“A good manager will understand the requirements of the business and be able to assess the personal attributes and candidate skill set to see if there is a match. This takes a lot of time and experience in the organisation and in supply chain in general.” – Mark K., Supply Chain Canada 2020

In the world of professional sports – no matter what the sport is, there is no such thing as bad teams only bad managers. At least one would think this is the case when a manager or coach is “fired” because a team is not performing to expectations.

But is this a fair assessment? Is team performance the sole responsibility of the manager?

During my recent presentation at the Supply Chain Canada 2020 Conference in which I talked about the importance of “rehiring from within” the question of manager, responsibility was an underlying theme as demonstrated by the above comment.

In short, and please delay giving a reflex response, to what degree are managers responsible for the success or failure of their procurement teams?

The Lay of the Land

We have all heard of the numerous surveys and reports of how most CPOs believe that their teams lack the prerequisite skills to deliver on their strategic objectives.

No doubt, you are also familiar with the lament of procurement professionals everywhere regarding the steady decline in the investment in their training and education.

I discussed these and other points of disconnect regarding how to bridge the gap between the expectation and realisation of strategic procurement objectives in my talk.

While they are valid issues that need addressing, the bigger question I believe is not one of assigning responsibility or blame for procurement shortcomings, but empowering people to achieve their greater potential. Let’s face it, no one wakes up in the morning and goes to work thinking “how can I miss the mark today?”

Rather than focusing on what someone isn’t doing, I prefer to look at what we can do to get to where we need to be.

Start with Your Internal Diamonds

One of the many things I like about the Russell Conwell fable Acres of Diamonds is how it highlights the fact that success begins with what you have in the here and now.

In this context, Mark K’s comment in the opening paragraph of this article carries a good deal of merit – specifically, managers need to understand the personalities, talents, and interests of those with whom they work. You will note that I used the term “with whom they work” versus who reports or answers to them.

The difference between the two may seem subtle but is nonetheless significant in that the former is about managing a team versus managing a position or job description.

When you manage a team, you have to understand the unique attributes of each individual to ensure that they are in the right position working towards the right objective that rewards both them, you, and the organisation. I call this talent alignment and talent alignment has little to do with a job description or title.

Beyond Job Descriptions

In a previous article, I referred to the findings that more than 50% of all new hires fail within the first 18-months.

If you think about it, that is a shocking number, the consequences of which can negatively reverberate throughout an organisation for years to come. While we can debate the reasons for this problem, we will zero in on the root cause.

Mark K stated that aligning talent with organisational objectives is a process that “takes a lot of time and experience.

He is right!

However, learning how to assess and align your internal team capability with strategic objectives to identify talent gaps before looking outside the company for needed talent is the only way to improve the likelihood of a successful hire.

In an upcoming article, I will get into the specifics of talent assessment and alignment. For today, I will close by saying that a successful hire begins with a successful team, and a successful team is the result of a successful manager who knows their people beyond a job description.

Takeaway thought: It is the people that make a company unique and successful.