Prevent A Skills Gap, Invest in People

empower employees-with skills

“Building the skills and capabilities of employees, together with the need to identify, develop and nurture the skills and abilities of future managers and leaders, will be central to organizational performance in the recovery.” –  Larry Gould, chief executive of Australia-wide Business Training 

One of the main reasons skills in public procurement are deteriorating is that companies have not stayed focussed on developing their employees capabilities, mostly due to time and cost in the previously unstable economy. Another reason could be that there are too much emphasis and trust invested in new technology and too little attention paid to employee development. Fear of investing in employee development could be as petty as: an improved employee will desert them for a higher paying job at a better or larger company.

Some companies are under the impression that if they have strategies, processes and top of the range computer systems in place, there should be no need for developing their employees. They reckon the good fairy would come galloping in on her unicorn, and with one swish of her magic wand the business will function at its optimum level nonetheless. Yes, technology does streamline organizational processes on a daily basis, however employee development also needs to be kept up to date. After all, businesses were around and functioning just fine before the invention of the computer.

Procurement is an important service and its success depends on well-trained purchasing staff who deliver that service efficiently, on a daily basis. Every job or task during the procurement process requires a specific set of knowledge and skills. In a perfect world Procurement employees should continually monitor the trends in their environment and within their companies, assess the skill and knowledge requirements for their purchasers, understand the need to involve suppliers in their training efforts and provide quantifiable metrics that can be converted into measurable training goals. It is important to screen through your procurement team and establish who’s skills are on par, who might need some development support and who might just be damaging your brand reputation and would do better in another profession.

Ideally, the skills a procurement employee should have are interpersonal communication skills, team skills and be able to plan, guide and manage a group to ensure that the group’s objectives are met effectively, able to view and analyze a situation from a very logical (systematic) perspective, technical skills, computer literacy skills, negotiation skills, and be able and willing to continuously improve themselves by learning. Individuals, managers and the Human Resources department can each evaluate gaps against the current job or a potential position and devise development strategies accordingly.

A competency assessment is an ideal tool to determine the capabilities of your procurement team and how they match against their job descriptions. Companies wanting to establish a formal training and development management program within the field of supply chain can begin by creating a team tasked with developing a talent management strategy, to address organizational needs. You will be able to see if you should run learning and development activities for needs in the team that you have identified. Or if you should implement a formal talent management plan for all areas in which employees need to develop and improve their skills and knowledge. This also encourage employees to take pride and ownership of their own development.

People are the most crucial asset for any company’s success and investing in employees’ development would be the best place, if not the most important place, to start filling the gap.

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