Tag Archives: procurement careers

Are Procurement Professionals Inherently Narcissistic?

Are you the office Narcissist? This article seeks to demystify an unloved aspect of the human psyche.


If working from home for 6 weeks has taught me anything it’s that I get a lot out of human connection. I realised that I analyse my own behaviour through interacting with others. They act as a mirror. Now all I see is my own face day in day out on yet another Zoom meeting.

Aside from noticing how bad my under eye circles have become, the Zoom meetings have forced me into a new way of conversing. I try to cut in to get heard over the cacophony of voices all talking and competing at once. This is extrovert torture, where’s my stage?

But I’m special!

But I have a unique view point!

But I’ve tackled this before!

Hmmm is this narcissism? Am I the office narcissist?

The answer is yes, partly.

How we interact with the term narcissism

Narcissism is flung about as an adjective to describe behaviours of people that we encounter in our every day lives. Whether it is hearing about the latest dating flop from your bestie or hearing the latest office drama from colleagues, the pop culture definition would label a narcissist as someone who is self-centered to an unhealthy degree.

Defining narcissism

Narcissism is commonly defined in the context of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) which is at the extreme end of the spectrum. Psychology Today defines NPD as someone who displays “…grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. They may also have grandiose fantasies and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment.[1]

At the heart of it they lack self-love

While we often view a narcissist as someone that loves themselves too much, talks about themselves a lot and is very self-obsessed. It runs a little bit deeper than that. Robert Greene is one of the most well-known proponents that believes narcissism comes from a lack of self-love that leads to insecurity and a lack of empathy for others.

Without this inner worth the narcissist will seek attention and validation from others to feed the beast.

Newsflash! We’re all narcissists!

What’s often missed in the pop culture definition and understanding of narcissism is that we all have it within us. Narcissism is a normal and healthy part of being human it’s just a matter of where you lie on the spectrum.

Take a light hearted test, go on

In 1979 the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) was developed by Raskin and Hall.[2]

While this test is not a diagnostic tool, it can be used to see where you rate on the narcissism scale in very general terms. I got 12 out of 40 and rated most highly in exploitativeness, self-sufficiency and authority. I can see how these traits would complement being a leader in a commercial sector!

Are procurement professionals inherently narcissistic?

The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists nine criteria for NPD, it specifies that someone only needs to meet five of them to clinically qualify as a narcissist. Read on to see if you can relate to the telltale signs of a procurement narcissist.

Note: it is not a diagnostic tool, instead it measures normal expressions of narcissism. So, even someone who gets the highest possible score on the NPI does not necessarily have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

9 signs of NPDTelltale signs of procurement narcissists
1. Grandiose sense of self-importanceThe procurement person who must talk at every meeting about themselves and won’t listen to anyone else – even if it’s information from their client that they need to hear.
2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal loveThe procurement person who won’t roll their sleeves up or get their hands dirty unless the project comes with a highly visible profile.
3. Belief they’re special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutionsThe procurement person who corners your boss any chance they can get and deliberately cuts you out of emails and meetings involving anyone higher up the food chain.
4. Need for excessive admirationThe procurement person who copies the whole team in on an email reply back to a customer where the customer has just thanked them for completing a task.
5. Sense of entitlementThe procurement newbie who demands to be the project lead on a $10m account their first day!
6. Interpersonally exploitative behaviourThe procurement person who proclaims they have written the best category strategy in the history of all time but actually they made others do it for them.
7. Lack of empathyThe procurement person who steals air time in a team meeting to talk about how amazing they are when a colleague has just lost a large account.
8. Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of themThe procurement person who sits in on your project meeting only to then try and take it over (when they were never invited in the first place).
9. Demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviours or attitudesThe procurement person who refuses to use plain english and will only communicate in unnecessary inflated industry jargon to make it known that they are better than anyone else.

Conclusion

While not all procurement professionals have NPD, we all display narcissistic behaviours from time to time. I would argue that a healthy amount of narcissism is required to be successful in this industry! If narcissism is an inherent trait in everyone that can be harnessed for good, then perhaps we need to reassess the characterisation of the behaviour trait as being only bad.

Is healthy narcissism your untapped office superpower?

If you enjoyed this article then read the wildly popular article ‘Are you the office psychopath’

Join Procurious to connect with 40,000 other ambitious procurement professionals and get free access to networking, industry news, training and much more. 

It’s The #1 Must-Have Skill Right Now… And The Good News Is You’ve Probably Already Demonstrated It.

“Intrapreneurs” – named the most in-demand skill of 2020


A few months ago, it would have seemed impossible. A motor manufacturer making ventilators. A fragrance brand producing hand sanitiser. Or a luxury fashion firm sewing scrubs.

Businesses across the globe have demonstrated an incredible ability to pivot on the head of a pin and change out entire manufacturing and distribution processes in the space of a few short weeks in response to the Covid-19 crisis – and it is procurement and supply chain professionals who are helping to make this happen.

That’s because many of them are “intrapreneurs” – which was named the most in-demand skill of 2020 at the start of the new decade. Who would have predicted back in January, that being an intrapreneur would become even more essential in just a few short months?

Being able to think outside the box and come up with solutions to problems that didn’t even exist a few months ago, is going to help to change the way organisations respond to this unprecedented crisis.

Prolonged decision-making in slow-moving risk-averse corporations has no place in a post-Coronavirus world.

Today it is even more vital to be more nimble and agile – adapting quickly to identify opportunities just like an entrepreneur (although in this case it’s to do good rather than boost profits).

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS AN INTRAPRENEUR?

If you are not sure what the term ‘intrapreneur’ actually means, don’t worry – you are not alone. Nearly nine in ten people polled found the term a complete mystery.

So, here goes…

Intrapreneurial describes someone who “thinks and acts” like an entrepreneur but who works “in” an organization rather than for themselves.

In simple terms they see new opportunities and then take advantage of them. And that’s why they are in such high demand.

Procurement is at the forefront of much of the current innovation – supply chains have been disrupted, borders closed, logistics are a nightmare and yet, procurement professionals are finding new solutions… and quickly.

