Being proactive in an uncertain world | Sunday Observer

Being proactive in an uncertain world

22 November, 2020

All business assumptions and anticipation in respect of the operating environment have gone for a six with Covid-19 striking us.

However, it’s the leader’s dream to see all employees anticipating future changes, opportunities or problems and preparing the business for those by taking action today.

They are not simply reacting to cues from the operating environment, but proactively trying to make a difference. This is crucial to succeed or survive in today’s fast changing business world with its increasingly complex work tasks.

At the organisational level, adapting and reacting to changes in one’s environment is not enough; companies need to be proactive to stay ahead of competition. Reaction is costly and takes time unnecessarily and breeds de-motivation across the business organisation.

It has been almost a year since Covid-19 broke out in China. And by now uncertainty has become certain. Managers have to take a stock of the fragile environment and make decisions to stay profitable in the new normal world.


For the employee, one great way to build your image at work and gain respect and recognition is to be proactive even in a volatile situation. That means figuring out what needs to be done before it shows up on your desk as a problem of the new normal world. It’s all about anticipation of new challenges.

What actions could you take to help your business, boss, your co-worker, and your business partners? Another way of looking at it is to never function in a reactive mode. Staying ahead of the curve will make your work life less chaotic. Being proactive even positions you for job advancement. Everything else being equal, proactive employees will have the edge over the others.

Employees should engage in self-started, future-oriented behaviour without the need for constant direction and supervision by others. As a life discipline, employees should not simply let life happen to them but rather, should try to manage, shape, expand, and mould what happens in their lives. In other words ‘you control not be controlled’ by external factors.

What it takes

Dive deep into the tasks you do within the work slate vis a vis the current challenges. Ask yourself what extra things you can do to ensure success of the activity you support in the value chain.

The paradigm shift needed is to be clear about the outcome of the activity you are supporting, not simply do your piece of work better. Doing what you regularly do more efficiently and cost effectively may demand proactive action too but going beyond your boundary to make a greater contribution makes more sense for you and your employer.

Pause for a moment and view your work from the perspective of the internal or external customers equally well. The most respected employees in the workplace are team players.

Demonstrate a willingness to assist wherever and whenever needed. Do not wait for opportunities to come your way. Anticipate what’s next and take action now.

Emulate others who role model proactive behavior and observe the differences in approach, style and behaviour. Chances are some of the most respected leaders in your company are proactive individuals.

Observe their behaviour too. Look for an opportunity to spend a few minutes with them. Explain your desire to be consistently proactive and ask for finer advice or new pointers. Many of us look to proactive people as the instigators of action and creative ideas in society.

Free space

Proactive managers care about producing their best at all times. You can prevent working in a reactive chaotic mode if you stay organised.

Take the time to keep an orderly and timely work pattern to have free thinking space to be proactive amidst volatility.In the new normal world, being proactive means thinking and acting ahead of anticipated events and challenges based on the past several months experience; this means using foresight.

Not only is it a great method for avoiding more work down the road, but it can be extremely important to avert disasters.