Procurement Activities for the Long Hot Summer – Thinking about People

We said last week that we would take a look at some of the activities to keep procurement practitioners busy if you’re stuck in the office through the long, hot (?) summer. As there are fewer meetings, conferences or other external events to occupy your time in August, it is a good period to catch up on things that sometimes get squeezed down the priority list at other times of the year. Use the opportunity wisely, and get on the front foot ready for the autumn.

So today, let’s think about people-related activities, ideas and projects that you might catch up on during this relatively quiet period.

If you have staff working for you, how are they doing? Assuming they have training and development plans (and if they don’t, there’s a good idea ... ), do they still look appropriate at this stage? These days, even large organisations tend to put more emphasis on self-development, rather than spoon-feeding formal courses to people. But that means some people just don’t bother, or get forgotten. Do they read Spend Matters? Seriously, if people aren’t interested enough in their “profession” to read a few carefully chosen media sources, then it is probably not the profession for them.

What about the balance between technical skills and the softer, behavioural skills? There’s been a move towards the latter in recent times, which was probably appropriate, but perhaps in some cases organisations have gone too far. Technical skills, such as negotiation, market or supplier analysis, financial analysis, project management and so one are still vital for many roles. That’s not to play down the vital softer skills such as influencing, team-working, listening, and creativity of course.

Then, if you are in a management role, there is recruitment. If you can attract the right people into your organisation, that’s a great head start. I have a strong personal bias towards the specialist procurement firms such as GPA, Langley and Edbury Daley compared to the faceless giants who do everything (however successful they are in getting their names in front of us as conference sponsors and so on). Retention is just as important as recruitment, of course – if you are losing people, you need to understand why. So now might be a good time to review how you recruit retain and motivate people.

That’s just a few thoughts for now. And if you ever think, in terms of people issues or indeed anything else, “no, there’s nothing really I need to do differently or additionally in my job” - then for your organisation’s sake, and your own, you need a new role as soon as possible!

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