Tag Archives: procurement capabilities

How Middle Managers Can Make or Break Supply Chains

Can middle managers or supervisors make or break your supply chain company? Are organisations selecting the wrong people for these roles?

Middle Managers

To watch the video of this article, click here.

Over the years working and consulting in a wide variety of business, health, and education settings, I have noticed a common and obvious trend. The selection of supervisors or middle managers from the existing employee pool.

For some workplaces this is a smart choice. You know the person, their work history, and their technical skills, and, as the senior manager or company owner, you generally like them.

Plus, it saves a truckload of recruitment time, costs and fees.

Capability Struggles

So what’s wrong with this common practice?

Well it depends. Often the successful employee displays all the seemingly right characteristics: reliability, dependability, happy to go the ‘extra mile’, and deference to their superiors!

But what happens when they now have to supervise and direct their former colleagues? Did they suddenly get an USB stick full of management and leadership skills to download into their brain?

Did that person immediately demonstrate new behaviours, negotiation skills, creative and collaborative thinking, and ability to motivate their team? Probably not.

They usually struggle big time with the change. They’re like a duck on a pond – seemingly calm upon the surface, but paddling away furiously under the water.

They have no idea how to manage and lead their people. The shelf life of these middle managers is around two years if you’re lucky.

Some senior managers may think, “when they resign or burnout, I’ll just promote someone else”.

Cultural Harm

But what’s the real issue here for your company? It’s culture destroying. Supervisors or middle managers who are thrown into the deep end of the pool without a buoyancy vest usually sink.

And they will take down the rest of the workforce with them.

It’s usually a slow insidious slide:

  • grumblings from workers,
  • dissatisfaction on how they’re being treated or spoken to,

with a resulting in a decrease in productivity, increase in accidents (real or concocted), sabotage of company assets, absenteeism, and an unhappy workplace.

Why would any CEO or business owner want that?

What can you do?

Invest in them – train, educate, coach and mentor them. A one off induction just won’t cut it. It takes time, practice and a willingness to master new skills.

If you have ever been motivated by a inspirational person at any time in your life be it a footy coach, church leader, primary school teacher, or the old guy/gal next door, then you know how it affects you and your environment around you – in a great way!

So why not get your newly appointed supervisors or middle managers on the leadership bus?

The ROI will be worth every cent! You’ll have functioning teams, increased productivity, less absenteeism and WorkCover claims, and a place employees want to continue working for.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?!

Learn more about developing leadership skills, both your own and your team’s, and get to grips with some great life and style thinking at www.productiveminds.com.au.

In Search of Influence – The Traits of Influential People

With an understanding of what influence is, and how procurement can leverage it, we can now look at what the common traits of influential people are, and how to develop them.

Influential People

In my previous article, I reviewed some of the available literature on influence and influencing skills, in this article we look at what the key traits of influential people are, and how to best develop these skills ourselves.

These key traits and ways to develop have been identified following a range of discussions with a variety of procurement leaders.

1. Excellent Communication Skills

The most important trait to of influential people was the ability to communicate effectively. An example of effective communication was described as, “when they spoke to a room, it felt as though they were personally being addressed”.

This ability to communicate to many people, and make each person think that the message is for them, was identified as a key communication skill.

The research identified that there are different aspects of excellence in communication skills, which can be summarised as:

  • Develop and adapt communication plans based on the listener

When developing communication plans, it is imperative to consider how the person being communicated with likes to receive that communication. This then drives the method of communication – be it face to face or electronic, as well as the actual content. This adaptability of communication is again one of the key traits of influential people.

Goleman[i] suggested that effective planning specifically for the individual is a critical success factor for effective communication.

  • Make persuasive arguments

This links to making points in specific language that the listener understands. In other words, when making persuasive arguments, influential people spoke the language of the listener, rather than their own procurement language.

  • Listen to the responses and read the room

Listening and active listening is a key trait of an effective communicator. That it is more than what is being said that makes an effective listener.

