Monday 24 April 2017

How to use one of the Soft Skills Postcards

"How do we use the Soft Skills postcards?" was one question arising from a discussion about the newly launched Purchasing Coach Soft Skills Toolkit.

The toolkit contains a series of postcards written to Procurement from a selection of Soft Skills - there's been a couple of blogs to give you a flavour so far - one on Change Management and one on Emotions.

As with any of the unconventional tools I use in my coaching or training there's always a positive intention behind using them. ALWAYS.

In this instance the postcards have been written with the aim of starting a conversation about Soft Skills - what are they? what do they help you achieve? what are the implications of not using a Soft Skill well or at all? how is your relationship with them currently helping or hindering you? what does good look like? what about not so good? what steps might you want to take to develop a particular Soft Skill more fully? when will you take those steps? how will you check the outcome or impact of those actions? and so on.

The postcards just provide these discussions with a different perspective or two.

Let's consider the postcard sent to Procurement from Change Management:


Dear Procurement,

In preparation for the launch of the Hays Procurement Salary Guide and Insights 2017 we were looking at the insights from 2016. Unfortunately I'm not sure it was such a good idea, as we ended up being very upset to see that only 46% of those participating thought Change Management was an important skill, where as 80% thought Communication and Soft Skills were.

Ignoring the semantics of whether Change Management is a soft skill, we're a little puzzled by the outcome. To that end, we've invited Problem Resolution and Creativity over for a meal during the week to help explore what we could be doing differently to raise awareness of how much of what Procurement does involves Change Management.

If you're putting in place a new system, a new process or wanting a wider set of KPIs we're involved. If you're changing suppliers we're involved both internally and externally. If you're developing sourcing, category or relationship strategies were involved. We're also involved if you're wanting to implement or roll out a new contract. In short there's very little of what you do that doesn't include us.

We agree Communication and Influencing skills are great, but how you use them is informed by what you're wanting to do, and if that involves change then there's other factors at play that you need to be aware of before you can decide on a communication or influencing strategy.

It would seem we need to adopt some of our own models to help you change your views about what we're saying. We may need to go back and review the different words we use to depict change.

We look forward to making the journey with you, so that together we can truly transform organisational Procurement.  

With Love from Change Management 

The aim of the Postcard is to provide some food for thought about your relationship with Change Management.

Questions you may want to consider or, if you're working in a group, might discuss or explore include:
  • What is change management? 
  • What other words are used instead of change management? 
  • Does the choice of word have an impact on the recipient of the words? is that impact positive or negative?
  • What are the different models of change management? When would you use them? 
  • What procurement activity does change management apply to? What activities would it not apply to?
  • What are the implications or ignoring change management?
  • What elements of change management do you need to consider before developing a communication or influencing strategy?
  • What will you do to develop this skill further? 
Hopefully this example has given you a sense of just how useful these postcards could be as personal or team prompts to develop soft skills within your organisation.

Always happy to help with coaching, training, facilitation or development of a (conventional or unconventional) soft skills programme.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Unlocking Procurement Potential Using Unconventional Tools. +44(0)7770 538159

How to buy, and more about the Purchasing Soft Skills Toolkit here.

© Alison Smith 2017

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