A business works best when it has a diverse range of skills, brought in by a diverse range of people with diverse backgrounds – whether it be from their personal or professional lives. These attributes are known as soft skills.
To get technical, soft skills are defined as a skill or quality that can be classified as a personality trait or habit that lends itself to professional success. This could be something like stellar communication skills, impeccable time management, or even the gift of the gab (when used for productivity, of course).
In fact, businesses with more skilled staff are shown to have higher rates of innovation and productivity. And academic literature has found a consistent relationship between human capital and economic growth.
This means that the need for more soft skills is gaining traction in the modern workplace, and specifically in the procurement sector. Procurement organisations are placing more emphasis on developing supplier relationships, searching for sustainable sourcing and increasing collaboration. To achieve this, those in the procurement industry need to possess or develop their soft skills.
As a result of these needs, the most sought-after soft skills in the procurement industry are:
- Communication – working in procurement means liaising with a broad range of people including internal stakeholders, external stakeholders and suppliers. Being able to communicate with those various individuals, including actively listening to and addressing their concerns, you further improve those relationships and achieve greater returns for your team and your company.
- Relationship management – this is fundamental to creating value with your suppliers and managing contracts. By working effectively with your suppliers, procurement can be a more innovative process and achieve better outcomes.
- Collaboration – there may be those with untapped potential in your company, or people who don’t feel heard in the ideas process. Recognising those skills and being able to leverage the qualities of your peers can help develop the best solutions both internally and externally. There is also more discussion lately about the benefits of collaborative procurement, including cost consolidation, more streamlined processes and better brainstorming.
- Leadership – this is about more than having the position of leader in your company. Leadership refers to your ability to demonstrate leadership qualities in your job, such as having integrity, the ability to delegate, self-awareness, practising gratitude, demonstrating empathy, and influencing those around you.
Procurement professionals should continue to enhance their soft skills in tandem with, and beyond, technical training and new qualifications. And as businesses start to recognise the importance of building soft skills in their employees, now is the perfect time to pivot yourself into a new role or skill area. Ask yourself what skills you possess that might set you apart from others, or what you could bring to your team that doesn’t already exist? Additionally, seek out alternative opportunities to put your skills into action, look for more on-the-job experiences, send new ideas through to company stakeholders, and put your hand up for mentoring opportunities.
By letting your personal skills shine, you may just be one of the thought leaders changing the face of procurement.
 Nickolas, S. 2021, What Is the Relationship Between Human Capital and Economic Growth? Investopedia, [online] Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/032415/what-relationship-between-human-capital-and-economic-growth.asp