Now that we’re about half way through the year, procurement departments are starting to refine expected savings and realizing the areas that will fall short of or exceed expected savings targets. The second half of the year can be a stressful time for teams falling below their goals and targets – but is also a critical time to keep procurement folks motivated and driving towards the proverbial finish line. There’s an entire industry built around employee motivation and recognition, but there are some specific ways Procurement can proactively manage their team’s expectations and motivation around organizational savings: 

Set Realistic and Informed Savings Goals – This is the most proactive step leaders can take to ensure procurement employees don’t feel left in the lurch when trying to reach their goals. Explain to your team how the targets were established, what categories savings are expected to come from, and what “counts” towards the goal within your organization (hint, you should be communicating and accounting for all ways Procurement adds value). Better yet, your team should be part of identifying opportunities within the categories and supply base that they manage to help inform the goal setting process. While this is tough to implement mid-year (especially if Procurement was handed down a target from “on high”), it’s a critical step that procurement leadership should take when planning next year’s goals. 

Managing Management – If you’re like many clients we work with, the pressure from leadership is likely stepping up around this time of year. Part of the role of managers is to strike the right balance in terms of passing on and shielding your team from that pressure. If a procurement team feels their leadership is advocating for the work they are doing and resetting expectations with management when necessary, they are more likely to feel secure in their roles, in the organization, and motivated to find creative solutions to help close the gap. 

Talk in Real Terms – Asking your team to “think strategically” or “go above and beyond” and using similarly generic buzzwords may leave your team questioning where they can really do more. Talk about real, actionable strategies related to their specific categories and collaborate to find creative solutions. 

Employee Recognition – With that said, be sure to recognize those that are exuding the actions, behaviors, and attitudes that you want to instill in your team, without creating an environment of “shaming” those who don’t make the list. Holding up employees who are role models and describing their work and accomplishments helps others understand how they may apply similar concepts and approaches to their work. 

Recognize More than Total Dollars – It may be easy to always acknowledge those who work in high dollar, high impact categories, but be sure to look for and recognize those who come up with creative solutions in smaller spend areas and “do more with less” to drive to their individuals goals or contribute other value-adds to the organization. 

Keep It Spicy – Sourcing and supplier management can at times feel repetitive or less than challenging; look for opportunities to expose your staff to other categories, supplier relationships, or to support sourcing initiatives outside of their typical category or supplier mix. This also helps to ensure your staff is trained in other categories in the event that changes in the team do occur. A fresh set of eyes on a category can also bring creative solutions to the table. 

Ask for Feedback – Different employees are motivated by different drivers and styles. Talk with your team individually to understand their concerns, what motivates them, and look to tailor your approach where possible as opposed to taking a blanket approach to motivating the team. 

It’s important for Procurement to work together and feel a collective ownership around the department’s goals and results. Especially in a time when it’s a candidate’s market and procurement talent is in high demand, make sure you’re not forgetting the importance of keeping and retaining the talented individuals who make these goals happen!
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Torey Guingrich

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