supplier base; helping other departments create and track budgets; reducing risk; finding funds to support new product innovation or growth, etc. Give these professionals reliable data and training to properly analyse it to extract actionable insights so they can act quickly and effectively on strategic initiatives.

4. Provide opportunities to influence innovation

Long gone are the days when procurement meant squeezing every penny out of suppliers and business partners. Now it’s about building strategic partnerships that can take your business to the next level and procurement is at the forefront of that effort. Young procurement professionals are going to be excited and eager to make their mark on something – let them help lead the charge in sourcing and nurturing relationships with key suppliers. Product innovation comes not only from finding the money to explore and test but also from finding the right partners that bring you the elements you need to build that innovation. Create collaboration between your procurement and product departments, as well as other departments for that matter, so that procurement becomes a true business partner and is actively involved in core business functions.

5. Build rapport with internal stakeholders

Another reason that procurement might not be seen as ‘sexy’ is the simple fact that people in other functions just don’t know what exactly it is that they do. If you’re a procurement leader, be a champion for your team. Help others understand what procurement truly is and communicate and celebrate your wins. Also look for opportunities for collaboration between your team and other business functions. Become an advisor during critical times like budget planning and showcase the talent you have in your team. When budgets remain flat, offer up procurement expertise to help other departments produce cost savings and new money from their existing spending habits. As the Deloitte survey eloquently says, “Procurement professionals should challenge themselves to understand functional stakeholders in the same way they do their suppliers.”

At the end of the day, many people are motivated by the idea of being a hero at work. What profession enables employees to swoop in and save the day better than procurement? There are not many. With the required people skills, analytical approach and desire to focus energy internally and externally, the procurement profession is a truly unique career path that doesn’t receive the credit it deserves. Look on to the future of procurement at your organisation and build the culture that attracts your next generation of hires.

To learn more about Basware’s approach to collaborative procurement, download the eBook: WeProcurementTM: Putting the “We” in e-Procurement and contact us to learn more about rolling out a digital procurement solution.

Do We Still Care About Professional Associations?

Do procurement professionals across the globe still see the value in professionals associations? And, if not, what can these associations do to regain their appeal?

When Procurious put out a call for procurement survey participants, we were delighted when 500+ professionals across more than 50 countries shared their insights and wisdom.

We’ve investigated the finding that 54 per cent of procurement professionals don’t trust their boss and interviewed a number of global CPOs to find out why this figure is so alarmingly high.

We also asked them why it is that procurement staff are moving on from their current roles so quickly and how leaders can cope with this erratic workplace dynamic.

And thirdly, we looked at the scepticism the profession still feels towards social media – 77 per cent of global procurement professionals have never crowd-sourced a solution to a business challenge on social media.

Our final deep-dive into the survey’s results looks at the stat that 55 per cent of procurement professionals either don’t hold memberships in professional associations or do not regard membership as benefiicial to their career development.

This result would suggest that professional bodies need to re-group and reform in order to stay relevant in today’s world…

The Results Explained By Global CPOs

At The Big Ideas Summits in Chicago and Melbourne earlier this year we revealed the results of the survey to our CPO delegates.

In this video we ask what professional associations can do to maintain relevance and membership growth. Is there still a place for these organisations?

Have today’s procurement leaders benefitted from professional association memberships?

Many of the people  we interviewed admitted to placing a lot of value in professional associations, citing them as one of the key secrets to their success.

Tony C. Astorga, Supply Chain Management Consultant described his career path and explained  “I set my goals upon  what do I need to learn to be more successful and provide greater contributions to my company. I think through certifications, memberships allow us to have those tools to be able to grow.

Josh Teperman, Senior Consultant, The Source Recruitment “A membership organisation is going to have value. It gives you access to a community of people who are all thinking about what does the future of procurement look like. If you want to stay relevant you want to be part of a reall good  membership organisation where people are talking about the future leaders in procurement, what the technologies are going to look like,  what the macro economic and politial trends are that are goint to affect procurement. So there’s certainly a lot of benefit to be had in being part of those organisations.”

So what should professional associations do to up their game…?

1. Communicate their value

“I think the challenge here for organisations is helping people understand how to maximise the benefits” argues Alan Paul, SourceIt CEO. Of course, if  prospective members, don’t see the potential benefits of a membership – they simply won’t join.

