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Do you have experience of corrosive conflict in bid teams?  Here’s a brief quiz for December!

Was it:

(A)   Put under the carpet.

In other words, it was denied that the conflict existed, had any impact on the team or the bid outcomes.

(B)    The precursor to aggression. 

Of course people are polite first. When all else fails, aggression is justified or endorsed as the only way.

(C)    Something that wore you down.

At best the conversations we needed to be having with each other took place with sarcasm. At worst, they didn’t take place with each other at all, just behind our backs.


And here’s the thing. Conflict is an essential part of a bid team’s formation process. A bid team which cannot or does not handle this step is destined to be dysfunctional.


When leading an interactive session “Winning Bid Leadership” at the Railway Study Association last month, I spoke about the five things Winning Bid Directors do more of. Their ability to handle and hold conflict was the kernel of my first point.


If we avoid conflict, and do not go through the stages of team formation (Tuckman’s model of forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning), so neatly shown in this one minute YouTube clip below, we never move on and perform well, creating a genuinely winning result. We stay in perpetual conflict.



These are things I have seen Winning Bid Directors and their teams do more of to ensure that conflict is managed rather than wearing, sapping, corrosive background noise:-


(A)   Hold the space for the storming and norming conversations to be heard and held

It’s tough isn’t it, allowing a difficult conversation with so many agendas and viewpoints to be heard in full. It can feel like it will fall out of control and the team irrecoverably tear apart. However, this usually occurs just before the team turns the corner…


(B)    Commit to develop their own capacity to hold demanding conversation

It’s a mistake to think that some people are natural at this stuff. We can all learn how to do new things, it’s the tiny changes, the marginal gains that can make the difference and develop our confidence to stay in charge.


(C)    Understand the team formation process

Management education is not just for those in non pressurised jobs. A model such as Tuckman can help you make sense of what is going on at any moment. Bid teams often need to deal with the unexpected or sub-optimum such as staff changes. With this model, the Bid Director can adapt the team as needed, quickly, overtly and cleanly, saving time and energy for the bid.


If you would like to know more about the four other things Winning Bid Directors do more of, why not invite me to talk to your Bid Team, colleagues or professional association?


This is what some of the audience members at the Railway Study Association had to say:


“Greatly helped me to understand the team dynamics, stresses and performance of a high-pressure environment.”

 “A breath of fresh air on Bid Leadership.”

 “Gill’s talk helped me re-evaluate good and poor Bid Leadership from my experience as a bid team member.”


Or if you are interested in coaching and transformational development for your bid team, so that conflict can be used constructively as part of the opportunity to win rather than sap the energy, contact me here.


Gill How has over twenty years’ experience of working with bid, sales and other professionals to help them accelerate the leadership of all of their team as a route to winning results. If you would like to meet for a cup of coffee to explore how she can help, contact her here.

Gill How

Helping leaders grow, step up and deliver outstanding results

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