As we self-isolate and stay at home during the pandemic, many of us are binge-watching TV shows to help manage the stress in these unprecedented times. While it’s one way to escape the current reality and be safe at home, binge-watching also creates a potential distraction for capture and proposal professionals working virtually, especially those of us experiencing a lull in proposal activity.
To help stay focused and productive, you can apply the concept of binge-watching to professional development. With team members working remotely and many industries facing proposal downtime, “binge-learning” can be an effective approach to training. Through intensive and structured exercises, your team can sharpen skills and refine processes, leading to increased job satisfaction, implementation of best practices and higher win rates. To start binge-learning, here are a few tips to create a binge-worthy professional development program for your capture and proposal team.
Assess Learning Needs
When we binge-watch, we are entertained and often enlightened during marathon viewing sessions. While not as entertaining, conducting marathon review sessions of individual performance assessments, proposal lessons-learned data and customer debriefs can be an enlightening experience to help focus your binge-learning activities.
- Review individual performance evaluations. Work with each team member to review previous performance evaluations and assess progress in areas for improvement. Generate a professional development plan to address gaps in core competencies through training and mentoring. Consider framing this plan to align with APMP certification.
- Analyze proposal lessons-learned data. Revisit lessons learned from proposal development efforts over the past year or two to identify any trends. Which specific functions in the capture and proposal process are consistently identified as areas for improvement? Are there process areas that have recently declined? These issues represent additional needs for competency development and indicate areas of attention for process improvement.
- Assess customer debriefs. Reflect on debriefs from both winning and losing bids to identify any common areas of customer feedback. What steps can you take on future proposals to address this feedback? Compare these reflections with the lessons-learned analysis to validate and prioritize learning and process improvement initiatives.
Identify Development Opportunities to Address Competency and Process Gaps
These marathon-reviews help to quickly highlight gaps in competencies and processes that need to be addressed to improve future capture and proposal efforts. The next step is to identify formal and informal training and development activities for the team. These activities can be completed binge-learning style through recorded webinars or during designated team training days.
- Engage in learning activities. Set aside time for focused binge-learning so team members can complete their assigned developmental and training activities. Take advantage of APMP resources to address competency development and process improvement needs, such as on-demand APMP webinars, publications and Body of Knowledge (BOK) Having your team share key takeaways during a group video conference can increase your training return on investment and enhance learning across the team.
- Foster cross-training. To develop depth across capture and proposal functions, train your team on core competencies required for all positions. Cross-training benefits team members by encouraging self-development and increasing job satisfaction, while providing the organization with additional capacity and backup coverage during periods of heavy proposal activity.
Develop a Learning Culture
Just as binge-watching is made possible through video streaming, binge-learning requires a continuous flow of developmental content and activities to encourage competency development and process improvement. By streaming opportunities for learning, you can create a learning culture to promote continuous learning and process improvement, fostering professional and organizational growth to achieve business growth goals.
- Designate career paths. Communicate a clearly defined career path to your team. By seeing the potential for career advancement, team members’ loyalty and commitment are increased, leading to enhanced levels of job satisfaction and retention.
- Define specific competencies required for each position. For each position on the career path, document roles and responsibilities to provide clarity on what competencies are needed to advance. With this understanding, team members are motivated to gain required skills and implement process improvements.
Binge-learning offers a creative and effective approach to immerse your capture and proposal team in professional development during proposal downtime and creates a learning culture to feed the addiction for continuous growth. By taking advantage of being at home, you can keep your team engaged and motivated, resulting in improved competencies and processes, enhanced retention and increased use of best practices to deliver winning bids.
Deb Yeagle, CF APMP, is an independent business development, capture and proposal consultant, and president of Plan To Win, Inc. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.