A s a product manager, I must say that I have (more than once) daydreamed about getting a whole week’s worth of subject matter expert interviews done in less than one hour.

Click to read Part 1, Part 3 of the series.

Today, I had the opportunity to get two weeks’ worth of primary research done in two hours during the lively #SIGSource executive roundtable sessions. There were two sessions, each one-hour in length, that consisted of sourcing executives who represented firms which provide food products, insurance, financial services, software, hardware, retail, airlines, and many other industries. Today’s discussions addressed several challenging topics and some thought-provoking discussions, worthy of sharing.

Talent Retention: Winning the War on Talent

Beeline Executive VP, Randy Crews led SIG’s delegation of CPOs and VPs through the first discussion about how talent constraints limit the ability to pursue a market opportunity and innovate effectively. This group of top procurement executives quickly learned they shared many of the same common challenges in finding both sourcing and business talent. More importantly, the ideas generated by the group apply broadly.

Straight from SIG’s executive delegates to you, here is some practical yet impactful advice for attracting and retaining top talent.

The number one tip for finding talent spanned all types of positions and levels of experience:

Go beyond a job description

Collaborate with your recruiters, HR, or whoever is helping you find talent, allowing them to have real insight into what you need so that they know what you are really seeking.

The remaining insights break down into two categories of talent: Seasoned/Experienced and Less Experienced, starting with the first:

Look outside of your industry

As we learned from Stephen Shapiro, sometimes you may be trying to solve the wrong problem. Instead of asking, ‘how do I find a good sourcing person who knows the pharmaceutical industry’ – maybe you need to look in insurance, finance, technology, or food service industries for that person, not just in pharmaceuticals.

Diversify recruiting efforts

Find talent through various channels. Social media should absolutely be one of them. Use suppliers, recruiters, and networks. Know when a position will be hard to fill and then strategically plan your approach to filling it.

Empower your veterans to make a difference

Give your seasoned and experienced team members the autonomy and authority to affect change in the organization. People want a purpose and want to feel that what they do matters. Compensation isn’t everything. 

Invest in your people

Support ongoing education. Challenge them with projects to build the department and offer them face time with c-level executives to share their ideas.

Assess multiple dimensions

Measure more than what is achieved, but also measure how those outcomes were achieved.

Celebrate ‘transitioning’ within the company

Good talent seeks a challenge and sometimes that challenge isn’t in the role they are currently in today. Embrace their movement in the organization–celebrate it, expect it, even drive it!

So what about the less experienced talent? How can we find promising less experienced workers, entice them to work in sourcing (which in itself is not an obvious choice for most people) and retain them?

Hire the right skills

Hire less experienced talent to fill roles and activities where they will excel, like critical thinking and analysis.

Internships/College programs

These are excellent sources of ambitious, smart, and analytical talent.

Hire to fit your culture

Foster an environment of learning and mutual respect between new up-and-coming talent and seasoned veterans. Neither yourself nor the talent you find will be successful if the company culture doesn’t fit the person.

Hire for now, not 3 years from now

Accept short-term commitments or “resume builders.” It’s a win-win when new talent can prove themselves and also it helps to reach your goals. The reality is, they will likely move on to the next big challenge. Take advantage of this dynamic rather than fighting it.


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