Forget months or years waiting for answers, procurement professionals are having to identify opportunities and solutions and then innovate even if this involves an element of risk. They are trying new things to see what works. The adapting when they do. In other words, they are having to become entrepreneurial.

THE GOOD NEWS IS YOU ARE PROBABLY ONE

Two in three people possess intrapreneurialism as a skill according to recruiters Michael Page which complies the annual top 100 most in-demand skills list. So, the chance are… you are one of them (even though you may not know it).

How do you know for sure? Well, are you the sort of person who is brimming with ideas and takes ownership of your own success and that of your organization? In effect, you see it as your job (even if it isn’t) to make things happen and bring about change.

Day-to-day, this is how an intrapreneur approaches their role.

An intrapreneur:

  • Is great at identifying opportunities – in this respect the intrapreneur is treating their organisation as their own business and looking for ways to grow it.
  • Is proactive – again this is about ownership. Instead of doing the same things in the same ways, you will be the type of person who thinks of new ways of working or introduces new ideas – before being asked.
  • Is not afraid to challenge the status quo – if something is not working, you are the sort of person who is brave enough to speak up and put themselves on the line to bring about change. This is more than being proactive, it is about risk taking (a trait that is highly entrepreneurial).
  • Is resilient when things do not go to plan – you will be the sort of person who is prepared to learn from trial and error and accept that some ideas might fail, but you do not give up and instead bounce back with other ideas.
  • Is a brilliant collaborator – bringing about change or challenging the status quo is not easy (particularly if this is not your role), so you will be great at bringing people on board. Your ability to build relationships and enthuse others will ensure you get things done.
  • Is great at thinking outside of the box – this is a mindset that goes beyond being innovative. Entrepreneurs succeed because they can see opportunities that others don’t.
  • Is prepared to trust their instincts – entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs need a strong sense of self-belief to push ahead with their ideas and overcome any set-backs.

Why would an organization want an intrapreneur?

Now this is where you might think there is a dichotomy. Afterall, entrepreneurs are risk-takers, free-thinkers and mavericks who want to take ownership of their own business – and these are traits that do not sit well in a corporate culture. After all, you don’t own the business and you have to report to someone higher up.

Well, Nick Kirk, managing director of Michael Page (which identified Intrapreneur as the No.1 skill for 2020), disagrees saying, “Great employees are those who are invested in the company and want to help it improve, which in turn enables them to create a working environment that they enjoy, so it’s a win-win scenario.

“Intrapreneurship may sound like a daunting term, but at base level, it refers to that person who is willing to go the extra mile to improve their workplace.”

And that is exactly what organisations need right now. So whenever you demonstrate your intrapreneurial abilities, make sure you shout about it and promote your achievements on your Procurious profile… you have a skill that is in high demand.

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How To Work With People You Don’t Like

Working can feel impossible when you have to collaborate with someone you don’t like. Here’s how to do it.


Michelle* had recently taken on the role of CPO at a large manufacturing organisation. It was a job she’d been planning, and pining for, for years, so she was heavily invested in making it a success. To do so, she’d carefully mapped her stakeholders, investing in understanding each of their unique needs and situations. But two months in, there was a problem. And the name of that problem was Mark. Unfortunately, Mark was also the CFO. 

Michelle had done what she could to get Mark onside. And worse, she could see from his relationships with others in the business that Mark wasn’t particularly difficult – in fact, he seemed to be generally competent and well-liked. But she just didn’t like him, and he didn’t like her either. 

As many of us in procurement would know, though, not getting along with the finance department can be particularly troublesome. And so it was with Michelle. Mark was going to be integral to her success – so what should she do?

If we’re all being honest, we’ve all come across a Mark – or a Michelle – in our working lives. Someone who, despite others not seeing it, just makes our blood boil with frustration and our mind explode with confusion. Someone we simply don’t like. 

But nowadays, with procurement intimately connected to all corners of organisations and stakeholder management more important than ever, we can’t simply ignore the fact that we don’t like someone. We need to do something about it. 

But what? Here’s how to navigate the frustrating waters of a colleague that has you hot under the collar: 

Step 1: Accept and reflect 

No matter how likeable or nice we think we are, we have to accept that it’s not possible to get along with everyone. The first step to improving relationships with someone you don’t like is simply this: accepting that not everyone will be your best friend (or even ally) and that it isn’t a personal reflection on you. 

Beyond acceptance, another important first step is to reflect on the positive you can garner from the relationship, even if it is a difficult one. What can you learn? How can you grow? Difficult relationships are, usually, much rarer than positive ones, so if you flip your frustration on its head, you’re bound to learn something. 

2. Understand their perspective 

When you decide that someone frustrates you, you naturally recoil. Then, when you do need to deal with them, you discount and/or/get annoyed by everything they say and do. In other words, once trust and respect are gone, it’s difficult to get them back. 

But in the situation where you have to work with someone you don’t like, it’s important to try and be the bigger person, no matter how challenging this might seem. Ask yourself: Why is this person acting in this particular way? What do they want/need differently from me? How might I be frustrating them? Reflecting on their motivations will help you appreciate their goals, behaviours and different points of view. In turn, this will help you have empathy for their situation. 

3. Increase your self-awareness 

The term ‘it takes two to tango’ is true of all relationships, and a large part of working with people you don’t like is to understand how you contribute to that relationship. Understanding your own personal style can be a big part of this. 

In the example above, Michelle knew that she was a strong extrovert, and that she always preferred face to face meetings and lots of social time with her colleagues. She was also a little disorganised, and never understood why past colleagues got frustrated when she was late to meetings or moved them at the last minute. After all, she got the job done. 

Mark, on the other hand, was a strong introvert and preferred the comfort of everything via email. He was precise, particular and enjoyed routines and certainty. He mistook Michelle’s carefree attitude for incompetence. 

By increasing her awareness of her personal style, Michelle could learn a lot about why she might frustrate Mark – and vice versa. Understanding this is a critical part of repairing poor relationships. 

4. Be collaborative – not competitive 

The hierarchical nature of organisations can lead many of us to feel we need to compete with each other. Yet that attitude alone is responsible for many poor relationships. If you want to get along, it’s better to focus on collaborating. 

