Build category management capability


Build category management coaching capability

By Kathrine Western |

Build category management coaching capability and unlock your team’s full potential

Businesses are under pressure like never before. Limited supply, rising prices and staff shortages. If ever there was a time for leadership teams to pull together, it is undoubtedly now. Those that can collectively identify and tackle issues head-on, drawing and building upon the skills and knowledge of their people, are the ones most likely to thrive. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a recipe for that? Well, there is, but for many, it’s been hiding in plain sight, building an internal business category management coaching capability.

Building an internal business coaching capability

The use of business coaching to develop people and get results has been around for decades, but most organisations still do not realise its full power. Having a business coach is often thought of as the preserve of senior executives seeking to transform their organisations. In this context, the coach is usually recruited from outside the business. Often overlooked, however, is the potential for coaching to be used as a management tool from within. Done well, this has the potential to supercharge levels of employee performance across the board. 

When it comes to successfully implementing category management and supplier management, it is apparent that those procurement teams that have developed their coaching skills have the edge. Coaching has become a way of life and makes a daily difference to business performance. The focus is on the coach helping others to find the best solutions to their particular challenges. This might take the form of leadership teams coaching one another to plan transformation at a strategic level or line managers coaching their team members as they undertake category management and build their procurement skill sets. 

Coaching in the context of category management

Embedding category management and supplier management is challenging for most organisations, so how might coaching have a high impact?

Here are a few examples, starting with the early stages of strategy development, where success depends on high-quality stakeholder engagement and project planning. A great coach can work with their coachee to navigate this complex territory by helping them to clarify objectives in their own mind and also with the category sponsor and cross-functional team developing the strategy. They prompt the coachee to ask themselves searching questions about the current situation and who are the key players that must be engaged. It takes skill and discipline to do this in full ‘listening’ mode, without telling, but this is one of the secrets of a great coach. 

Gathering the right data and deriving insights that others don’t see, or cannot articulate, is also essential and, here again, coaching can help someone take stock of the information they have, what they might need and how they might go about getting it. A coach should ask the questions we fail to ask ourselves – perhaps because we fear not knowing the answer deep down. 

Later on, options generation and assessment are critical activities from where much of the business value is derived. Here a coach would support their colleague in coming up with creative ideas and thinking through the possible consequences of each, ahead of discussing with the category team. The coachee ultimately decides, but the quality and speed of that process can be significantly enhanced by skilled coaching. To top it all, the coaching relationship should be empowering and motivational, and who would say no to that?

Train the coach programme

We have developed a targeted ‘Train the Coach’ programme delivered over two days to accelerate the transition to such a coaching culture. It is designed to enable people to discover for themselves what coaching is all about and how it feels to coach and be coached. Highly practical and interactive, we know it’s highly effective because it provides proven coaching techniques and models but positions them in the context of relatable category and supplier management scenarios.

Details of this programme are available in our prospectus with you can download here. If you would like to talk about your training needs further book a time to have a chat above.

Perhaps it’s best at this point to share feedback from previous participants:

quote mark

“I enjoyed the theory but also being thrown in at the deep end so I could practice what I learned. I wasn’t always comfortable, but the role-play sessions were very rewarding and powerful. I feel incentivised to keep doing it!”

“Our leadership is really embracing this, and it’s helping us to gel as a team for the very first time.”

“In my career, this is the training that has most changed what I do.”

“The training is brilliant: it has just the right blend of theory and practice. I will definitely use this regularly in my work.”

“We were shown how to use the approaches properly, and I now have a much better consciousness of how and when to apply the different techniques.”

“Using the process meant I was able to think, reflect and find a solution to an ‘impossible’ problem in just 15 minutes!”

“This short course can be a game-changer, supporting procurement teams at the time they need it most. As well as developing peoples’ coaching skills strengthens team relationships, supports the early resolution of issues, and helps maintain enthusiasm and commitment.”

“This approach is highly recommended if you’ve embarked on an ambitious programme of change.”

About Kathrine Western

28 years procurement experience in line management
and consulting roles.
Previous employment: Nissan and Reckitt Benckiser
Education: BA French and German, Durham University
INSEAD Young Manager’s Programme, Fontainebleau
APICS Operations Management
Organisational Collaboration, OU Business School
French, Spanish & German