Have you ever wondered why some teams magically ‘click’ while others - full of equally talented individuals - struggle to make headway and become dysfunctional when the pressure’s on?
This dysfunctionality not only affects the quality of your pitches - it’s also something that potential clients are increasingly attuned to. As more clients make behavioural analysis part of procurement it makes sense to understand and improve team dynamics before you get into the teeth of the process.
In the world of commercial tenders it’s usually the case that every team member wants to perform as well as possible. To do that each person must understand their own behavioural traits as well as those of their colleagues. This state of affairs is surprisingly difficult to achieve.
At the Bid Coach we use a framework called Core Strengths®️ to assess and improve team behaviours. This assessment tool is based on Relationship Awareness Theory and explores each person’s motivational factors both in ‘normal’ and stressful situations.
The objective is twofold. First, understanding our own personal motivation helps us to achieve self awareness about why we behave in certain ways. Second, it helps us to understand how our behaviour is perceived by others - particularly when our behaviours and preferences are accentuated by stressful situations.
People, Process and Performance
Broadly, our core strengths can be plotted somewhere within a triangle whose points represent performance, process and people.
I’ll deal with extremes for a minute to illustrate the significance of these biases for team dynamics and performance.
Everyone in these scenarios is behaving in the way that comes naturally and which they believe will lead to success. They are also seeking to achieve personal fulfilment. Nobody is ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’
Through systematic assessment it’s possible for everyone to be given a picture of their natural behavioural motivations and how these are likely to change in stressful situations. It’s also possible to understand how our behaviours and underlying motivations can be perceived by other people and how, when taken to extremes, they can become weaknesses.
Enhanced Team Performance
So far, so good. That type of self awareness is helpful for all of us.
When the team is able to share those insights with each other the benefits increase exponentially. Everyone understands how they might need to moderate their own behaviours and how to relate to other individuals in the team to maximise performance.
Anyone with a Core Strengths®️ profile can instantly view on-line anyone else’s profile who is within their ‘team.’ In addition, whenever a ‘team’ is created an overall team profile is generated that is available to all. Individuals within the team can assess their strengths and motivations versus the team overall. If people are added or removed from a team (for whatever reason) the team profile updates automatically.
All of this information can be viewed instantly and on-line without the need to download and read lengthy text-heavy profile reports.
The Core Strengths®️ assessment tool has proved powerful in helping bid teams we’ve worked with understand their own motivations. It’s also helped individuals to adapt their approach to other people to improve their influencing skills.
Its uses go way beyond bid teams. Our clients are increasingly using Core Strengths®️ to help improve the efficiency of their overall communications – within their core and wider teams.
Remember too: achieving greater awareness of the traits you can identify in your own team can help you make sense of the behaviours of members of your client’s team.
Some people are a little sceptical about the value of psychological profiling tools (sometimes with justification) but Core Strengths®️ seems different. For one thing, the results are easy to understand, remember and apply.
Having seen how the insights it offers can be quickly employed to improve the performance of a bid team - and show marked improvements - it’s something we’ll be using a lot more.
One of the biggest challenges we deal with at the Bid Coach is when a new JV is formed to pitch for a major contract. Individuals from different companies, often with different cultures and behavioural expectations, are expected to quickly form a coherent team in a pressurised and time-critical environment.
The fact that the procurement process for significant tenders is increasingly likely to feature behavioural assessment turns up the intensity and pressure a few more notches. The clock is always ticking. Meanwhile, this initially disparate team has to build mutual trust, develop self-awareness and prepare to perform as well as possible during a pressured assessment process.
Even where companies have worked together before (as is often the case) the individuals involved might well be new to each other. Behavioural assessment can be unforgiving when it comes to highlighting any potential inconsistencies and weaknesses.
And, since last year, we also have to do all of this remotely. To pull all of this together - without actually getting together - the process has to be highly structured, rigorous and supported with real commitment by the participants.
We recently worked through this process with a client that had formed a JV to pitch for a major facilities management contract.
How was Bid Coach involved?
Throughout the process we were careful to engender a one-team approach. Our only concern about managing the behavioural assessment coaching remotely was how lack of physical presence together during the workshops would affect team cohesion.
As it turned out, the team worked incredibly well together. I guess we’re all getting more comfortable interacting with each other remotely. The delegates’ feedback was very positive – they particularly commented on the fact that they enjoyed being challenged and stretched throughout the process to come up with ever more persuasive responses that were backed by appropriate evidence.
This summarises our approach, namely to use constructive challenge in a safe and supportive environment to build their knowledge and confidence so that they are prepared for any curve balls the procurement team might throw their way.
“Just generally the positivity and confidence you instilled in us as individuals and as a team – not sure exactly what you did to achieve this but it worked.”
“We all came a long way together - creating a proper team and not leaving anyone lagging.”
Public procurement will play an important role in reviving the economy and communities in the aftermath of Covid-19. This is already increasing the importance of social value in the way that contracts are tendered and bids are scored. The best advice is to embrace this trend rather than see it as an added complication or hurdle.
Twelve or so months ago Covid-19 was an unclassified illness that had broken out in a part of China. None of us could have forecast the devastating impact it would have - and is still having - on lives and businesses around the globe. But the human spirit is resilient - economies and communities will be remade.
Outside of the world of materials and services procured specifically to combat the virus (which is territory I have no intention of venturing into) the Government seems determined that future contracts procured with public funds should help the process of recovery. Social value is very much on the agenda, with an emphasis on how projects can deliver additional outcomes that will help communities and people affected by Covid-19.
Build on the Positive Experiences
While the pandemic brought out the worst in a few people, it also brought out the best in many. It has caused countless people to reappraise their relationships with their neighbours and the places where they live. There’s a tremendous opportunity to build on this community spirit and redouble our efforts to help each other get through difficult times.
Many businesses are part of this and, despite the economic challenges, are doing what they can to help local charities and community organisations. It won’t be their primary motivation, but proving their sincere commitment to delivering social value will hardly be a difficult task when it comes to the next tender.
The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 already places a requirement on relevant contract authorities to consider social value. The recent Social Value in Government Procurement consultation white paper seeks to go further, requiring central government to formally take account of social impact as part of the contract award criteria. There is an explicit link being made between government funded projects and helping the post-Covid recovery.
How to Respond
Will simply fulfilling the minimum criteria now be sufficient? Or should firms pro-actively seek out ways of going above and beyond?
The actions I’d be taking right now are these:
I don’t think we’ve yet seen the full extent of how social value will be added to the award criteria. Increasingly, firms will find it desirable and necessary to be both creative and expansive in how they demonstrate and measure the social value they add to projects.
The options are almost endless: from genuine equal opportunities for employment and training, greater use of very local supply chains, involvement in community schemes and so on. What you won’t be able to do is pay lip service or ignore it.
I have many years of senior sales and account management positions.
This experience taught me how to interpret exactly what clients are seeking, and what they need and expect to see and hear from the successful bidder. We draw on this experience to give your team an additional competitive advantage by building on their existing strengths while improving their team-working and self-awareness.