It can take some courage to do this, but one way of encouraging better collaboration with someone you don’t like is to simply ask them how to do this, instead of constantly trying to find workarounds to make them happy. Asking something along the lines of ‘I don’t feel we’re working together in the best possible way – do you have any ideas on how to fix this?’ can go a long way in ensuring a better partnership. 

5. Flattery 

If you don’t like someone, the last thing you’re going to want to do is flatter them, as it can seem ingenuine. But doing so in a more subtle way can help repair a relationship, especially if you essentially ‘shift the problem’ of the relationship over to them by simply asking for their help. 

In Michelle’s situation, one way to repair her relationship with Mark might be to take him for a coffee and seek his expertise on how to best connect with people in the organisation and succeed. The question will have the effect of making Mark think that Michelle believes he is an organisational success story, and he might be more willing to open up. This will ‘humanise’ the relationship and help both Michelle and Mark feel more comfortable with each other. 

Most importantly – start working on your frustrations early 

For so many of us, our colleagues and stakeholders can make or break our experience at work. Inevitably though, we’ll come across people we don’t like. 

When we do, it’s important to work on those relationships, often and early. There’s nothing worse than being frustrated on a daily basis, when we could have seen the incredible human our colleague was long ago. 

What techniques do you use to better work with people you don’t like? Tell us in the comments below. 

*Names changed to protect privacy.

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Aspire To Be A CPO? Know This.

Is it even ok to still want to become a CPO this year, or soon? Read expert insights from a recruiter about on how to do just that. 


It’s been challenging, of late, to give our careers the usual focus they need and deserve. But with the coronavirus situation looking like it may get under control in the next few months, many of us are returning to our former ambitious selves. And with that, comes the inevitable question: If I want to become a CPO, how do I do it? 

Given that we’re all technically surrounded by CPOs and procurement executives most days, it should be easy to answer this. But what works for one person in terms of getting to the top may not work for others. For this reason, it’s better to ask someone that oversees the promotion of procurement professionals into the top echelons of business every day. In other words: Ask an executive recruiter. 

To help you understand how to land a CPO role, we interviewed one of the procurement industry’s top executive recruiters, Mark Holyoake. Mark, the founder of Holyoake Search, has placed dozens of candidates into senior procurement roles over an 18-year career, and has unique and fascinating insights into how you can achieve your career dreams. 

I want to be a CPO within 5 years. What should I be doing now? 

If you’ve got your sights on the top job, but know you’re not quite ready yet, there’s still a lot you can be doing, says Mark, to prepare yourself when the time comes. Across all of the roles he’s recruited, he’s found that all CPOs share certain qualities: 

‘All successful CPOs have great leadership skills. They also understand business strategy. In addition to this, humility, exceptional communication skills, awareness of the future, diplomacy, and a mindset for growth are all critical.’ 

But when should you start developing these essential traits? The sooner, the better, Mark says:

‘Start cultivating these skills early on. Learn them in the classroom, within your company, with the help of an external mentor. Don’t have a mentor? Seek one out ASAP.’ 

Fine-tune your leadership skills

To succeed in procurement, technical skills are of course important. But what’s more important, says Mark, is to be an exceptional leader. If you’re wanting a senior position, Mark believes, these are the skills that you need to work most on. 

Fortunately, the current crisis has provided us all with the opportunity to lead, and there’s one skill in particular that we should all have fine-tuned: 

‘Leading through uncertainty and adversity has certainly been required of late. As a CPO, you’ll always face uncertainty – so that’s a great skill to be nurturing now.’ 

Beyond the skills learned in the current crisis, when Mark recruits for senior roles, he does believe certain leadership skills are crucial. He says the businesses he works with usually look for a number of things: 

‘[My clients] need leaders that understand strategy, how to react to change, and who possess a devotion to research and current affairs.’ 

Getting noticed by executive recruiters 

Recruitment for more junior procurement roles usually happens via networking and job boards. But when it comes to the senior end of town, the majority of roles are advertised through executive recruiters, who then headhunt talent. So this begs the question – how do you get noticed by these recruiters so you know about these roles in the first place, and get the opportunity to apply? 

Mark says that contrary to your standard job search, getting noticed by executive recruiters isn’t about applying: 

‘Candidates should understand that standing out isn’t necessarily about one application or one interview. It’s not about looking for a job when you need to find one.’ 

So what is standing out about, then? Mark recommends that you invest in continually building your profile over time: 

‘Candidates should work on building their online networks and personas over time.’

‘By being active on LinkedIn, sharing relevant articles, participating in discussions, and ensuring visibility, candidates are able to pre-position themselves to stand out to prospective employers and recruiters to represent them.’ 

Interviewing like a true CPO 

Interviews can be intimidating at any level and at an executive level, they can feel particularly intimidating. Fortunately though, Mark says that the key to ‘interviewing like a true CPO’ is really no different from how you succeed at any other interview: 

‘The number one fail I see, which I see at all levels, is that candidates are not fully prepared.’ 

‘Procurement executives are generally pretty confident in their own abilities, not to mention very busy, with the consequence that many will, unfortunately, try to “wing it.”’ 

‘As with most things in life, interview practice makes perfect – so ensure you’re prepared.’ 

But what should you prepare? Mark says that you need to be able to discuss your accomplishments in a concise manner

‘Research common questions and practice giving answers that highlight your accomplishments. Ensure that you’re able to distill large amounts of information into relevant and succinct responses.’ 

Preparing can help you deliver far better answers to questions, says Mark, But it’s also critical for your mindset: 

‘When your mind is prepared and ready to go on autopilot, it allows you to relax and let your conscious mind focus on listening to what is actually being asked. You’ll enjoy the interview more as well!’ 

Making your move – this year? 

If you’re the ambitious type, you’ll inevitably wonder whether it’s appropriate – or possible – to try to move into a more senior role this year. While the situation is certainly volatile at the moment, Mark believes that it could also represent a good opportunity for aspiring CPOs as they are more likely to be able to secure a role where their impact is felt: 

‘Usually, a conflict exists for many procurement professionals in their job search. Do they choose a profitable, fast-growing company where their impact is not felt as strongly, or do they choose a company under duress who needs their help?’

