Reader Responses: What’s the Cost of Bad Leadership in Procurement?

June 14, 2018

Sometimes, we write a blog post and it’s instantly clear that it touched a nerve among our readers. While we get feedback on most of our posts, some posts generate a lot of discussion because we’ve hit on something close to what people are feeling out there in our network of professionals in Procurement and Supply Chain.

We’ve had lots of reader feedback when we talked about the Supply Chain talent deficit, with people weighing in on their own hiring and job search challenges. When we wrote about what exactly it means to be strategic in Supply Chain, we heard from business leaders about breaking down silos and fostering an environment of continuous improvement.

We love it when this happens. It shows us that what we’re writing is resonating with the community, and we think it’s always good to share experiences and start discussions as we all aim to push the profession forward.

The most recent example:

We wrote recently about the issue of subpar leadership in Procurement, and how it can have ripple effects across a business. It’s commonly said that a bad hire costs a business thousands of dollars. We wrote the article to talk about how a bad hire at the senior level has massive costs that can’t even be quantified, in terms of reputation, employer branding, and the ability to attract talent in the future.

Suffice it to say, the post touched a nerve with a number of Procurement professionals who have felt ill-served by their leadership. We wanted to share a few great responses to the article from people who have lived this on the ground:

This quick response comes from an IT Strategic Sourcing leader in the U.S.:

“Great points. In addition to the impact you mention in the article, bad leaders sometimes try to compensate by hiring strong personnel with the expertise but stifle them with transactional, non-value work rather than utilizing the expertise to improve the organizations position within the company.”

This story comes from a Strategic Procurement Specialist in Ontario, with a lifetime of experience across the manufacturing and utility industries:

“Your article so directly addresses my recent experience that I felt compelled to respond and perhaps add to your catalogue of (mis)management ‘sins.’

Almost two years ago I retired from a company where I bought capital equipment for the projects group.  Last year my neighbour, the controller for a local company, approached me about joining their team to do some purchasing.  My new boss, the CFO, is a former employee from the same company whom I knew and liked.  The local company is a significant player in a niche tech service market.  They have never had a purchasing department and do not understand the contribution one makes to the bottom line.  I saw this as an interesting opportunity to help develop this area of the business.

Last fall I was asked to go out for quote for a number of contracts.  I prepared the RFIs and then the RFPs using standard language and requirements including the communication chain limitations until the award of business.  The RFP, which my boss insisted on reviewing prior to issue, stated that not complying with the communication requirements could be considered a breach of the terms of the RFP and could cause the offending company to be eliminated from consideration.  One of the suppliers called me to tell me that my boss was ignoring the procedure and directing them to call him to discuss their proposal.  As well, he was talking to their US business centre instead of the Canadian one which was the supplier’s stated preference.  When I spoke to my boss he told me not to lecture him, he knows how things are done and this is not our former employer so it’s not necessary to follow procedures.  He had just put his current employer in the position of taking a reputational hit for unfair practices or possibly even a lawsuit.

I waited until my paycheck was in the bank and ‘re-retired’ effective immediately.  As well, I let a former co-worker who was interested in moving to the local company what had taken place.  He immediately understood the issues and stated that he would stay where he is.

Over time I have had incompetent bosses but this was the first openly unethical one.”

A big thank you to these professionals for sharing your experience, and please reach out if you have any more stories about leadership failures in Procurement to add!


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