It had been several months since I participated in a quarterly review with this supplier. In the last 9 months, we signed a long-term contract extension and were making good progress in delivering the expectations of the deal. So, imagine how surprised I was to experience negative vibes in the conference room – and it wasn’t because there were no coffee and donuts!
When I started this journey to share my experience in Services Procurement, I did my usual market analysis and looked for others who might be doing something similar in order to learn from and collaborate with them. During my research, I checked Amazon for books on Services Procurement (found few, ah! opportunity!). What came up in the search was books on Emotional Intelligence.
Hmm, that’s interesting. And, it makes sense! Services is all about people and people have emotions.
So let me tell you another story about a gent called Tom (not his/her real name).
I was fortunate to hire someone who was an ideal fit for a role I had posted several years ago. With all the prerequisites checked off, I offered the role and waited patiently for Tom to start. Anxious to make a difference, Tom, bringing all his former expertise, hits the ground running. He meets with the clients, understands the current state of the business and gets going on researching the industry. He is full of energy and I am confident that I hired the very best person for the role.
Fast forward about 6 weeks and my phone starts ringing (yes, ringing – this was serious – I got phone calls, not emails!).
“Eileen, who is this guy you’ve sent to support us?” and, ” Who does this guy think he is?” and, “Tom is rude and obnoxious – thinks he knows better how to run our business than we do.”
I was shocked.
Tom had recently given me an update and he was on track with his join up plan. He had some amazing ideas on how to make improvements. Had nice things to say about his colleagues. I was really impressed with how quickly Tom had gained knowledge about the industry and had some ideas on how to improve our business. In fact:
He had big goals and was lining himself up to deliver some outstanding results.
As I reflected on the feedback I was receiving on Tom, I recalled the discussion we had and how he talked about what HE wanted to do.
That was what I missed.
These were HIS goals and were not even close to what the internal business partner had in mind. Worse yet, he had alienated them to the extent that they no longer wanted to work with him.
So perhaps this is why Emotional Intelligence came up in my research and why it needs to be on the top of the training plan for anyone working in the Services arena.
Certainly, Procurement Professionals who have moved from sourcing direct materials to the unfamiliar turf of Services, it is worth slowing down and spending some time around the water cooler of relationships before launching into the sourcing strategy. Emotional intelligence has become a corporate buzz word and now is often the reason that some bullies are not promoted to higher levels. This is a good thing!
But, at its heart, Emotional Intelligence is not “all about me.”
Listening skills, empathy, collaborating – these are all required skills for those of us that are procuring services. It is about understanding the business needs from your business partner’s perspective. It is walking in his shoes to understand from an operational perspective what needs to be transformed and what needs to stay the same.
This is where Tom missed the boat. He didn’t spend time listening to and connecting with his new colleagues. Tried instead to be the hero, thinking that they would thank him for coming in and being their savior.
Spend time refreshing your emotional intelligence. Here are some helpful books:
Daniel Goldman Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
Travis Bradberry Emotional Intelligence 2.0
Carol Dweck Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Carol Keers, Thomas Mungavan Seeing Yourself as Others Do – Authentic Executive Presence at Any Stage of Your Career
And you might also try meditation. It helps you to push the pause button before acting. That little pause will help you see how your partner is reacting to what you’ve proposed, will prompt you to ask a question, to dig deeper, to really understand the business situation that you are supporting.
And, when you walk into those meetings and feel the negative vibes, instead of adding to the vibrations (or looking for the coffee and donuts), you can pause to understand what is happening, what are the personal dynamics, you can listen for the unspoken needs and the unmet expectations. And, most important, you can make a plan to help the group get back to winning.
My favorite meditation ap is 10% Happier and they are having a special for Jan. Check it out – it provides a lot of instruction to those newer to meditation.