‘Right now, that conflict no longer exists. EVERY company needs your help – you can have your cake and eat it too.’ 

Interestingly, Mark saw a spike in demand for procurement professionals after the 2008 global financial crisis, a trend which enabled many aspiring leaders to step into great roles: 

‘Post-2008, the demand for procurement went up. While it’s unclear if we’ll see a repeat of that, I’m confident that for most job seekers, if they commit to their job search fully and completely, they will find what they’re looking for.’ 

Do you have any other tips for aspiring CPOs? What has worked for you? Let us know in the comments below. 

Join Procurious to connect with 40,000 other ambitious procurement professionals and get free access to networking, industry news, training and much more. 

If you’re based in the US, connect with Mark Holyoake if you’re looking for, or aspiring to be, procurement executive talent.  

How To Increase Your Procurement Salary This Year

Negotiating your salary can be scary… but not doing so can be an even bigger risk and really add up over time.

Money. We all might agree that it doesn’t buy happiness at work and it’s far from the most important benefit in our jobs, but still, it’s a big indicator of the value we bring. And while as procurement professionals, we’re more than happy to put on our poker face, sit at the negotiating table and secure the best deal for our business, many of us are less inclined to employ these tactics when it comes to our own pay rises. 

But why? 

Negotiating for ourselves is challenging, and research shows an incredible two-thirds of us never do it. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to – our hard work and effort would be automatically rewarded. But our jobs, just like our supplier negotiations, are about business, so it follows that we’d need to regularly present our business case to secure the best deal. 

Doing so can be scary, but not doing so can be even scarier and over time, really add up. An example: a study conducted by Linda Babcock showed that only 7% of women attempt to negotiate their salary, as opposed to 57% of men. Over a career, this can make a huge difference – the same research showed that people who asked were able to increase their salary by over 7%. 

But even if we know we should be negotiating for ourselves, doing so can be a completely different beast. So if you want to increase your procurement salary this year, here’s how we recommend you do it: 

Step 1: Beforehand – Thoroughly prepare

A salary negotiation is like any other big-ticket negotiation in your procurement career and as such, you need to be prepared. Although salary can feel very personal, when you’re preparing you need to keep it professional and build a business case for what you’re going to ask for. Here’s how you do that: 

Understand your market value 

Before you enter any negotiations, you need to know your numbers, and salaries are no different. But where do you get this information from? 

Websites such as Payscale can be a great starting point when it comes to salary ranges. It can also be extremely helpful to talk to specialist procurement recruiters, such as those from Procurious’ recruitment partner, The Source, to understand what your market rate should be. 

After you’ve researched your range, land on exact value, ideally at the top end of the range. Why? Research shows that if you do this, you’re scientifically more likely to get closer to this amount, and when you select a number at the top of the range, you give yourself more room to negotiate. 

Once you’ve discovered your market rate, think about what you’d like to ask for as an entire package, in case the business simply isn’t able to afford the raise you’re asking for (or equally, if you value other benefits just as much). Perhaps you’d like to negotiate for more annual leave? Different flexible work conditions? Travel or different projects? Ensure you know what you’re after and have prioritised it according to your preferences. 

The last part of knowing what you’re after is considering the ‘bare minimum’ you’d accept. If you can’t get a raise, will you be ok to accept the changed benefits you’re asking for? Is nothing an acceptable outcome, as long as you know you can try again next year? Deciding on your ‘bare minimum’ can help you know when to  acquiesce your negotiations. 

Prepare your business case 

Now you’re clear on your value, it’s time to show it through preparing your business case. Many people make the mistake of defaulting to their personal circumstances or effort expounded in their business cases, but you should always focus on purely business outcomes and results. 

Your business case needn’t be long, in fact, it could be simply one page, but on it you should include: 

  • Your accomplishments, focusing on the value you added vis-a-vis the strategic priorities of your department (and even the business as a whole)
  • Any awards or other recognition you’ve received
  • Customer, stakeholder or co-worker testimonials (if you don’t have any of these, ensure you proactively ask for some).
  • A plan to achieve future objectives of the business and department.  

Once you’ve put together your business case, practice your pitch. Know inside-out how you’re adding value, and be prepared to answer any questions your manager might have (without getting defensive). Confidence will be a big part of your success, so practice definitely makes perfect. 

Get your timing right (if you can) 

Some companies mandate that salary negotiations and performance reviews go hand-in-hand. But from an HR perspective, there is always room for ‘out-of-cycle’ pay rises where they’re deemed necessary, so if possible, try to pick your timing when you’re negotiating. According to the Harvard Business Review, the best time to negotiate for a rise may be three to four months prior to your performance review, before your boss has decided what rises might be given out (NB. Team salaries often come from the same budget ‘bucket’ so getting in ahead of time might ensure there’s more available for you). 

The first rule of picking your timing is choosing a time, obviously, when your boss isn’t stressed or where you don’t have thousands of impending deadlines. Beyond this, research shows that you should choose a Thursday or Friday to negotiate, as in this part of the week people are usually more amenable to negotiation and compromise. 

Step 2: The meeting – put your best negotiation skills on

Remember the nerves you felt in your first supplier negotiation? Undoubtedly, you’ll feel those one-hundred fold when negotiating for yourself. As such, consciously employ these tactics to ensure you present your best pitch: 

Get your confidence on

Some people think of confidence as something you do – or don’t – have, but in reality there’s lots of things you can do to make sure you look and feel more confident. 

One such thing is to employ what Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy calls a ‘power pose.’ A ‘power pose is where you stand tall with your hands on your hips and your chin and chest raised. Executing one of these, even if it’s in your office prior to your negotiation, helps raise testosterone, which in turn increases confidence and reduces stress. 

You can also make sure you look and feel the part, says self-improvement researcher James Clear.  To do so, choose an outfit that makes you feel your best, and make sure you enter the negotiation room with your head held high, eye contact and a confident smile. ‘The way you enter a room can dictate how the rest of an interaction will be,’ James asserts. 

Finally, if you’re rethinking your morning coffee on your meeting day – don’t. Research shows it makes people more resistant to persuasion, so if you indulge, you might just have an easier time holding your ground! 

