The Long Shot
Bridget Hogg is the Director of HR Development at Work, a career development consultancy, assisting job seekers through the Next Steps Programs. They were the recipients of the 2020 CDAA Division Awards for Excellence in Practice for SA and were given the title “Learning Provider of the Year 2020” by the Asia Pacific Institute of Learning and Performance. They received a Federal government grant in 2019 to help 350 local job seekers aged 50+ to find work they want. This program targets job seekers who are at risk of being on benefits long-term, many are referred by a Disability Employment Service Provider for help. In 2020, they successfully applied for an extension to Next Steps and their new target is to help 540 mature job seekers by March 2021.
Back in January 2018, I sat in my home office and reflected on two very tough years I’d just had in business. As an organisation development consultant I was finding it difficult to attract new clients. Success seemed distant. I’d experienced some bullying at a professional event which knocked my confidence and I knew I needed to find a way to re-launch my professional life successfully.
My dream project was to run workshops to share the tools and techniques of positive psychology in the community – not just in organisations. After seven failed attempts to win funding - I was at a crossroads. I could either keep writing tenders to attract funding for my dream project – or have a rest and enjoy Australia’s Summer sunshine - to gather my energies for the new year ahead.
I decided to spend my Summer writing tenders! Six weeks of tender writing resulted in 5 completed tenders. As the months ticked by, I heard back from most – “thanks but no thanks”. A colleague kept ringing me month after month to ask whether any said yes and I’d tell her – ‘we heard back from this one, they said “No”, there’s still another one to hear back from – and “the long shot”.’
I called it ‘the long shot’ because this was a new idea that I pitched to Federal Government – for a huge amount of money. They didn’t know me, I figured there would be a lot of competition for funding, and it was May 2017 – they’d said we’d hear back in April. This was my dream project – with a twist. To fit in with government priorities I made the project focus not just on the tools on techniques of wellbeing but also on helping mature job seekers to find work. I called the government to enquire when we were likely to hear – they said, “we’re taking longer to decide than we thought so you’ll hear by the end of the month”. I was resting my hopes on this one so I was excited…but the end of the month came…and went… and there was no word.
In June my colleague called me again. Again, I gave her the same story – by now we’d heard back from all of the tenders except “the long shot” – “No”, I told her, “no wins yet – there’s only ‘the long shot’ to go”. The end of June was approaching. I took my courage in my hands and called the government again. It was 11am on the last Friday in June. “Oh, she said, I was going to call you later this afternoon. Can I call you back about 4pm?”. My heart sunk – if it was good news, I figured she would at least say so, right then. This sounded like “let me get the notes so I can tell you why we rejected you”. At 4pm the call came… it was typical – straightforward, factual feedback – and then I couldn’t believe my ears – yes, she said “we love your idea”.
We had won funding for the project! We could share the tools and techniques of wellbeing and job search with hundreds of local mature job seekers! It was on!
Since then, I’ve recruited seven sub contractors and enrolled 550 job seekers into our Program. We’ve helped 245 people find work, so far, I’ve negotiated a funding extension till March 2021 - and we’ve won 2 awards for Career Development and Learning and Development. In May 2020, 2 months after Covid’s impact really started to be felt, we did a snapshot survey - over half of Next Step participants rated themselves as resilient, positive, optimistic, confident and hopeful. 79% of participants report positive improvement in their knowledge, skills and behaviour scores since the start of the program. 91% of participants say they are better able to deal with the issues they sought help with, are satisfied with the services they received and felt that the Next Steps program listened and understood their issues.
The reason I’m telling you this story is because I want you to know that the long shot is sometimes the project that brings you the most success. As a leader it's important to know other leaders can experience rejection and failure many times before they have huge success and win awards. As a Leader it's important for you to know that attracting clients, tenders and proposals, collaborations and competition are all par for the course on the route to helping people, on the route to bringing your dream projects to life and on the route to success.
Here’s what kept me going – I knew that I must either “Find a Way – or Make One”. Let me know if I can help you find that place in yourself so you can find a way or make one yourself. I can be contacted on (08) 8322 8455.