Talent Management the key to unlocking procurement potential

Sara Horder is senior partner of Investigo, part of IN Group, and explains why Talent Management is pivotal to procurement in such testing times

A company is only as good as its people. Talent management is vital to procurement as it allows organisations to identify and develop capabilities that can both both bolster its everyday proficiencies, and help it to navigate through wider challenges such as the pandemic, the Ukraine war and all the endless supply chain disruptions that we have come to know all too well.

As a result, the role of procurement in creating solutions has become even more essential than it was just five years ago.

Procurement departments need to ensure that they attract and retain top talent, to avert further crises and develop their companies. But how? “The key area is coming to market at the right level,” says Sara Horder, senior partner of procurement practice at Investigo.

Part of The IN group, Investigo is a leading recruitment agency, delivering talent to a large client base of blue chip corporations, agencies and start-ups.

“The moment you undervalue a role, is when the attraction doesn’t really stay alive,” she says.

“Feedback through interview processes is undervalued as a really good tool to retain your brand in the market, firstly because it allows a candidate to develop and see where they can improve if unsuccessful, and it also allows a business to reflect on what they want as well as retaining their brand and repeat applications in the future.”

Horder says that it's all about the process and brand you represent. “We have seen a big drive in employee branding and I think this is an important tool in terms of retaining and attracting talent. So it’s a great tool to both engage current staff, as well as to utilise to attract top talent to organisations.” 

As a line manager, giving regular feedback is useful. It allows employees to address any concerns, develop their strengths and work on their progress.

“Personally,” says Horder, “I believe coaching is a massive element to success, where you are leading people to the answers rather than telling someone how to do it.

“It's very similar when dealing with a supplier as a procurement professional, because what value do you get when you tell them what you want, rather than taking them on a journey?

Managing procurement talent: Securing the future

Procurement leaders need to identify and develop high-potential employees within their teams to build a strong pipeline of future talent.

For Horder, developing a culture of continuous learning and development is where you will develop high potential employees whilst also building a strong pipeline. “You also need to be covering all bases in terms of passive, internal and external candidates. Being proactive in the market is where I see a shortage across companies, because sometimes the best hires are made when a company isn’t actively looking. It's all about the introduction of ‘hot’ talent on the market, and what looks good is where businesses will stay ahead.”

She says that some businesses do really well in hiring at all levels, from graduate to executive level, “and this allows candidates to develop in an organisation, but also coming in at a higher level with different experience, provides the opportunity to do things differently and have a birds eye view of a department.”

DE&I in the workforce and effective procurement

DE&I can have a positive impact on business performance in a magnitude of ways from greater innovation and skill sharing, to increased productivity and higher revenues. Horder says that when an organisation is hiring, it shouldn’t always hire the same capabilities, as that can limit the creativity in teams and halt growth. “Having a number of ways to do things allows for innovation, and having a broader skill set within teams can encourage continuous learning and development,” she says.

“So if you’re looking to recruit the very best talent, you’ll need to make sure you are doing everything you can to improve diversity in your business. You will also need to offer full transparency so that potential talent can see exactly what you offer, and choose your business over competitors.”

Training procurement teams

Training is imperative, especially when we talk about the development of the younger generation and the newly-forged culture of working-from-home. Horder says: “because of the working from home element, I think it’s really difficult for a lot of people to develop, learn and progress.

“Not having the ability to easily bounce ideas off someone who you might sit next to in an office, can directly impact productivity.

“Training also improves job satisfaction and retention, as it makes employees feel valued and that you are investing into the future. Team training days are really effective as they bring the culture together and set a framework for sharing new skills and ideas with colleagues which allow for development.”

Key challenges and keys to overcome

Horder holds that one of the biggest challenges companies have, “particularly large corporates,” she says, “is attempting to carry out their recruitment processes all by themselves. There is a reason why I still have my job - because it is a full time job!”

She says that an organisation can adopt the following techniques when they partner with a specialised recruitment business:

  • High quality candidates – whether they are passive or active
  • Specific market knowledge in terms of benchmarking particular roles
  • Customer services and building on a longer-term relationship where a partner can introduce you to future talent
  • Building the future – a good partner doesn’t just talk about the now – they futureproof what might be coming, and offer support on a longer-term 

All of the above are reflective to both a client and candidate and offer a great advantage of supercharging talent management. 

“Overall, these days it isn’t just about the money,” says Horder. “It’s about the overall package and not just about the numbers. It’s about the training, the team, overall progression and business culture that will attract and retain talent.” She says that internal opportunities are also a decisive factor.

“For business in general, and perhaps now especially for procurement, for an organisation to be able to retain talent and develop internal employees in new areas, demonstrates that it values its people.”

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