How to interrupt your procurement colleague and ensure your voice is heard

If you’ve worked hard at university and throughout your career to become a procurement expert, it’s only fair that you’ve got a lot to say. It’s also only fair that you need the time to be able to share your expertise (or alternatively, seek advice from others), but it can be hard when everyone’s so busy all the time.

So, is it really ok to interrupt someone? 

How to interrupt your procurement colleague and ensure your voice is heard

We think it is. In fact, it’s not just ok, it’s necessary. 

Research shows that those that talk more at work, are more likely to progress in their careers, and that unfortunately this is a gendered issue: women speak significantly less at work, and especially so in meetings. 

Women of procurement, it’s time to interrupt and have your say. Here’s how to do it. 

Four ways to interrupt your procurement colleague and ensure your voice is heard

Assess the importance of your interruption

A study conducted to assess how employees feel about interruptions revealed some surprising results: about a third of the time, employees actually liked being interrupted, or were neutral about it. 

But they only felt this way on one condition, and that was when the interruption was important and worth their time. 

Say, for example, you’ve recently discovered something alarming in your supply chain that may impact a number of category managers in your team, and urgently. Regardless of what they are working on, they are likely to see any interruption by you as absolutely worth their time, and a priority for them. 

Assess the stress levels of those around you 

In procurement, it’s likely that you’ve had your fair share of stressful days – and so have your colleagues. 

So when it comes to interrupting someone, whether it’s in a meeting or during their workday, it’s important to assess where their workload and, specifically, where their stress levels might be. 

If your procurement colleague is at the stage where they’re stressed, but the information you are going to interrupt them with will alleviate their stress, then definitely go ahead and interrupt them. 

If they’re at the ‘head-exploding-can’t-take-on-anything-else’ level of stress, then perhaps put your information in an email, so they can digest it and action it when they are more able to do so. 

If you’re finding it difficult to identify how stressed they are, try looking for cues as to how busy they might be. For example, if they’re working with their door closed, have headphones on, or are listed as ‘Do Not Disturb’ online, then consider leaving your interruption until a later time. 

Ensure you’re interrupting the right person 

Imagine that you’re examining some critical responses for your latest RFT. A junior lawyer interrupts you with an urgent question about a contract, and spends 15 minutes explaining their issue. 

Except, the contract isn’t yours. It belongs to another category manager. 

In large organisations, it can sometimes be difficult to know who to talk to about certain things, especially if you’re looking outside of your procurement team. 

However, if you do need to interrupt someone, do your research to ensure you are interrupting the right person. 

Minimise the interruption time 

At the end of the day, an interruption is an interruption. Whether you’re interrupting someone in a meeting, or doing so throughout their workday, it’s important to keep your interruption as brief as possible. 

In order to do so, before you interrupt someone, ask yourself the following: 

  • How can I provide the context succinctly?
  • If I’m interrupting with a task to be completed, what can I do myself before handing the task over? 
  • Can I briefly summarise their involvement, and the benefit of getting involved? 

Showing that you respect others’ time by doing the above is critical to how they perceive the interruption, and, ultimately, how they perceive you. 

Ready to take ownership of your career and get the visibility you deserve? Learn more about our 2023 BRAVO Women in Leadership Programme and register today.

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