Proactive over reactive management

When it comes to management styles, there are two main types: reactive or proactive.

Most of us are good at the reactive; the times when you need to firefight an urgent priority, ordering your team to divert resource to manage. However, when this reactive style becomes your normal management technique it can take a toll on your team, your mentality and your stress-levels.

Instead, think about how you could be taking a proactive approach, anticipating, planning and avoiding problems so that they don’t overwhelm you.

So, how do you move from a reactive style to a proactive style? We have some pointers:

The most essential asset you have in business is time; whoever has the most will have the ability to anticipate obstacles in their plans, rather than come across them when they occur.

Dwight D. Eisenhower used the Urgent/Important Principle. You can set this out as headers and write underneath, but we find it better as a graph:

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Review all the processes you use with your team and determine whether they aid or divert you. Look at individual employee’s working practices too as there may be dysfunctional tasks picked up over time (to cover absence, for example) that you can delegate to the appropriate employee.

 

You can map these out with flow charts to see whether there are any problems in the workflow. Map out your new processes too, then everyone will understand how the new system will work. You can help people adapt easier with checklists, infographics and visual flow charts.

 

If you involve your team in this work, you’ll find out where likely problems and task-related difficulties occur. This will help you anticipate, and avoid, future problems. Furthermore, encouraging your team to suggest changes in the future makes sure that everything runs smoothly.

Once you have strengthened your processes, you can approach risks with more confidence.

Conduct a risk analysis, prioritising your risks by their impact and probability in a chart:

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Then, start to deal with each of them, starting with the high probability, high impact ones first.

 

If you have been acting in a reactive way for a while, it’s likely your team has felt the brunt of it. Acknowledge this and explain you are taking steps to fix it. Then start to build positive emotions in your business by acknowledging good work, saying think you when someone completes a task for you and providing learning opportunities.

This will feed back down your team. As your employees start to feel more positive about their working environment, they will start to become more creative, generating ideas how to overcome problems and supporting one another. Eventually, this manner will transform your business from a stressed environment where everyone always felt one-step behind to a place where people feel they are enhancing their personal growth. 

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Reactive management will always be needed to react to critical events that you couldn’t have predicted, but the aim is to make reactionary action scarce and proactive management – where you have planned and anticipated risks – your main style.