Joining a company should be about opportunity. Personal, professional, and fiscal. But where does that opportunity come from? Most jobs become a status quo. You have a role, you fulfill it. If you excel, there is the potential for promotion. But if you work on a contract for a service company, promotions and pay increases are impacted by the terms of the contract.
Usually your company can't simply pay you more and charge the customer more to cover it. Usually they can't create a new position to give you a promotion, unless the customer approves it. But the worst part is that even if they do, it might make the company less competitive.
Each raise someone gets on a contract raises the price when the company has to re-bid the contract. If that happens enough times, a competitor can bid staff that are just as qualified as you were when you first started working on the contract. And because your company is now more expensive, competitors can potentially win with a lower price, taking your job with it. It’s a difficult circumstance to be caught in.
Luckily, there is one thing that can break this cycle.
It is surprising to me how many contract employees aren't aware of it. Everyone should understand it. It should be baked right into your corporate culture, since it is a great unifier. It brings everyone together with a common goal. It should be your company's top priority.
Growth is a great unifier. Growth increases the salary pool. Growth creates new positions that staff can be promoted into. Growth increases the overhead pool to bring in more resources and pay for PropLIBRARY Subscriptions. ;-)
Growth is the source of all opportunity for a contractor and the people who work for them.
Some growth can come from expanding your existing contracts. But most companies will be lucky if this accounts for 10% of their growth. The rest comes from winning new contracts.
Winning new contracts isn't something people should leave to those who "work in business development." Everyone has a vested interest in the opportunities that growth brings. Growth unifies all departments and breaks down silos. Growth unifies all levels of staff.
This does not mean that everyone should become a salesperson. It means that everyone has a vested interested in contributing to the growth of the company. For a contract services company, growth isn't something that only benefits The Powers That Be. The growth of your company is the only source of your personal growth. A winning culture should make people aware of how this common purpose brings everyone all together.
If growth is your top priority, then it should be the focus of your corporate culture. It's not just something to be done. Creating opportunity should be why everyone is there, every day. Instead of “adding value,” “being committed to quality,” or “focusing on customer satisfaction,” everybody in the organization should start their day thinking about how to create opportunities and grow.
The opposite of growth
The opposite of growth is truly scary. It is not just the loss of contracts. It is the loss of opportunity.
Even if revenue is merely flat, it means a reduction in opportunities. When revenue is flat and costs increase, you not only lose profit, you lose competitiveness because your overhead rates go up. Losing competitiveness leads to a reduction in growth. Which leads to less competitiveness. And so the vicous circle that consumes opportunity begins.
Contract losses will happen. The only way to make up for them is to win enough new ones to cover the loss. A growth orientation will save you when contract losses happen.
Growth doesn’t happen by wishing for it
It’s not enough to know about the importance of growth. You have to do something about it. You have to discover what it will take to win. And this means you have to:
- Cultivate an information advantage
- Achieve the highest customer satisfaction and past performance evaluations
- Take strategic planning seriously
- Contribute to proposals
- Define proposal quality before you start writing
- Continuously improve your win rate
- Continuously look for ways to create opportunity
Some of these relate to technical performance. Some of them relate to winning contracts. Some of them relate to both.
The nice thing about focusing on growth by creating opportunity is that it benefits the customer, it benefits the staff, and it benefits the company. It brings them all into a harmony based on a better future. It makes your culture more aspirational than fiscal, while growing fiscally at the same time. This is how you achieve a winning culture.
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