Michelle Varble, Procurement Director, United Airlines concedes stating “I do think they need to reinvent their service offerings. But having said that I think these organisations need to focus on how they market themselves. We need to move past the idea that we have an affiliation with them and move to an area where we see them as resources.”

2. Stay relevant

“I am a member of an organisation in Australia. I would have to say it has not been very relevant to me,” says Jane Falconer. ” The generations coming through universities now will have to find different ways of commuting and embrace social media in its most modern form. If we use existing means it’s not going to work.”

Anne Berens, Principal AMB ProCures LLC agrees stating  “Organisations need to remain relevant. There are so many things that organisations offer whether its education or networking or develoment or futurisitc thinking that it’s important to not try to be everything to everyone. I think then it gets spread a little bit thin- be very focussed on what your mission is and allow the customers be discerning and select what’s appropriate.”

3. Be “on topic”

John Foody General Manager Procurement, U.S Steel believes that “Organisations have to be topical. Sometimes at the local level the meetings, the challenges, the issues aren’t topical to our people so the ability to address issues that are relevant in the moment and tie it up with that membership is the challenge that any organisation faces”

Keith Bird, Managing Director, The Faculty  shares this view arguing that “As long as you invite a membsership that adds value to the CPO, the CPO’s direct reports and the team overall that can bring the global insights to you then I think it’s worthwhile.”

Request your copy of the Gen NEXT Report

The Gen NEXT report, exclusively available to Procurious members, is packed with data, insights, recommendations, and links to over 20+ Procurious articles that further explore many of the findings that are raised in the report. Email us to request your copy. 

Why Don’t You Trust Your Procurement Boss?

Ever feel like you’re being stabbed in the back by your procurement boss? You’re definitely not alone and we have the stats to prove it!

Ta Animator/Shutterstock.com

When Procurious put out a call for procurement survey participants, we were delighted when 500+ professionals across more than 50 countries shared their insights and wisdom.

Amongst our most startling discoveries was that over half of those surveyed don’t trust their boss to be proactive about their career progression. This result indicates that professionals need to seize control of their own career advancement, while managers need to be incentivised to support and progress their direct reports.

The Results Explained By Global CPOs

At The Big Ideas Summits in Chicago and Melbourne earlier this year we revealed the results of the survey to our CPO delegates.

We were particularly interested in their thoughts on what procurement managers should be doing in order to regain the trust of their team members. The video below shows a compilation of their responses:

What’s the root cause of these  trust issues?

Why is trust so terribly lacking between procurement professionals and their leaders?  A number of  key factors arose from our research:

Rate of Change – David Henchliffe, Group Manager Procurement OZ Minerals attributes the lack of trust to the astounding rate of change in today’s organisations, “What people seen as firm and certain today, is gone tomorrow. That constant change erodes trust. And it erodes peoples’ view of your genuine-ness.”

My boss doesn’t want me to leave – Many of us can relate to the experience of having an overly protective boss, a boss who is keener to hold on to their talent at all costs rather than priortise career development. Alan Paul, CEO Sourceit, takes his responsibility in this area very seriously, “As a manager I need to demonstrate to my staff that I’m not afraid of them leaving the organisation. I want to develop them I want them to improve themselves.” If employees feel like they are missing out on opportunities because of an unsupportive boss, it’s likely they’ll leave anyway!

My boss doesn’t engage or communicate with me – The value in talking and listening can never be underestimated.  Imelda Walsh, Recruitment Consultant, The Source believes that “fantastic leaders encourage honest and open conversation. If procurement managers can take that step, you’ll naturally build trust”

My boss isn’t helping my career development – If it appears that your boss doesn’t care about helping you to advance your career, of course you’re not going to trust them! Michelle Varble, Procurement Director, United Airlines, asserts that  “we need to take a geuine interest in [our employees] success- we need to take on the roll of mentor even if we havent recieved a specific invitation to be a mentor.”

My boss isn’t ethical – Employees will hold a leader in high regard who both demonstrates good ethics  and demonstrates that they genuinely care about good ethics. People want to work for companies that are not soley motivated by savings and profit, that aren’t covering up immoral behaviour and where they aren’t suspicious of the goings on at the top of the company.

A lack of ethical behaviour at the top sets a terrible example to the rest of the organisation and destroys trust.

What can procurement leaders do to regain trust?

Encourage development – Anna O’Dea, Director and Founder of Agency Iceberg, believes that “a  good employer should encourage the development of their employees. If your employer isn’t investing in your training or opportunities, you could be in a one-way relationship.”

