Written by: Zoran Tučkar, psychologist.
…Contrary to this, here the young and the unemployed believe that no one will hire them and that nothing will change, so there’s no point in trying. So this is how the see job interviews, from the perspective of a desperate man or a pessimist, and no one will hire them as such!
Proactive behavior, in the broadest sense, is every behavior the aim of which is profit – personal and for the people around us in situations in which our superiors and colleagues don’t think there’s a need for this activity and there is no business pressure that this particular activity should be performed, but there are justified reasons that this kind of behavior could lead to profit in the future.
Being proactive includes a proactive analysis of the current situation, a quality prognosis of future outcomes and solving problems which might appear in the future. Being proactive demands responsibility, additional motivation, initiative, understanding the situation, clearly communicating with your superiors, subordinates and colleagues regarding future goals, communicating with clients about their needs and predicting their needs, at the same time thinking both from a bird-eye’s view and top-down perspective, and maybe the most important thing, be ready to constantly change work rhythms. The last is probably the most difficult to find, especially in work atmospheres dominated by the „golden phrase“. “Don’t go against the current”. Cynics might say that being proactive is looking for more things to do and unnecessary „ass kissing“, but in the restless business world of capitalism and especially work, there are not a lot of people who have the luxury of waiting for change to come from the inside.
In his famous book „7 Habits of Highly Effective People“Stephen Covey lists being proactive as the first one. Special emphasis is on the word habit, which means that being proactive makes sense if it is a constant unwritten value within the company.
We can paint the picture of being proactive with the situation in which one partner wants to surprise his significant other with something he knows the other person will like, but it was never specifically asked as a present.
Reactive thinking and behaving is the opposite of proactive thinking. This sort of behavior is often in hierarchically structured and defined jobs which require performing the job a certain way. Own initiative is not clearly expressed and the emphasis lies on doing a certain minimum. For example, we can hardly ask, for example, a professional soldier, delivery man or a patrolman to be proactive.
Reactive way of thinking was beautifully depicted by John Lennon with the lyrics: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”.
However, in the world of capitalism and work and working with people, proactive behavior is more than desirable, so we can take as an example an active approach of unemployed people to finding an employment, which leads to getting a job faster. Contrary to this, here the young and the unemployed believe that no one will hire them and that nothing will change, so there’s no point in trying. So this is how the see job interviews, from the perspective of a desperate man or a pessimist, and no one will hire them as such! In the micro-worlds of particular companies, proactive behavior leads to more clients, their satisfaction with services, better prevention of unpleasant surprises.
How to implement proactive behavior? Being proactive starts with the main people in the company, and they do, before everything else, choose their employees. Already during the selection process you can see who is a proactive person and who is not. „Proactive ones“will more or less discretely mention they make their own luck. Further on, if the head management wants, they can send their workers to take various courses or workshops which they think could increase their profit. Besides, head management can encourage workers to produce new and fresh ideas and select the ideas and proposals for improvement. Communicating about being proactive makes the workers believe the leadership of the company and reduces the fluctuation of manpower – and there are „palpable“variables. Proactive thinking can even be a certain tolerance for losers, if it a pledge for profit in the future.
As any sort of behavior can be twisted, bad and deviant, the same way when proactive behavior is concerned there are situations when it is applied the wrong way. The best example are some pharmaceutical companies which first manufacture a medicine, and then look for a disease to fit it or manufacture a medicine, and then artificially move the limits of medical parameters and so use the possibility of placing the medicine on the market.