There’s a phrase that bothers me:  “Toot your/his/her own horn.”

When most people use this phrase, it often has negative connotations.  A typical use in context would be “He’s such an annoying braggart.  All he does is toot his own horn.”

But, in an under-respected field such as procurement, tooting your own horn is a good thing.  My feeling is that, if people don’t know what you’ve accomplished in procurement, they will assume that you’re doing nothing.

CEO’s often don’t know all of the things that a procurement department can do or should be doing.  Internal customers certainly don’t.

Heck, I’ve even seen procurement directors and vice presidents promoted from other functions like finance not have a clue what value procurement can deliver!

So, if important stakeholders don’t know the value that procurement can bring, there’s a strong likelihood that they think procurement exists merely to get in their way and make their lives difficult!

Therefore, it is key to not be shy about communicating the value that procurement brings to the organization.  To toot your own horn, if you will.  It can be a path to winning respect and, more importantly, cooperation.

In many instances in life, people don’t realize how good something is until they hear someone else saying how good it is.  Think about musical artists, or viral videos, or TV shows, or that one bakery in every town that just slays the most amazing pastries.  Their success was often the result of word of mouth, whether it be a one-on-one conversation, sharing on social media, news coverage, or any other type of validating event.

How did you discover your favorite things?  Probably not by taking a blind chance.  Probably by trying something that you heard about elsewhere, right?  It’s rare to be the first person in the world to recognize that something is amazing.

So, in procurement, sometimes you need to get third parties to share how great you are before your important stakeholders will believe it and treat you accordingly.  Just quietly doing your job isn’t enough.  People won’t pay attention.

But if:

  • Your procurement work was covered in a magazine
  • You or your procurement team won an award
  • Your procurement work was given recognition within your organization (e.g., by the CEO, in a corporate newsletter, on an earnings call, etc.)
  • You earned a third-party procurement certification
  • Your procurement work was featured in an industry case study

All of a sudden, it will seem that the world knows you’re great at procurement.  Your internal stakeholders will start thinking – subconsciously or consciously – “Hmmm.  I didn’t realize that procurement was doing such good stuff.  Maybe I’ll pay closer attention.”

Think of your Human Resources department.  How good is it?  Top quartile?  Bottom quartile?  How innovative is it relative to other HR departments in your industry?  Don’t know?  Never cared to research it by yourself?

Well, just like you probably aren’t spending your time trying to discover how great your HR department is, your internal stakeholders are not spending their time trying to appreciate procurement.  The problem is, if they knew how good your procurement efforts are, they would be more willing to provide you with the valuable cooperation you need to drive procurement improvements throughout the enterprise.

So, I say toot your own horn.  Seek third-party recognition.  Blast your procurement accomplishments loud.

A tree is falling in the procurement forest.  Will your internal stakeholders hear it?

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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