ProcureCon Marketing Day 2: Talent, Talent, Talent — and Which Colour Square Are You?

Yesterday we reported on some of the events during the first half of the morning session at ProcureCon Marketing last week. The rest of the morning proved just as interesting with two more presentations before lunch, focusing mainly on Talent.

The first “Listen, Learn and Share - How should you attract, nurture and retain marketing procurement talent?” was a non-conventional presentation delivered via Sopan Shah, Head of Procurement, Global Advertising & Marketing Services, Nestle and Michael Connett, Senior Strategic Sourcing Manager, Sales & Marketing, Intel, answering a series of questions:

So, what skillset and capabilities should the ideal marketing procurement professional have? The secret, we were told, is to look for talent in places you wouldn’t normally expect, and you can leverage your agency partners to help you do that. What’s crucial is to find people who are genuinely passionate about their brand. People with an emotional connection make the best communicators. And they don’t necessarily have to come from traditional procurement roles, it could be marketing, sales, HR …

Strategic sourcing can be taught, but you can’t teach someone to be a good business leader. A passionate leader will attract energetic people to roles.

How can you address talent management in a changing marketing procurement function? You need to adopt a strong integration programme to develop them and focus on procurement activities. Get them fully involved early on and assign a ‘buddy’ to mentor them, do sabbaticals and design a career path. Strong people skills can be found across all categories, those are the ones we want to encourage into marketing procurement. It is important to get to know your people socially too – to understand where they want to be in the next 10 years. And when you do get people in from other areas, make sure they spend time actually in the agencies, it’s all part of a well rounded development programme.

What good examples are there of talent management programmes?  At Nestle, coaching is an integral part of the organisation, and from a marketing procurement standpoint, most mentoring is with external candidates. It is a huge company, there are 300,000 people, and all of them touch marketing at some point. We develop people by coaching, internally or externally, what matters is to not be afraid to let them make mistakes. We learn from that. It’s important to encourage lateral opportunities.

At Intel, mentoring is part of the integration programme, but the balance has to be right within the marketing sourcing function, the right mix of experience and mentoring. If high potential is spotted talent-wise, then Intel will place a lot of investment in developing that through training – it’s an investment in the future leaders of the company.

So talent management is vital. And that doesn’t just apply to the young or new talent. There’s often a lot of talent sitting right under your nose, but it has been allowed to stagnate. Questions must be asked about where the passion now lies, and openings should be found in other areas.

These remarks provoked some questions: one of which was “Is Procurement competent at providing feedback? And the answer was: Procurement in many organisations is still very much seen as a service function. We must integrate internal feedback, just like we do for external suppliers, and show that we understand the business’ needs, otherwise we are failing in our job. And when given  feedback, Procurement needs to receive it not as criticism, but as continual improvement. The full session can be downloaded from June 12 on the ProcureCon website.

To finish off the morning we had a very revealing classroom session: Leadership Programme: Superior Influencing and Relationship Skills by Doug Spence, Managing Partner, Spence Associates, international training and coaching firm. It focused on understanding what makes people tick and how to influence them, leverage that knowledge and improve inter-personal effectiveness.

Doug was going to show us how to be the 1 in 10, not 1 of 10 and give us useable and actionable takeaways to get better results. So, he began by asking how flexible we thought we were. He had us all stand up and perform a few exercises (good job is was before lunch not after). After a range of arm acrobatics and shadowing people’s arm folding, he managed to make us see, through a sprinkling of psychology dust, that we aren’t actually as flexible as we thought. The lesson was that as with the physiological, so with the psychological.

We expect others to change to accommodate our ways and needs, but are slow to change ourselves. We have to learn to respond, but 80 % of adults won’t change, because after the age of 21, most behaviour patterns are solid. So it’s the other 20 % that companies are interested in – they are still flexible.

Basically, responding better to others makes for a better relationship . If you understand the preferred communication style of someone, you can respond accordingly. Behaviour flexibility makes for better business interactions, whether that be negotiating a deal or giving SRM feedback to suppliers.

So we did a simple test – a People Styles Profiler. We answered a list of questions about our behaviour. Scored them and plotted ourselves on a grid with 4 colour-coded squares: top left was Yellow, representing Promoting (the cappuccino profile - more froth than substance!); top right was Green, representing Supporting (they love everyone - a bit too nice!); bottom left was Red, Controlling (there are two views, mine and the wrong one!) and bottom right, Blue, Anaylsing (think before they speak, sometimes just think!) -- (see picture).

It was fun of course, but it did show us how to identify our own influencing style and communicate confidently and concisely at all levels and with all kinds of people. And No, I’m not telling you which square we fell into!

For full instructions on how to and how not to behave with certain kinds of person, the slides will be available on the ProcureCon website from June 12th.

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