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Your procurement department faces headwinds daily. From commodity volatility and broader supply chain risk to complex negotiation talks and dealing with difficult stakeholders, your team needs to be an elite force of highly skilled individuals. However, the success of the procurement department requires more than just the skills developed on the job. A great manager should also focus on identifying and capitalizing on the untapped talent on the team. By doing so, these hidden talents can catapult your team into a strategic powerhouse.

Take a look at your team and see if you can identify these three types of personalities.

Flexible Fast Thinkers

Even in the face of chaos, your flexible fast thinkers are the team members who stay level-headed and focused on the task despite the disarray around them. These procurement professionals put on an effortless balancing act of keeping procurement’s quantitative goals aligned with the company’s overarching objectives in the face of high risk and volatile pricing.

Where to place them: Flexible fast thinkers would excel in categories that exhibit high supply chain risk and volatile pricing where they can put their fast thinking skills to the test. Categories where buyer bargaining power is low is also a good avenue for these professionals.

Rapport Building Intuits

Is there someone on your team with the remarkable ability to quickly build rapport with others and sense their wants and needs? These professionals are your rapport building intuits whose strength is their ability to build relationships and read people. These skills come in handy because relationship management is paramount to the success of any procurement department. Procurement is constantly dealing with people, from internal stakeholders and end users to existing and prospective suppliers. A team member who can easily read people and navigate conversations to ensure a win-win scenario is imperative to the success of the overall team.

Where to place them: Rapport building intuits thrive in high-stakes negotiations where interpersonal skills and the ability to read people will be invaluable when navigating tough discussions. Their ability to read people and react accordingly will also see these individuals excel at managing categories with internal stakeholders who have difficult personalities.

Optimistic Change Managers

Every procurement team needs someone who is more than just flexible – they need optimistic change managers. These procurement professionals are positive go-getters with an uncanny ability to think outside of the box – in fact, they remove the box altogether to replace it with a better alternative. In addition to their flexibility, you can count on these individuals to ensure any major change goes over smoothly with the entire team. The rollout of a new software or technology can send shockwaves throughout the entire procurement department. These changes can also affect roles and responsibilities, i.e., when manual tasks are suddenly automated. The optimistic change manager on your team can weather the changing tides and keep morale high.

Where to place them: Optimistic change managers shine in categories with low market share concentration, because the reduced number of suppliers will require some creative thinking to garner the best deal. Categories with exact specifications or high specialization will also require some innovative thinking, thus making them suitable for the optimistic change manager on your team.

Find It and Nurture It

As a leader, you can certainly teach and train your procurement team on the technology the department uses as well as category proficiency and general procurement know-how. But the talents listed above are typically raw and unteachable. Luckily, they often come naturally to people drawn to procurement, so expose those hidden talents during recruitment of new employees and during employee reviews to retain team members. After all, new skills, processes and techniques can be learned throughout a career, but the natural talents lying in wait are the ones that will transform your procurement team and allow your department to have a greater influence on the company.

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