5 Tips for Managing Your Busy Season
Every year it seems like the same old story. Weeks of relative quiet followed (often suddenly) by a deluge of work. It's true for my clients, when donors decide to rush to meet their end-of-year spending, and it's true for me!
Part of managing the seasonality of proposal work is the stress that can lead to burnout. (I've written more about burnout on business development teams here.) The last thing you want to do during a busy season is burn all the positive morale and productivity you've cultivated during the rest of the year!
Here are five tips for maintaining top effort without losing quality in your busy season.
Of course I want you to prioritize which bids you pursue year-round, but never is it more important than in the busy season. There is no point spending valuable time when your team is overstretched on an unwinnable bid (or even a long shot). This is the time to be strategic and say no more often than not.
Monitor your teams' workloads
The proposal busy season can correspond to other team's busy seasons! Keep a close watch not only on your own workload, but keep an even closer eye on your colleagues. You're never going to get out a winning bid if one of your team members is drowning in work and unable to deliver.
Tying into to ensure that your proposal team is well staffed, try to identify roadblocks to success early on. Think back to previous proposals and look for ways to streamline and ensure that you don't get stuck on the same hurdles. It can also be helpful to debrief your busy season as a group - look at what went well and learn from it for next year.
This is the time to take advantage of the amazing people around you. When it's all hands on deck, make sure you are using those hands effectively! If you have new people joining proposal teams, assess their abilities and experience, and determine what tasks are appropriate for each person. Then, take the time to train them on what they're asked to do. Now is not the time to assume that unsaid expectations will be met!
Don't skimp on celebrations
It can be easy when you're in back to back proposal mode to skip over celebrating submissions and wins. But remember, if you don't take a step back once and a while, you're really missing the point. Take the time - even if you can only squeeze a 15-minute stand up and clap - to celebrate all the hard work that your team did.
How is your busy season going?