Procurement – recruiting talent for change

Compass Group, whose UK headquarters are based in Surrey, have recently won a CIPS Award for ‘Most Improved Procurement Operation’, an accolade that Commercial Director Oliver Cock attributes to their commitment to embracing and driving change. Whilst there will be many other procurement functions who have been through transformation projects, there will be few who have replaced two thirds of their team to ensure a successful outcome.

It may seem like a drastic step to take but Oliver’s view is that you have to employ people who genuinely want change to happen, a challenge when you consider that for most of us, trying something new or different can be an overwhelming prospect. Even when the change in question is self-orchestrated, the part of our brains that makes us inherently human is programed to put up a fight. In an article for The Huffington Post, Heidi Grant Halvorson, a psychologist, researcher and consultant looks into this phenomena in more detail.

Using results from studies taken in 2010 Halvorson reveals how subconsciously we have a ‘reliable and tangible preference for things that have been around for longer. ’ She looks at an example where participants were asked to rate the appearance of a painting. Those who thought it had been created in 1905 awarded the picture a significantly higher score than those given the date of 2005. In another study participants had to rate some European chocolate. The best reviews came from the group who thought it had been sold in the region for 73 years as opposed to 3.

The results go a long way towards explaining why change can be so challenging to manage in business, particularly in relation to internal systems, processes or structure – all of which may have deep rooted history within the organisation.

This is not to say that existing team members will not be able to adapt to newly shaped roles or a new way of working. Even though instinct warns them to be wary, some individuals have the capacity to see past gut reaction to the bigger picture and go on to add tremendous value to their respective organisations.

Whatever happens before, during and after a period of transformation, recruiting and retaining the right people to see it through is paramount to achieving a successful outcome. For Oliver that means setting expectations high but rewarding  efforts well. From a Procurement Recruiters perspective we would also suggest finding a recruitment partner with a strong network who knows your business well and can support you in finding the very best talent for the road ahead.

About the Author


Senior Manager and experienced procurement recruiter. Positive and results orientated with a passion for finding innovative solutions and delivering on every project. Specialises in placing senior Procurement Professionals across London and the Home Counties.

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