Talk long enough to any smart professional and you'll find that their goal is to do meaningful work that gives them a creative charge. Responding to tenders is the opposite of this. As a manager, this is why it can be so hard to get your professional staff to work on tenders - no matter how great the project on offer might seem to you.
As Drake Baer wrote in a career development piece for Fastcompany, there are five things that drive us in our working life:
1. Cultivating craftsmanship or “mastery”;
2. Uncovering a vocation (or purpose);
3. Finding personal and professional alignment;
4. Sculpting a lifestyle; and
5. Identifying our ethic (or values).
If you want to engage your team with the idea of pitching for a project, here are some questions that leverage these career drivers and will help each individual to make a personal connection with the work on offer.
Career driver 1: cultivating craftsmanship or “mastery”.
Questions to ask your team: what do you want to be the best at? How could this project help you develop that? What would need to happen for you to get the maximum career benefit out of this project?
Career driver 2: uncovering a vocation (or purpose).
Questions to ask your team: why did you decide to do what you do? How does that relate to what the client really wants here? How could this project help you to make that difference to them, and be commercially smart for us?
Career driver 3: Finding personal and professional alignment
Questions to ask your team: What did you love about working on (past/current) project? What is it about that assignment that made you feel like you were doing your best work? Does this project feel good to you too? If not, why?
Career driver 4: Sculpting a lifestyle
Questions to ask your team: Offer a list of benefits that might be possible from working on this project and see which ones your team members respond to. Does the project offer opportunities for travel and adventure? Autonomy? Connecting with other experts? Publishing findings that will influence peers?
Career driver 5: Identifying your ethic
Questions to ask your team: what do you think the client is trying to achieve here? Is this something you would aspire to achieve personally? Are there any aspects of this project that worry you or don’t feel like a good “fit” for us?
How do I know these questions are necessary? I’ll let you in on a little secret. I don’t love bids and tenders either! (Weird, right?!). The creative charge I get from MY work results from seeing smart, capable professionals light up at the prospect of solving a problem that is meaningful to THEM.
So if you have clever people who "don't do” business development, try this approach. You might be surprised at the results.
|Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant specialising in business won through formal bids, tenders and proposals. She is the author of two books on proposals and sales, including Winning Again: a retention game plan for your most important contracts and customers. Read more about it here.|