Spend time with your talent – David Henchliffe advises leaders to regain trust by devoting more quality time with employees, “spend time with them, get to know them, admit your mistakes and praise them when they do well.”

Put clear career progression procedures in place – Implementing clear structures within an organisation reassures employees that their progress is being monitored and the value they contribute is recognised.  John Foody General Manager Procurement, U.S Steel explain how his organisation “We’ve put in place some tools that we call Career Ladders, that evaluates and gives feedback to our people. It provides them with feedback on their skills, their capabilities, areas to continue to work on. It gives them a sense of progress as they continue to move through our organisation.”

Take the fear away – Don’t let your employees worry about your lack of commitment to them. Reassure them that you  have their best interests at heart, and not your own!  Alan Paul asserts that “for a manager, a true leader, it’s about taking away the fear that your people are going to leave and trust that they’re going to stay. But also accept the fact that eventually they are going to move on.

How can you advance your career without the help of your untrustworthy boss?

As Procurious founder Tania Seary asserts, “It’s all too easy to find excuses for why your career is not panning out the way you intended. Soft targets for blame include your employer, your peers, your organisation or even your own personal life- challenges for blocking your charge to the top.

“We know there are some significant problems with procurement bosses around the world but…as I have always said, and will continue to say, the only common denominator in your career is YOU.”

So join that professional network, start updating your online CV, enroll on an eLearning course, listen to that podcast series you keep forgetting about  and start connecting with influential peers and thought leaders! The procurement world is your oyster…

Request your copy of the Gen NEXT Report

The Gen NEXT report, exclusively available to Procurious members, is packed with data, insights, recommendations, and links to over 20+ Procurious articles that further explore many of the findings that are raised in the report. Email us to request your copy. 

Don’t let your career break become a career breakdown

We know the story; a promising career comes screeching to a halt! But how do you ensure your career break is the start of something brilliant and not the car-crash it, at first, appears to be!

Kamelia Ilieva/Shutterstock.com

The first part of my professional story sounds exactly like scores of other professional women’s: college, work, apartment, graduate school (nights), wedding, better job, travel, better job, and… family!

Suddenly, the career I had been working so hard to build came to a screeching halt. I went from being the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris to… well I didn’t know what. My newborn daughter was completely unimpressed with my title, my two graduate degrees, or my extensive knowledge of spend management principles. I honestly didn’t know if and when I would return to the workplace, in procurement or otherwise.

Then I received a completely unexpected, unsolicited invitation to join Buyers Meeting Point. Anna was 18 months old and her little brother Timmy was expected in a few months’ time. Could I juggle two small children and a fledgling business? I labored over the decision, but ultimately came to the realisation that I might never get such as opportunity again.

I am not a natural entrepreneur!

Here’s the funny thing about that: I am not a natural entrepreneur. I know a lot of entrepreneurs. They are a very unique and amazing group of people. They have vision. They have passion. They act with confidence even when they don’t particularly feel it. They have a tolerance for risk that I can hardly comprehend. In fact, I’m such a NON-trepreneur that when I was getting my MBA at Babson College (home of U.S. News and World Report’s #1 graduate program for entrepreneurship in the nation for over 2 decades) I did not take one class in entrepreneurship. Why? I was never going to own a business… doh!

I found myself at home with 2 children under the age of 2 and no schooling in entrepreneurship building a business. As I look back 8 years later, part of me is still shocked that I made it work. I think the key was my goal: to never, ever, ever, (ever!) return to a cube again.

My kids are now 9 (Anna), 7 (Timmy), and 4 (Joseph). They are healthy, active children, and since the kitchen table is also my executive conference room, my business life and personal life often collide. If your career break becomes a brand new beginning, here is my advice for balancing family and work from the joyful chaos of a home office.

Partner with your calendar and task list

When you have a lot of disconnected moving pieces in your head, your best bet is to communicate with yourself in writing. I am disciplined about keeping my calendar(s) up to date so that podcast interviews and new prospect calls do not collide with horseback riding lessons or meeting the school bus.

The same goes for managing tasks. I am not kidding about this piece of advice: if you do not write it down, it will not happen. Period. There are daily tasks, weekly and monthly recurring writing schedules, and one-off writing contracts. They all have to be kept in priority order so that deadlines are not missed. I find it helpful to work with a hard copy to do list each day, putting work tasks alongside family ones. That way, if the vet calls while I am finishing an article, or I see a request come in from a colleague to share something on social media while I am making lunches for the next day, I can jot it down without breaking off to find my phone.

