What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are any skill or quality that can be classified as a personality trait or habit and these interpersonal and communication skills and often intrinsic. The key to good relationships is emotional intelligence and soft skills, which we are becoming increasingly important to our profession and critical for success.
What Soft Skills are needed for Procurement?
Soft Skills are highly sought after skills for modern professionals. The CIPS/Hays Salary Guide highlights the importance of soft skills, which dominate the top five skills in demand for 2020 and are seen as very important by procurement professionals for doing their jobs well. The key for procurement professionals to deliver strategically is through the development and use of the right soft skills. Technical skills and procurement qualifications are an important foundation for professionals to perform well and demonstrate credibility but they can be learned and so abilities such soft skills are high in demand.
Top 5 Soft Skills for Procurement Professionals
- Communication - Procurement need to be able to communicate effectively on all levels to engage with stakeholders and suppliers to develop the correct specifications, accurate expediting and stock control as well as good supplier relationships and effective contract management.
- Influencing skills - Procurement professionals on all levels need to be able to influence colleagues and suppliers, while at senior levels it is important to influence upwards to gain buy-in and raise the profile of procurement in the organisation.
- Internal Stakeholder Management - Building a relationship and managing internal stakeholders through effective identification, communication and engagement strategies is critical for success.
- Leadership - Strong leadership skills for procurement will not only help to create a successful team but also elevate the profile of procurement at senior levels.
- Supplier Relationship Management - Relationship management is fundamental to creating value with suppliers and contract management. Through a more collaborative relationship procurement can be more innovative and achieve competitive advantage.
Internal Stakeholder Management
Supplier Relationship Management
Procurement must enhance their soft skills – Tim Jenkins and Ian Castle, Wheelspinner
Listen to the Podcast
The perception of procurement is changing across all sectors as it continues to be viewed as a more strategic activity and a critical part in achieving organisational objectives. The demands on today’s procurement professionals are more complex and have increased in number. This brings both opportunities and challenges for procurement and supply chain managers if they are plugged into the latest thinking, and while technical skills are well understood, the skills for today’s successful procurement professionals have much in common with those of a business leader.
In the current climate of uncertainty, skills such as communication, influencing, internal stakeholder management and supplier relationship management are all critical to achieving cost-effective and strategically sound procurement solutions. This includes creating a business case, securing buy-in from internal stakeholders, pre-empting challenges and sourcing the right suppliers.
Developing soft skills for the future
Procurement professionals should continue to enhance their soft skills in pace with, and beyond, technical training and qualifications. Technical skills are still valued but soft skills should be underpinned by credible technical skills. For example traditionally, dealing with change was tasked to a tactical function but more and more organisations appreciate the limitations of this approach which may stem from lack of skill and experience, lack of time to implement change or not enough information available for the programme. Business leaders therefore see change management as a distinct and strategic skill which requires departmental and senior level buy-in, the right support and the right systems in place. However, as well as requiring technical knowledge, effective change managers must also possess all the necessary soft skills and so this cannot be seen as standalone expertise.
Digital impact on skills for the future
We are starting to see more automation of procurement processes, which will continue to evolve. Automation helps to reduce or even remove human error, and means that soft skills and the move towards behavioural procurement skills will become even more critical as procurement professionals will be freed from repetitive, time-intensive tasks and be able to focus on more business-critical activities such as strategic decision making.
CIPS Communication and Soft Skills Tools
- Communication Model - This model shows the different types of communication. Communication can be verbal through conversations for example, written via letters or non-verbal.
- Gestures - This model demonstrates some of the gestures that could present themselves in communication.
- Communication Distortion - Communication distortion can occur in a number of situations and present in a variety of formats.
- What Is Emotional Intelligence - This model shows what elements of an individual’s mentality are related to their level of emotional intelligence (EI).
- Levels of Emotional Intelligence (EI) - Most individuals have some level of EI but it is believed that strong leaders often present an increased skill set.
- Leaders Vs Managers - This diagram shows the differences between leaders and managers.
- Hard Vs Soft Skills - Communication is made up of both hard and soft skills. Hard skills are learnable and soft skills are traits. Effective communication needs both hard and soft skills.
- IQ vs EI - IQ is intellectual quotient. This is the predetermined level of intelligence that any person will have. EI is not an intellectual skill but a trait linked to being self-aware and having the ability to feel emotions.
- Influencing Tactics - Effective communication can be achieved by the use of influencing tactics. This model shows the different types of tactics that a procurement professional could use in a meeting with a supplier or a supply chain member.
- Importance of effective communication - Whilst understanding the “hows” of creating effective communication is very important, this model demonstrates the reasons why effective communication should occur.
CIPS members can download the CIPS Soft Skills Tools to use in your organisation along with the guidance notes will full explanations of all of the tools listed and how to use each tool effectively.
Soft Skills Resources for Members
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