Millennials and Procurement: Changes Ahoy for Recruiting, Management, and Talent Development

A recent Procurement Leaders blog post, Millennials To Shake-Up Procurement, authored by my old friend Paul Teague, began to peck around at a topic that’s been on my mind for quite sometime: how to think about the future of delivering procurement capability in an environment where a new generation of workers, many of which have quite a different set of motivations and values from older generations, make up the majority, not the minority. It’s a topic of keen interest to me as my own broader organization grows (now 23 people) because the bulk of our new hires also come from the “millennial” generation as well. For those on a different planet, millennials range in age today from young teenagers to their young thirties.

Millennials comprise a wide age range, but it is a group whose commonalities show just how different – by comparison – they are to others. For one, they don’t separate out work from play like older generations – life is more contiguous (though I’ve personally observed wide variation within this observation). They also expect a lot – management responsibility, promotions, having their own social impact, etc. – fast. As a Psychology Today article references, this group appreciates “new jobs and new assignments every 12-24 months and won’t wait for 3-5 years for a promotion … [they also appreciate] open, transparent, and inclusive leadership styles; and they thrive on fairness and performance-based appraisals, not tenure and seniority.”

Paul Teague also observes that “chances are that they are much more comfortable with computers and software than you are. They’ve grown up playing computer games, among other experiences. And that experience with computer games, which many millennials will play for hours on end to improve their scores, could have interesting implications for procurement. Tony Milikin, CPO of AB-InBev, has said that e-auctions offer millennials the same opportunities to constantly work toward better results as computer games.” Further, Paul references SAP’s Tim Minahan, who has also spent time considering millennials, who believes the group is “free and are eager to share it with co-workers, which means they are naturals at collaboration, something critical for procurement.” Additionally, Tim echoes our own observations that “they also don’t worry about work-life balance, viewing work as a natural part of life.”

Spend Matters will be publishing a set of observations and recommendations on the topics of recruiting, management and talent development for the millennial generation in the coming weeks. We’ll delve into both practitioner and provider (e.g., consultant, BPO, software) angles on getting the most from this group of hipsters – as well as the types of breakthrough solutions we think millennials are set to deliver to procurement overall if we’re capable of embracing rather than just checking the box on management change.

Stay tuned!

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