Creating Balance During the Proposal Pursuit

Creating Balance in the Proposal Process
The idea of work-life balance has gained a lot of popularity in recent years as millennials have entered the workplace. Working a 9 to 5 and then going home and turning off work is getting harder thanks to mobile connectivity.  Instead of looking at work and life as two separate places, what happens when we start examining them as intertwined pattern woven together.  Each strand has a different color, a different meaning, but when woven together, produces a beautiful pattern.  When our work-life balance is working, this pattern is really nice to look at.  When it’s well…we usually start looking for another job but we don’t really ever think about what went wrong in the process.
As a manager, if you can extend your empathy out and start focusing on creating a family environment in the office, you’ll find the benefits rewarding.  This attitude will help you as a manager start to feel less stress because you’re not trying to compartmentalize people and things and instead, viewing them as an organic extension of your mission and values.
Here are three ideas for a more balanced workplace:
  1. Trust as a foundation.  Establishing trust as a major element of your team is key to getting the most out of employees in your organization.  What you can see in a lot of organizations are elements for creating distrust. Although time sheets are required for billing, and open floor plans are more efficient, your employees may feel like they’re constantly being watched.  Although some of these tools and strategies may be operational necessities, creating ways to make a workplace feel like a place of trust are even more important than ever.
  2. Failure is okay.  Not only should failures (big and small) be okay, but the lessons learned should be rewarded.  If your team is pushing limits to their creativity, there are bound to be some failures along the way.  At Facebook, “Fail Faster,” was a key mantra.  The faster the Facebook team failed, the quicker they got to the right solution.  The main point being, once your team gets over the fear of failure, solutions and success come faster.
  3. Have a framework to work through disagreements.  In many organizations, the fear of conflict can paralyze progress.  As a team, it’s important to have a framework for working through problems so these issues don’t fester and create blocks in your team’s productivity.

Working and winning projects can be an intense process.  Long hours and tight deadlines can really create a lot of drama for proposal teams.  In order to keep the team working well, a deep foundation of trust, openness to failures, and a framework to work through disagreements are all key to making sure a team survives all of the bumps in the road.  Contact us for more help with training your proposal team.

 

Boost Proposal Team Morale in Five Ways

Proposal Team

Boost Proposal Team Morale in Five Ways

A proposal team working on a tight deadline can create a steam-cooker-like environment. Even the nicest marketing professional can get snappy when an architect, senior planner, and project manager are giving three different directions for an upcoming shortlist presentation. Although it’s important the best product gets submitted to the client, breaking down the team in order to get it to that point is not ideal, because usually there is another deadline sneaking up immediately behind your current one.

Avoid crushing your proposal team’s morale by using these five tips during your next project pursuit:  Delegate and Support New Team Members, Communicate Daily,  Be Positive, Don’t Practice “Dirty Delegation,” and Make Internal Debriefing a Positive Experience.

1. Support New Team Members

In the 11th hour of presentation prep, it’s easy to want to take the PowerPoint privileges away from the struggling newbie navigating the mouse and looking for the right function for the past 10 minutes, but don’t do it. You may not remember it, but you were once new to your job. The novice navigating PowerPoint might actually know what they’re doing, but the lack of sleep, nerves, and poor direction is causing this newest team member to move at the pace of molasses. In this moment, if you and your team can stay calm and patient, not only will you boost your team member’s confidence, you’ll build loyalty.

2. Communicate Daily

In agile methodology, there is a daily stand-up meeting. This is a short meeting (key word being: short) to address what each team member will be working on that day. If you have remote team members and you’re preparing for a deadline that’s 2 weeks away, a daily call (FaceTime even better) is a great way to keep your team engaged. If you don’t have time for 10-minute meeting leading up to the submittal or presentation deadline, why are you even chasing this pursuit?  Make sure you discuss how your team will connect through the entire proposal pursuit process at the kick-off meeting.

3. Don’t “Dirty Delegate” or Redo a Proposal Team Member’s Work

If you’re in a management role, it’s very easy to take work away from a direct report (a.k.a. Dirty Delegation) or redo someone’s work if it’s not meeting your or others’ expectations. But guess what, not only did you just insult your team member, you just built a wall of distrust between you as well. This team member is now going to have more anxiety about working on a project and it’s going to slow them down. If you have a new team member, you must give him or her time to learn how to work with your team. Otherwise, you’ll have turnover and you’ll have the “why can’t we find good people” problem.

4. Create a Positive Proposal Team Environment

It’s a common complaint in the A/E/C industry that marketing people can’t get their project teams to write narratives on time or produce slide content. Why? Your project teams are terrified to write content that’s going to be critiqued and ridiculed. Many times, your best engineers, architects, contractors, and project managers are not your best writers. They have the most knowledge but getting that information from their brains to paper is going to take positive persistence on repeat.

5. Make Internal Debriefing a Rewarding Experience for Each Proposal Team Member Involved

Most people hate the annual review process so you can imagine how an internal debriefing feels. Make this a positive experience by incentivizing team members to disclose lessons learned. Mark Zukerburg coined the phrase “fail faster so you can find a solution faster.” The idea that you can find the perfect proposal and presentation process for your team doesn’t exist, rather, you should consider a Kaizen philosophy or “continual improvement.” This type of environment creates a trust centered environment that results in great work and winning processes.

Summary

Whether you work on proposal teams within a large organization or a smaller one, building an approach that helps each team member function productively is critical to helping your firm win work. Whether you are a marketing coordinator, manager, or design professional, you can ensure your team creates the best proposal or presentation possible by delegating to and supporting new team members, communicating daily, delegating responsibly, being positive, and conducting internal debriefs. By creating a supportive, and learning-focused environment, you can build proposal and presentation teams that love pursuing new opportunities without the stress and fear.