Two Hats

Ask the Proposal Doctor

Dear Proposal Doctor,

People say I have a big head, but believe me, I would prefer to only wear one hat. Unfortunately, my capture manager is not doing his job. Communications with subcontractors are erratic and inconsistent, the pricing team does not have a strategy, and progress towards a viable solution is slow. Every time I jump in to help with these items, the team is so grateful to have someone providing direction. In fact, if not for my efforts, nothing would have been accomplished on many fronts that should be the responsibility of the capture manager. Wearing two hats is exhausting and I’m only getting compensated for one. How can I get my capture manager to do his job?

Double Hatted

Dear Double,

The situation you describe is common in two respects. First, it is common to find many different definitions of capture. This job is not in the Standard Occupational Classification System. Your capture manager probably thinks he is doing his job. To make it clear what is expected of him, you and he need to have a conversation about roles and responsibilities at a very concrete level (“Determine target rates for subcontractors and communicate those rates one week after RFP release”).  It’s always easier to avoid these detailed discussions. At one’s peril.

Second, this is common because so many proposal managers develop the “workaround” syndrome. This is a term from organizational behavior studies that examined the way in which employees find a workaround for a problem rather than dealing with the underlying cause. Nurses in hospitals have been known to pay (with their own money) for taxis to deliver laundry when the hospital linen service did not deliver clean sheets on time. It gets the bed changed, but does nothing for the next nurse who needs clean linens. If you continue to wear two hats, your capture manager will never learn what is expected of him. You owe it to him, yourself, and the organization to address this head-on. Now.

This will not be an easy conversation, so prepare for it, and maybe even rehearse your part out loud, or with a trusted colleague.

All Best,

Wendy Frieman, The Proposal Doctor