Editor’s Note: Charles is founder, president and chief procurement officer of Next Level Purchasing, which offers the SPSM (Senior Professional in Supply Management) family of certifications.
Be sure to check out Charles’ Purchasing Certification Blog.
Professional development in procurement. Some organizations consider it essential for continuous corporate improvement. Some procurement professionals consider it essential for personal and career growth. Other organizations and procurement professionals treat it as simply a “nice to have.”
For procurement professionals, there is a danger in treating professional development as a nice to have.
In this business era, there is a constant effort to do more with less. If the past several years are any indication, there is not going to be an out-of-the-blue, sustained spurt of wild economic growth. At best, we are looking at low to moderate economic growth for a while. As such, it appears that there will be no cross-industry spurt that will push demand for procurement professionals through the roof.
I wish that was the case, but it doesn’t look likely.
As such, “do more with less” is a business mantra that will persist for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, that means that every worker is at risk for downsizing.
Who stays? Who goes?
Employees who are perceived to be able to make a positive difference in the future are the ones that will stay. Did you notice that I didn’t say those who have made a positive difference in the past?
There’s a reason for that. Too often, people try to slide through their careers based on what they’ve done in the past. They think “I’ve already proven myself. I shouldn’t have to prove myself again.”
Nice thought. But there’s a problem with that – it’s wrong!
Every one of us has to re-prove ourselves every day. Like it or not, if you’re not delivering value today – like the star athlete who has had the game pass him by – you could find yourself on the chopping block.
That’s where professional development comes in. Professional development can serve as evidence for so much: that you are continually getting better, that you aren’t operating solely by what worked yesterday, that you aren’t resting on your laurels, and that you actually CARE about making a positive difference in the future.
Now, I’m not saying that C-level executives are saying “Let’s fire everyone who hasn’t sought out training in the past year.” But a procurement professional’s professional development history does say a lot about his or her skill levels, ambition, and preparedness for the future, and those things will be perceived either directly or indirectly (e.g., in performance) by management.
So, think about your own recent history of professional development. Have you treated professional development as a nice to have or an essential element of your personal and career growth? If an outsider (e.g., new company CEO) were to evaluate that history, how would he or she interpret your skill levels, ambition, and preparedness for the future?
If that thought makes you nervous in a do-more-with-less-obsessed world, don’t worry – you can start adding to that history today. Your fate is somewhat in your hands…if you have the ambition to take action.