I've written before that my life changed in 2000 after attending a Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner workshop. Changed, because I started to take responsibility for the outcomes I was getting in life and at work. I was easier to deal with, and the world felt a lot easier to deal with too.
There was another aspect to the change - and that was the work I was doing.
Prior to the workshop I was a Procurement and Category Manager responsible for procurement activities. In other words, I was involved in getting the most value out of the goods and services being bought by the organisation. Something I'd been doing for 15 years at that time.
After attending the NLP workshop additional activities crept in utilising the tools I was learning - my title also changed to reflect these new responsibilities - Procurement Communication and Personal Development Manager.
If I was to describe what I became then it was a manager responsible for the personal and professional development, well being, and effectiveness of the team, and coach when people were stuck. Stuck - in either their personal or professional lives.
Perhaps put more simply I helped them unlock their potential.
If it's not too soft and fluffy I believe the benefits of unlocking people's potential goes without saying. Just in case it's not so clear to others, what I've observed in the 17 years since that first workshop is that unlocking someones potential can improve or increase their: (in no particular order)
- Confidence - at the very least positively impacting their influencing and negotiation skills with internal stakeholders and suppliers.
- Taking personal responsibility rather than blaming others for outcomes.
- Taking personal responsibility rather than leaving it for others to do.
- Relationship management - ensuring they have engaged stakeholders and suppliers on their side not playing for the opposition.
- State management - ie an ability to manage their state of mind and body in the moment to respond appropriately to any situation.
- Awareness of others - and understanding that we're not all the same, and we may all have different meanings for the same words, and different perspectives on what the right strategy will be.
- Giving constructive feedback rather than burying their head in the sand.
- Trying news ways of working rather than falling back on the all too familiar patterns and ways of working.
- Empathy - to put themselves in the shoes of team members, stakeholders and suppliers.
- Finding solutions rather than just identifying the problems.
- Responding appropriately to others.
- Management and leadership skills.
- Ability to accept change for themselves, and manage change in others.
- Being happier and more engaged at work.
- Creativity and innovation - to deliver breakthrough opportunities and to not just always assume tendering is the answer.
- Focus and direction - to get more of the right things done every day.
- Knowing the difference between passivity, assertion and aggression, and when to use them rather than act from the default.
- Resilience - allowing them to bounce back from set backs and resistance from others.
- Communication style - improving understanding and relationships within the procurement team and beyond.
- Flexibility of approach to dealing with others. e.g. not bringing out resistance in others we need to support our actions is always a positive outcome.
- Acceptance and focus on their own development areas.
- Organisation and planning - I developed this pinterest board on time management after some 1:3 clinics on the subject last year.
- Motivation - ie enthusiasm vs boredom and frustration. It depends on what someone is doing whether just doing the job with little passion is good enough, or whether passion and enthusiasm will bring added benefit to their work and the results they deliver.
- Understanding of the impact of making judgements of others.
- Well being.
- and so on.
- Fear - of failure, of speaking, of success, of moving on, and so on.
- Making assumptions - Deep Water Horizon is a great example, if the movie is based on fact, of the disastrous impact of making assumptions. You'll find other horror stories of procurement gone wrong in Pinterest where I'd suggest a large percentage of the reason it even happened is due to 'how' the procurement team did what they did.
- Cutting corners when it's not safe to do so.
- Going around in circles.
- Taking their head out of the sand on the negative impact they're having on other people, and the other persons performance.
- Paying lip service to 'soft skills' development (forgive a girl for trying :-)).
For the last 11 years I've been self employed delivering a mix of category management consultancy, training and coaching - with a whole load of unconventional tools, development of the 'how', and unlocking potential thrown in too. See my year in blogs for a sense of what 2016 entailed.
In 2017 I'm looking to further expand the elements of my role that deal with 'how' procurement teams do what they do, and unlocking their potential.
If you're interested in developing the 'how' they do what they do to further unlock the potential of your team please do get in touch - firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)7770 538159.
I look forward to exploring what unconventional tools (or maybe even conventional ones) would support your team most so they may exceed yours and the board's expectations.
The Purchasing Coach
Using unconventional tools to unlock the potential of procurement teams.
The picture above is one of 96 jigsaw pieces we had engraved with the objectives of the procurement team for that year. Everyone had one jigsaw piece, and took them to meetings to swap and discuss. As objectives were met an online jigsaw was completed - see below for a real life attempt at completing it at one team meeting!
This innovative approach, along side other activities, ensured an improvement from bottom quartile in the MORI staff opinion poll in our first year after merger to upper quartile the following year - including the following improvements.
- Feeling motivated in present job: 19% increase
- Feeling valued: 32% increase
- Satisfaction with communications: 42% increase