Today, it’s widely accepted that what differentiates the most successful procurement professionals from the also-rans is their soft skills. The ability to communicate information accurately, clearly, and as intended is perhaps the most important of all. But improving your communication skills requires much more than improving the succinctness of your emails or producing more sophisticated slide decks.
As a procurement professional, you communicate in so many ways, through various channels, and with many different types of stakeholders. One challenge the profession has continually faced is how to effectively communicate procurement’s value-add and position within the organisation – particularly amongst the naysayers who continue to question the function’s purpose.
Here are six ways for procurement professionals to master the art of corporate communication with internal stakeholders.
1. Understand the organisation’s priorities
If you want to secure buy-in from your internal stakeholders, be sure to communicate in terms that they can both understand and relate to.
For example, if you’re pitching to or engaging with a senior leader, it’s important to do your homework to understand what motivates them and their key business drivers. How can you adjust your communication style to appeal to these factors? Remember that procurement’s role, like every other function, is to support the organisation at large in realising its objectives.
2. Educate…. with patience
If you’re achieving massive business savings, driving innovation, and implementing sustainability and supplier diversity initiatives, it’s pretty frustrating to be confronted with a whole host of internal stakeholders who still don’t “get” procurement.
However, rather than letting your frustrations get the better of you, commit to nurturing relationships with your internal stakeholders, patiently educate them on the work you’re doing and why it matters, and run training events where necessary to improve compliance.
3. Prioritise the most important relationships
Building relationships is time-consuming. You certainly don’t have the resources at your disposal to nurture meaningful relationships with every single supplier, and the same applies to internal relationships.
Think of it in much the same way as you would your preferred supplier programme. Prioritise the relationships that matter the most and work to improve those with more frequent and meaningful communication.
4. Ask for feedback
Don’t be afraid to ask internal stakeholders for feedback following the completion of a project. What was their experience of working with procurement? Which processes worked for them and which didn’t? The information you obtain will inform how you communicate with stakeholders in the future and ultimately drive better business relationships.
5. Be honest and transparent
Honesty and transparency are two essential components of effective communication. Building good relationships with your internal stakeholders doesn’t mean you should choose to sugarcoat problems, make decisions without their consultation or approval, or omit significant details. You’ll build trust faster if you address problems as they arise and involve your stakeholders in the decision-making process.
Improving communication with internal stakeholders is as much about listening to them as it is about actively communicating. Never assume you know what your stakeholders need. Instead, make sure you find the time to ask them what they want from you and be receptive to their concerns and queries.
PASA Virtual Event – Mastering Corporate Communications
16th – 23rd August 2021 | 6 x 90-minute online sessions
This highly interactive online learning program will be hosted by Davina Stanley, MD Clarity Thought Partners, and help to bring clarity to your communications. Program participants will see significant shifts in their ability to engage others in their messages.
You can find out more information and register for the event here.