In my blog posting for this week, I thought I would present some thoughts on the topic of “growing”. It is a broad topic and it could be easy to come across as “preachy”, and that’s the last thing I want to do. But recent events have given me pause to reflect on specific aspects of this that, I feel, will translate well to independent contractors. So, here goes…
Eagle’s been in the business of supplying contingent labour to our client base for over 20 years. Some days it seems that we’ve seen it all. And that’s the problem: It is easy to get comfortable doing what you’ve been doing until you’ve dug yourself a nice, deep rut. Our clients go to market from time-to-time through an RFP (Request for Proposal) process and, typically, they are reasonably similar– some small variations, but for the most part they want to know the same things: our capability in the geographic area that matters to them, our recruitment/sourcing processes, team approach to account management, issue resolution approaches and, of course, pricing. Although there is opportunity for innovation – Eagle keeps on top of all the latest technology trends, for example – but the basic business of contingent labour remains basically the same. When these tenders come out, the account and proposal teams and management hunker down and build our best proposal based on what we know to be important to our clients. We never need to go outside of our own company to build a response or answer our customers’ questions. It’s what we do.
Flash back to 3 weeks ago and things changed! One of our clients approached Eagle, requesting us to build a customized, innovative solution to meet the needs of one of their business processes. They didn’t want a traditional contingent work solution, they wanted something more. We decided to accept their challenge and build a solution that will be just for them but, in so doing, we found that we no longer had all the answers that we needed in-house to respond to their inquiry. We reached out to SME’s from the contractor community, people that we’ve worked with time and again over the years, those who knew Eagle well and who we knew equally well would fit into our new solution. We formulated a partnership to build our proposal together, combining their technical/business strengths with our own. This was new, it was exciting, and it was a heck of a lot of work. But what a wonderful experience for all involved!!
Our team knew these consultants well, but I feel that we’ve come to know them at another level entirely. The level of understanding we now have of each other and the trust that we’ve built through this process was more than worth the effort. We’ve put the final touches on our proposal and it is in to our client for their review. I believe we have a very strong proposal but, even if our solution isn’t selected, we’ve received good value from this process. Each member of the team has learned new things, we’ve all grown professionally and we’ve got each other to lean on in the future for other opportunities. These are people that I would jump at the chance to work with again.
So, back to the topic of growth… it is worth prying yourself out of your comfortable rut and taking a chance building something new. You learn through your failures but, even should there be failure, there are often rewards that you couldn’t have foreseen to offset your investment. If our consultant partners are reading this (they’ll know who they are), I want to thank them not just for their hard work, expertise and time invested (and there was a lot) but for their comradery and the sense of team that they helped to foster in such a short burst of time. I have grown professionally through their involvement — what a great lesson and a great reward. Winning the business will just be icing on the cake!!
Have you had an opportunity to try something new that was more professionally rewarding than you’d expected? Feel free to leave a comment and share with the rest of the readership!!