Proactive Employees: Characteristics & Skill Development

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  • 0:03 Proactive Employee Definition
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Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

In this lesson, we'll define the concept of proactivity and learn about some of the characteristics of proactive employees. Then, you'll learn about some of the ways by which proactive employees can be developed.

Proactive Employee Definition

There are people at work who wait for directions before they do anything. But, there are also people at work who are proactive. Proactive employees are individuals who act as opposed to react. In other words, they don't sit around and wait for something to happen. Instead, they make something happen. So let's go over the characteristics of proactive employees and how proactive employees can be developed in the workplace.

Proactive Employee Characteristics

Jim is a proactive employee. How do we know this? He clearly demonstrates several characteristics that are cornerstones of proactive individuals. Jim is able to be and do the following:

  • He is able to plan for the future. For instance, he thinks about what he can do tomorrow to get his job done well. He even keeps a to-do list that tells him exactly what needs to be done without anyone having to micromanage him.

  • He is engaged. Jim doesn't sit around observing what others do. He takes initiatives on his own to get something finished.

  • He has foresight. Jim is able to anticipate things before they can occur. That's because he is observant of what goes on around him, and he uses his imagination to figure out the possibilities surrounding his observations.

  • He prevents. Jim works hard to think about what problems might occur and what he can do now to prevent them from arising in the future.

  • He's a doer. In other words, Jim is by no means a procrastinator. He takes immediate action to do what needs to be done. He holds himself accountable for his own actions (or lack thereof).

Proactive Employee Skill Building

So, Jim is a pretty star employee as a result. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone were like him? Well, proactivity is a skill that can be developed. Managers can train their team to approach problems and solve them proactively. Here are a few ideas on how managers and other leaders can help create a work environment where these skills can be fostered.

Don't be an authoritarian and don't micromanage. Instead, be flexible and trusting. This fosters an environment where people can become self-directed. Proactive people choose to do something. This is very different from having to do something. Micromanaging people or being authoritative in general forces people to have to do something instead of choosing to do it. Proactive people feel like they have a choice and because they make a choice, they own it.

Another strategy for fostering proactivity is to hold an innovation day on a regular basis. Allow your employees some freedom during a specific part of the week to be proactive. During this time period, encourage them to think about how they can solve old problems on their own.

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