I recently worked with a proposal manager whose proposal effort was behind schedule due to missed commitments by members of her team. She had sent out a mail to the team presenting the current status and stating, “I need you to get your pieces to me as soon as possible.” After reading this mail I explained to her that this situation – that being that she was going to have to miss the deadline and/or submit a poor quality response – called for a much more direct approach, and that it was time for her to “swing the bat” (with borrowed authority, in this case from her manager and the CEO, behind it.)
I know many of you face similar challenges in getting team members to meet their deliverable dates, so I’m providing the text of my mail.
The text of my “In no uncertain terms” mail:
Attention all.We are now in serious jeopardy missing the deadline and/or submitting an extremely poor quality proposal due to the significant number of deliverables that are several days past due.
At this point it is highly probable that the response we submit:
- Will present us as being less than competent professionals
- Will not clearly present our solution
- Will not have a clear strategic message
- Will contain incorrect or inaccurate information
- Will be poorly written and contain mistakes
- Will appear to have been written by multiple people rather than one
Missing the deadlines to which you have committed has directly impacted the overall quality of the response we are developing.
These delays have now necessitated reducing the time available for editing, reviewing, edit/review recovery, printing, assembly, quality control checks, and shipping safeguards—all of which are critical to ensuring the quality of our response.
Failure to address this immediately will cause us to have to miss the deadline as submitting a poor quality document as described above presents too great a risk to our company.
Your attention to this is required immediately. Please contact me to provide status of your piece and to discuss how we will ensure your deliverables are successfully met.
The good news in this particular case is that this client’s manager and her CEO both followed up.
The CEO’s mail to the team stated, “We ALL agreed that we were going to bid on this project. Bidding does not mean we will forward a half-assed proposal that we are not proud of. I expect everyone to pull their own weigh and ensure that we meet our deliverables. If anyone disagrees with this message or feels they can not comply please let me know immediately.