The Covid-19 lockdown presented an excellent opportunity to assess if we operate with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. From the outset, I felt the changes forced through lockdown (as ever the optimist) provided an excellent opportunity to evolve our bidding approach by embracing the circumstances and encouraging the adoption of new ideas, tools and support. I’ve highlighted three areas that I’ve found to be important in achieving this…
1) Be passionate about feedback
Exploring new ways of working together, trying out new tools and applying new processes means we are asking people to climb the learning curve. The steepness of the curve can be daunting for some; for others it’s exciting as the progress is quite visible. Bids and presentations provide us with opportunities to work with different people in project groups. It is important to pass on that learning from one group to another and use it to generate further learning.
Having an open culture of multi-way feedback gives everyone a chance to grow. Plus, it opens up communication channels and engenders trust. Regular internal group feedback following each bid has become an even more valuable tool to identify the best and worst of our new adoptions. It also provides a strong platform for enabling others to quickly take advantage of the better practices – and, importantly, further improve those through feedback.
Where we are embracing new ways of leading people through bids, I’ve found there is an increasing vigour for engaging in internal feedback and continuous improvement.
2) Mitigate risk through contingency planning
When adopting new ideas and tools at pace, it is important to appreciate the risks. Working remotely and using collaboration platforms (particularly for the delivery of pitch presentations) demands a risk assessment to ensure there is individual confidence/ capability as well as adequate cover for technology failings. Dry runs and testing, including trialling system performance with clients is key and I’ve found people to be more committed than ever to thorough preparation and contingency planning.
Again, providing a forum for people to share their fears provides an excellent opportunity to create solutions, distil nerves and further build confidence that having a growth mindset need not generate anxiety.
3) Help people to press the reset button
While remote working may be a relatively new concept for some, the adaptability of both employees and employers has been remarkable. However, statistics showing a 25% increase in our working hours (from 9 hours to 12 hours) comes as no surprise to us. Admittedly, the removal of travel time compensates to some degree, but it’s easy to see why people were feeling that during March, April and May there was no escape. Some people have turned their living spaces into makeshift offices, making it nearly impossible to disconnect from work. Even people who worked from home before March invariably would not do that without getting out to visit an office or meet up somewhere in a pre-Covid-19 working week.
Our role in the leadership of bids demands we pay more attention than ever to the wellbeing of everyone involved. Encouraging people to identify (and use) the activities that help them with their personal reset buttons is part of our duty of care. Leading by example, sharing what works for you, blocking out time, committing to it and encouraging others to do the same ensures the energy levels and mental resilience of those working on bids and presentations in this new world are maintained.
“There are many positives and negatives to the lockdown.”, I would hear people say. When I hear that, I feel that the circumstances and not the people making the comment are in control. The circumstances are the circumstances. Being open-minded, willing to try new things, considering new ideas takes back control.
Facilitating continuous improvement through regular internal feedback, strengthening confidence in new ways of working through enhanced risk management and encouraging people to escape from the screen more regularly are areas I’m prioritising much more than I did before.
This article was written by Peter McPartland.
Peter is recognised for his strengths in bid team leadership, innovation and performance improvement. One of the first law firm employees to achieve the APMP Certified Professional qualification, Peter is also a winner of an APMP UK national award for Innovation.