How to Mentor and Manage Procurement Talent: A View From Deloitte

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Not enough has been written on getting the procurement talent equation right or fundamentally changing the function from the inside out. Spend Matters is continuing to feature excerpts from Deloitte’s recently published paper: Procurement Talent Management: Exceptional Outcomes Require Exceptional People. Today we explore Deloitte’s views on mentoring procurement talent.

“High-potential staff can become high performers
by learning both the mechanics and the art of the procurement trade. Anyone can comprehend a process, but invaluable learning can be gained by working alongside highly skilled teachers, mentors, colleagues and trusted third parties in an apprenticeship model. Top chief procurement officers (CPOs) often cite mentors who helped shape their careers and instill the importance of strong execution.

Other considerations in mentorship and management include:

  • Applying good principles: Being captive to continuing education credits and training-hours-per-year benchmarks can create a go-through-the-motions atmosphere that works against transformation.
  • Being demand-driven: Rewriting job descriptions and having procurement staff apply for new roles can be part of procurement transformation. With such an approach, it’s important to focus on the capabilities required to advance the corporate agenda, not the legacy procurement agenda.
  • Being practical: Professional associations such as
the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) provide certifications that can provide a base framework for procurement talent development that can be adapted to your organization.
  • Tailoring the process: Adapting the talent management process to your organization can help create ownership and buy-in. For example, Deloitte has used a “business chemistry” methodology to help procurement assess the working style of its stakeholders and better align its approach to them.
  • Understanding stakeholder requirements: An internal assessment of stakeholder alignment can help determine knowledge and skill gaps to close through hiring, training, and use of third parties. Talent is the ace card. It’s much better to have the top people and not necessarily the top tools rather than vice versa.”

Deloitte almost downplays the direct role of mentorship with the bullet points (after introducing the topic). But the idea of matching mentors to mentees is an absolutely critical one. We should never assume that a new recruit will actively seek out a mentor that will take them under their proverbial wing. Given this, procurement leaders should work together to divide up their resource pool and decide which individuals will engage new team members from a mentorship perspective.

Of course, not all mentor/mentee-structured relationships will last (and many of the best ones will be better created another way – through job activity and serendipity). But procurement teams have little to lose by putting thought, assignment and action behind mentoring programs as a rule and practice.

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