Daily Archives: January 24, 2017

Talent Tempering: Part I

In our last two series we discussed Technology Advances and Process Transformation, which SI calls Transition, two of the three T’s critical for organizational success. The third T is talent — which must not only be in abundance, but which must also be appropriate for the organization. For example, hiring the most senior buyer from your competitor is not going to bring your organization the talent it needs if that senior buyer’s expertise is indirect spend (to your organization) — such as telecom, computing equipment, etc. — but you are a direct materials CPG company primarily producing electronics such as TVs, home gaming systems, and stereo systems.

Nor will that top talent be any good to you if their expertise is negotiation and relationship management and you have two people like that on your team but you are missing experience with modern analytics and optimization solutions — which your organization solely needs to acquire and adopt. In short, the talent has to be tempered to your needs — which means they collectively need the skills, wisdom, and technical knowledge your Supply Management department needs to excel.

In other words, it’s not just the IQ (skills), EQ (emotional intelligence and wisdom), and TQ (technical know-how) of the individual, but of the team as a whole. And this is something a lot of organizations miss. So how do you temper your talent?

Well, you start with a page from the process transformation handbook that says before you can make any changes for the better, you first have to understand where you are, then where you want to be, and identify the gaps. Then make a plan to complete them.

But how do you do this?

Last summer, Charles Dominick of Next Level Purchasing penned a post on Assessing a Procurement Team’s Skills where he noted that there are three major ways of assessing a Procurement’s team skills:

  • Self Assessment
    where each team member assesses themselves
  • Manager Assessment
    where a manager assesses each team member’s skills against a standardized assessment
  • Third-Party Assessment
    where a third party comes in, creates what they feel is an appropriate assessment, and

These are all valid methods, and SI would also add:

  • Team Assessment
    where team-mates assess each other

but each of these has their strengths and weaknesses. An individual will over-rate or under-rate her actual skill depending upon both her understanding of what that skill is and her personality (boisterous or timid). A manager will be slightly biased to favoured, hard-working, and/or high-performing employees (in her definition, whether she realizes it or not). Team members will have limited views of their team-mates skills based on typical day to day interactions since the organization does not have a modern tool, and since Jim (who is the only Engineer on the team) has been assigned to requirements definition and verification, might not know that Jim is an adept spend analyst, and not give Jim the nod here. And third parties will only be able to measure against their measurement paradigm — which will often be written tests or standardized exercises, that may not exercise a particular skill or fit in with the team member’s style. (For example, Bob, who has been in Procurement for 30 years and started out as a Sales Account Manager, is an adept negotiator and great at getting true value adds thrown in to a deal at no cost, but a poor-test taker, and can’t really articulate this valuable capability to the third party).

That’s why SI recommends that you start with a (weighted) collective assessment that performs all of these assessments (where each team member rates themselves and gets rated by 3-5 peers, their manager, and a third party) and integrates them into one single assessment. The weights will be based on confidences and allow an organization to compile a reasonable accurate view of each individual and the team with respect to the desired team capability.

Then the organization can truly begin to temper the talent in earnest, which is what will be discussed in Part II.