Are personalities ruling your color team reviews?

There are anywhere from four to 16 different personality types depending on your Google search results. In the context of proposal color team reviews, proposal managers and review team leads have probably encountered quite a medley of non-constructive participants who seem to do everything in their power to impede progress. Adding to this problem is the increase in virtual review meetings. When reviewers are not physically present, they often exhibit different (ruder) personality types than they would in person.

Here are six personality types that I’ve witnessed and six tips for how to deal with them.

1. The Dominator

This reviewer takes over the meeting; straying off the planned agenda and timeline; voicing their opinions and recommendations first, foremost, loudest; and often interrupting others. They may even stray off topic, going off on tangents that serve no purpose. If the Dominator is the proposal manager’s direct or indirect boss, it can be very difficult to regain control.

Tip 1: Tame the Dominator. Dealing with Dominators requires both defense and offense. Spend time in person or via email before the meeting explaining the agenda and the need to hear equally from all participants. During the meeting, include in the agenda the order in which comments will be received so that you can call on specific individuals, saving the Dominator for last. Ask for no interruptions, allowing each reviewer to speak, followed by comments and questions.

2. The Latecomer

This reviewer is so busy s/he arrives late to every review meeting. Their late arrival disrupts the meeting with introductions and recaps of what already occurred. The team may be halfway through the review, but they must go back to the beginning to listen to the latecomer’s comments. Again, if this latecomer is of importance in terms of rank and/or customer or subject matter expertise, they can be difficult to ignore as the comments may be vital.

Tip 2: Minimize the Latecomer. The instructions included in the review package should make it crystal clear that the meeting starts on time and stays on schedule. By including individual reviewer names on the agenda, the you can better enforce the rules. If a reviewer’s time slot has passed, then they must wait until meeting’s end or submit comments in writing. Note that by assigning reviewers specific roles, you can more easily develop an agenda with assignments.

3. The Multitasker

The Multitasker is answering and sending emails and texts, listening to voicemails, catching up on other work, and even taking other calls. They miss half of what is being said, forcing the team to revisit issues already resolved or repeat recommendations and comments.

Tip 3: Enforce no electronics. Project the review slides or proposal sections. Make it a rule: laptops closed and smartphones on Do Not Disturb. Keep the meeting to a tight agenda with assigned roles. Of course, that does not work with virtual participants (see #5) unless you are on video call. Once a reviewer has provided their comments, they are free to leave and get back to multitasking.

4. The Unprepared

These reviewers did not read the RFP and merely skimmed the proposal, or they did not finish reading their assigned sections. Many of their comments are non-compliant because they did not review the instructions or evaluation criteria. They often make editorial comments instead of adding anything of substance. Their presence wastes time and space.

Tip 4: Kick them off the island. Have no patience for the Unprepared. Allow adequate time to prepare for and conduct reviews. If a reviewer continues to arrive unprepared, do not invite them to future meetings. Explain in the review instructions that reviewers should immediately alert the proposal manager if they cannot complete their assignments so an alternate reviewer can be assigned.

5. The Virtual participant

Because this reviewer is not physically present, various annoyances ensue. They forget to mute their phone, and we hear their dog barking, cat meowing, and children playing. They might even leave the call to attend to other matters such as laundry and miss half of what is being said. They are not sure where the review team is in the proposal and keep interrupting with catch-up questions. If the team is not using a collaborative meeting tool, they must ask what page you are on.

Tip 5: Use technology. The Virtual reviewer is the most difficult to manage. However, if you’re using a collaborative meeting tool, you can use technology to mute them. To ensure they are paying attention, use the video function so the participants can see each other.

6. The Pile-ons

This reviewer just piles on more comments, edits, and advice, but fails to give any actionable comments or volunteer to help with recovery. They just keep shoveling the criticisms (i.e., “the proposal stinks”), leaving the proposal manager with conflicting comments, unactionable recommendations, and a migraine. Proposal recovery becomes a nightmare.

Tip 6: It’s okay to interrupt. Exercise your authority as proposal manager or review team lead and stop the Pile-ons right away. Responses such as, “we have already covered that,” or “actionable comments only” are perfectly acceptable ways to get the meeting back on track.

Learn to recognize and work with these personality types. Develop proactive strategies so you can better increase productivity and efficiency in your future color team review meetings.

By Lisa Pafe, Vice President at Lohfeld Consulting Group, CPP APMP Fellow and PMI PMP

Lohfeld Consulting Group has proven results specializing in helping companies create winning captures and proposals.

As the premier capture and proposal services consulting firm focused exclusively on government markets, we provide expert assistance to government contractors in Go-to-Market Strategy, Capture Planning and Strategy, Proposal Management and Writing, Capture and Proposal Process and Infrastructure, and Training. In the last 3 years, we’ve supported over 550 proposals winning more than $135B for our clients—including the Top 10 government contractors. Lohfeld Consulting Group is your “go-to” capture and proposal source! Start winning by contacting us at and join us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.