‘Right people with the right attitude’ key to transforming procurement at Compass Group

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
12 October 2015

Changing the attitudes of the procurement team and the business was key to Compass Group’s award-winning transformation project.

Speaking at the CIPS Annual Conference in London last week, Oliver Cock, commercial director at Compass Group UK and Ireland, told delegates “you have to employ the people who want to do it” when embarking on a change programme.

“One of my first observations was there seemed to be a bunch of people who didn’t see the need to do it,” he said. “In the first 18 months I was involved we changed two-thirds of the team – two-thirds were new to the roles, 50 per cent of them were new to Compass. And I would say the majority of people who left the business at that time, left because they didn’t have the right attitude.

“They didn’t want to go on the change. I think procurement struggles with this sometimes. It’s great being in charge of your own P&L but you have got to remember that’s not why the business exists. So we had to go find people who wanted to engage, and I think that was the difference.”

Cock added: “You have to find the right people with the right attitude, and we took a lot of people from outside, and went to go get people with sourcing expertise, and the attitude that says I want to help the business, as opposed to people that couldn’t.”

Dennis Hogan, managing director at Compass Group UK & Ireland, told the event another consideration was changing the way people were rewarded for their performance.

“I really believe with procurement you need to set big goals, and you need to reward people financially or the good people will leave. We had too much of a situation where people were treated equally,” he said.

Cock added: “We were rewarded in the same way as the rest of the business. Whether we hit our financial goal or not didn’t really make a difference. We wanted to create that environment where if you created a very clear goal and set of measurements, people actually got rewarded for it.

“That was one of the game changers for us. Because people felt if I do this and do the right things I am going to get recognised for it, and rewarded for it, and it breeds its own culture.”

Compass Group took home the trophy for Most Improved Procurement Operation - Step Change at the CIPS Supply Management Awards in September.

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