An interesting shift is taking place within the procurement job industry in Kenya.
Now, in this new era of procurement and supply chain management, a clear need for the development of soft skills is quickly gaining momentum.
Few years ago, organizations used the procurement people to reduce costs of the company products so most of their focus was on their technical skills.
However, if you have noticed, today as a procurement professional, there is a great need to make yourself relevant in not only a cost cutting sense of your job but also by integrating yourself into the whole business, not just finance.
So as a result, soft skills are gaining more importance in this field.
You should be able to effectively combine these soft skills together with your proudly acquired technical skills in procurement, in order to remain relevant and desirable in the industry.
So which are some of these soft skills and how are they relevant to you as a professional in procurement?
1. Effective communication of ideas, strategies and results
Effective communication is one of the most important life skills which people use to express their thoughts and opinions and understand others, whether in professional or personal situations.
New technology now means that there is much more purchasing and bidding being done online and remember that “People buy from people.”
For this reason, as a procurement professional, you need to arm yourself with good people skills to ensure that your relationships are maintained to achieve great success in your role,
2. Excellent negotiation & persuasion Skills.
Almost everyone uses some level of negotiation & persuasion in their everyday life may it be at home, at school or at work.
In procurement, negotiation is a process in which you and your supplier attempt to reach an agreement on a matter of mutual interest, despite conflicting objectives.
So a person with good negotiation skills understands that it’s all about compromising, on both sides, to meet somewhere that is acceptable to both parties.
If you are able to understand and gauge a situation from a logical and/or emotional point of view, you will be able to better connect with your clients well.
Creating rapport with your supplier will put you in a good place not only during this negotiation, but also for any future communications.
3. High affinity to learn and know more
Think about what the procurement profession itself used to be like 10, or even 20 years ago in Kenya, and you’ll immediately understand the importance of learning agility.
Procurement in Kenya is in a constant state of evolution, reinventing itself regularly to meet changing business needs of people.
And as a professionals in this area, you need to be able to learn and change with it, or risk being left behind or event being redundant.
It’s easy to identify team members who lack the ability to easily want more.
They’re the ones who are most unwilling to embrace change, the ones who will strongly fight against learning to use the newest system or process in the office.
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Agile people are not only willing, but are excited at the idea of picking up a new skill or idea no matter how difficult it may seem.
4. Emotional Intelligence Skills
Is there a place for emotion in the supply and demand? You may wonder…
Picture this. You could have the highest IQ, in that procurement department but if you lack emotional intelligence; the ability to understand who you really are and accommodate others, your chances of success will be very minimal.
In fact, research has shown that people with average IQs outperform those with high IQs 70% of the time.
In order to be successful here, you will rely heavily on your ability to understand yourself as a person, read & handle the perspectives and reactions of your suppliers and the people you work with.
5. Good Creative thinking skills
You want to be the person in that department, who is known for their accurate idea, good judgment and lateral thinking right?
There’s usually at least one in every team. A person whom others turn to, someone that can look at a problem from a unique angle and find an unexpected solution.
So like to refer to creative thinking as a habit rather than an attribute. Just ask those parents who have helped their kids complete their home works or complete a school project.
When you are able to think creatively, what was once a cardboard box could be a rocket ship, submarine or racing car.
So it’s simply a matter of looking at an everyday object (or business challenge) with an open and creative mindset to bring change to your procurement profession.
Having said this,
The importance of the technical skills like Information Management should not be forgotten while applying for procurement jobs in Kenya or practising the profession itself, but soft skills should also never be underestimated.
With the right mixture of soft and hard skills, as a procurement professional, you will be set for great success in the new era of purchasing and supply chain management in Kenya, a secret that most professionals are not aware of.