I've always regarded my ability to multi-task and manage complex projects as one of my key skills. After starting a bid team from scratch at Pick Everard, I had to wear multiple hats, from commercial, to technical to proposal management. That approach worked for me when working on smaller property bids, but I've come to realise that as I take on more and more complex proposals, you can't do it all yourself. Even I need help!

Over the past few years I've come to rely on teams. I built the team at Pick Everard and in some respects the team was designed to suit me as a leader, and I purposely selected staff who would complement each other and me, both to create a cohesive unit and to ensure we brought diversity and different skill sets into the team. 

Having moved into a new role at Mace, I am now without direct reports and take a more strategic role on major pursuits. This has given me an amazing opportunity to explore new ways of working, but also the challenge of finding my place in an established business, with different systems, processes and people. 

One big challenge has been building the virtual team I need to deliver successful pitches and proposals. 

In a strategic (read: floating) role, supporting business units across Mace to deliver the big wins the business needs, my ability to form, mould and lead new teams for every pursuit is a new skill I'm developing quickly. I've found it challenging but exciting and have been very fortunate to be able to draw upon some great content such as the link below.

"So what are your key learning points" I hear you ask? Well, I can summarise them into five key elements:

  • Plan ahead - it's easy to get caught up in the immediate requirements of a bid, but plan ahead and consider follow on stages, interviews and behavioural assessments - what are the resource needs, potential road blocks or conflicts.
  • Be clear on what's needed and when - even the best laid out bid plan is misread or misinterpreted by someone, so it's important to confirm everyone in the team understands what's expected from them and the dependencies on their input others may have.
  • Maintain regular contact - through weekly catch ups, start of the week meetings or similar, make sure you allow time in your bid plan to accommodate discussion, updates and feedback.  
  • Give the team time to bed in - teams take time to gel, so allow time in the plan for the team to get to know each other and find out each other's strengths and weaknesses.
  • Don't be afraid to mix things up - if the team isn't working, or the client throws you a curve ball mid-bid, don't be afraid to mix up the team or change resources. Be decisive and trust your instincts.