2. Delivered results and built trust

The need to deliver on the promises that have been was seen as a ‘ticket to entry’ to a wider discussion. Therefore the ability to keep ones promises, i.e. contractual trust[ii], was identified as a non-negotiable to build trust both for the individual and the function.

The leaders influence increased within their businesses the more they delivered either on bottom line savings or on specific projects that they were asked to deliver.

3. Top influencers have empathy (and not sympathy)

Sympathetic listening is defined as how we care and show we care about the other person, and that we pay close attention and maybe share their feelings. Whereas when we listen empathetically, we go beyond sympathy and attempt to seek a fuller understanding of how others are feeling.

Empathetic listening means listening to the responses and asking more questions to understand the points made, which requires excellent questioning and close attention to the nuances of emotional signals.

4. The best influencers have great knowledge and great passion

Top influencers need to have credibility in order to be considered influential. When reviewing top influencers, all of those people had “been there, done that”, and were able to bring a huge amount of experience and credibility.

This referencing of credibility has an interesting link to the French and Raven work on expert power[iii].

Having passion in the field in which the influencers excel, be it procurement, or other topics, allows the influencer to demonstrate knowledge about their subject matter, which will increase the ability to deliver great outcomes.

5. Network and built great teams

The idea of networking with other senior leaders and influencers is an important leadership development tool. Harvard Business Review identified networking as operating at three levels, Operational, Personal and Strategic.

In order to be an effective influencer, the procurement professional needs to operate at all three levels.

How to Develop Influence

So if these are the key traits of influence, how do we go about developing these skills?

  • Observation is king

The number one thing that influential people do to develop their skills is the observation of others, especially those that they felt were influential.

This is then internalised by the individual to consider what it meant to them, and whether they felt it was something that they could do themselves, or something that they did not wish to do, or could not apply to their own style of influencing.

Top influencers have stated that they learnt as much from bad influencers as good ones, as this leads to things definitely not to do.

  • Training programs can add value…but need to be linked to on the job development

Attending a specific training program can provide lightbulb moments in terms of developing influencing skills. Many top influencers stated that this was unlikely to be a “learned skill” from a textbook, but more of an acquired skill through observation and mentoring.

This seems to add credence to the 70-20-10 learning methodology[iv], its application for active learning programs, and the use of formal mentoring or coaching activities.

  • Feedback loops from trusted and diverse sources

The requirement for an independent person to review performances and give detailed feedback on what was done well and not done well was considered to be a key ingredient to developing these skills.

The trusted sources could be a mentor, either formal or informal, potentially someone that the individual trusted or rated as a top influencer. Some have also mentioned that having a different diverse perspective in giving this feedback was a great way to develop skills, both in general and in relation to the topic of influencing.

  • Practice makes perfect

The need to practice the new skills when they had learned them links back to the earlier identified method of more on the job based training, or more planned activities following specific training programs. Top influencers have stated that the more they practiced and prepared the better they got.

Summary

  • There is a need to identify who you are trying to influence and decide on the best way to influence that individual.
  • This means that the practitioner needs to have multiple ways to influence rather than rely on the same approach for all.
  • If you want to develop your influencing skills then there is a key need to understand the way you process information and learn new skills.
  • Observational skills are paramount to increasing your influencing skills.

[i] Goleman D (1998) Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ; Bloomsbury Publishing

[ii] Sako M; Does trust improve business performance? London School of economics 1997

[iii] French, J. R. P., Jr., & Raven, B. H. (1959); The bases of social power. In D.Cartwright (Ed.),Studies in Social Power (pp. 150–167). Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research

[iv] Kajewski K, Madsen V, (2012), Demystfying 702010. Deakin Prime

Productivity in Pharma – Growing Next Level Procurement Skills

What are the skills required to drive next level procurement? This is what the Productivity-in-Pharma Procurement Think Tank aims to uncover.

