A hot topic of late is the fact that CPO’s (Chief Procurement Officers) are vigorously competing for top talent to staff their procurement operations. A couple of resources worth checking out include this post over at Supply Excellence and Purchasing Magazine’s “Top CPO’s” feature.
Personally, I think that there is a high-impact trend that should be on every CPO’s radar. Here’s what it is…
CPO’s in search of talent are courting managers and directors presently occupying purchasing jobs at other firms in town. They hire those individuals who have a talented staff who are loyal to the manager/director (not their present employer). Once employed, the manager/director, who has become a director or VP, is tasked with building his/her own team. The new director/VP will then recruit the most talented people from his/her former employer.
So it isn’t even necessarily recruiting the best new executive. It is recruiting the executive who can bring the best team with him or her!
CPO’s need to address this from both an offensive and defensive point of view. Let’s talk about the defense.
I’ve seen this trend do massive damage to purchasing departments. In one case, there was a group of six individuals in a specialized group within the purchasing department: a director and five subordinates. When the director accepted a new, higher level position at another employer across town, he took four of the five remaining members with him!
Other cases aren’t so severe in terms of the percentage of a group that is wiped out, but they aren’t less significant because the most talented people are scooped up, leaving only the mediocre performers behind!
So I think that CPO’s need to keep their managers and directors happy so they don’t exercise the power they have to dismantle the entire purchasing department in one fell swoop! The Supply Excellence post shares some of the basic ways to increase the probability of retention.
One additional retention tool is investing in the professional development of the purchasing team. You may say: Charles, you’re just saying that because you sell purchasing training. I do but, because I do, I get to see first hand the impact that such investments have on morale and employee loyalty.
When purchasing professionals are trained by an employer, they tend to feel that the employer cares about them. They feel that their increasing professionalism is partly due to their employer’s interest in their continual development and they’d hate to lose that. These people know that skills are something that they can take with them throughout their entire purchasing career, but when they are getting a personal benefit from their employer’s investment, they tend not to want to take those skills elsewhere.