I’m in a parable-writing mood today. I hope that you don’t mind. The following is total fiction, but with a real-world message.
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Ryan joined ABC Company as a buyer two years ago. Having just graduated with an MBA and no work experience, he was quite satisfied with the $80,000 per year salary he was offered and had accepted.
Ryan sure was sharp. Everyone who met him – coworkers, suppliers, even ABC’s CEO – was impressed with his intellectual horsepower. It didn’t take much time in speaking with him before one realized he was one of smartest people around.
Ryan’s quick thinking and problem solving skills made him the go-to guy in the procurement department. Heck, even procurement directors with a couple of decades of experience sought out his perspective when they ran into challenging situations.
Everyone knew that Ryan was the future of the procurement department. Perhaps even the future of the company.
ABC Company was an evolving enterprise. It was exiting some declining markets and trying to enter growing markets. It was a company in transition. Not necessarily a bad transition, but an uncertain one at the least.
As part of its evolution, ABC Company was planning to increase the headcount of its procurement department. Specifically, management wanted to establish a “Strategic Procurement Programs” (SPP) division of the department. And Ryan was the obvious choice to be the SPP manager.
In March, management debated the timing of the launch of the SPP division and Ryan’s promotion. Ryan had joined the company on May 5 – Cinco de Mayo, a day of celebration – and this coming May 5th would be Ryan’s two year anniversary with the company. What a way to celebrate a two year anniversary and a quasi-holiday – a promotion!
This promotion would push Ryan’s salary into six figures. Not bad for a guy in his mid-20’s.
So, management planned to keep their plans secret until May 5. In the mean time, they thought, they would just enjoy watching Ryan continue to work his magic within the department.
But that’s when things got a little complicated.
On Valentine’s Day, Ryan’s girlfriend, who he had dated since his undergrad days, broke up with him. For the first couple of weeks, he was too in shock to really comprehend what had happened. He went about his days in a business-as-usual fashion.
But then, it started to sink in. Ryan was heartbroken. And depressed. And his emotional state started rearing its ugly head in the workplace.
He started thinking about his salary. He hadn’t gotten a raise in nearly two years. The company’s revenue, with all of the changes in its markets, was stagnant. So Ryan didn’t expect a raise any time soon.
He could handle his girlfriend not making him feel appreciated. They had their moments.
But to not feel appreciated at work? Where he contributed so much? And made his value so clear to others?
Ryan would have none of that. He stopped caring about ABC Company the way he used to.
Ryan, who usually had impeccable accuracy in his work, turned in a cost savings report that had an error that overstated his cost savings by $100,000. His to-do list, which never had tasks linger for more than a week, grew longer and longer and he started missing deadlines.
But the big disaster happened in late March. The Director of Global Sourcing, the woman who Ryan would report to when he got promoted, asked Ryan for his advice on handling a merger between two suppliers. Ryan uncharacteristically spit out the words “That’s not in my job description!” and walked away.
That director had an unrelated meeting scheduled with the rest of the leadership team, including the CEO, the next morning. Before the meeting formally started, she shared details about her exchange with Ryan.
The rest of the team were aghast. They discussed whether or not to continue with their plans to promote Ryan. That debate ended with the CEO saying “Promoting Ryan would send a message to everyone else that it’s OK to disrespect management.”
The management team then posted the job online and hired someone from the outside. Ryan continued to work at his starting salary long after May 5th passed.
Ryan never learned about the plans the management team had for his promotion. He sure would have enjoyed that six figure salary. But it didn’t happen. And Ryan didn’t get any happier.
The moral of the story: When it comes to your procurement career, the time when it’s OK to take your foot off the gas is…NEVER!
Think about your work today. Are you justifying a promotion that the management team secretly has planned for you? Or are you giving them reasons to go with someone else?
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