Listen before you ask

As you’d know from your supplier negotiations, you’re always in the best position when you’re armed with as much information as possible. Likewise, as counterintuitive as might seem, the first thing you need to do in your salary negotiation is to listen. 

What have our key successes been, you might ask. Or alternatively, what’s the road map for the future and how will be measure our success? The answers to these questions may well cause you to adjust your pitch, depending on what your manager highlights as their most crucial priorities. 

Your pitch

Now you’ve listened, it’s time for your pitch. When you’re discussing your achievements, keep everything professional and fact-based, referencing your business case as needed. 

Use your pitch to present your ‘first preference,’ whether this simply be a pay rise or a combination of pay and other conditions. Don’t mention other options as yet – these are for later down the track if negotiations don’t go as planned. Also take care not to mention anything non-business related, as relevant as it may seem (for example, I need a raise as my rent has  increased, or I need a raise because I learnt my colleague who doesn’t work half as hard earns more). Mentioning personal reasons for a pay rise will distract from the value you add to the business, which is what your salary is fundamentally about. 

Step 3: The big ask – will you get the pay rise? 

Once you’ve prepared to ask for your pay rise and presented your case, your work is almost done. But there’s still the hardest part – actually asking for the raise. How do you do that? Here’s some tips: 

Be direct 

Skirting around the topic, waiting to be asked for a number, or putting too many words into your request can all, unfortunately, be a sign you lack confidence in what you’re asking. The best way to ask for a raise is simply to ask, referencing everything you’ve presented. Try something along the lines of: 

‘Based on the evidence I’ve presented here today, including the research I did on market range, I’d like to request a pay rise to XX.’ 

Be positive, not pushy 

If the first response you get isn’t a straight yes (it almost never will be), you need to resist the urge to sound pushy, beg, or get offended or defensive. If the initial response to your request isn’t positive, ensure that stay positive and continue to lead with the value you’ve added. If you manager wants to dispute or further investigate anything you’ve presented, simply say that you’re happy to provide further evidence. 

This is especially important if you feel yourself getting emotional. Even if you have further evidence at hand, it may be better to present it at a later point when you’re feeling more composed. 

Send evidence via email 

From an HR perspective, it’s unlikely that even if your boss agrees with your request in principle, he or she will be able to approve it straight away. Also, he or she may need to provide evidence to senior management or HR as to why the decision is being made. 

To get on the front foot with this, send your manager an email after your meeting, detailing your request and your business case. Ensure you give your manager a deadline for responding, so you’ll know either way how to move the negotiations forward, if need be. 

Step 4: Dealing with a no 

When we enter a negotiation, the last thing we want is to receive is a ‘no.’ Yet at the same time, we do need to prepare for this as a possible outcome. Here’s how you do that while maintaining your professionalism and your job (if that’s your intention): 

See no as a path to yes 

When it comes to salary negotiations, it can be tempting to see a ‘no’ as a personal indictment on your performance, but according to Forbes, it’s anything but this: 

‘We’re often reluctant to negotiate past no, but we shouldn’t be. After all, it’s not really a negotiation if we’re asking for something our bargaining partner wants.’ 

‘Negotiation is a conversation whose goal is to reach an agreement with someone whose interests are not perfectly aligned with yours.’ 

If we wanted something from our supplier, would we take no as an answer? Probably not. Employ that same ethos in your salary negotiations. 

Make a counter offer 

The beauty of having pre-considered options for your negotiation means that if you get a no to your first request, you can proceed down the list. If you need to do this, continue to lead with value and sell the reasons why the benefits you’re asking for are beneficial to the business, for example, ‘Working a compressed working week has been shown to boost productivity, and I’m confident, given my track record, I can deliver that.’ 

Keep the conversation open

Did you know that some of the world’s most famous negotiations took years, and even decades to pull off? While you’re unlikely to want to wait that long for a pay rise, know that it might take some time to achieve what you’re asking for. Stay positive, make SMART goals (for example, I’d like to discuss this again in 6 months, when I’ve done XYZ) and continue building your business case. 

Have you tried to negotiate your salary? Any other tips for success? We’d love to hear them – please let us know in the comments below. 

Do you work in procurement or supply chain? Join 37,000 + procurement and supply chain professionals at Procurious today, and receive free access to the latest industry news, information, training, events and much more. 

How To Get Moving On Your Career Path To The Top

Ambitious and driven? Plot your way to the top with the help of the Procurious webinar featuring advice from three senior leaders 

Are you looking for the next steps to get moving on your career path? Or are you thinking of quitting the day job in search of a new path to the summit?

Do you have questions?

Good news! Procurious has produced a webinar, ‘Don’t Quit the Day Job – Your Path to the Top’ with all the answers you need.

We have assembled a panel of experienced senior leaders from different industries and different parts of the world – Lara Naqushbandi (Google), Christina Morrow (Ricoh USA) and Imelda Walsh (The Source) – to offer career advice. 

And they have plenty of great insights to share with you.

Plan to succeed

Top of their list of recommendations is to have a plan.

Some people like a fully worked-out, detailed action plan. Others prefer a few tasks on a to-do list. 

Either way, you’ll benefit from having made a plan. It’s a good place to start to identify the things you need to do. 

And – as Imelda points out – you’re much more likely to succeed when that plan is written down.

But once you’ve made the plan don’t feel tied to it. Don’t feel you always need to stick to the programme.

Because sometimes doing that can stop you considering potential new roles that could be a great fit for you. 

Take Christina’s advice and ask yourself how you would define professional success. Use that as your guide to consider whether to stick to or deviate from your plan when a new opportunity arises.

Ask what’s important now

Although the financial side of work is an important consideration, the panel members stress the drawbacks of being blindsided by the money associated with a role. 

‘Look at the whole package, not just the pay cheque,’ Lara advises. 

In her experience getting the balance right between work and home life is something that everyone should consider before taking on a new role.

Having a passion for what you do is something all our panel members cited as important. Imelda reports that she’s been most successful when she has a role that focuses on her passion. 

Christina has always taken time out regularly to reflect on what she enjoys doing so that she’s clear on what she might want from any prospective new position.

Take risks

Be open to taking risks.

