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Why Aren't Your Employees Proactive?

Updated: Oct 4, 2019

Most companies want employees who are self-starters, take initiative, and are proactive. What does proactive really mean, and how do we promote, inspire, and empower these behaviors?

Being proactive means to anticipate what will happen next, and to take action to either prevent something negative from occurring or to save another person effort.  Consider these examples:

  • At Disney World, if you are staying at a Disney resort, shops within the theme parks will automatically deliver any purchases you make to your hotel room so you don’t have to carry bags around with you all day.

  • A sales rep from a mid-sized IT company brought a sample copy of an invoice to a meeting in which he was closing a sale, anticipating that this new customer might find their billing process confusing. In doing so, he prevented a frustrating experience for the customer and prevented an unnecessary phone call for the company’s customer service department to resolve.

So why aren't our employees being proactive enough?

To be proactive requires that we view our jobs with a wide angle lens, possessing the ability to see beyond our own tasks and checklists. We must be able to see next steps in our processes and to feel the impact we make on the owners of those next steps. Most employees need help with this.

To promote proactive behaviors:

  1. Share your company’s vision and mission with your employees.

  2. Make sure they understand and commit to the purpose of their position.

  3. Walk them through your company’s processes, letting them see who touches their work before and after them, and ultimately how their job impacts the customer.

  4. Regularly coach them to consider the big picture of even seemingly menial tasks.

  5. Recognize proactive behaviors often, by acknowledging specific actions along with the impact of those actions on others.

Try these five steps, consistently, and watch your employees anticipate potential issues

and take action to prevent them!

Empowering people to be more proactive helps the company grow, helps the individual succeed, and helps you be a better leader and get even more accomplished!

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