Next level procurement

This is the fourth year that the Beyond Group is holding its Productivity-in-Pharma Think Tank and it’s just a few days away. On April 26 in Basel, Switzerland, the first session of this year’s event will bring together more than a dozen Pharma companies to discuss the most pressing issues facing procurement in the industry.

This year’s event is titled “Growing the skills needed to drive next level Procurement capabilities”.  It builds directly upon last year’s sessions, where the topic was “How does procurement step above its traditional role of price management, and build connections with other parts of the company, to drive even greater levels of productivity”.

From that discussion, senior leaders of procurement, representing a broad cross section of the Pharmaceutical world, recognised that in order for procurement to accomplish this feat, new skills, capabilities and knowledge were required. By general demand, the group suggested that this year’s topic tackle this issue head-on.

We divide our Think Tank into three, one day sessions that are spaced four to six weeks apart. Each session has a particular purpose. On day one we attempt to clearly define the topic we are discussing, on day two we delve into the substance of the issues and discuss options for meeting the challenges discovered on day 1.

Lastly, on day three we try to bring our learnings together to develop applicable takeaways that can be directly applied by our Think Tank attendees.

Building Intrapreneurialism

So what are those skills that teams will need in order to reach next level procurement, and equip them to face a future that is more complex, more unpredictable and laden with technological changes?

As experienced advisors to the industry, we hear more and more about organisations attempting to build agile skills into their procurement teams and imbue them with a greater sense of intrapreneurialism. There is also an increasing recognition that many procurement teams are unprepared for this rapidly changing future.

In addition specific business skills are becoming more and more important in the framework of the procurement function. Even more critical is the need to understand how effective procurement teams of today will identify, recruit and challenge the next generation of professionals.

This year we will specifically focus on skills for new roles and capabilities which are critical to position Procurement as an end-to-end contributor. This include:

  • Business Partnering
  • Cross-Functional Project Leadership
  • Alliance Management

These skills, which have been identified as critical for tomorrow’s business landscape, will leverage the function’s unique position internally and externally, and turn it into a magnet for high-potential talent, seeking to accelerate their career towards business leadership positions.

In order to advance this conversation, and provide the very highest level of content that will challenge our membership, we have teamed up with a group of experts from industry, consulting, HR/recruiting, and academic institutions to provide the fullest and most use insights and immediately applicable takeaways for our member companies.

Kicking off in Basel

We are proud to welcome to this unique conclave, Ernst & Young consulting, Langley Search, Customer Value Management, Old Street Labs and as out academic partner, The Fraunhofer Institute/Technical University of Dortmund.  Our media partner for this event is Procurious who will be following the events and challenging our membership to bring their best game to the table.

Our first session kicks off on April 26 in Basel Switzerland, with 13 of the 15 membership slots already confirmed. If you are in the Pharma procurement field and are interested please drop us a note at [email protected]rp.com.

Productivity in Pharma - Giles BreaultGiles Breault, co-founder of The Beyond Group AG, is an acknowledged expert in the field of Global Procurement, Productivity and Offshoring/Outsourcing. He has strategic and operational experience in the Pharmaceuticals, Electronics, and Aviation industries.

Productivity in Pharma - Sammy RashedSammy Rashed, Principal and co-founder of The Beyond Group AG, is a procurement strategist and productivity advisor with 25 years experience in senior management, primarily focused in the Pharmaceutical industry. He has become a recognised thought leader on growing procurement into a broader productivity champion.

Why Future CPOs Need to Walk the Talk

Procurement is changing and its leaders need to change to in order to succeed. Lucy Harding tells Procurious why it’s behaviours, more than technical skills, that will define future CPOs.

Lucy Harding - future CPOs

Lucy Harding, Partner at global executive search firm, Odgers Berndtson, is considered to be the UK’s leading CPO headhunter. She believes that for future CPOs, behaviours and business acumen will carry more weight in recruitment than technical skills.

