What Can Proposal Professionals Learn from the 2013 Best Companies to Work For?

When hikers get together, they talk about their boots.  When chefs gather, they swap recipes.  What do proposal professionals do?  Of course, they often talk about the proposal work environments at their companies.

Proposal professionals can learn how to create good work environments by looking at Fortune magazine’s the “2013 Best Companies to Work For.”  These companies vary in their size, products, and services, but they have three things on common:

  • Employees trust each other in the workplace.
  • Employees have pride in their work.
  • Employees enjoy their colleagues.

Salaries, benefits, and perks are important, but employees also need to feel that they are appreciated.  No holiday bonus or company picnic can replace the feeling that their day-to-day work is valued and that they like working with their colleagues, whom they trust.

If your company has a good work environment for proposals, you are very fortunate indeed.  But if you believe that your work environment needs improving, short of leaving there are steps you can take to make positive changes:

  • Don’t work in a “war room.”  These places are awful.  They have no privacy, no opportunities for thinking and solitude, and no opportunities to build social capital with your colleagues.  By definition, a “war room” is a demeaning and unprofessional environment.
  • Find out what the best companies do to foster great work environments and copy them.
  • Start small.  Make small changes at first because they are easier and may have big consequences.  
  • Suggest policies to senior management that make for happier, more productive work teams.  Provide evidence to support your argument.  Expect skepticism and resistance but be quietly persistent.
  • Become the change you advocate.  This is advice from Gandhi and it is still sound.  You will have no credibility if you do not model the changes you want to see in your proposal environment.
  • Lead the charge – offer to help make the changes by taking a leadership role.
  • Get social.  A bowling night or a pot luck lunch with a prize for the best dish will help employees build trust and friendships…as long as this carries over into the workplace.  This is foundation for making changes, not a substitute for them.

Your goal should be to create a proposal work environment where people feel appreciated, trust each other, like each other, and take pride in their work.  If you can do this, you are likely to improve the quality of your work by improving the quality of your work environment. 

We all want jobs in places where we enjoy coming to work.  Figure out how to do this in your own company to become a happier proposal professional.

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