3 Simple Habits That Separate Successful Procurement Pros From the Rest

What work habits have you found yourself falling into? Are they a help or a hindrance? Here are 3 valuable habits for putting Procurement workers ahead of the pack.

It was performance review time for Richard, and he didn’t feel as if he had any reason to worry. After all, he’d solidly performed in his role for over 2 years. Sure, COVID had changed some things, but his category was still performing well and was much needed by the organisation. Or so he thought. 

“Richard, I’m going to have to put you on a performance improvement plan.” His manager stated, looking frustrated. 

“What?!!” Richard retorted. “I don’t understand?”

After a lengthy discussion, it emerged that a ‘habit’ that Richard had fallen into was significantly affecting his performance. In the office, Richard had a ‘habit’ of coming to meetings late, but his in-person charisma often meant that others didn’t notice. But as the office transitioned to remote-only, many of Richard’s colleagues, stakeholders and suppliers had gotten increasingly frustrated with his lateness. So much so that Richard’s job was now in question. 

Do you have any frustrating habits like Richard? Many of us do, but we often don’t take the time to think about them, as habits are, by their nature, automatic. But should we? Research shows that the right habits are fundamental, so much so that many are proven to predict future success.

But why exactly are habits so important? And which ones should procurement professionals focus on? Naseem Malik, Managing Partner at MRA Global Sourcing, enlightened us on which habits separate successful procurement pros from the rest. 

First things first: Why are habits so important? 

While habits might seem small or unimportant, they actually make up a significant amount of your behaviour. Research shows that up to 45% of your daily actions are habitual, and hence you do not put significant thought or effort into enacting them.

Over time, through a process whereby your environment gives you a trigger, you respond, and then you’re rewarded, your habits become more entrenched. For example, for Richard above, he may have initially known that arriving late for meetings wasn’t ideal, but as he continued to get away with it unscathed, his brain moved the action from something that required thought, to an action he simply performed. Being late became automatic, so to speak. 

Research shows that up to 45% of your daily actions are habitual

As habits become more entrenched, they are even harder to change. And you become even less aware that they may not be serving you, personally or professionally. 

Procurement Success Habit 1: Staying proactive and preparing for continual changes  

One of the worst things about habits is that they can be difficult to change. But unfortunately, given the pace of change in the procurement industry, Naseem recommends that one of the most important habits to get into is being proactive and preparing for continual change. In order to do this, he recommends: 

  • Ensure you make the effort to learn about technologies and not just the obvious ones. You’ll need to be proficient in Zoom, Slack and Teams, but you’ll also need to understand AI, RPA, blockchain and machine learning, and how these will impact the function; 
  • Be adaptable and versatile. What this means is be prepared to do things you’re uncomfortable with, and give up things you are comfortable with;  
  • Communicate. Communicate often, learn how to storytell, and understand how to influence. This is becoming even more important as the pace of digitisation increases. 

Procurement Success Habit 2: Continually invest in making yourself stand out 

Choosing to proactively develop yourself is a good habit to get into for more reasons than one. Naseem says that all successful procurement professionals do this. To achieve this, he recommends: 

  • Continually pursue industry certifications and other further education in your field; 
  • Try your hand at strategic side gigs. This can help you break into a new industry, plus enhance your value as an employee; 
  • Be open to contract work. Within ten years, more than half of all procurement employees will be contingent workers, so it’s important to become comfortable with this and learn how to excel. 

Procurement Success Habit 3: Develop and leverage your personal brand 

With habits accounting for so much of your behaviour, your habits will essentially become a key part of your personal brand. For this reason, it’s important that one of these habits is your continual investment in developing and leveraging your influence. 

To do so, Naseem recommends: 

  • Create marketing collateral to highlight your value proposition. This can include a slide deck with your achievements. 
  • Invest heavily in your social network. This can include activities such as creating groups on LinkedIn to showcase your experience and continuing to expand your network to help you discover new opportunities. 
  • Find relevant skilled volunteering opportunities. This will help you expand your skillset. 

The reason habits exist is because your brain simply can’t consciously think about every action you undertake, every single day. Habits are absolutely necessary, but it’s critical to develop the right ones. As Will Durant once said: 

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”