Developing Proactivity

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01Oct2010

Developing Proactivity

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By Des Whitehorn

Pro-activity means not waiting to be asked, but having an ability to think ahead and anticipate needs, difficulties and different ways of achieving a necessary outcome. Pro-activity also means being able to identify and solve problems by making decisions. To do all this requires knowledge, which needs constant updating plus a conscious effort to seek it out. So here are the top ten tips to help you develop pro-activity in your role:

  1. Seize the opportunity for training. No matter that you think you’ve been doing your job for years – you can always pick up one new bit of knowledge and so turn it to your advantage. Training is also an opportunity to network. Sometimes it isn’t only about what you know, but who you know.
  2. Do something different! Give yourself a challenge and help others in the process, perhaps by offering to share your knowledge with them, or by volunteering to join a project group.
  3. Don’t sit and whine when things aren’t right, or aren’t happening: do something about it. Proactive people are positive, realistic and animated. Aim to nurture more of these qualities!
  4. Learn to prioritize routine work as well as work which has a deadline – without being asked. That way you will be able to make time to take on new challenges and develop your own proactive responsibilities.
  5. Think things through as you work. Forget working on autopilot all the time. Keep questioning why things are being done in this way, and if you can, find a more efficient way to do it.
  6. Ask to meet with your manager(s) – preferably at least weekly – so you are kept up to date about changes, preferences and workloads. It is also an opportunity for you to make suggestions or introduce new ideas to help the way you work together.
  7. State your case confidently and assertively when you make suggestions or question something. Consider using the PROEP framework (proposal, rationale, objections, evidence and plan) to help you make suggestions or introduce new working practices.
  8. Constantly ask yourself “What’s the next step?” This way, you will be able to identify what needs to be done – then do it!
  9. Make yourself indispensable by looking around you at what others are doing: could you help? Could you get involved? Could you be doing that too? (Tip: The answer to all three questions is “yes”! The next question is “when will you?”)
  10. You will know you are more proactive when you hear yourself saying regularly, “I’ve already done it.” It is such a good feeling to be able to do so!

This article originally appeared on The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs

About the Author

Des Whitehorn is with Zee Associates, specialists in training & development for professional secretarial and business support staff.

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