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With ever-increasing interest surrounding the Procurement Leaders' Women in Procurement mentoring programme, it is clear to see that mentoring is important to the development of many procurement careers. Done right, mentoring programmes have the potential to enable the future generation of procurement talent to obtain the skills and experience needed to progress through the function.
In the latest Procurement Leaders' Salary Survey 2017, the trend for women in the profession to earn less than men continued, as did the trend in women struggling to get into senior management positions. The pay gap only seems to narrow when women do manage to reach those senior positions. So how can procurement help women, and men, reach their full potential and these senior roles? In senior leaders sharing their experiences with more junior and mid-level employees, knowledge can be passed on to the future leaders of the function.
And the importance of this is reflected in the Salary Survey data collected on job satisfaction, which found that one of the most important considerations to job satisfaction was mentoring opportunities, ranking as a higher priority than pay among respondents.
Regardless of seniority or experience, all professionals should be open to learning throughout their careers and mentoring is a prime example of this in action. Both traditional mentoring and reverse mentoring programmes can be beneficial value-adding exercises for both the mentor and the mentee when executed correctly. But there are a few practical considerations to bear in mind.
When matching mentor and mentee together it's essential that they are well-suited, and while this can vary depending on the context, it is important that both parties feel listened to. Further, the roles and expectations of the mentor and mentee must be clear from the offset. After all, sporadic or poor quality learning time will be of no benefit to either party.
When implementing a mentoring programme, understanding what the end goal is and measuring the success of this goal is key to building on and better developing the programme for the future. Structured KPIs or weekly meetings can be useful to record the progress of the scheme. Yet it should always be remembered that there is not a one size fits all model and bringing together two different personalities will not always bring about instant success and congruency.
While patience and adjusting to the needs of individuals is key, it is important to be able to recognise when a partnership isn't working. In this instance, it is necessary to revaluate and find alternative partners, and this can also provide essential feedback to HR teams to find out how the matching process can be improved upon going forwards.
Aside from preparing a pathway for the future leaders of the function, mentoring helps employees develop the interpersonal skills necessary to take the function itself forwards, as procurement moves towards a role with a greater emphasis on softer skills. It also encourages members of staff to challenge themselves and learn more.
Of course inspiration for staff improvement can come from a number of places, but sometimes the best untapped resources can come from within the team or organisation itself.
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders' content team.
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