Time Management a Problem? Then Why Are You in That Pitch?
Agencies and professional services firms are understaffed and overworked. Success hinges on focusing on the highest priorities and keeping people as engaged and motivated as possible. Talk about stating the obvious.
These organizations also need to aggressively pursue growth or they will fall behind, perhaps even stagnate. Also obvious.
Unfortunately, these two facts of life, while existing at the same time in the same company, are sometimes in real opposition to each other. Using your lean resources as best as you can might mean you put new business pursuits — especially new business pitching — on the back burner, at least for a time.
Unfortunately, few agencies and the like are inclined to do this. Even when lean and nearing burnout, there always seems to be a new business pitch opportunity that just can’t be passed up.
I’ve railed against this for over 20 years. Here’s more evidence that, when facing time management problems, the smart play is to sit out the next pitch.
HBR published this article on time management and focus. The author says:
In my experience, many leaders inadvertently allow or even actively promote the following four situations that impede their team’s ability to focus and produce their best work.
- They create an environment that undermines focus
- They don’t offer clear instruction on which communication channel is important
- They assign the same workers to receive and solve customer issues
- They don’t realize that monitoring internal systems is still work, even if there is rarely an emergency
Let’s tackle the first three. Number four is pretty specific (maybe for another post).
When agency or firm leaders assign people who have ongoing responsibilities to work on new business pitch teams, they are automatically challenging the ability of those people to focus. As pitches unfold, I’ve seen meetings skipped, deadlines missed, and rehearsals blown off, all because team members can’t focus on current clients and the pitch at the same time.
Lack of clear instruction on communication is too common. Is the meeting this afternoon actually important? Or can I attend by phone? Or by proxy? Or catch up by email? Team progress is badly set back when key team members don’t make it to meetings and don’t have their deliverables ready.
Finally, extrapolating point 3, there should be pitch team members who work solely on research, background, and solution development. And there should be different team members who put that together into a crisp, coherent, persuasive pitch (and then deliver it). So often this winds up being the same person, and that’s the condition for a time management epic fail.
When time management is a real problem, pass on the next pitch. Wait for more favorable circumstances. And look to my advice, and that of others: Find other ways to grow revenue that aren’t reliant are new business pitches.