Thursday 8 January 2015

Is there room for kindness in procurement?

I use cards like the one above in a number of ways in the coaching, facilitation and training I do. They're great tools for exploring and generating debate on a subject, providing an alternate view point or even for reinforcing learning.
Over recent months I've had many conversations with fellow trainers, coachees and workshop participants on whether certain words in the pack I use apply to procurement or more broadly business.
As you'd expect people have differing views about applying some words - some don't like the word Healing, Grace or Peace. I don't suppose I'm so surprised with people's reaction to these words, although I can myself always find a link :-). The word that people have difficulty with that most suprises me is Kindness!
My personal reaction is if we can't bring kindness into procurement relationships then we're doomed. Our relationships are made up of individuals and these individuals thrive and flourish on kindness - yes including supplier representatives. 

I think it comes back to what I was talking about yesterday - the desire to not want to change. To keep to the stereotype of what we think a procurement professional should be like. Kindness in this scenario is then seen as showing weakness, and potentially opening ourselves up for manipulation by others. 

Really? Is that the reason so many pull back from showing kindness to a supplier? Is that really how it works - because if it does it means we're saying that every time we've ever shown kindness we've been manipulated in return! And whilst there are people out there who would do that it's not the majority and we know that. 

There's a card in another set I use that says "vulnerability is perfect protection". I wonder whether sometimes we draw back from kindness for fear of the vulnerability that may emerge as a result? 

What ever the reason I repeat - if we can't show kindness in the work we do then we're doomed. Business and procurement isn't an activity where we leave our values and common decency at the door. They're activities calling out for us to show our vulnerability and be ourselves in relation to others we work with - whether colleagues, stakeholders, or suppliers representatives. Surely any relationship therefore has to include kindness? 
When and how will you show kindness at work today?  
Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out - when what you're doing isn't working
See here for more on other facilitation tools I use in my work.

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