In Part 1 of How to manage a bid remotely we discussed the importance of setting clear and consistent communication protocols to drive effective bid collaboration.
However, in these uncertain times it’s a very good idea to look beyond ‘formal’ bid communication and take time to regularly check-in on your remote bid team’s welfare.
While bids can be stressful at the best of times, when managing a bid remotely an extra stressor for bid managers is lack of ‘visibility’ of your team’s morale. No real ongoing visibility makes it is extremely difficult to clear up misunderstandings or pick up on things like low mood or non-verbal cues such as body language.
Many bid and proposal teams also have a tendency to ‘flog’ themselves to meet tight deadlines; being home-based means the lines between work and home time can blur with extra long hours becoming the ‘norm’. Also, for many bid team members having to manage a bid remotely from home will have been a shock to the system. Many may deeply miss the routine, sense of purpose and ‘buzz’ of being amongst it in the office.
With any luck you’ll be communicating formally as a group in variety of ways anyway throughout the bid. However, not everyone will feel comfortable raising personal struggles (e.g. feeling lonely, worried or overwhelmed) while in a scheduled group meeting so it’s important to do some one on one outreach.
JMA recommends you regularly check ‘in on’ your remote bid team morale informally throughout a bid.
It is important to distinguish that this is a ‘check-in’, not a ‘checking up on’.
Meaning you are not seeking to micromanage, but want to genuinely connect with your team beyond the bid at hand.
So, rather than only enquiring ‘how’s section 5.4 going?’,
open up a dialogue along the lines of:
‘How is your day? … What else have you got on? … Do you have everything you need? … Do you have questions or issues you’d like to raise with me?’
Also use check-ins to invite your remote bid team members to get in touch if they are feeling stressed, lost or overwhelmed at any point.
Your team check-ins could be as simple and low key as a quick SMS or What’s App message. A sense of humor is usually essential for bid managers so why not extend it and share funny memes or gifs to let that team member you’re still available to them and thinking of them – even if it’s at a distance.
Another idea is to set a ‘team challenge’ which could be achieving 10k steps per day or avoiding checking social media where the group can share their tallies and keep each other motivated. You could even have a go at Remote Bid Management Bingo posted in our last blog and work out ways to improve.
If your team is rolling through lots of remote bids you might also consider a virtual celebration of your successful bid submission (or even a win) via video conference morning or afternoon tea or glass of wine and all ordering the same pizza or other food to share at the same time.
Further tips to help keep up remote bid team morale
- Try to reduce the amount of email sent – could you may be pick up the phone or hop on video or use a chat program instead?
- Build in some non-bid related time with colleagues in addition to the suggestions above e.g. try scheduling a virtual coffee break for 20 minutes with a different team member each day.
- If it is safe to do so consider allowing team members to work alternate office days so (with appropriate social distancing) there’s an option for some ‘out of the house’ time and in-person interaction.
- Don’t be a ‘last minuter’ and dump urgent tasks on colleagues. Be reasonable and over-allow on your regular turnaround times by building in extra buffer-time. Extra patience is called for as some of your colleagues may be managing multiple other commitments (e.g. home schooling) or be in back-to-back virtual meetings and cannot provide immediate input you previously received.
- To help reduce workaholic tendencies agree some daily working ‘stop’ points around communications e.g. not sending email after hours, or expecting emails to be answered before or after hours.
- Encourage your team to stay healthy. Enough rest, hydration, healthy diet and regular breaks that include fresh air and physical breaks (e.g. short walks or stretching) are essential to overall health.
Keep an eye out for Part 3 of How to manage a bid remotely where we share tips on how to make decisions when your bid team is remote; and in the meantime, if your bid team needs a boost or further advice on how to manage a bid remotely please get in touch.
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