Establishing a procurement mentor program is a proven way to attract, develop and retain talent. In a recent Procurement Leaders’ Salary Survey, one of the most important considerations in job satisfaction for procurement professionals is mentoring opportunities.
There are many benefits for the participants and the procurement organization, such as:
- Keep Employees Engaged and Retained
- Transfer Indirect and Direct Procurement Knowledge and Skills
- Improve Succession Planning throughout the Procurement Organization
- Develop a Strong Learning Culture that Promotes Growth
- Enhance Leadership and Coaching Skills in Managers
- Improve Employee Motivation, Morale and Overall Performance
- Promote Collaboration throughout the Workforce
- Improve Diversity in the Workforce
- Accelerate Innovation throughout the Enterprise
- Teach Tenured Employees New Skills (Reverse Mentoring)
While setting up a procurement mentorship program is cost-effective, there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” model.
We’ve compiled a simple step-by-step outline below that will help you with creating and executing a mentorship program for your procurement organization:
Establish Procurement Program Intentions and Goals
It’s important to establish the main goals of your mentor program so you can structure the program around the organization’s most important objectives. For example, a program focused on leadership training will look different that one centered around cross training or employee retention. Ask yourself the following questions: What are our most significant challenges from a talent perspective? What is the desired outcome? Who will participate? How long should the mentorships last?
Designate a Mentorship Program Coordinator & Committee
An effective mentor program has one dedicated individual who will oversee the implementation and management of the program. You should consider creating a cross-functional steering committee as well to assist this individual with the program. The members should consist of members from your procurement and supply chain leadership team, Human Resources, and key stakeholders that your procurement organization supports. This structure is conducive for cross training your workforce and improving collaboration between procurement and other key functions within your business.
In addition, involvement from the top down can help ensure the success of the mentorship program so it’s recommended that the senior-most leader e.g. Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) serve as the program sponsor.
Pair Mentor/ Mentee
Mentoring can exist in a group setting, but the most common model is one-to-one. There are many software systems you can evaluate that use algorithms to help pair mentors and mentees, track meetings, establish goals, measure results, and much more. If you’re a smaller organization, you can get by with a manual process using Microsoft Office applications to create basic forms that collect pertinent information for the mentor and mentee to aid with pairing.
Be sure to do conduct research to determine the best model for your organization and consider running a few mentorship pilots before expanding the program across the workforce.
Manage Program Expectations
It’s important to communicate what the mentee and mentor should expect from the program as well as what not to expect, such as special treatment for promotions, for example. Both should have a clear understanding of the time commitment and program guidelines as well.
A strong mentor-mentee relationship can help new employees learn the ropes from a veteran employee as well as find a source for procurement management career advice. It can also help the more seasoned worker see solutions and approaches to company initiatives or challenges from a fresh perspective (reverse mentoring).
Develop the Mentorship Framework
Mentor pairs may structure their time and meeting agendas differently depending on the goals and objectives of each mentorship. However, it’s very important to put a solid framework in place that enables success for both parties throughout the lifespan of the mentorship.
The framework should include basic communication templates, meeting agendas, action plans, and progress reports. You’ll also want to establish an exit plan that successfully ends the mentorship and collects feedback on what went well, what didn’t go so well, etc. This is valuable information that can be used for coaching and developing both mentors and mentees so they can make improvements for the next mentorship that they enter into.
While it’s critical to ensure that your procurement mentorship program is helping both the mentors and mentees reach their goals, it’s equally important to measure the overall success of the program to ensure it’s driving the right results based on the program’s goals and objectives.
If your main goal is to improve employee engagement, you should be conducting pulse surveys, one-on-ones, and exit interviews to ensure that employee engagement is improving throughout your procurement organization. If the goal is to improve retention, track your attrition rate to ensure you’re seeing steady improvements.
Through procurement mentor programs, your employees can become more engaged, empowered and productive while accelerating learning across direct and/or indirect spend categories. A great place to get started in modeling your program is through ASCM, as they have a Mentor Center for supply chain professionals.