Stress in Procurement: Is It Time To Put The Glass Down?

Stress in procurement is a legitimate concern. Are you stressed?

We are not talking about being mildly agitated based on a short-term circumstantial situation that passes. We are talking about a continuous pressure point of worry and frustration that lingers over your head like a dark cloud.

For many procurement professionals having to meet high-pressure deadlines or constantly juggling competing priorities seems to be the most common cause of professional angst. Stress in procurement is prevalent, that’s a fact. 

Of course, such demands and the stress they cause are not unique to the procurement profession. According to industry research, 80% of workers deal with work-related stress in which “nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress.” 

So perhaps the question is not if you feel stress, but whether you can manage it or even eliminate it, if not entirely, at least significantly by reducing the causes.

Stress in Procurement – Procurement’s Competing Demands

The early results of a Procurement Insights LinkedIn poll indicate that the number one stress for procurement professionals is dealing with competing priorities. In other words, we are juggling so many balls in the air at one time that it is challenging to deliver optimal results across the board on a timely basis.

Another stressor is having to contend with high-pressure deadlines. As one procurement pro put it, “every business partner wants the product/service as of yesterday. They really don’t understand the other components” with which we must deal regarding the transaction. They go on to say that it is a painful reality of their job.

Procurement’s Self-Imposed Pressure

While there will be a paper on the final poll results for release at a later date, one result raised an immediate question: Are we the source of our own stress?

On its own, it may seem like a ridiculous question to ask. However, when just 19% of those responding to the poll indicate that their source of stress is demanding customers or suppliers, it would seem that the pressure we feel is due to our unmet expectations rather than the expectations of others.

In this context, is it possible that our stress is assumption-based versus reality-based?

Communication and Implied Stress

According to research, the greater the level of stress, the less effective we are at communicating. The reason for this breakdown is that during periods of stress, our ability to process communication (and information) declines by 80%. 

Not surprisingly, there is an equally precipitous drop in trust corresponding to the above-referenced decline in communication. When trust is absent, finding a resolution to a particular problem becomes even more difficult, further fueling the cycle of stress.

The above findings would seem to suggest that our implied or self-imposed expectations rather than actual demands could lead to a lack of communication between internal and external stakeholders. In other words, if you are already stressed, that can lead to a breakdown in communication that in turn fuels even greater stress and begins a destructive cycle.

Time To Put the Glass Down

Watch this short video, and then ask yourself this question: is it time to put the glass down?

By putting the glass down, you break the cycle of stress, opening you up to see a situation differently. As a result, you will open the door to greater communication that will almost always lead to a productive resolution.

So, there you have it. To break the cycle of stress—start by putting the glass down. We have also covered meditation techniques to help mental performance. See how paying attention to stress can help you avoid workplace agitation.