Do You Know the Difference Between Strategic Sourcing & Category Management? Working in Teams

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What does “Working in Teams” have to do with Strategic Sourcing OR Category Management? I would suggest that it is THE most powerful way of building a collaborative environment and getting work done.  As you move from Strategic Sourcing to Category Management this becomes even more important. You may move from teams within the Procurement department to working in cross functional / cross organizational teams.  This helps to build trust, teamwork and in most cases the optimal solution for the company.

While working in teams may not seem to be that difficult to manage (after all we have all worked as part of a team at some part of our lives) it is an “art” as well as a “science” to do it well.  Working in teams can become even more complex when working remotely or globally.  How do you ensure that you get the maximum benefit from teaming when everyone is NOT in the same location?

Today, it does not really matter how far apart remote team members are (home, across the street or across the world); remote communication can create challenges.  According to an HBR article “How to Collaborate Effectively if your Team is Remote” a recent estimate from Gallup and the Bureau of Labor statistics, 22% of Americans work from home, while nearly 50% are involved with remote or virtual work.  Add in the fact that many of us work for national / global companies where remote teaming is the norm and this is a challenge that needs to be dealt with.  The authors of this article ask us to consider “three kinds of distance in remote collaboration:  physical (place and time), operational (team size, bandwidth and skill level) and affinity (values, trust, and interdependency)”.  Not surprising, determining ways to reduce affinity distance is the best way to ensure team success.  The most obvious suggestion is to switch remote communication from voice calls to video calls which is a better way to establish rapport.

I have been coaching a number of clients that are working in global teams and some are more successful in cracking the code than others.  Here are some best practices in making remote teams work:

  • Use technology – the ability to connect with video to the point where it actually feels like you are in the same room is HERE – use it
  • Be sensitive to time zones – rotate who needs to wake up early or have an evening meeting. This is especially challenging where teams are literally a ½ day apart
  • Clear, consistent communication – often team members that are not “local” feel like they are missing out on “everyday” communication. Avoid that issue by ensuring that everyone in included on important communication
  • Create intentional ways to celebrate – celebrating team successes is critical. Acknowledge team milestones or special occasions by creating virtual space for social interaction to celebrate virtually
  • Get together physically – when the opportunity presents itself for teams to be together physically, take advantage of the situation. Arrange for social and team building activities to encourage bonding on a personal level

By the way, some of these techniques can and should be used for co-located teams as well.  Managing teams is not a slam dunk.  Let’s not confuse a group with a team.  Teams can be VERY effective if managed and nurtured.  Your ability to form and manage teams or simply be a good team member is a critical skill that every Strategic Sourcing / Category Management professional should obtain.  Remember that near or far, being able to work in a team environment is critical to building the collaborative environment that is so critical for success in our function.

Let us know what you think and join in the conversation . . . . . . .

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Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.

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