This may involve deviating from your plan or exploring options to try something new. 

Lara is a great believer in having an openness to risk. Going off the beaten path can often bring great benefits when thinking about the next step in a career. That’s an approach that has definitely worked for her.

But taking a step up can present new challenges and in Christina’s experience, there is always something from a previous role that you can use to build on for the next. 

So don’t stay too long in one job and get bored is her advice. Take a risk and try something out of your comfort zone. 

The soft skills we use every day in procurement and supply chain – like leadership, negotiation and collaboration – are just what are needed for the challenges of a new role.

Hone your network

Having a network is a great resource you can use for securing a new role.

Imelda sees many candidates who have used a mentor to help them develop and grow, achieving great success.

And mentors can help you think about how to adjust to a culture and brief that a new job can bring. 

Moving between different companies can mean adjusting to completely new working environments and procedures – and even sometimes changing continents. 

Lara has found she’s had to adapt her style to accommodate each company’s culture and management style.

Listen in

Why not listen in to our webinar to find out more from our panel about how you can create your path to the top by:
Planning your route
Asking what’s important 
Taking risks
Making the most of your network.

Register for our upcoming (free) webinar here and start 2020 out with a bang!

Don’t Overlook This One Critical Factor When Choosing Your Next Role

Many mention salary as a reason to look elsewhere. So, what possibly could go wrong when you chase the money?

When Tom* was headhunted for a procurement specialist role at a major energy supplier, his eyes lit up. It was literally his dream job – and at a salary $30,000 higher than he was being paid. 

What could possibly go wrong? 

Tom resigned immediately and started planning the lavish holiday on which he’d now be able to take his family. 

Yet less than 6 months later Tom found himself in my office, miserable. 

Tyrannical boss

It turned out that what had seemed like a lucrative move was anything but.

The long hours and high stress of his new role – combined with a tyrannical and workaholic boss – had made the situation untenable. 

‘I’ve learnt the hard way,’ Tom told me, ‘that it’s not all about money.’ 

As general manager of The Source, I meet hundreds of talented procurement professionals every year.

Like Tom, many mention salary as one of the reasons they want to look elsewhere. 

But I often tell candidates that money shouldn’t be the only reason for choosing a job. And in many cases it shouldn’t be an influencing factor at all. 

Here’s why. 

Flexibility and well-being are key

Workplace satisfaction research conducted over the last decade tells us that, contrary to popular belief, salary isn’t one of the driving factors when it comes to happiness at work. 

In fact, salary comes close to last on the list. 

What makes us truly happy at work is, in fact, a combination of permanent workplace flexibility, a commitment to health and well-being and the feeling that we’re doing meaningful and interesting work. 

We also need to feel respected at work. 

We need and want our leaders to notice and listen to us.

And, to an extent, we want them to praise us for our efforts.

In Tom’s situation, he had ended up with none of these. 

He wasn’t getting any respect. In fact, his new manager often berated him in front of other colleagues. 

He also had little flexibility. 

Despite the fact that the organisation had a strong policy on workplace flexibility, Tom’s workaholic manager made him feel like he could never take advantage of it. 

Finally, the lack of flexibility, high expectations and poor management had a knock-on effect on Tom’s health and well-being.

He was stressed and tired all the time – and struggled to stay motivated. 

Again, the organisation had a policy on employee well-being. But that hardly mattered to Tom, whose entire experience was being dictated by a manager he hated. 

People leave their bosses, not their jobs

After talking to me about his situation, Tom quickly came to another realisation about his poor career move.

And this time it wasn’t about salary. 

When you look at the drivers of workplace satisfaction, almost all can be achieved – or derailed – by your leader. 

This is something that’s enshrined in fact: 75% of all people leave their bosses, not their jobs. 

So if you think about it like that, risking leaving a good boss for the unknown can make the salary gain pale in comparison. 

Sure, that extra money might get you a great holiday, help you pay off your debt or buy you the car you’ve always wanted, but what are you giving up in return? 

Your job is a 40-hour-a-week, 48-week-per-year reality, and your career – which a manager can also make or break – is a lifelong endeavour. 

After a few months of searching, we eventually placed Tom in a new role, with a leader I know will give him the career experience he wants and deserves. 

But for all of you thinking of your next move this year, let this be a cautionary tale. 

How much does salary really mean? And how much emphasis should you place on that against working for someone who holds the key to your workplace happiness? 

I’d love to hear your experiences – please share them in the comments section below. 

Interested in some more career advice? Whether you want to move up in your career, change industries, or even need some extra motivation for the new year (and new decade!), start 2020 off with a bang in our upcoming webinar – Don’t Quit Your Day Job. Register here.

Tony Megally is the General Manager of The Source, Australia’s leading procurement recruitment and executive search firm. If you’re looking to hire in the procurement space, or alternatively, you’d like to have a confidential chat about your next role, please contact Tony on +613 9650 6665 or via email on [email protected]

*Name changed to protect privacy

Half of us Lie to Get a Job – Can You Get Away with It – Best of the Blog 2019

Dying to move on? Then try lying. Don’t worry, you won’t be alone if you lie to get a job

tell a lie
Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

This article was originally published in April.

More than half of us confess to not telling the whole truth on our CVs and one in ten people have even managed to land a new role as a result. However, there are certain do’s and don’ts to take into consideration.

Embellishing experience

This is the most common untruth according to research from The University of Law, with nearly one in three confessing to lying about past experience on their CV – and that’s because it is easy to get away with a few exaggerations, provided what you are saying is based on facts.

Careful wording is key. So, “experience of leading a team” is fine even if you have only done this once or twice. “Experienced team leader”, however, is probably a step too far.

Avoid any claims that are easy to check. You can be vague on dates (for example, 2015 to 2016 – is a way to get around a very short time in a job that lasted just a few months from November to January), but listing your title as “Operations Director” when your LinkedIn profile/the company website clearly states “Manager” is asking to get caught out.

Giving your skills a boost

This is another aspect of our CVs where we are more likely to lie. Skills are easier to exaggerate than qualifications (which are easy to check) and as such you are more likely to get away with a few embellishments.

