Talent Management is a very big topic in the procurement world, and for good reason.  The skill sets needed for an effective procurement team are incredibly diverse.  A good procurement professional is well versed in strategic sourcing best practices, but also must be highly analytical.  They must have keen negotiation skills to address suppliers, but also strong business acumen and change management skills to address internal stakeholders.  The best procurement professionals are extremely well rounded, and many don’t come from procurement at all, but have evolved into their positions after starting in finance, risk management or operations.

To make things more difficult, there is a training gap.  Supply chain management and procurement isn’t well covered in our colleges and universities.  Even today, very few business schools have curriculum or majors specific to our industry, and the ones that do are relatively new and un-vetted (with some very notable exceptions that have great programs).

While procurement has some unique challenges surrounding talent management, the struggle to build high performing teams is not unique to us.  Whether you lead a consulting team, an HR group or Sales – everyone wants high performance.  But what does that really mean?  How do you determine if your team is high performing, and if it’s not, how do you get it there?  

The first step is completing a gap assessment of your current state – what do you have today and where do you want it to be tomorrow?  At Source One, I recently created a relatively simple gap assessment in preparation for a 2017 planning session.  To do this, I pulled and aggregated key content from the self-performance reviews everyone on our staff takes at the end of the year.  The specific content I analyzed related to 2016 accomplishments and 2017 objectives.  Using this aggregated content, I created a word cloud to identify general themes.

I then compared and contrasted the themes from the word cloud with the goals and objectives that I and the rest of the leadership team at Source One have established for 2017, as well as our three year roadmap. Performing this gap assessment helped me identify where the team was aligned and where it wasn’t, which provided focus for the planning session.  Of course, not everyone will have ready access to this type of data, but generally speaking, if you want to have a high performing team, you need to start with a gap assessment.

Survey your team, compare those results to the goals your company, business unit or department have.  Then, tie those to the overarching goals and objectives of the business.  Take a look at your company mission statement, quarterly and annual reports, and five year plan.  What themes apply to the work that you do, and how do you make sure those themes are built into the everyday work that your team is performing?  Once you’ve established what your team’s role is in making the company high performing, you can tie it to individual team member’s goals and objectives and well as the over-arching organizational structure and roles/responsibilities of the team.

After establishing the expectation of what high performing is to the group you lead, you need to keep two things in mind – continuous improvement and continuous alignment.  Both are necessary to ensure teams continue to perform at high standards.  Make sure the team is measured in a way that keeps them high performing and that progress is reviewed on a regular basis.  Motivation is critical for a high performing team, and consistent evaluation and level setting will motivate good people.  Further, stay in tune with your company’s mission – if it changes then your team needs to know that.  Continually improving and aligning ensures the team has visibility into ever changing market conditions and that their performance stays at high standards.  It also builds towards a culture that expects high performance as standard operating procedure – which in turn makes maintaining momentum much easier! 
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Joe Payne

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