There’s no question that the ability to influence is a useful business skill. But for the procurement profession, it’s nothing short of critical.
Procurement professionals must effectively engage their key stakeholders to do their best work and deliver maximum value for the business.
How can professionals successfully articulate their ideas, create clear and compelling plans, gain “buy-in”, and communicate procurement’s value?
Here are PASA’ top five tips for successfully influencing your stakeholders.
1. Identify the stakeholders you need to influence
It would be foolish to embark on any major procurement project assuming that you already know who your key stakeholders are.
Before getting started, do your research to identify all the relevant stakeholders. Otherwise, you run the risk of an unidentified stakeholder creating roadblocks for you further down the line.
2. Understand your stakeholders’ motivations
It’s important to remember that influencing and empathy go hand in hand. What are your stakeholders’ main objectives, what’s motivating them to succeed, and how are their successes measured?
Once you’ve established this information, you’ll be able to communicate persuasively with your stakeholders.
3. Understand how your stakeholders perceive you
What is the overall perception of procurement within your organisation? Unfortunately, outdated attitudes towards the profession prevail, and you might need to re-educate your key stakeholders on the true purpose of procurement in today’s world and the value it contributes to the organisation. Be patient and prepared to answer any questions to challenge their stereotypes and move forward productively.
Generally improving the visibility of procurement across the entire business will put you in a better position to influence your stakeholders. Supplier diversity programs or sustainability initiatives are the sort of procurement achievements worth shouting about.
4. Follow their lead
To effectively influence your senior stakeholders, try to communicate in ways that work for them.
Think carefully about your language choices. You’ll lose or isolate your audience if you overuse highly technical procurement terms. Try to speak the language of the business rather than the language of procurement.
You should also think carefully about the methods of communication you use. The most senior stakeholders won’t have the time to catch up weekly or reply to dozens of emails. They might prefer a single email update each week or a monthly meeting.
Don’t assume that respecting boundaries precludes building meaningful relationships with your stakeholders. When you respect your stakeholders’ time and their preferred working style, you’ll likely find that it becomes easier to build rapport and, ultimately, exert your influence.
5. Strategize together
You might find it harder to successfully influence your key stakeholders if you approach them with a fully-fledged plan or strategy and simply ask for their approval. No matter how well-meaning your intentions, they could feel ambushed and less inclined to comply. Time-permitting, bring your stakeholders along for the journey by updating them on your progress, including them in the decision-making process, and securing their sign-off as you go.
Influencing senior stakeholders
Join PASA on 25th and 26th May for Influencing Senior Stakeholders, an event facilitated by Odelle Browen. Odelle is a certified Predictive Index Associate and i4 Neuroleader practitioner, founder of 8 Consulting with 15 years of successful history consulting within the talent management industry within Asia Pac.
Click here for more information and to register for the event.