With many CVs now scanned electronically make sure you include the exact words listed in the job spec to ensure you get through to the interview stage. Most of us can give examples of when we have been “target driven” or have shown “great attention to detail” so think of how you have shown these skills (just in case you are asked to prove your claims).

Hyping your hobbies

This is often the most difficult part of a CV to write. If you own up about spending your free time in the pub playing pool and drinking pints, it doesn’t do you any favours. No wonder one in five say they would be most comfortable lying about their interests (but don’t forget to do your research – interviewers often ask about hobbies to break the ice).

Keeping quiet about things you want to hide

This is not exactly lying. Around one in ten of us feel pressure to lie about our age. Why bother? The Equalities Act makes age discrimination illegal. As such you are not required to put your date of birth on your CV and should not even be asked about your age. The same applies to marital status, religion, gender and sexuality. In fact, if you feel uncomfortable lying follow the “if in doubt, leave it out” approach.

If all else fails…own your failings

If you don’t quite meet the job spec, don’t worry. Talent shortages mean that many employers are now looking for someone with potential rather than holding out of a candidate that can tick all the boxes. The world of work is changing so quickly, that the job you are doing today will inevitably change over the next five to ten years.

As such adaptability and reliance along with soft skills such as relationship building, communication and organisation skills are more important than experience for many hirers. So, don’t forget to add these to your CV.

But when it comes to tech…don’t blag it

You may be able to demonstrate your soft skills by giving a few examples, but one area you are likely to get caught is with tech. Some employers may even give you a skills test or ask you to give examples of how you have used a particular piece of software.

James, 35, a Project Manager from London, and one of those surveyed by the University of Law, shares this cautionary tale: “Earlier on in my career I applied for a job that was out of my reach in terms of experience, but the money was good, and the company was one I’d always wanted to work for, I thought, why not try my luck? To help me secure the role, I exaggerated on my previous roles and claimed to be able to use a software I hadn’t even heard of (how hard could it be to learn on the job, right?).

I landed an interview but didn’t expect them to go into a detailed discussion about the software, asking me how I’ve used it to help run my projects and report effectively. I tried to guess my way through it, but they definitely knew I had no idea what they were talking about. Safe to say they didn’t call me in for the second round.”

So better to be safe than sorry…and if you are going to lie, don’t lie about being able to do things you can’t.

5 Ways to Stand out From The Crowd

New Year, New You. New Job? Don’t wait until 2020 to start your search or you might struggle to stand out from the crowd.

stand out from the crowd
From Pixabay on Pexels

More than half of us are planning to change jobs in 2020. So, don’t wait until January to start your job search – there will be far too much competition. Instead follow these steps to get ahead on a new you for the New Year.

Looking for a new job takes time. In fact, an average of 40 days from submitting a CV to being offered a new role.

Factor in searching for a suitable job before you even send off your application and then the wait while you work out your notice (generally at least one month) and it could be a nearly Easter by the time you move jobs.

So why not start preparing for your search now?

The Market – The Crowd

It could pay off. More than half of the 16,000 UK employees surveyed by Totaljobs and Universum say they are planning on moving jobs in the new year, so January will see a huge surge in the number of candidates on the market.

To put it into context, that could be half your workplace actively scouring job sites and that means an awful lot of competition for the best roles.

“If you also factor in Christmas bank holidays then the optimum time to start applying for jobs is mid-November,” says Nick Kirk, UK MD of recruiters Michael Page who warns: “Securing a new job can be a lengthy process, with applicants and employers needing to be sure the right person is being offered the right role.”

Where Competition is Highest

The professionals who are least satisfied in their current position and most likely to want to move jobs work in logistics, media and e-commerce so anyone working in these sectors is likely to see tough competition from colleagues who are also looking for a new role.

In contrast, auditing and accounting and legal and law professionals are the least likely to leave their jobs, because those usually have higher salaries and a lot of opportunities to up-skill. For example, an accountant could become a CPA just by passing an exam and completing the licensing process.

However, much depends on your employer. If you have any concerns about the future of your organisation you will not be alone – so start your job search sooner rather than later.

Preparation is Key to Success

Although around half of us are expecting to look for a new role, only one in ten expect to be successful.

So how can you boost your chances? Nick Kirk has the following advice:

1. Be clear about your reasons for leaving

Are you sure you want to leave your job, or are you feeling pressured to start afresh in the new year? Establish the reasons why you want to leave your current job and, if you can, speak to your manager about your concerns. Once you’ve had these frank conversations and are certain that moving on is the right decision, you will be able to make smart decisions about your next role.

Often it is not the money that’s a problem – in fact, two thirds of British workers would stay in a job they enjoyed rather than move for more money.

For those intent on shifting jobs, the biggest drivers are career progression (30 per cent), professional training and development (32 per cent) and the feeling that their current roles and responsibilities are unlikely to grow (25 per cent). These can be relatively easy to address.

For example, your manager may not be aware that you want a promotion or more training and may find these requests easier to accommodate than a pay rise – after all, if you demand a substantial salary hike everyone will want one, whereas a career development plan is tailored to the individual and it can also benefit the organisation in terms of improved productivity.

2. Think about where you want to work next

Candidates and employers are now placing more value on workplace environment and ensuring the right team culture when hiring.  It’s crucial to be sure that you know what kind of role, company, and working environment you are looking for in your next position before you start your job hunt. If you find an environment and culture that matches well with your personal values, you are more likely to be happier at work.

One of the key requirements is flexibility – often employees are prepared to sacrifice salary for the option of working a condensed week (cramming 5 days into 4), the option to work at home one day a week or an early start/early finish.

3. Keep an open mind

Adopt a positive and flexible attitude to your job search. Listen to what opportunities are in the market and remain open-minded to different companies and locations.

In keeping your mind open, you may be presented with opportunities which may be worth changing location or industry for – a real new year overhaul!

Also by narrowing your requirements, you are limiting your choice which means you could be languishing in a job you hate for too long. Today we have less of a career ladder (organisational structures are flatter) so it may be hard to move for a promotion, but that does not mean you cannot find a more rewarding role with a sideways shift.

