5 Tips For A Successful Performance Management Process
An Interview With Authority Magazine
Performance management is notoriously difficult to get right, but not impossible. In this series, we speak with experts to get their insights into creating an effective performance management system. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Maurice Harary.
Maurice Harary is the co-founder and CEO of The Bid Lab, a consulting company dedicated to helping small and medium-sized businesses find, manage, and build their RFPs and proposals. His experience building a company that started with just $1,500 into a company that has grown tremendously is a great way to help with stories and pitches outside of just procurement and the RFP process. Furthermore, he has helped countless small and medium-sized businesses win their first multi-million-dollar deals, and helping smaller businesses drives The Bid Lab’s mission!
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Before we drive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
As a middle child in a family of six children, I draw parallels between my upbringing and my love of the bidding process. Both require being an expert navigator of complex situations and contrasting personalities.
I attribute this ability to the experiences I had growing up. Born and raised in New York City, I attended New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business and graduated with a degree in Business and Political Economy. I knew, however, that I wanted to see, learn, and experience more than what one city had to offer. So I committed to spending semesters in both London and Shanghai. Living in foreign cities taught me about the intertwining nature of business, politics, economics, and culture, which has been invaluable in my career thus far.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I made some foolish assumptions about who my first clients would be. I learned that it’s not about the size of a client, but about how much you can assist a business. One of our best clients came to us with just over $100,000 in revenue. We have grown together to be multi-million dollar businesses!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Did you know that the vast majority of married couples choose not to work together? My wife and I are the exception. Jordan is my partner in every sense of the word. Back in 2017, she was climbing the ladder in the automotive industry while I was working at IHS Markit. Jordan was tasked with completing an RFP for her business and hired an outside consultant for assistance. When we saw the final work product, we were shocked by the subpar quality that seemed to be accepted by the industry at large. The formatting was off, the writing was shoddy and the information was not even compliant. She called me and we worked through the night putting together a proposal she could stand behind. It was then that we realized combining her writing talent with my RFP knowledge was a winning formula for success.
Since then, we’ve created the world’s leading RFP company, had two daughters. We recently launched our own RFP search engine, Bid Banana.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There is an old Japanese proverb: “Fall seven times and stand up eight.” Throughout the years as we have continued to expand and grow, there have been inevitable hiccups along the way. The key to overcoming these hiccups is that we expect them to happen. You have to be prepared for and accept bumps in the road when you are trying to do something great. What’s great is that we always get back up, even if the fall was so hard it sometimes takes a second to heal.
Thinking back on your own career, what would you tell your younger self?
When I was in college, it was my goal to work for a large tech company. I had my heart set on working for a specific firm, but the only opening they had was on the ‘RFP’ team. Even though I had no idea what that was, I went for it. (I was on spring break in Chile at the time, so of course, I accepted!) Once I started responding to RFPs, I found that it was work that was both challenging and rewarding. I worked my way up to be a top performer on my team. Eventually, with encouragement from my Co-Founder and wife, Jordan, I took the leap and went out on my own. Thus starting The Bid Lab. I’m passionate about helping small and medium-sized businesses grow and expand.
Many clients come to us with no previous experience in the bidding process. Or, they come to us at the eleventh hour, stressed and overwhelmed. Unlike our competitors, we focus on our clients. Understanding what makes them unique and walking them through the process with complete transparency. This understanding and focus translate into winning RFPs and happy clients. We are fortunate to showcase so many success stories in the Case Studies section of our website, which covers businesses in all industries. With such varying projects, it’s easy to have fun while working on RFPs, and we do our best to carry that over to every client interaction. Clients trust us to get the job done with a positive outlook, no matter the time crunch or the size of the request. We’re flexible, and with staff spread across the country, we’re able to be available when our clients are. And despite our light-hearted nature, we are incredibly dedicated to what we do, ensuring a high-quality experience for our clients.
Did you know that the vast majority of married couples choose not to work together? My wife and I are the exception. Jordan is my partner in every sense of the word. Back in 2017, she was climbing the ladder in the automotive industry while I was working at IHS Markit. Jordan was tasked with completing an RFP for her business and hired an outside consultant for assistance. When we saw the final work product, we were shocked by the subpar quality that seemed to be accepted by the industry at large. The formatting was off, the writing was shoddy, and the information was not even compliant. She called me, and we worked through the night putting together a proposal she could stand behind. It was then that we realized combining her writing talent with my RFP knowledge was a winning formula for success. Since then, we’ve created the world’s leading RFP company, had two daughters and recently launched our own RFP search engine, Bid Banana.
Let’s now move to the central part of our interview. Why is performance management so tricky to get right?
Behind any good employee is a great trainer or coach. Providing ongoing training and coaching can help associates develop the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. Leaders can use feedback from coaching sessions to identify effective techniques and strategies that can be shared with the team — and the best part about coaching is that both parties are guaranteed to exchange ideas and learn new things. It’s important not to allow success to go to your head.
Where do you see a lot of organizations go wrong with performance management?
You’re never “too successful” to teach someone and you’re never “too successful” to learn. This attitude is the point of all new innovations and industry events. Keep learning, keep teaching, keep growing.
Based on your experience and success, what are your top 5 tips for a successful performance management process?