Build a network

Something I know I share with procurement colleagues working in traditional positions is that feeling of dread that arises when someone at a party asks what I do for a living. “Procurement? What on earth is that?” Sigh.

It is even more important that non-traditional professionals have a strong network of peers to lean on. The major downside of working from home is that you can feel isolated without ever being alone (not even for a second). Using Skype and social media sites to build connections and invest in peer relationships is a must. Figure out who is really a ‘friend’ and who just wants another number in their connection statistics. Make sure you reach out to people and engage with their topics on a regular basis – not just when you need something.

And… most importantly, laugh!

For years, I have scheduled calls around nap schedules, archery lessons, half day preschool, and parent teacher conferences. In the summer (when book manuscripts are inevitably due for some reason…) I keep Italian ice in the freezer because it takes my kids so long to eat it. One of my final book manuscripts received a little additional editing from Anna – she drew a shark on page 137. I have presented webinars with Joseph driving Matchbox cars at my feet and once I tripped over a Minion toy during a podcast interview. Luckily, the sound was not picked up on my microphone!

When work and home life share the same headquarters, your best case scenario is two-way immersion. I like to think that I show my children that the only thing that can hold you back in life is the limitation of your own imagination. They have been at my side (cheering!) as I brought each of my final book manuscripts to FedEx to overnight to the publisher. My husband (a hardware engineer) has been called upon more than once to work ‘IT magic’ for some accessibility or conversion effort. I get to continue working in an industry I love without being tied to a desk.

With today’s connectivity and open-mindedness about contract labor, there are very few things that you can’t turn into a career from home. If you have the determination and discipline, there is no reason that you, too, can’t say good-bye to a ‘cube dwelling’ life forever.

Please Fire Me: I Just Can’t Quit!

Stuck in a miserable, but well-paid, job you can’t afford to quit? Don’t get yourself into that position in the first place!

Philip H. “hates his life”. Those are his exact words. Specifically, he hates his all-consuming job. The work bores him and he no longer believes in his firm’s mission. The gruelling hours he puts in cost him time with his family that he can never recover.

Here’s the kicker: Phillip earns several million dollars a year heading a major office of a top-tier advisory firm. So, you might ask, why doesn’t he quit?

He’s says he can’t afford to.

There’s a big mortgage on a luxury apartment, and another on the beautiful beach house he and his wife bought two years ago. (“The summer weekends we spend there are the only thing that keep me sane,” he says.) Then there are the three kids—all enrolled at a private school. The eldest will start college in a year; the others will follow soon. Tallying up his obligations, Philip envies his Wall Street friends who earn ten times as much as he does.

A couple of days ago I mentioned this story to a well-known financial columnist. “I hear this all the time,” he said. “Lots of people moan about how miserable they are at work but they can’t see a way out.”

“Boo, hoo,” you might say. “I’d trade places with Philip in a heartbeat.” But would a huge income really make up for feeling horrible about your life?

You might think that you could put up with a few years of misery for the freedom it would buy you. You’d put a lot of money in the bank, and then walk away to do whatever you like: launch a small company, or spend the rest of your days lolling on the beach. Maybe you’d devote the rest of your life to doing good in the world. Whatever your goal, you’d collect your last paycheck and say, “Adios.”

It’s not that easy, though. You wouldn’t make a bundle starting out. You’d have to put in your time first. And when serious money began to come in, it would be tempting to reward yourself creature comforts for all the stresses you endure. The higher you climb the ladder, the harder it will be to leave. Then one day you’d turn around and find yourself in Philip’s unhappy shoes.

It might seem that I’m writing about a problem that affects only a small set of people. But I think Philip’s case illustrates issues that apply wherever you are now in the organisational hierarchy, and whether you love your job or loathe it.

Most work choices aren’t either/or

It’s late in the game for Philip, but assuming a different role in his firm might be rejuvenating. Going on sabbatical might set a great example for other colleagues. By framing his decision as stay-or-go, he’s missing other opportunities.

If you’re unhappy at the office, other people know it

Philip’s negativity must come out sideways. If he hates his own job, how can he be enthusiastic when a colleague lobbies for a new project? A big part of his job is evaluating other people’s performance. His attitude is bound to warp his judgement. (I also worry about what he’s like at home.)

