In order to really put yourself first, you have to think about how you personally want to develop. Personal development is, by its very nature, subjective. The question must therefore be asked, ‘what does personal development mean to me?’
Perhaps a new skill set or certification will really help you progress or provide much needed motivation? Or maybe development is not about your career? Maybe to put yourself first, you need to take a step back and create a better work / life balance. In the 2018 Bid & Proposal Salary Survey, 76% of respondents chose work / life balance over pure financial reward, so it’s worth thinking about what drives your decision making.
Whatever it may be, it feels like we are constantly working to the beat of someone else’s drum and need to make time to assess and develop ourselves properly. However, sticking to developmental goals is not a straightforward task and if you aren’t fully invested in what you are doing, those extra letters after your name won’t change anything.
So how can you set and achieve your goals? The simple, unimaginative answer is ‘planning’. You may still be able to achieve your goals without a plan, however the likelihood of success is far greater with proper preparation. It’s the same with bidding. You can have some degree of success by reacting to opportunities, however by being proactive your chances of success increase exponentially.
Think of it in terms of ‘reactive development’ and ‘proactive development’. You can develop your skills by being reactive – adapting to your surroundings, learning by doing, gaining experience etc. However, by being proactive you can fully assess your position within your organisation (and wider profession) and pinpoint the areas of improvement that require the most attention. With this targeted, proactive approach it will be easier to develop your skills and get ahead of the competition.
The real challenge lies in finding the time to put such a plan together, one which I am faced with myself.
I am often asked about what I want to do to develop my skills, any courses I want to take etc. Unfortunately, with so much going on with day-to-day work, it is easy for personal development to get lost in the abyss of being too busy. So what can you do to counter this?
Personally, I’ve found that a great way of developing my skills is by simply getting out of my comfort zone. This has involved taking charge of Bid Solutions’ communications, presenting at industry events and writing articles (such as this one!). For other people, it could be as simple as attending a networking event and speaking to their bid / proposal peers. Yes, talking to strangers isn’t advised when you are a child, however it is wholeheartedly encouraged within bids and proposals – you will almost certainly learn something new!
In whatever way you decide to go about personal development, you will only get out what you put in. Developing a full plan of action is ideal, however if this is too daunting, break it down into a quarterly or monthly plan. By taking little steps forward in the short term, you can steadily improve in the long run. Simply think, ‘what am I going to do this month that will help me improve?’ and see it through.
Whatever works for you, take charge and avoid standing still.
In this issue, our panel of Experts provide fantastic insight into personal development; including training / certification; personal benchmarking; and seeking a professional coach or mentor. This range of ideas, suggestions and personal stories will hopefully provide you with the motivation to take your own steps towards personal development.
Ben Hannon CF APMP
In this issue
What makes someone outstanding? It’s their ability to understand value and consistently deliver it better than their peers. They’re likely to be obsessed with delivering the performance expected of them, so do they know they’re better than others? Only when they know what others are doing, which requires them to keep an eye on the competition.
Being asked to contribute for this article has made me reflect about my own personal development throughout my career. Each year, the process was pretty much the same. Stress about filling in as much as I could about how I had met (and exceeded!) my personal objectives.
It’s the start of a new year which means a large number of readers will be asked to write their objectives and development plan for 2018.
So we all find last year’s objectives and look to see if they can be reused, heave a sigh of relief that only a few minor amends are needed and get them to the boss just before the cut-off time. The objectives are broad enough to cover a multitude of actions so that you can always be measured successfully and all you have to do now is your job so that your appraisal will be just as easy to complete.
23 years ago, I walked in to the head office of a multinational French conglomerate called Bouygues for a job interview. Set in lovely, well-furnished offices and based in leafy Surrey, I faced a friendly interview team. On the strength of that I managed to get a job as a trainee manager working out of one of their local depots.
Personal development was an important part of my employment. Training plans, annual appraisals and performance targets were mandatory, generally with a financial bonus attached. Continued Professional Development (CPD) was a must if you wanted to progress. The company paid for training and authorised time off to attend courses and travel to technical evenings.
I got bored. Tuned out. Mentally exited the building. It happened as soon as Martin told me the topic for this edition was ‘personal development’. The concept isn’t the problem. I couldn’t be more on board with that. My issue is with the phrase: how it’s used and what happens (or doesn’t) as a result.
In the bidding world, we spend our time helping others to achieve their goals – e.g. a bid writer supporting her / his client to prepare a winning bid so that the organisation can deliver products and / or services to enable the end client to achieve a business goal. The ‘channel of needs’ keeps the bidding profession and its clients moving, but how much attention do we pay to our own growth as individuals?
It’s like going on a diet. I’ve tried 5:2. I wasn’t fun to be around on the two days I had to starve. I’ve been carb-free: I’d have bitten your hand off for a bowl of pasta. Weight Watchers? Been there. Slimming World? Got the badge. At one point, I was even seeing a nutritionist who recommended that I ate 22 different dietary supplements a day.
When asked to share where I’m focussing my personal development in 2018 the answer was easy. I’ll be focussing on learning more about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and importantly preparing myself for how AI will revolutionise management thinking about leadership, innovation and performance improvement.
For employees there normally needs to be a valid business reason for whatever training course you plan to attend – which, in turn, means the training course has to be directly relevant to your role. If you’re experienced then you are likely to already know how to do your job, making a limited number of available training courses worthwhile. Therefore, training courses become a means to getting up-to-date in your field, rather than learning new things per se.
Here you are, striving away day after day dealing with a relentless stream of complex and demanding bids. There have been countless evenings and nights when you have been working alone in the office to meet a bid deadline. And then, when you have had company, it was because it was “all hands to the deck” to overcome the crisis (not caused by you) of a strategically important bid not being on track to be completed on time. When the bid was won, little of the credit was given to you as it was the sales team’s success. Your reward was stale coffee, cold pizza and yet another bid to complete.