Editor’s Note: Charles is founder, president and chief procurement officer of Next Level Purchasing, which offers the SPSM (Senior Professional in Supply Management) Certification.
Be sure to check out Charles’ Purchasing Certification Blog.
Ah, ‘tis a common debate: who decides on the professional development and training that procurement professionals get?
There are some procurement professionals that will argue that it is the team leader’s job. After all, team leaders should know what they want from their team members.
And, of course, there are some procurement leaders that will argue that team members should have the minimal ambition involved in identifying what they can do better and finding the professional development opportunities that can help them.
So, as someone who is regarded as an expert on procurement professional development matters, I frequently get asked which one is the most appropriate approach.
And who do I feel should be responsible for managing a procurement professional’s professional development?
As a team leader, you should know what your high-level strategy is. You should know the skills that are necessary for your team to accomplish its mission. You should know your people and the skills that they have. And you should know what the skill gaps are and how to fix them.
In short, team leaders need to take responsibility for the success of their strategy. There is no situation where it is acceptable for a team leader, whose team has failed, to blame a team member for lacking the skills necessary for success. If a team member lacks certain skills, it is a team leader’s job to find that out and correct the situation.
So, naturally, the team leader needs to identify the skills team members need for successful on-the-job performance.
That being said, a team member should not get off scot-free if his or her team leader failed to identify and fix skill gaps on the team. While a team leader should know what each team member is doing, doing well, and not doing so well, no one is closer to the “action” than the team member him or herself.
If a team member is floundering, that team member should feel that. It should be uncomfortable. It should be something that the team member, as almost an ethical matter, should innately want to address.
In addition, everyone should take responsibility for their own personal career success. Imagine yourself at your retirement party many years from now. Imagine yourself retiring from the same job you currently hold, earning the same pay your currently earn. How would that feel that you’ve gone absolutely nowhere between now and then? Imagine yourself giving a speech and saying “Well, I wish I was retiring from a more successful career but I was the victim of having a manager who wouldn’t identify any training for me.”
Not a very glorious last hurrah, eh?
That is not something that someone with a healthy level of career ambition would ever say. While your skills certainly benefit your employer, they are the most portable job tool you have. Your skills stay with you for a lifetime. They are not confined to your current employment situation – they stay with you for a lifetime and can pay dividends for you year after year, job after job.
So, naturally, the team member needs to identify the skills he or she needs for a successful career – to get them from Career Point A to Career Point B.
Therefore, considering all factors that we’ve just discussed, managing a team member’s professional development is something that should be a collaborative effort between team leader and team member. This will help the department to achieve organizational success. This will help the individual to achieve career success.
Everyone wins when both parties take responsibility for professional development.
Why argue for one side to bear responsibility when both can and achieve greater things as a result?