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As a procurement professional, there’s a good chance you’ve felt the pangs disappointment when colleagues viewing you as a passive paper-pusher, bean-counter or annoying bottleneck. These common misperceptions can lead to an ongoing source of frustration and you may even be feeling a bit disheartened in your everyday role. The key to turning the situation around is establishing credibility and breaking the chains of misunderstanding across other departments and management.
Why is Credibility Important?
We all want to be trusted by our peers and have our expertise respected by management. However, that trustworthiness is something that procurement professionals, in particular, have struggled to gain. Those who have successfully established trust and credibility have an easier time demonstrating their worth and seeing the benefits.
The results of this often include:
- Increased career growth and opportunities to take on bigger challenges
- Seeing ideas come to fruition
- Quicker buy-in and project approval
- Becoming a trusted advisor with a seat at the table
- Increased spend under management
Whether we like it or not, subjective factors play a role in decision-making. So, it’s important that coworkers understand your brand, value and ability to deliver. You might have a flawless presentation with indisputable ROI, but you may find it challenging getting the funding necessary if executives don’t know that they can trust you to execute the project successfully and by deadline. Therefore, it’s imperative to establish credibility and communicate your worth beyond just cost-savings.
How to Build Credibility
Gone are the days of a procurement approach that put process in the way of people getting things done. To gain the credibility you need, you need to be seen as a problem-solver and work hard on building relationships. You can’t establish trust and build a positive reputation overnight, but you can move the needle in the right direction with these steps.
Learn to Tell Your Story
Storytelling isn’t just for marketing departments. Procurement departments can greatly benefit from increasing communication about their brand, challenges and successes, and overall vision. Your procurement department can leverage its stories to prove its worth to the business by:
- Developing and publicizing a mission statement and vision, then documenting the principles and goals for your department. This will help clearly define your role for both procurement staff as well as the rest of the organization.
- Creating your own case studies. These are real-world examples, told in story form, of a challenge your department faced and how you tackled it. Keep your audience in mind and let that shape the structure of your story. Don’t be afraid to share struggles or mistakes made (and how you adjusted for them). This will make you more relatable.
Remember, the C-suite isn’t involved in your day-to-day challenges and won’t know about your successes unless you tell them. A little self-promotion goes a long way in establishing transparency, approachability, understanding, and building trusted relationships.
To overcome the notion that the main function of the procurement department is “cost reduction,” it’s time to stop using this as a main talking-point and refocus your communication. Internal clients are looking for high-quality, high-performing products and reliability – the exact things you’re capable of achieving! Be sure to tailor messages around the functions you’re looking to highlight through meaningful conversations and find new ways to connect with others:
- Stay in touch with stakeholders regarding projects. They’ll appreciate the ongoing communication and you’ll avoid unwelcome surprises.
- Make the message unique for each audience. Finance may be perfectly content with a numbers-driven style, whereas marketing and sales may appreciate the story-telling style discussed above. Executives and the Board may require a concise combination of numbers and context.
These simple methods will help you keep the lines of communication open and demonstrate a personal interest to the procurement contracts and projects that matter most to the organization. Credibility requires ongoing, thoughtful effort, but the hard work will pay back in spades if you start laying the foundation.