Buyers should consider using “relationship theory” to improve interactions with stakeholders and suppliers, a conference was told.
Andrew Newnham, group procurement director at ITV, said grouping work associates by key characteristics, and giving them a colour code, meant strategies could be developed around “influencing people to do what you want them to do”.
Speaking at the CIPS Annual Conference in London, Newnham said: “We use relationship theory to manage how we work as a team. We use it in how we manage suppliers, in negotiations and ongoing relationships. This is a key area for procurement going forward.”
Newnham said people were classified as either red, blue, green or orange. He said reds are “task driven, competitive, quite loud”. “If you are blue you like relationships, you care about people,” he said. “If you are green you tend to be a thinker and like analysing data. If orange: you are all about creativity.
“We use this grid to think about what behaviours people have so when we meet them and engage with them, we think about how we do that. Quick, decisive for red. For blues it’s all about people. For greens it’s all about detail, data, spend analysis. With orange it’s about blue-sky thinking.
“What I love about this model is it’s simple. Mainly you will be one of these colours. Once you understand that, it’s the first step in influencing people to do what you want them to do.”
He added: “You need technical skills to be a great procurement person but I think what we don’t focus on enough is our relationship skills, communication and influencing.”
During a panel discussion about emotional intelligence and the work of procurement professionals, Elinor Williams, head of marketing procurement at Marks & Spencer, called on buyers to “flex your style” to suit those you were engaging with.
Williams said M&S also categorised people by colour, either as red, meaning results driven; yellow, about ideas and vision; green, concerned with the team; and blue, all about logic and analysis.
“Flex your style to suit those who have those preferences,” she said. “It is a generalisation, so you have to take it with a pinch of salt.”
Rich Cook, director of programmes at consultancy JCA Global, said people were recruited for skills and intelligence, “but to progress is a measure of your emotional intelligence”.