Issue 16 - Performance Management and Measuring Success

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“If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing.” Bill Shankly, Liverpool FC

This quote really resonates with me. Though used in a sporting context it offers, in my opinion, a hard and often brutal truth about working in the bid and proposal profession.

We are absolutely in the business of winning. How you are measured or managed doesn’t really matter unless you are winning – or at least winning enough to justify your cost to the business and shareholders.

Even a solid win rate isn’t always enough. I’ve worked in bid teams who were made redundant without a second thought because shareholders’ EBITDA expectations weren’t met – even though they were contributing millions of pounds to the organisation’s bottom line.

This experience has taught me bid teams should be as closely aligned to sales and business development teams as possible. Bid teams need to understand the overall business plan and take responsibility for their own commitments to the business. If you are not extrapolating how many winning bids are needed to ensure the business delivers its targets, you are not really aligned to where it is heading.

Creating and sustaining high-performance bid teams is an ever present challenge for most CEOs and Managing Directors. Organisations must adopt a balanced scorecard approach that considers a range of metrics to truly assess accomplishments. Quantitative metrics (such as revenue growth and profit margins) are no longer the sole (or accurate) indicators of team performance. Temperament, attitudes and emotional maturity, rather than education and skills, can often lead to sustained success. Qualitative factors (such as employee engagement, wellbeing and mental health, customer satisfaction, proposal debriefs, and learning reviews) are equally crucial.

Bid and proposal teams have some of the highest staff turnover rates of any profession. Have you assessed the impact of this on your organisation’s success? If turnover is not a key metric, perhaps it should be. In our last salary survey, 29% of respondents had changed companies during the last year and 44% had changed within the last two years. 36% stated they expected to change organisations within the next 12 months. For reference, the typical UK annual staff turnover rate across all industries is 15%.

What does success look like for you and your team? If you can’t easily answer this question, the 20 fantastic articles in BQ16 can help. They offer more than 25 different metrics for measuring and assessing performance. Our contributors also share their knowledge and experience of what worked and what didn’t.

In our continuous pursuit of bid excellence, we must accept and understand that success is an ongoing journey, not an end game. Coming second in bidding is painful (and sometimes very costly) – but it is often a necessary step on the journey to coming first.

In this issue