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Managing Expectations for Well-being

Our Construction Expert and Professional Coach, Holger Garden, has written a fantastic article on the subject of well-being and stress management. His article explores how he manages expectations to ensure he can do a better job of helping his clients and managing his own well-being.

You can view the article here:

To ask Holger a question (or any of our 19 experts), click here:

Our Bid Hub is a great source of information including more advice from experts, industry news and other free resources to help improve your bid or proposal process. Our articles cover all aspects of the bid writing process, to keep you at the top of your game.

Our latest Bid Writer Vacancies and more this week include: 

Proposal Manager Role for a fast-growing IT organisation in London. Salary is competitive.


Senior Bid Manager Opportunity with a global material handling manufacturer based in Frimley.  Salary up to £55k.


Proposal Manager Position with a leading financial services firm based in Central London. Salary is competitive.


Bid Manager Vacancy on a 6 Month FTC covering maternity, based in London. Salary up to £45k pro rata.


Bid Manager Opportunity with a leading FMCG provider based in Kent. Salary up to £45k + Car Allowance.


Bid Writer Position working for a leading construction organisation based in London. Salary up to £40k.


Bid Writer Vacancy with a leading healthcare provider based in Leicestershire. Salary up to £38k.


Bid Coordinator Position working with a leading security organisation based in Sutton, Surrey. Salary up to £35k.


Bid Specialist Opportunity working for a leading logistics firm based in Uxbridge. Salary up to £33k.


For a full list of bid writer vacancies, and other bid & proposal job opportunities please visit:

Will You Leave Me in Peace While I Get the Work Done!

“I got eight little fingers and only two thumbs

Will you leave me in peace while I get the work done!”

‘Working On It’ by Chris Rea in ‘New Light Through Old Windows’

I’ve learned some essential lessons about managing stress in bidding, and about managing others’ expectations so I can do a better job of helping my clients – and, crucially, of managing my own wellbeing. I plan ahead to avoid scenarios that make me feel I can’t cope.

Stress management is needed for mental health and wellbeing. Research has shown stress to result from demand / resource imbalances1. Our stress response is mediated by resources and our perceived ability to cope, both factors that can increase – which means stress can be controlled1.

Managing Stress Through Planning

I’ve learned the best way to control stress is to plan for best use of resources, leading to the highest perceived ability to cope with demands. My resource planning includes five key influences: time, expectations, productivity, comparison, and communication.

Time is usually my most important resource. I work with bid teams to determine realistic timescales for producing strategies, writing plans and draft responses, and the supporting inputs and resource schedules. We include time for receiving review feedback, editing drafts, and compiling the submission.

With much less experience, I allowed myself to work without bid plans agreed from the start. This meant there was no guiding plan to align everyone, so contributions were uncoordinated and too late to be useful. I did a lot of stressful ‘heavy lifting’ to recover the bids. A plan agreed, and reviewed regularly, is essential because it reinforces the need for everyone, including those outside the bid office (e.g. SMEs and senior management), to play their part on time.

The plan sets timescale expectations, which we need to complement with specific daily goals, including how others’ input matters. I get the best from others when I’m clear about what I need, and about the effects of changes. I once worked on a bid in which a changed commercial proposal came at 7 pm on the day before a noon deadline for a printed submission. The changes caused significant edits to most sections. I worked all night to make the edits, including formatting. In those days, I didn’t sufficiently appreciate the importance of being clear about expectations, so the team saw no problem presenting late changes. I should have been clear about the impacts of late changes. Needless to say, my stress in the morning was extremely high as I rushed to compile the printed copies.

Feeling that my productivity is high is a great way to reduce stress, linked to a higher perception of achievement and ability to cope. Since clients judge me on results, I’ve learned the importance of being where I do my best work. Some days, I need to be with team members to review topics, benefiting from ‘bouncing’ ideas around in the room. Other days, I need to be alone to use the information gathered to produce responses. A day’s writing in an environment fostering concentration and clear thinking – which may vary from the bid room to my home or a remote flexible office – increases my motivation and makes me feel I’m ‘winning’.

One of my greatest stressors has been the comparison of my work with others’, but I’ve learned that comparison isn’t usually meaningful or useful since different team members work on different subjects with different requirements and constraints. However, it is useful to share ideas on ways to be productive, learning from others’ experiences.

I’ve worked in bid teams with a strong competitive culture causing friction. I find healthy competition stimulates momentum, but the real measure of progress is delivery against the plan. I used to be anxious seeing other writers tap away furiously while I sat thinking, but I learned that a good writing plan pays dividends for faster writing of more convincing messages. The key is to have enough confidence in your own work to avoid being drawn into the spiral of self-doubt from seeing others working.

Communication of issues and sharing concerns are great stress alleviators. Other people see solutions from different perspectives. Teams are more receptive to people who raise concerns as they arise than to those who don’t or who are unclear.

As George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” For me, this means checking everyone understands what they need to do, so the right team contributions lead to strong bids in which stress is managed well.

  1. Lazarus, R.S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, Appraisal and Coping. New York: Springer.


by Holger Garden, Construction Expert and Professional Coach

Issue 4 of Bidding Quarterly focused on mental health in the Bid Writing Industry. For more articles about managing stress, and other coping strategies, download your copy today.

Bidding Quarterly Issue 4 – The Hidden Costs of Bidding

Bidding Quarterly Issue 4 – The Hidden Costs of Bidding

With more than 1 in 4 people now expected to be impacted by mental health problems, there has never been a more important time to prioritise your own well-being. As the leading bid recruitment agency, we know how stressful the bid process can be.

When we decided to lead this edition of Bidding Quarterly with mental health, I was somewhat apprehensive about what we might publish, Mental health issues always seem to be in a special category of their own when it comes to being unfit to work. A bit of a taboo.

I think most of us can think of a time when we have questioned our own mental well-being; some of you might be doing it right now, Whilst help is at hand, I know from personal experience that it can be hard to seek out. To admit to mental health issues, or be self-aware enough to recognise the symptoms, is seemingly not in our basic makeup.

Bidding is without question at the higher end of the stress spectrum. It is inevitable we will be pushed beyond our comfort zones on a regular basis. But what are the hidden costs of this and in reality are you sacrificing yourself to win? Perhaps you do it because you feel the need to impress your manager or maybe you just love the thrill of winning, or perhaps you can’t afford to be out of work? Whatever your reasons, have you really considered the dangers of this cyclical self-inflicted stress?

I can relate to much of what has been written by our experts this month – by far some of the best contributions we have ever published. Whilst I learned something new from all our experts, one bit of advice really resonated with me.

Nigel Hudson gives a candid and somewhat harrowing account of what can happen if you ignore the warning signs for too long. One piece of advice he gives is particularly poignant:

“Bidders inherently give our all, but absolute focus should only be given to that which matters absolutely. We should seek to win, but not at all costs”.

– Martin Smith

Download your copy here:

Looking for a new opportunity? View our latest vacancies here.