As an employer, I am always looking for the right talent for my team, and one of the most important part of my employees are that they have a proactive approach to life and their work environment. For me it is not only important that the people I work with are proactive, but also that their personal brands tell the surrounding that they are proactive. So, why is this?
A proactive person takes initiative and ask herself “How can I do this?” rather than “Will I be able to do this?”. This might seem like a small difference, but let´s look at an example of how this can make a huge different.
Anna is working on a project and encounters some problems with how to solve a task. If she is reactive she will in the best case turn to a colleague to get help to solve the problem. On the other hand if she is proactive, she could first check for a solution on google, internal documents and other sources. If she still is in doubt, she might make a list of suggestion of which different ways one can approach the problem before presenting it to the colleague or manager.
A study by Time magazine found that employees on average just got 11 minutes of efficient work before being distracted by an e-mail, phone call or verbal interruption from a manager or colleague. These interruptions counts for 2.1 hours of every working day, including the time to recover the train of thought following an interruption. According to the magazine, it took an average of 25 minutes to return to a task after being disturbed.
If Anna in the example was really proactive, she would even wait with the last step until she found the appropriate time to raise the question.
Another part of being proactive is anticipating client needs before they actually demand it. An exceptional employee keeps her eye on industry trends, the calendar and the clients competitors to bring ideas or services to the client before they request them. Being proactive could also included imagining new ideas and solutions for the client, the co-workers and the managers.
As a employer that have my team working close to the clients, it is very important that we can anticipate and act (not react) on what will come, and also show that we are proactive people, taking responsible over our work and the outcome of what we do.
Are you proactive, and do you communicate that you are responsible for the results and outcomes of your work?