As proposal professionals, we know the reality of hard work, long hours, deadlines, and stress. Members of the proposal team often have day jobs, too. Creativity, productivity, and contemplative abilities can be compromised by stress. The quality of our proposals can be compromised by stress.
According to a report from the American Institute of Stress, a non-profit dedicated to research and education on the subject, job pressures are the #1 cause of stress in the U.S., and 35% of Americans say their jobs are harming their physical or emotional health. Persistent stress can cause heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Stress is often caused by too many thoughts competing for your attention at the same time. The dictionary defines stress as physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension or a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize. Stress is what we feel when our life or our jobs become overwhelming and too much for us.
There is a definite link between productivity and stress. We are less productive when we are stressed and more productive when we are not. In stimulating, positive, and happy environments, the team enjoys and excels at their work. A fun workplace and happy proposal team are not only more productive, but also more likely to produce a winning proposal.
Joy and laughter can bring us together in positive ways. Incorporating more fun and play into the work of your proposal team will improve the team’s interactions, mood, and outlook. A positive mental attitude produces increased oxygen, endorphins, and blood flow to the brain, enabling us to think more clearly and creatively.
It’s true what they say: laughter is the best medicine. Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress and conflict. Laughter makes you feel good. And that good feeling remains even after the laughter subsides. Play and laughter can keep your proposal team productive and motivated. It gives them a positive, optimistic outlook even when working on a proposal. Fun is attractive. We like to be around those who are having fun.
Here are suggestions for making the job of producing proposals more fun.
- Don’t be so serious all the time. It is possible to take yourself lightly and still be viewed as a competent and productive proposal manager. Fun and work do not have to be antonyms. Seek opportunities to interject humor with your proposal team. Show your human side and share fun things that are happening in your life. Remember that making the job fun helps the team to perform.
- Smile! A smile is a curve that sets everything straight. Like laughter, smiles are contagious!
- Give out compliments. Make it a habit to compliment someone on your team every day. Show your appreciation. Thank individuals for their contributions. Compliments make them feel good and make you feel good.
- Put someone in charge of celebrating. Plan fun things to do to take a break during and after work. Celebrate milestones. Celebrate with a submission party and a win party. Celebrate the lessons learned on losses. Is anyone celebrating a birthday or work anniversary during the proposal period? Create some happiness-boosting traditions like bagels on Fridays or brownies on Wednesday afternoons. How about a lunch outing to go bowling or play mini-golf?
- Add fun to you meetings. Bring in fun things like a Nerf ball to toss to the speaker in a brainstorming session. Start the meeting with a humorous story or joke. Add cartoons to your slides. Look for ways to bring fun into the process. Collect and share your favorite funnies. Collect relevant comic strips or fun articles and hang them on your office door or in the war room.
- Tell Stories. Hold engaging and energetic solutioning sessions where you craft your solutions into a story that involves the customer and has a happy outcome. Create a compelling picture that tells the story. Bring erasable color markers and have some fun on the white board. Make everyone’s job easier. Set clear objectives and realistic schedules. Avoid overtime and planned work on the weekends unless absolutely necessary.
- Eliminate negativity. You can be the positive influence–the driver of positive thinking in the group. Be a cheerleader for success! Keep the glass half full! As the proposal manager, part of your job is to continually evaluate the morale of your team. If it’s suffering, a break for fun can lift spirits, boost morale, and improve chances of success. Give your team opportunities to enjoy themselves. It will create a friendlier, happier, and all-around healthier environment for everyone.
Dale Carnegie said, “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”
Make fun a priority!
by Maryann Lesnick, CP APMP, APMP-NCA President
Reprinted with permission, APMP-NCA Executive Summary, Summer 2015