4. Update your LinkedIn profile and CV

Your LinkedIn profile and CV are your gateway to a future position. Most employers will cross reference the information before deciding on whether to progress your application, so ensure both are sharp and accurate to avoid your application being discarded at the first hurdle.

Also make sure that all your job applications are tailored to each role.

So start with a tailored personal statement to your prospective new employer, highlight your key skills, use a spell checker and whatever you do, don’t lie.

Employers are struggling to find the right candidates, so increasingly accept that they will have to find a good fit rather than the perfect fit so you don’t need to tick every box.

5. Prepare for your interview

This may be a busy time of year, but an interview is the time to make a great first impression on a potential employer. Do your homework on the company – look at its latest news, work or any award wins. Have an understanding of where you can fit into the organisation and its culture. Anticipate possible questions and rehearse your answers too, as this will help you to deliver seamlessly on the day.

Good luck!

A New Skillset for Procurement Leaders

Procurement leaders of tomorrow will need to combine highly refined soft skills, a broad business understanding and digital literacy to elevate their function and put it at the centre of business change in the years to come.

Photo by Chevanon Photography from Pexels

Procurement has never had a better opportunity to be the value adding function that it has always aspired to be.

The exponential technological advancements of the last decade have lowered entry barriers across markets. Procurement functions that successfully invest in and work with these new innovators will give their businesses a competitive advantage. Technology has also vastly improved the handling of large data sets.

Sitting at the intersection between the supply chain and the business, procurement is awash with data, and technology means it can spend less time on data acquisition and analytics and more time on deriving strategic insights from that data. Crucially, that helps the business to make more effective decisions, faster.

In recent years, we have also seen a spike in companies outsourcing key elements of their business. This has led to an increased number of strategic suppliers that need to be efficiently managed in order to ensure consistent high quality of product and service.

These two factors combined generate the perfect environment for procurement to move from its traditional role of “price negotiator” and “process policeman”, to strategic partner of choice, leading business transformation.

However, to do that, it will need a new skillset.

The ‘Right’ Skills

Efficio’s recent 2019 study, “The Human Factor: Strategic procurement and the leaders of tomorrow”, asked 500 senior procurement and operations leaders across the globe what their current top priorities were. The top answer, with 29 per cent of votes, was access to the right skills.

It received 60 per cent more votes than the next top priority, maximising efficiencies in the supply chain. Moreover, nearly half of respondents (44 per cent) put access to the right skills in their top three.

Organisations clearly recognise the need for a new skillset, but what are the right skills? In our view these can be categorised into three pillars: soft skills, broad business understanding and digital literacy.

Procurement Leaders – Influencing & Leading

The study showed 78 per cent of procurement executives believe soft skills are either essential or very important for the procurement leader of tomorrow. By drilling deeper into the results, we can find some interesting insights about how these executives see procurement in the future.

The single most desired soft skill quoted was the ability to influence and lead. This is indicative of a procurement function that is setting the agenda and leading stakeholders to make more effective decisions. Interactions that procurement has with stakeholders will be just as important, if not more so, than those it has with suppliers.

By understanding the business requirements and having a deeper knowledge of supplier capabilities, procurement will not only drive cost savings but also influence the business to select solutions and partners that best align with a company’s strategy.

The second most sought after soft skill is the ability to challenge conventional thinking. As well as challenging the way the business thinks, it needs to re-evaluate and challenge the way it has operated itself for so many years, with the goal of defining what it can do differently in order to move from a function that most organisations try to bypass.

It needs to become more customer centric and challenge itself and the business to move from a savings focussed, to a value-adding function.

Involving Your Suppliers

Thirdly, respondents recognised a need for innovation, creativity and problem-solving skills in the future. This hints at an expectation that procurement activities will go beyond traditional one-size-fits-all RFX approaches to every problem.

It will instead work in a more project-based manner with an agile approach that more effectively meets business needs. An example of this could be involving suppliers in the solutioning, to help define those requirements in the first place.

Although soft skills are generally not part of the current procurement training curriculum, they can still be learnt and developed. But critically, these don’t need to be learnt solely from being in procurement roles.

By positioning procurement on the career path of high-flying and ambitious individuals, it can benefit from people who have honed these skills in other functions but can apply them in a procurement context.

A Broad Business Understanding

To be truly accepted at the top table, procurement needs to communicate in the language of its peers in the business. Specifically, that means avoiding defaulting to a narrow focus on savings and process and rather seeking to define itself by what is important to its business.

That is not to say savings related activity is not important, but it needs to be put into context of the wider objectives of the organisation.

For example, a strategic lever for a business might be to grow revenue in a sector by bringing an innovation to market. Procurement should recognise in this case that it can best provide support by approaching the supply market with an investor mindset, trawling the globe for new start-ups to invest in and collaborate with in product development.

Going to those start-ups with an onerous RFX to fill out will unlikely result in any strong partnerships because those start-ups don’t have the capacity or knowledge to put themselves through such an approach.

Digital Literacy

Finally, the future of procurement will need to have a strong technology element to become a more effective function. Whether procurement leaders go for an end-to-end solution or a best of breed approach by building an ecosystem of tools best suited to their organisation, understanding at a basic level how technology is built, and how it integrates with other tools, is essential in being able to make good long-term investment decisions.

Historically, procurement leaders have never needed to be digitally literate in this way, however this will need to change as businesses become ever more reliant on technology and need to make long-term decisions on what to purchase.

It is therefore incumbent on the procurement leaders of tomorrow to educate themselves on the digital terms they use, latest trends and not to just limit themselves to the procurement sphere in the search for that knowledge.

Looking at other functions and sectors to understand how new technologies are being applied can help develop digital procurement strategies and roadmaps that are a step ahead of the competition.

Hone these Skills to Thrive

To become a more effective function and to elevate itself in the business, procurement is going to need people with a different skillset from today. A strong focus on soft skills is essential, but so too is an understanding of business more broadly than procurement’s traditional priorities of savings and process.

Being able to successfully digitalise the function will require people who understand not only how to use technology, but who are also able to make long term investment decisions. Procurement functions that recruit, train for and retain these skills are likely to find themselves at the centre of business change in future.    

Download our research report, “The Human Factor: Strategic procurement and the leaders of tomorrow”, here.