The partner came to my colleagues and asked to see the proposal for a consultancy project whose deadline was fast approaching: “So, Jane where is the proposal. I see we are running out of time. If the proposal’s submission deadline is tomorrow at 11:00am, the best time to have everything ready is today before 2:00pm. That way you have all the time to re-read the request for proposal document and add any information that could be missing.”
If you have worked in a professional services firm like audit or consulting firm, law firm and engineering firm, you understand the pressure staff go through as they look for business. Two ways consulting firms get business:
- The client identifies an internal challenge; write terms of reference and requests for qualified consultants to submit proposals
- The consultant visits the client and helps him understand that they have a challenge, which the consultant can solve.
Do you wait for RFPs or you proactively go to prospects and help them improve?
From a perspective of a staff, do you proactively ask your immediate supervisor what they expect of you or you wait for your supervisor to inform you what they expect of you? What is your mindset?
My experience as a consultant for many leading companies is that winners are proactive. They study about the business. Listen carefully for any pointers from the chief executive and executive team (EXCO) of what matters most in the business. A great staff will look for the strategic plan of the company in which they work, read it to understand the priority focus areas of the company. And they proactively work to deliver on those indicated priority areas.
Which type of employee are you?
Do you wait to submit proposals only after seeing RFPs or you understand what your firm does, identify prospects and proactively call or visit to meet them to prospect and share your company profile and testimonials?
When I got my first consulting job in an advisory firm, we got a new hire. She came with high hopes of excellent induction training, it did not happen. I recall during interviews, she had indicated that she was very competent and highly skilled as she was coming from another great consulting firm.
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‘I don’t have a laptop’ mindset
On morning, the Managing Partner gave her a Newspaper advert requesting for proposals to undertake a tax planning assignment. She quickly processed money and bought the detailed bid documents. This lady was impressive and organized. She reviewed the bid requirements and summarized them, printed and stuck the paper in front of her desk.
However, she had been in the firm for just two months, and her computer was still being set up in the IT. So, two days to the proposal deadline, the Advisory partner, her direct supervisor, comes to her desk and asks for the update on the proposal.
“So, Jane where is the proposal. I see we are running out of time. If the proposal’s submission deadline is tomorrow at 11:00am, the best time to have everything ready is today before 2:00pm. That way you have all the time to re-read the request for proposal document and add any information that could be missing.”
If you have been in the working area of an audit firm, you know they have an open office concept. At the time, we sat on the same floor facing each other. So, I was directly looking at Jane when the Partner asked to see the proposal.
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Without hesitation, she tilted her head up words and looked at the partner, saying “It is two months now, IT is still setting up my laptop. How do you expect me to work without a laptop? You promised to give me the tools of trade. I am disappointed I am not seeing any tool here.”
The Partner looked at her and said in a high tone to attract attention:
“You did not come here to type. We have many Secretaries who can type. In fact, my Secretary is there doing nothing. She can type the proposal for you. What I need is the methodology. And it does not need a computer. Get any piece of paper and write the mythology down. Then give it to my secretary.”
The partner added a critical comment which I want you to note down:
“Average staff complain about lack of resources. Great staff look at the way around the problem.”
What kind of employee are you?
Do you wait for someone to ask you and then you explain how you don’t have the tools to do the work? Or you are proactive. You explore options around the problem. Ask a friend to use their computer briefly or handwrite the report or stay late to work with the secretary to do the work. Great staff will also ask around how a proposal is submitted and what one must do as a champion?
That way you have ideas on how to manage internal politics.
So, what kind of employee are you? Do you look at the glass half full or half empty as most Ugandans have been looking at Air Uganda’s second coming.