The comfort zone is, well, comfortable. That’s why it’s so easy to stay in.
I was speaking to a large group of government purchasing professionals this week regarding this very topic.
The problem with the comfort zone, as I put it to them, is that “20 years will pass, and you will suddenly find out that you don’t have 20 years experience, but rather, only 1 year experience 20 times!”
This is a huge risk in our profession. We get so caught up in customer excursions, supplier excursions, email, meetings, presentations, and everything else that we forget that we got hired to make progress happen.
Nobody ever got put on the fast track to becoming the next director of corporate purchasing because they were so good at putting out fires. You have to demonstrate that you can drive change.
And if you wait around for someone else to drive that change and for you to follow, then you are on the “1 year experience 20 times” track that I mentioned above. It’s a very long road to a very small house.
Don’t wait for someone to crown you. You can crown yourself. Figure out what’s broken in your department and make it your new project to fix that problem.
I know that’s what I did. I was 23 years old, fresh with an MBA, and I figured out really quickly that my company, a Fortune 50 company no less, had great deficiencies in their negotiation skills and legal knowledge.
Guess what, I spent time perfecting that craft, and pretty soon, 20 year industry veterans were coming to me for advice. Management took notice, and I started getting moved up the ladder. They also had me start training their purchasing departments around the world. Things just took off from there.
I crowned myself, and you can do that too!
Look around you. What are the one or two problems that everyone in your department is struggling with? That takes up their time and makes them frustrated? This has to be a problem that nobody likes, but everyone has just gotten used to, the same way you might get used to a headache.
Figure out how to become an expert in that area. All you have to do from there is to start implementing what you’ve learned and getting better results than everyone else.
Then the magic happens.
Other people figure it out. They start to come to you to ask questions, to ask advice, to ask how you solved that problem.
Now don’t make the mistake of hoarding information. Share. It’s not enough to perform well if you want to catapult your career. You also have to bring everyone else up to your level.
Make the department a better place because of your presence. Out-perform your pay grade. That’s when management will take notice.
Now’s the perfect time. Last week we talked about setting your job goals for the year. Bake these ambitions into your annual goals, and make sure you have actions to back them up – otherwise, nothing happens.
Here are the kind of areas that you can look at getting really good at:
- Contract Law
- Post Contract Management
- Supplier Management
- Supplier Selection
- Requisitioning Processes
- Supplier Expenditure Tracking
- Shipping Practices
- Multi-Sourcing Models
I have lots of training products on all of the above, if you ever find you need my help. If you haven’t read my first book yet, go grab your copy by Clicking Here now. It’s been called “required reading”.
If you want to know breakthrough purchasing techniques that have been painstakingly gathered from the best of the best in every industry and geography over a 20 year period, married with powerful insight and strategies that you won’t find anywhere else, you should get and read a copy of this book.
Packed with process steps, templates, checklists, tips, and best practices, you will know *exactly* what to do differently when you get back to your desk.
Key chapter focus areas include:
- Total cost analysis
- Win-win negotiations
- Sourcing models
- Complex negotiation pitfalls
- Key elements of purchasing contract law
- The process of preparing for and holding negotiations
- Key behavioral and data based negotiation methods that crack cases
The most important thing though is to get a little better every day. Pretty soon it adds up.
Be careful though, because in our profession, the days are long and the years are short. Take advantage of every opportunity you have, be your best and crown yourself!