Coping with the Coronavirus: 5 Ways to Manage the Stress

There’s no doubt about it: we’re living in a very stressful time right now. We find ourselves facing uncertainties surrounding the economy and daily life. We’re adjusting to new routines driven by widespread social distancing and self-isolation policies and coping with the stress and anxiety created by our inability to visit friends and family in person. Many of us are also balancing remote work with family obligations. On top of all these new stressors, we have the standard stressors associated with proposal work. We are constantly battling deadlines, putting out fires, overcoming roadblocks, and solving problems. Compounded with these new stresses we’re dealing with in our personal lives, these things can start to take a toll on our well-being.
While a small amount of stress can be positive and motivate you to prepare or perform, like when you interview for a job or make a presentation, long-term stress can be extremely harmful. Chronic stress can suppress the immune, digestive, s…

5 Tips to Work from Home Successfully

As we adjust to life during the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, many of us find ourselves practicing social distancing and working from home. For some of us (like my boyfriend and housemate, Kevin, and I), remote work is the norm—but for others, this may be a completely new experience. This week I’ll share some of the best practices that we use in my household to work from home successfully, as well as a few extra tips I’ve found helpful from recent articles on the subject.
Establish Routines and Boundaries When you’re working from home or another remote location, it’s critical for you to be focused on work. However, just as importantly, when you’re not working, you need to shut off from work as much as possible as well. One way to establish this delineation is to start your workday off with a routine that signals that it’s time to start your workday—a morning walk, breakfast, coffee, shower—whatever will mentally prepare you for the day. It can also be helpful to establish a r…

Navigating the Pandemic: 5 Ways to Work Effectively Amidst the Coronavirus Outbreak

With the current environment and the threat of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) spreading among teams working in close quarters, companies should be taking precautions to protect their proposal team members. Where possible, organizations should seriously consider the benefits of encouraging virtual proposal teams, which will limit the risk of widespread illness among the team. When working closely in a war room environment, when one person gets sick, the entire team tends to get sick. However, there are instances where teams might have to be in person (e.g., Classified responses). When this is the case, leadership should take extra precautions and follow World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance for promoting good hygiene, encouraging sick team members to stay home, keeping surfaces clean, and limiting travel to the extent possible.
PROMOTE GOOD HYGIENE If in-person work is re…

Why Striving for Perfection Could Actually be Hurting You

I recently came across an article on LinkedIn entitled, “Don’t Let Perfection be the Enemy of Productivity.” The article piqued my interest for two key reasons: 1) As a gymnast, I grew up with a perfectionist mentality that I’ve personally struggled with overcoming in the professional world; 2) Since we are living in a corporate environment of doing more with less, and a social environment of better balancing work and personal lives, the topic of productivity becomes ever more important.
Knowing so many successful professionals in the field with perfectionist tendencies, this article also made me wonder whether this personality trait could be one of the contributing factors driving business development, capture, and proposal professionals to work long hours. This prompted me to do some additional research on the positive and negative impacts of perfectionism and reflect on how these trends manifest within the world of business development—and I’m sharing the results of this journey …

Five Common Proposal Mistakes You Might Be Making—and How to Remedy Them

As ever-busy business development, capture, and proposal professionals, it’s easy to get caught up in the everyday and overlook some common mistakes that may be hindering our effectiveness in winning business. These mistakes include starting too late, documenting capture information insufficiently, making sloppy bid decisions, holding premature proposal kickoffs, and failing to plan for the unexpected. This week I examine how these common problems could be negatively impacting your win rates and present key tactics for remedying these critical issues.
Starting Too Late One common problem we see with proposals is starting the business development process far too late. Remember that building a relationship with your customer and understanding their underlying concerns takes time. Without solid customer relationships, you won’t have the opportunity to understand their programmatic concerns or determine what really keeps them up at night. Further, you won’t be able to develop solutions to…

Three Reasons You Should Be Holding Formal Author Cross-Reading Sessions

A common problem with proposal teams is that it is so easy for authors to avoid communicating—particularly when one or more author is working virtually. This leads to sections that are developed in silos, which can result in inconsistencies across the proposal sections and disjointed writing. I always encourage cross-reading with my proposal teams. However, when key components of my teams are virtual, I try to include formal cross-reading assignments that occur in conjunction with the Pink Team and Red Team reviews. This pushes authors to identify areas where their sections are inconsistent with other sections and encourages authors to collaborate with each other to drive updates to the Style Guide and/or Wall of Truth. These efforts result in three key benefits, which I discuss in the following paragraphs.
1. Improves Consistency When authors read other sections in the proposal, they are frequently drawn to “truths” that don’t align with their “truths.” If one author states that the …

Six Proposal Management Tools I Can’t Live Without

As proposal professionals, we continually look to find ways to lead our teams and ensure we are getting the best results possible. Tina Benson suggests in an article published on the Chartered Management Institute website that, “by and large, teams reflect their management. So being an effective, proactive manager increases your team’s chances of achieving success.” In line with Benson’s suggestions, as Proposal Managers, we can make great strides in increasing the success of our teams by leveraging the following six proactive proposal management tools.
1. Proposal Schedule One of the first things I establish for each of my proposals is the proposal schedule. This schedule drives the timeline for my team and helps ensure we achieve our final submission in the smoothest way possible. The proposal schedule should set the dates for key milestones and events. For most large efforts, these milestones include the Blue Team, Green Teams, Pink Team, Red Team, and Gold Team, as well as all ass…