Attracting and retaining procurement talent



Recruiting, developing and keeping the very best talent in your function is no easy task. To clarify your thinking around the issue, there are a few questions you should be asking yourself to get where you want to be.


1. Who are you?


It’s natural to take pride in your company’s brand and to sell a role to potential recruits based on this brand identity. But, unless you’re a multinational organisation with an internationally renowned brand – and perhaps not even then – you shouldn’t rely on the brand alone to sell a position.


Instead, you should consider what procurement’s brand is within the company, and compare that with other functions in other companies. You need to think about what makes the function stand out to candidates. Identifying the strategic imperative that makes your company and function an exciting place to work will help strengthen your unique selling point.


2. What do you need?


To attract the right candidates, simply updating existing job specifications is not enough. You need to profile roles in depth and this should include input from the CPO, CFO and HR. Through collaboration, you can build strong specifications that work for everyone.


These specifications should focus on the experience the candidate has that the business could tap into and develop. Perhaps they are a self-starter with a background working in multinational environments, or they are experienced in driving change projects. These skills may not exactly match the current role, but they could be highly valuable within your team in the future.


Looking ahead to the skill sets of the future is also important as a candidate may have, for example, an aptitude for working with future digital resources, or the mindset to adapt to future procurement innovations.


Consider not just skill sets, but the personality qualities that your team will benefit from. Psychometric testing can assist here to help understand, not only the candidate’s ability and potential, but also their cultural fit.


3. What do they need?


It’s easy to focus on what you need from a candidate, without also considering their needs. If you want to hire the best person for the role, you need to show them how the role can benefit them too. You need to think about how you will help a candidate grow and develop valuable procurement skills.


But, the work doesn’t stop when someone is recruited. You need to also consider what happens once they are hired.


Here are some of the things you need to do to keep them in the function.


1. Encourage communication


The secret of retention is understanding and nurturing individuals. Listen to their needs and find out what motivates them to succeed. What path do they want their careers to head in and how can you help them get there? By communicating and building an open platform with your team, you will quickly find the answers.


2. Training


Your team members need to feel they have the capacity to grow. This means creating a space where they are encouraged to be curious and unafraid of failure.


As well as a growth culture, ongoing learning must be part of the fabric of the company. Procurement professionals need to be trained in the skills that will support the function’s strategy. For example, as digital innovation becomes more essential, training in this area is becoming increasingly important.


Technology giant Microsoft offers what it calls ’snackable learning’ – 20-minute lectures throughout the week, which are available across the company as podcasts. This is a great example of encouraging continued learning through accessible content.


3. Performance reviews

Providing feedback is another way teams can learn and communicate better. 360-degree feedback is an excellent way to provide constructive advice to your team, help them identify their strengths and weaknesses and plan where their focuses should be. It also allows individuals to respond to their managers with honest feedback, helping them improve their own management skills.


Get these things right and you will soon find your managers and your team performing at a higher level, which will result in greater performance from your function and improved business results.


Iain McKenna is Managing Director of executive search firm Sourcing Solved, specialising in procurement across the UK and Europe


This contributed article has been written by a guest writer at the invitation of Procurement Leaders. Procurement Leaders received no payment directly connected with the publishing of this content.

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