Key takeaways: How to build the best bid team

5 minutes

Following a successful series of bid-focused webinars held over the past couple of years, ou...

Following a successful series of bid-focused webinars held over the past couple of years, our specialist bid recruiter, David Bremner, hosted the first in-person event for our bid community on the 11th of May 2023.  

The bids world is a rapidly changing space, with plenty of discussions occurring around what defines the most successful bids team, the rise in new technology, and the importance of a work-life balance and mental wellbeing.  

Our conversation centred around how to build a successful bid team, considering all of these developments. Attendees heard from leaders in the bid industry who have built and led extensive bid management teams, as well as our recruitment experts who represented Bid Managers’ thoughts on the topic.

Our panel was comprised of: 

Lisa Keller – experienced Bid leader 

With over ten years of experience in the bidding industry, Lisa has led bid teams for Balfour Beatty and, most recently, ISG. Lisa is passionate about helping people reach their full potential so invests a lot of time in training and development. Currently, Lisa is working towards her doctorate, where she is researching and exploring the topic of e-leadership. 

Ellie Blenkinsop – Head of UK & European Bids at Savills  

Ellie leads a high-performance, award-winning Bids team at Savills, where she has developed her career for the past 13 years. She is passionate about developing and leading her team of strategic Bid Managers and Bid Designers, so they can continue to make a fundamental difference to the business’ profitability. 

David Wall – Bid Recruitment Director at 3Search 

With experience as a Bid Writer himself, David moved into bid recruitment at 3Search in 2015 where he has built our bid recruitment team from scratch. An active member of the APMP, he prides himself on his knowledge and involvement with the bid community.  

The topics they covered included: 
  • Advice on scaling teams  
  • How to support your team's wellbeing and prevent burnout in such a deadline-driven environment 
  • How diversity has helped to develop growth and new skill sets 
  • How the bid management profession is evolving, and the roles that are needed to keep the team motivated and ahead of the competition 

What would your ideal bid team look like? 

The conversation kicked off with a discussion around what structure your bid team should take, with David asking the panellists what their ideal org chart would look like.  

Allowing your bid team to grow and develop 

Team structure will differ for each organisation, and Lisa Keller shared the importance of building your team structure around the individuals that make up the bid team.

Identify who your senior people are and those who have leadership capabilities. Some senior people will not want to be a line manager, and it’s important to understand individual’s personal and professional goals. 

Lisa also emphasised the importance of having the right growth opportunities for the team, investing in their professional development plans.

You might, for example, prepare Bid Managers for the Senior Bid Manager job before the team requires a new Senior Bid Manager. This allows Bid Managers to continue growing their career and helps improve retention of staff. 

Behaviours vs skills 

Ellie Blenkinsop shared that when she looks to add to her bids team, she focuses on behaviours rather than skills.  

“If I were building a new team today, I would actually be focussing on what behaviours they have rather than the direct bidding skills they bring.” 

Collaboration is at the heart of Ellie’s team and is what makes them so strong, so it’s really important that any new bid hires have that ingrained within them from the very start.  

Diversity is another really important element for Ellie. Traditionally, it’s always been important for anyone working in the real estate industry to have previous property experience, but Ellie believes that having a diverse background – be it work experience, education or culture – has helped shape her team into what it is today. 

How do you ensure your bid team’s wellbeing is protected in such a deadline-driven environment? 

Wellbeing is an increasingly significant topic within the bid community. Where other industries seem to have found the right balance between work and life, it’s something that the bid community continues to struggle with. So, we asked our panellists what steps they take to ensure the right work/life balance in their bid teams. 

Setting boundaries for your bid team 

For Lisa, protecting her team’s wellbeing is one of the most important parts of her job. 

“If your team are happy, satisfied and competent in their job, then they will win the work.” 

As a result, when she first joins a new bid team, Lisa sets boundaries for her team in order to protect their wellbeing. 

While you cannot get around the fact that there will be times when you work outside of your normal working hours, there are other things that you can put in place to protect your bid team’s wellbeing. 

One example is removing weekend working. This allows the team to come back on a Monday morning refreshed and ready to work – not tired from the work that they’ve had to complete on the weekend. 

Strategic assessment of bids

Ellie shared how she prevents burnout in her bid team by limiting the number of bids they work on.  

They have implemented a strategic assessment process, which allows Ellie’s team to understand the winnability of a bid and the resource they would need to dedicate to it. If they do not believe that a bid has a chance for success, they push it back to the business.  

This prevents a sense that the team is “churning” out bid after bid, and do not feel demotivated. 

Wellbeing survey 

Ellie also shared information about the wellbeing survey that they have implemented over the past 18 months. This allows the team to regularly share how they’re feeling in their role and senior leaders can implement changes that address their team’s problems. 

Continuing the conversation 

This event was a great opportunity for Bid and Pursuit Leaders to come together as a focused community to hear what other teams have done to create the successful environment that has allowed them to flourish. We had a brilliant morning of sharing new perspectives, the highs as well as the lows, what works and what doesn’t.  

A big thank you to our guest speakers, Lisa and Ellie for your insightful contributions. It was lovely to hear from you both. 

If you missed out on this event and would like to find out more about the latest in the bid community, don’t panic! We will be hosting more events soon and sharing more insights across our blog and LinkedIn.  

For more support in building the best bid team, get in touch with our bid recruiters 

Our team of specialist bid recruiters are ready to support you with building your bid team. With strong networks across the bidding industry, they can fill open bid jobs in quick and efficient recruitment processes. Upload your bid job description to start working with us today. 

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