Some procurement professionals are losing out on career opportunities despite being hard workers. After more than 15 years in the profession, I have noticed a trend of good, quiet, procurement officers being misunderstood by their supervisors, while outspoken colleagues with low qualifications grab every chance to
earn new positions.
This is about personalities, which are commonly grouped into three; extrovert, introvert and ambivert. Extroverts are more expressive, talkative and outgoing and like to work with people. Introverts like working with ideas, have a hard time expressing themselves, work well when not disturbed, are quieter and prefer to keep to themselves. Ambiverts enjoy mixing and socialising, but are sometimes loners. Sociologists say the biggest percentage of the population is ambivert.
Extroverts are shrewd and assertive. They have courage and tap into opportunities without difficulty. But because introverts are quiet, less social and more timid, many supervisors see them as poor performers, and deny them assignments and promotions. Since extroverts are friendly and less shy, supervisors tend to recognise them faster and assign them more responsibilities. This gives the extroverts an advantage over introverts in competitive situations, while introverts are often shunned when it comes to delegation and representation at forums.
A former CEO of mine ignored a quiet but knowledgeable procurement officer for an assignment outside the country because they feared failure. The outcome was a big disappointment.
Supervisors should consider these behavioural differences and make informed decisions. Introverts can be very good performers and, as such, deserve equal opportunities. They are good managers of emotions, thoughts and observations. They are social, though always disclose little about themselves. I agree that introverts are less aggressive and tend to lag behind when it comes to stiff competition, but it doesn’t mean they should be sidelined. They can achieve good results and compete.
People say we should not blow our own trumpets, but if you don’t, no-one else will. So be assertive and improve your interpersonal relationships, or risk being seen as a weak performer.
☛ Peter Ocheng is a lecturer in procurement and logistics management, entrepreneurship and organisational behaviour at All Saints University, Uganda.