How to build a proactive workforce for more productivity and competitive advantage?
- 28 September 2017
- Written by: Yves Bemelmans
- Category: Procurement
Today’s business environment can be characterized as evolving continuously. Technology is changing quickly, competition is high, and markets are saturated, which in turn is forcing organizations to have performing business strategies and to operate effectively and efficiently. Employers are challenged to find and retain the best talents within their organization and proactivity is one of the most essential qualities which they look for in employees nowadays.
Proactivity, as defined by Organizational Behavior, is behavior that is “anticipatory, change-oriented, and self-initiated behavior in situations, rather than just reacting.” A person who is proactive acts in advance of a future event whereas an individual who is reactive just goes with the flow without taking any initiatives. Proactive employees typically don’t need to be asked to do something, and will usually require less detailed instructions. Employees who take a proactive approach at work are those speaking up with suggestions, try to bring about improvements, and take initiatives. They generally perform better, experience more job satisfaction and progress at a faster pace in their career. For organizations, a proactive workforce which anticipates changes and is willing to contribute to innovation is seen as a competitive advantage.
So how can organizations encourage employees to be more proactive?
- Adopt an innovative training and development program
More often it falls to training and development to offer a reasonable method to promoting employee proactivity. Indeed, in the United States alone, organizations spent over $165 billion on employee training and development in 2013. But which training approaches are most effective for employee engagement and professional development?
Employers are the ones who need to take the initiative to introduce innovative training and development programs which will keep the employees engaged and allow them to learn new skills. New knowledge and skills help employees to develop proactivity. For instance: The training and development solutions provided by Procurement and Supply Chain Academy focuses on scenario-based training videos where employees can experience real work situations which prepares them to take the best decisions in their day-to-day tasks. Being exposed to these real job situations in their training allow them to anticipate future challenges and this leads to a better way to tackle such circumstances.
- Flexibility in leadership and trust-based workplace
A research by Integro Research Desk describes proactive employees as self-directed employees who take responsibility for their own decisions and actions. On the other hand, others-directed employees are those who adopt an “I have to” mentality, and respond only to instructions and requires constant guidance and supervision. The research highlights that the key to creating a team of proactive employees lies on leaders who need to demonstrate flexibility and foster a trust-based work environment. Managers who are seen to be flexible when relating to others are also seen to be effective at building trust. Furthermore, the analysis indicates that a manager’s flexibility appears to be made up of three separate components: interpersonal warmth, understanding, and encouragement.
The research has shown that when employees experience high levels of trust within their workplace, they are more self-directed, self-motivated and more engaged in what their organization is trying to achieve than those who perceive their organization to be less trustworthy. According to the research, such a workplace environment is where proactive employees thrive.
- Encourage, reward and recognize
Recognize your employee’s efforts helps to encourage employees always to do their best. Effort alone deserves appreciation, even if the results are far from satisfactory. This will serve as an encouragement for them, a way of telling them that they may have made a mistake, but they should take it as a learning experience and try again next time.
Additionally, it is essential to give credit where and when it is due. Employers need to reward the successes and accomplishments of their employees, whether through cash incentives, additional benefits, or even tokens of appreciation and acknowledgment. Employees need to feel that their efforts are appreciated, and they will feel more empowered if they know that there is a reward waiting for them. In this way, they become more proactive in their job.
Benefits of being proactive rather than reactive
- Be Prepared:
- Plan for things in advance.
- Prepared to avoid any chaos that can happen in the future.
- Backup plan ready.
- Recognize a need for change:
- Thinking and planning ahead of time.
- Recognize if something needs to be changed for better over the time.
- Lessens problems:
- Uncover potential problems.
- Minimize the impact by working on it in advance.
- Looking forward:
- Seeing the bigger picture.
- Looking at future benefits and change accordingly.
- Self-improvement and awareness:
- Take charge of yourself.
- Aware of the values, beliefs and the purpose you wish to pursue.
- A sense of direction:
- Self-awareness: clearer on the things you wish to achieve.
- Decision-making becomes a lot easier.
- More organized.
- Peace of mind:
- Already planned things for tomorrow.
- Well prepared for the future.
- Feel safe and secured.
Developing a proactive mindset and behavior is a quality which can be improved over time. Training is one of the ways to bring this remarkable transformation in your workforce. Proactive employees are constantly moving forward, looking to the future, and making things happen. They’re actively engaged, not passively observing. More proactivity results in better productivity. And better productivity usually means improved financial performance, happier shareholders, and good working relationships.