How to make stakeholders hate you: Number 3 – Talk your own language

We’re pleased to bring you a short series on that perennial topic – managing stakeholders, users, budget holders, colleagues – whatever we want to call them. But we thought we’d approach it from a slightly different angle. So let’s look at how to make sure we can instil real hatred of the procurement function and the people within it amongst that population!

3. Talk your own language

It’s always good to baffle your users with a bit of jargon. It really impresses them and makes you look very knowledgeable and important. “We’re applying our seven step CatMan process across the global supply base to accelerate benefits delivery through a structured process of RFIs, eSourcing, and reverse combinatorial auctions whilst paying due regard to qualitative evaluation factors in our overall structured ITT methodology, and of course enabling supplier adoption to the underpinning vendor master data files through ERP and network portals”.

That should impress them. It also stops them asking too many difficult questions about why we do things, or trying to get involved in procurement too much. And they really think we’re smart people because of the language we use...

Well, of course it doesn’t impress anyone of any intelligence, and we all know that when we sit back and think about it. But in the heat of day to day pressure and rush, it is easy to slip into the language we’re comfortable with, and works fine when we are communicating with our own kind. But it doesn’t work so well when we’re talking to anyone outside that inner circle of procurement geeks.

For category managers, dealing with a defined user group, this is of particular importance. Not only do you need to avoid procurement jargon, you need to pick up at least some of your stakeholder subject matter expertise and language. If you’re buying raw materials, you need to understand enough about the industries and markets you’re buying in to be credible with suppliers and users. The same goes for complex services. You don’t have to be a deep IT or marketing specialist to be a good category manager, but you needs to develop a good working knowledge of those topics, functional areas and indeed their own jargon.

And bringing your own procurement language to the party doesn’t really help anyone. Think about using everyday words and language, and wherever possible express the benefits and outcomes of what you’re doing in ways that mean something to your audience – both in terms of basic understanding and in how the results might affect and benefit them.

Voices (2)

  1. RJ:

    Surely it’s a seven step process

  2. b+t:

    How many steps to go?

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