Mentorship Gap in Business Development
Every entry level business development position seems to go the same route. Good intentions of lots of training and hands-on supervision and mentorship rapidly deteriorate into head-under-water chaos as proposal loads get to be too much for well-intentioned supervisors.
I've had the opportunity in my consulting work to collaborate with a lot of folks working in the lower levels of business development. They are amazing people - often the most enthusiastic and excited about the work they get to do. They're ready to learn and eager to make changes so their teams can do work better and more efficiently. And don't get me started on how willing they are to engage technology to get work done faster.
At the same time, I repeatedly see these eager junior business development staff caught in a catch-22 – they can’t learn skills because no one has the time to teach them and they can’t do more (manage proposals, oversee budgets) because they haven’t managed to learn those skills.
And this doesn’t apply only to hard skills.
Junior business development staff are often in the hardest positions for learning soft skills – skills like negotiation, managing up, and communication. These are absolutely imperative to success on proposal teams and simultaneously the hardest to teach without a lot of time and energy from supervisors – the last thing that they have to give.
Working as a consultant I get to know a lot of different business development teams, so if this sounds familiar you should know that you aren’t alone in the struggle. With few people staying in business development roles for the long term and intense competition between business development teams, it can be a real struggle to find someone who has the time and interest to show up in the ways that a mentor needs to.
I want people coming up in business development to have the support they need to grow personally and professionally to meet their goals.
The status quo doesn’t have to stay, but it may mean investing in new approaches to mentorship.