Toughing things out is not a career plan

Somehow Philip drags himself to work every day. Maybe he takes pride in his perseverance. As they say, however, “persisting in the same behavior expecting different results is the definition of insanity.” The way things are headed, he risks getting pushed out by his peers. Maybe that’s his subconscious agenda, but it would be an ugly way to go.

Plan your end game

When you take on a job, set a date when it will be time to move on to something else. You can always revise it one way or another, but it’s usually better to leave a year early than a year too late.

The most important lesson of Philip’s story is not getting into his situation in the first place. If Philip had kept these precepts in mind, he would have been alert to his growing feelings of frustration. At an earlier point, a lateral move to another firm or an entirely different field might have been easier. And if he had allowed for the possibility that the job might get stale, he might not have saddled himself with so much debt. But by the time he realised he was on a treadmill, he had gone so far he felt he couldn’t step off.

Sunk cost traps aren’t just financial. They can also be social, emotional, and deeply personal. Philip may have trapped himself with worries about what others will think about his walking away from what most regard as a dream job. I’d remind him of Samuel Johnson’s advice – that we’d worry less about what others think of us if we realised how seldom they do.

In the end, Philip’s self-respect is what counts. Walking away might feel as if he’s repudiating how he’s spent his recent years. But to me, belatedly changing an unhappy life sounds a lot better than doubling down.

This article was written by Professor Michael Wheeler and was orginally published on LinkedIn.

Professor Michael Wheeler’s Negotiation Mastery course on Harvard Business School’s HBX launched earlier this year. Applications for the next wave of students, starting in September, are now being accepted. Version 1.4 of his Negotiation 360 self-assessment/best practice app is available for both Apple and Android devices. It includes coaching videos and a tactics exercise.

5 Ways Employers Can Appeal To Talent On Career Breaks

Prospective employees returning from career breaks have a pretty good idea of  their priorities. Want your organisation to appeal to them? Follow these steps…

Our webinar, Out of Office: Your Career Break (Through), takes place at 1pm on 10th August 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

When I returned from maternity leave I realised just how important it is to have policies and benefits in place to support people returning to work after a career break. Although mat leave for female talent is not the only type of career break businesses should consider, women returning to the workforce offer a valuable resource to employers, plugging skills gaps and boosting diversity.

So what do they look for when re-entering the workplace, and how can your company catch their eye?

After surveying 1,000 female professionals, the Robert Walters Group discovered that a strong salary and company benefits (90 per cent), career progression (88 per cent) and well-being initiatives (82 per cent) are top of women’s priority lists when returning to the workplace.

Flexibility (79 per cent) is also a main preference, with over half of respondents keen to move into a more family-friendly sector once their career break comes to an end.

However, there seems to be a disparity between the attitudes of employees and employers towards flexible working. While 84 per cent of female professionals want the option to work from home, it’s offered by just 39 per cent of employers. And although two-thirds of women would welcome the chance to work part-time, only 35 per cent of businesses provide this opportunity.

With all this in mind, it seems employers will only attract the brightest talent if they’re open to the idea of flexible working.

Top 5 tips when recruiting those on a career break

Of course, flexible working isn’t the only thing your business needs to consider when recruiting people after a career break. The following points are also key:

1. Understand what women want from their jobs

Flexibility, competitive salaries and career progression all remain important issues. Since only 24% of female professionals go back to their previous employer after a career break, it’s worth delving deeper to understand what they’re after.

2. Don’t make your recruitment messages too restrictive

Many women returning to work are looking to move into a new area within their sector, or to embark on a career that’s connected with, but different from, what they did before. So ensure your job ads and interviewing make it clear that you’re open to good people with transferable skill-sets and experience.

3. Learn more about flexible working

As we’ve mentioned, try to embrace flexible working – but avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Flexible working covers everything from job sharing and home-working through to part-time work. Further information is available from the Government

4. Provide childcare support

Half of professionals consider financial support for childcare to be important. This gives employers the chance to stand out from the crowd by offering family-friendly policies.

5. Make it easy for women to come back

Avoid the loss of talented staff members by keeping in touch with them during career breaks. Office visits, newsletters and social channels can all help. Some 79% of women say they’d find a mentor helpful during their transition back to working life. Mentoring schemes could ultimately give women a better idea of their future career options.

Our webinar, Out of Office: Your Career Break (Through), takes place at 1pm on 10th August 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

This article, by Deborah Keogh, was originally published on LinkedIn. Deborah is Associate Director – Strategic Client Development at Resource Solutions.