Lucy’s involvement in Big Ideas is consistent with her view that future CPOs and leaders need to have the following key attributes:

  • The ability to create a function that brings insight and innovation to an organisation
  • Use of the best technology tools and trends to enable your team to be effective.
  • Ability to access and excite emerging supply partners
  • Ability to attract and retain the best talent – tuning in to the millennials motivations and creating roles that offer challenge and development

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, Lucy will be taking part in a panel discussion, which will discuss attracting the top talent to procurement, and what skills will be required by future CPOs and other procurement leaders.

The thing I’m most looking forward to about the Big Ideas Summit is meeting new people that have interesting ideas on how to move the profession forward. It’s exciting to see the breadth of speakers and contributors that will be able to discuss emerging and future trends that the function needs to get to grips with.

What are the key differences between the skills required for executive level procurement, and the mid-level roles?

The difference between the skills needed at the mid-level and those required at an executive level are behavioural, rather than technical. This is the same for any functional leader (HR/Finance/IT) as they become the head of their function. Technical competence is a given. At senior levels, after a number of years in a function, everyone should be technically competent.

At the margin, the difference is leadership, broader business acumen, financial numeracy, and breadth of experience gained across a range of industries and geographies. To land the top role, an organisation will be looking at you not only with that role in mind, but what can you do next.

What would you say are, or will be, the key attributes of procurement leaders in the next 5 years?

  • The ability to create a function that brings insight and innovation to an organisation
  • Use of the best technology tools and trends to enable your team to be effective.
  • Ability to access and excite emerging supply partners
  • Ability to attract and retain the best talent – tuning in to the millennials motivations and creating roles that offer challenge and development
  • The ability to structure your organisation that gives you the best access to global talent
  • Someone who doesn’t talk procurement language to the business
  • A combination of procurement and business skills
  • Experience of living and working in emerging markets

Do you see any patterns or common issues when it comes to your executive searches?

Clients are increasingly keen to recruit “business leaders first, functional excellence second”. International experience, with a breadth of industry sector experience is also in high demand. Above all, the ability to engage with the business, and do what you say you are going to do, is critical.

This is becoming increasingly evident, since many of the searches I undertake have elevated the positioning of the role, and therefore visibility to the Board is heightened.

Procurious focuses a lot on the individual brand and social media presence of all procurement professionals. How important is this for recruitment in the profession?

Social Media is an increasingly important tool for recruitment. At the junior and middle management levels it’s often used for candidate identification so a well presented profile is vital to get “found”.

At the senior levels where Odgers Berndtson operates,  whilst candidates may be found via sources such as LinkedIn, social media is a useful tool for candidates to use to research those they are going to meet during their interview process. As a senior leader looking to hire, it’s important that you use social media as an attraction tool about you as an individual leader that top talent would want to work with.

A word of caution also. All search firms and employers themselves will conduct online media checks on potential candidates, therefore it’s important to ensure that all information on line about you is suitable and professional.

Lucy Harding talk about these topics in more detail during one of our panel discussions at the Big Ideas Summit on April 21st.

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Big Ideas 2015 Flashback: Investing in People

We’re looking back at some of the most popular ideas from Big Ideas 2015. Dapo Ajayi talks about the benefits of investing in people’s capabilities.

Dapo Ajayi, Chief Procurement Officer at AstraZeneca, a delegate in 2015, and returning again as a panel speaker in 2016, discusses her idea that procurement organisations need to invest in the capabilities of its people.

According to Dapo, procurement has the expectation of delivering exceptional results, but without investing in people, then the profession cannot be successful, either now or in the future.

The starting point for this is creating a different mindset in the procurement profession. This will help people see they can be the leaders the profession needs. However, this needs to start with the current crop of leaders.

 

 

Dapo also believes that platforms such as Procurious help this investment, as it provides connections in procurement on a global scale. By opening the minds of procurement professionals to what is happening across the broader business environment, in other industries and sectors, there are huge opportunities for development.

See more Big Ideas from our 40 influencers from the Big Ideas Summit 2015 on Procurious.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Big Ideas Summit 2016, visit www.bigideassummit.com. You can also join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.