Rebecca Howard explains how the ideas of an expert in motivation can help procurement professionals achieve results
We’ve all been there – your projects aren’t progressing as you had hoped and the job just seems to be running out of steam. So your energy levels dip and pretty soon your motivation is on the skids too. As a procurement professional keen to make a success of your work, this is a situation you want to avoid. Motivation – that inner force that drives you on to greater things – is a crucial factor in your continuing success.
Dan Pink is an expert in motivation who explores behavioural science to help understand our attitudes to work and business performance. His most recent book, Drive - The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us identifies three areas that create motivation in professional people.
First, he says, it’s important to have a sense of autonomy, that is, the ability to design your own working priorities. Google has benefited by offering its software engineers “20 per cent time” where they can work on whatever projects they feel benefit the organisation for a fifth of their working week. Google says this enables their engineers to do what they’re really passionate about. Highly successful Google products such as AdSense for Content and Orkut were ideas that came out of 20 per cent time.
A second factor in creating motivation is a sense of purpose – the feeling that you are making a difference by delivering benefits to your organisation, community or colleagues. Pink says this is more powerful than financial reward.
Finally, “mastery” is crucial, says Pink – a feeling that you are achieving personal improvement. These should be recognised and celebrated by line managers at work, including even the smallest signs of progress.
Procurement managers could learn a lot from this in achieving more in their own roles and in helping increase motivation among the individuals in their teams. Here are some ideas under the three headings identified by Pink:
Autonomy: be proactive in setting your procurement goals. You probably have a good idea of the areas that would benefit your supply relationships, but it may be difficult to gain the support to make it happen. Create a business case for change by showing the resource and return involved, using a formal approach like ADR’s Opportunity Analysis. It’s a great way to demonstrate your commitment to getting a procurement return on investment.
Purpose: focus your category performance on business needs. Procurement professionals work with stakeholders to identify the goals of any category sourcing activity, but these aspirations are often diminished when we start to manage the contract and operational issues distract us. By creating performance measures for our suppliers and our own organisation that specifically link back to what we hoped to get out of the sourcing effort, we are more likely to feel that procurement is really making a difference to the business.
Mastery: understand your personal development needs. In the challenging world of procurement, it can be difficult to feel that you are really making a difference. You may have worked hard to avoid a cost increase or reduce the risk in a project, but the benefits are not cashable.
However, if you understand what skills are preventing you from being more effective at work, you can find interventions to help achieve personal improvement. For example, better influencing skills may help you to support stakeholders to re-engineer specifications. Or a greater legal understanding could mean better contracting skills. Using skills assessment such as ADR’s DNA (Development Needs Analysis) is a great way to measure whether your skills gaps have been closed after the training you required has been completed.
Rebecca Howard is Director of ADR Learning, the training and development division of ADR International
Mastery: understand your personal development needs. In the challenging world of procurement, it can be difficult to feel that you are really making a difference.