1 . When running a remote company, a work culture of compassionate communication is more important than ever. As the founder of a remote company, I encourage weekly one-on-one check-ins with our employees to minimize any build-up in detachment or disengagement. By meeting with a team member consistently, managers can have a great pulse on their team’s morale and understand individualized nuanced differences between their team members’ communication styles. Without physical clues in regular communication, we are left to make a lot of assumptions and fill in a lot of gaps in communication. Some people may be more forthcoming than others in raising a concern, so meeting with someone consistently allows a manager to compare someone’s behavior towards consistent check-ins as opposed to other team members. And, if there is nothing negative to note, it is a great way for managers to connect with their team.
2 . We encourage team members to take breaks and recharge and do not penalize or discourage them from using their entitled PTO. As the founder and manager of a remote company, I encourage a work culture that values taking PTO. Employees who take their PTO won’t burn out as fast, and they’ll come back with reduced stress and increased productivity. Our work culture embraces “time off” by planning ahead to ensure that projects and business can continue smoothly (yes, even when someone is on leave!) by distributing the workload and responsibilities among team members. It’s simple: by promoting a healthy work culture, my team benefits. And when my team benefits, productivity skyrockets.
3 . Employee “swag” can induce a cringe in even the most jaded workers. As a founder and manager of a remote company, we don’t have the opportunity to shower our employees with motivational company “swag,” but the best swag is obviously a t-shirt. Any swag that includes some kind of phone charger will go to the kids; those cheap flashlights-on-pens are also surprisingly popular (lame can be good! It’s about context!). I’ve heard about an instance where the administration department bombarded their front-line staff with emails about an upcoming, unbelievable “surprise” for their workers. The surprise turned out to be a cheap sheet of company-approved buzzword magnets. Within a week, the magnetic words were banned from the staff room; the staff had been using the words to air their grievances on the break room refrigerator.
4 . Vulnerability involves risk, but we live in a world that appreciates risk-takers and looks down on vulnerability. Really they are one and the same. If you aren’t vulnerable enough to take a risk you will remain stagnant. That said, one of the biggest risks I have taken was to establish a totally remote business. There are many personal benefits to remote work. However, one often overlooked benefit that has a global impact, is the reduction of stress on the environment created when workers aren’t forced to commute every day. How did this risk pay off? As the CEO of a remote company, I have established a successful startup that has grown to a business with seven figures in annual revenue with just a $1,500 initial investment. We have used our funds to launch new software under a second entity and only continue to expand. I work from home and have helped hundreds of small businesses grow their own startups through the services we provide winning governmental and large enterprise business contracts.
5 . I’m looking for new hires that emphasize professional flexibility, empathy, and constructive collaboration right from the very beginning. As the CEO and manager of a remote business, I work with a team that must rely on each other and must communicate with each other as professionals. I’m looking at new hires as people, not just as a resource. That’s why empathy is the key to any recruitment or hiring strategy. Even job descriptions themselves benefit from empathy: by putting myself in a candidate’s shoes, I can imagine what their needs and concerns might be and anticipate their questions.
How do you approach performance management in your organization? Do you tie it to compensation for example?
There’s a subtle art to asking interview questions that help assess a stranger’s interpersonal skills. I’m sure many companies ask prospective hires about difficult situations or past workplace conflicts to look for a history of red flags. Workplace bullies probably know better than to spill the beans about prior workplace conflicts in a formal interview. Questions about teamwork are better because it allows me to gauge their ability to treat their colleagues with professionalism and respect. “Can you describe how you approach working with a team?” is more open-ended, as I’m looking for answers that emphasize professional flexibility, empathy, and constructive collaboration. I’m not looking for answers that suggest the person will take on as much work as they can; as the manager of a remote business. I work with a team that must rely on and communicate with each other as professionals.
Which tools do you use for your performance management?
As a company intentionally designed for remote work, we leverage modern communication tools to facilitate effective and efficient virtual onboarding meetings. Remote onboarding offers the advantage of accessing talent worldwide, regardless of geographical constraints. In the absence of physical cues during regular communication, we often find ourselves relying on assumptions and filling in communication gaps. Consequently, when operating a remote company, a connected work culture is crucial for fostering a comfortable, successful onboarding process. We schedule weekly check-ins and meetings as necessary. Also we use messaging technologies for quick questions and updates, which promotes a streamlined, more efficient workflow. We also find that this approach demonstrates trust in our employees’ ability to manage their responsibilities without unnecessary micro-managing.
How do you measure and improve your performance management process?
Remote work offers up a world of opportunities for everyone, but especially those who are neurodiverse, to excel. It is important to remember that neurodiversity encompasses all kinds of categories from ADHD to giftedness. One of the many benefits of a remote work situation is that it allows an employee the opportunity to customize their work environment to be the most comfortable. Tired of bringing a sweater to the office? Working remotely allows you to control the thermostat. Need to listen to music to get your energy flowing? Blast that sound as loud as the neighbors will allow. When given the opportunity to create an optimal working environment, whether you are neurodiverse or neurotypical, you are undoubtedly more productive and satisfied.
We are very blessed to have some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this.
I’d love to meet Jeff Dean, the head of AI at Google. We use Google products all the time, and we are currently exploring some cool ways to implement AI through our newly launched software. He is brilliant and has been with Google since 1999.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Check out all that we’re doing at The Bid Lab or Bid Banana. From articles in our Learning Center to our extensive list of Case Studies you can find information to grow your business or inspiration on how we’ve helped others grow theirs. You can also check us out on:
Thank you for sharing your insights. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.
Authority Magazine Article Link: Maurice Harary Of The Bid Lab On 5 Tips For A Successful Performance Management Process