The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for procurement officers to demonstrate their responsiveness and creativity to devise a new supply chain that works with the current health and economic climate. But procurement officers also need to draw on other skills to provide the support that their teams need.
This means that, in order to maintain the health and well-being of their employees, procurement officers need to be particularly attuned to the needs of their teams and able to support those most at risk. To help them manage their teams effectively, there are some tried-and-tested methods available:
- Strengthening interpersonal communication
- Adapting your management style to suit the specific needs of each employee
- Engaging the group
Keep in touch with each individual
Whether an employee loves or loathes working from home, it is important that you take the time to have regular phone calls with everyone.
Also remember that communication is one of the essential skills procurement officers need.
This contact, which should be daily for those most at risk, is obviously even more important in the context of the pandemic.
Take the time to find out how everyone is doing. This will help your more vulnerable employees to verbalise their anxieties and share their doubts.
Help your team to access clear information about the pandemic
Uncertainty and misinformation are factors that can exacerbate the feeling of isolation. Procurement officers are not medical experts, but they do also need to offer some relief in this area.
To avoid taking chances with the truth, simply follow these two precautions:
- Only relay official messages
- Encourage your employees to rely on objective sources
How procurement officers can adapt their management style to suit the specific needs of each individual
Identify how each member of your team manages their stress levels
Have faith in your staff and take the time to get to the bottom of things. Remember that just because someone doesn't talk about how unhappy they are at the first chance they get, that doesn't mean everything is fine. But it obviously doesn't mean it's terrible either!
For some, extra work will be a distraction. For others, it will be a source of additional stress. It is up to you to understand how everyone works, and to provide resources to help them in the event of a problem.
Give as much as you can to the most vulnerable
When it comes to remote working, not everyone feels the same way.
- For some employees, it's second nature.
- For other employees, it's a great recent discovery.
- But for a third group, distance from the office is an added pressure.
Procurement officers need to become amateur psychologists to support the latter group in particular and help to reduce their stress levels. To do this, they need to figure out what the most sensitive issues are, which might be a result of the employee's family situation, equipment at home or even difficulties in getting themselves organised.
Draw on the strength of the team
Team meetings have proved their worth during lockdown in maintaining team cohesion and morale.
There should be a bit of work, a few points of view and, above all, a lot of listening and discussion on the agenda. This is the place to share the burden of fears and doubts and get back on form!
Reach out if it all becomes too much for you
Offering emotional support to help combat stress is part of a procurement officer's job, but psychiatric care should be left to the healthcare professionals. Inform HR right away if one of your employees seems overwhelmed.
Similarly, don't keep your own worries to yourself. Make sure that you share them with your line manager. You can also take this opportunity to escalate your team's questions.
In conclusion, maintaining your team members' well-being when it comes to remote-working-induced stress requires constant vigilance and a unique relationship with each individual. Fortunately, procurement officers are already armed with interpersonal skills and the unique dynamic of their teams to help them rise to this new challenge.
The procurement officer's role in psychological support is all the more important because expectations of the procurement department remain very high. Indeed, it is now clear that procurement departments play a vital role in aiding business recovery. This is demonstrated in articles such as Three conditions procurement departments must fulfil to boost recovery in the second half of the year by Julie Dang Tran, Managing Director of Manutan France.