8 Secrets to Good Relationship Management in the Supply Chain


Tue Mar 29 13:00:28 CDT 2016

When was the last time you evaluated your relationship skills? It's about time for a check-up.


That's because relationship management is becoming more important than ever for supply chain managers to be successful. You're tasked with running a leaner and vastly more effective supply chain operation, but your ability to meet these goals will likely depend on how well you've built and managed relationships with three distinct and separate groups: the C suite, clinicians and suppliers.


When it comes to developing good relationships in these groups, one approach does not fit all. Here are some useful tips Covidien learned at a recent healthcare conference that can help you tailor your approach:




1. Get to know your clinician counterparts as people. Grab a coffee, attend their staff events, and ask questions to find common personal and professional interests. Get to know them first before asking them to do something they aren't comfortable doing.


2. Get into the weeds. Leave your office and walk around -- shadow, visit and interact. Be visible and know what's going on in the organization. You'll build their trust.


3.Stop asking things like, "Is it chargeable?" Using supply chain and revenue-focused words can be turn-offs. Clinicians need to worry about the patient on the table, so make their job easier by speaking their language, not yours.


C Suite


1. Be focused. Any value proposition needs to have a clear line of sight to the best interest of the organization.


2. Think long-term. The C suite's job is to steer the organization into the future -- do not approach them with short-term solutions. Understand the strategic direction of the organization and your role in supporting it. Don't waste their time.


3. Manage independently. Even within the C-suite you'll need to target your approach. CFOs are data-driven. Give them the bottom line and keep them in the loop on money management. COOs want to know about streamlining and efficiencies, and tend to think collectively and system-wide. Try to get on their weekly meeting agenda. And CMOs want crisp data to prove ROI.




1. Meet as a group. Invite clinicians to meet face-to-face with vendors. This can build a more direct connection between the people who are helping you affect patient outcomes, and those who are responsible for them.


2. Heed the 5 Dimensions of Supplier Relationships. Gallup created a wonderful matrix on the five factors that matter most in supplier relationships: clarity, simplicity, integrity, reciprocity and connectivity. Do your part in ensuring your supplier relationships live and breathe these principles.