More tenders won and higher employee satisfaction
How do you increase the percentage of tenders won in a power-driven culture in a changing market? And how do you simultaneously develop the culture to a level where people strive for success and thereby increase employee satisfaction?
Dredgers used to compete on price per cubic metre, but now they have to keep a canal navigable for certain ships. In the past, an official wrote the entire plan in the tender, but now the dredgers have to take care of the approach and project management themselves. The Department of Waterways and Public Works, provinces, water authorities and municipalities are clients for dredging work and they want to make agreements at the highest possible abstraction level. The government no longer chooses on the basis of price alone, but on the basis of the price-quality ratio. Moreover, it demands attention for the environment, vessels, residents, the port authority and other stakeholders. For the dredgers, this means a complete change in their working methods and a change in culture.
Arjen Kroon manages the 65 people at the Boskalis dredging agency, which writes tenders. He chooses our GROW approach; Goal, Reality, Options, Will. Together with the business office we first determine the Goal, then check the Reality with our culture scan, discuss the Options together and finally we make an action plan and stimulate the Will; the motivation of all employees.
Goal: More tenders won, more satisfied employees
The aim is to write more tenders with the entire business office that offer the best price-quality ratio, including project management and a focus on the environment. Arjen wants a higher success rate of the tenders – 30% at the time – and a higher level of employee satisfaction – which scores only a meagre 6 out of 10, partly due to the unrest as a result of the changed tenders.
Reality: Culture scan
What is the real situation? I start with a culture scan: what is the value system of the organisation and what is the resulting behaviour of the employees? The older generation is red-blue: a bureaucracy based on power, knowledge and order. “We understand dredging”. And they do.
The younger generation is more blue-orange and therefore more strategic, more knowledge and results-driven. Arjen himself is even orange-green: more human-driven.
The dredging company started 40 years ago in Sliedrecht, when entire families were still dredging with buckets for twelve hours a day. Dredgers are hard workers and very committed, as is the business office. The hierarchy there is like on a ship: the captain is the highest in rank and responsible for everything.
At that time, the business office was made up of young and old. The young people just came from the university and the HBO. After a few years at the business office, most of them become project managers. Only when the practice with long days and a lot of outside work becomes too difficult do they return to the business office as the elderly. That brings back knowledge and experience from practice. These people have always been used to focusing on the dredging work itself and the price. The new working method imposed by the government is causing unrest. It is a huge change for the entire organisation and it has an impact on employee satisfaction.
Boskalis opts for a result-oriented organizational model; orange. In order to get more contracts out of the tenders, different layers of the company will have to work together. The tender leader used to gather all the information and build the tender on his own. Every Friday I now come by to discuss the tenders with a broad team. All employees who have a professional interest in the tenders are welcome and bring in their expertise. Because all disciplines are at the table, we come together to better options for the tender with more quality. We even bring in the anglers from the fishing association – these are also stakeholders. We also take their interests into account: when are there competitions, when do the fish mate, in short: which season is the best time to dredge?
Will: Collaboration yields more
By working together more, employees get a better picture of the risks, opportunities and opportunities. They are not the only ones to tender for as many tenders as possible, but that is quantity, not quality. The business office now only focuses on the requests for tenders where they have an added value, thus leaving more tenders out of the way. It chooses projects in which the organisation itself is strong and which help it in the direction in which it wants to develop. To do this, the business office needs to know what distinguishes the company and what it can do better than others. That is not all dredging work. Boskalis is a large company with large ships and good at large and complex dredging. So a hundred-metre project is not that interesting.
If you choose everything, you let the customer choose
If you subscribe to everything, you let the customer choose. If you focus on your strength and you focus on what you are good at and have a good chance of winning, you win more tenders. But that does require courage. You have to trust that there will be better opportunities and in the meantime dare to send people home earlier if things are calmer. The culture of working from 6 to 6 and then crawling behind a laptop in the evening does not deliver the highest quality; a person cannot work twelve hours concentrated. It’s difficult to make that change and to ignore requests with a lot of competition and a bad price. That is the biggest challenge. It is rational not to spend hours in a hopeless tender, but it still feels like a missed opportunity.
I would even like to go one step further: choose the projects you learn from. How can you develop your organisation? Which projects make things a little more complex, challenging and difficult for your organisation? Subscribe to that. This makes the company increasingly interesting for its customers.
By tackling the cooperation within the organisation, employee satisfaction grows to an 8 out of 10. The people are more involved, because everyone is aware of the developments of each tender. People ask for more help from each other, are more open-minded, work more together and are more goal-oriented. People experience that cooperation yields more, because of the way in which they now approach the tenders. The percentage of tenders won is growing. The change in the way tenders are handled has only made Boskalis stronger.