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Staff development key for procurement talent retention

Getting high-potential staff in place is just the start – you now have to develop and retain them.

Procurement specialists expect to have jobs that are challenging, rewarding and help develop them professionally. Failure to provide these things can result in a brain drain from the organisation, which can take considerable source to redress, and result in interim reduced productivity. 
 
Making roles challenging and interesting, while giving employees the opportunity to gain broad experience across the wider business portfolio, can be a key factor in retaining employees long-term. 
 
Setting realistic, but stretching, goals is vital. High-achievers like to be challenged, but also want to be successful, so finding the right balance is critical. 

Broadening skill sets 

Diageo is a strong believer in diversity of people creating better quality thinking, says Diageo CPO Thibaut Eissautier*. “Key to this is learning generated by moving people across categories, countries and functions – while there is a natural learning curve, we find more often than not, people bring fresh new perspectives and ideas.”   
 
Eissautier is an advocate of the ‘climbing frame’ approach to career management: encouraging people to develop a wide range of skills, knowledge and networks across the business, and taking the opportunity to move sideways for experience, rather than just aiming for linear promotion.  
 
Diageo also runs a high-profile annual Procurement Achievement Awards competition, to recognise great ideas and achievements across the function. Last year it had over 170 entries, and the award event was streamed live to all their staff in 180 countries – creating a buzz and helping to inspire staff at all levels. 

We are exporting talent, which is a great thing to be known for.

Laura Faulkner, Head of Supply Chain Services at RBS

RBS is also keen to inspire their staff, says Laura Faulkner, Head of Supply Chain Services (SCS) at RBS, a primary retail bank in the UK and Ireland.  
 
“We have always been very committed to developing our staff, and I believe this is one of the reasons we have a high level of talent retention. For example, our whole leadership team is very much involved in the overarching Divisional Graduate Programme, which allows new entrants to take a period of time within two or three departments.  
 
“We’re very fortunate that people who start with us in SCS in their first rotation often request to have their final rotation within our department too, which puts them in a great position to land a permanent role in SCS,” says Faulkner. 
 
”We’ve also had some great, great exports into the wider RBS as well, moving people into senior roles. We are exporting talent, which is a great thing to be known for. Overall I think SCS should be known for providing a great grounding in business management and commercial awareness, and somewhere that people can really springboard their career from.” 

Incubating talent 

The Procurement team at ARYZTA, the global specialty baker and food service group, is less mature than at Diageo and RBS. But the team also aims to be seen as a ‘talent incubator and exporter’ – a source of commercially minded people, who thrive on change and can add value across a number of other functions within the business.  
 
Having recently built the new team, retaining and developing the talent is a priority for Jennifer Kirkwood, Global Procurement Head of Capabilities at ARYZTA. 
 
Measuring behavioural styles and providing feedback regularly on how employees interact with the team is key, as well as their ability to engage stakeholders.

Setting strategy 

It is also important to involve employees when setting the vision and strategy for the function. When employees have a say in the direction of the organisation, they feel that their contributions are valued more highly.   

There is also a large emphasis on open communication. One of the most effective ways to build accountability is by clearly communicating the direction of and issues within the organisation, while ensuring that employees feel comfortable expressing concerns and providing feedback on areas they think can be improved.

*Thibaut Eissautier has since left his role as CPO for Diageo.

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