I pay, you talk!

At Jon Hughes' recent retirement do, he told a number of stories, most of which are pretty much unrepeatable. But one which illustrated a certain attitude to suppliers is suitable for family reading.

He described leading a workshop / training session and presenting to a group of procurement managers in Finland. Now the Finns are not known for their chatty, light-hearted, bubbly nature, and this group was no exception. Jon was working hard to get some audience participation and engagement in the material he was presenting.

He asked a question to try and build some involvement.  “So how would you approach this?”

No-one responded. Silence. So, in desperation, Jon pointed to a large Finnish gentleman sitting in the front row.

“How about you, sir. What do you think”?

Silence for a moment. Then the response came.

“I pay".

(Several seconds of silence).

"You talk”.

I thought that was a great story. But it does actually illustrate a serious point. We would all agree that you get more out of workshops and training sessions as a delegate if you engage, and it goes beyond one person simply lecturing for hours and hours. But with suppliers, it is tempting –through lack of time as much as anything sometimes, to just let them get on with it, and not to really get involved with them or what they’re doing.

“I’m paying, you get on delivering”.

But on most occasions, some deeper engagement will bring benefits, whether this is through giving them some feedback on performance, talking about new ideas, sharing concerns... it has a value.

So remember “I pay, you talk” next time someone says “we haven’t got time to waste talking to our suppliers”!

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