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Proactive – what does it even mean?

From Oxford English Dictionary: adjective – “(of a person or action) creating or controlling a situation rather than just responding to it after it has happened”.

When you thought about starting a business, you might have imagined your work days, toiling side by side with the crew or maybe having free time, while your appointed manager or supervisor managed the technical or trade side of the business for you.

You PLANNED!…you probably day-dreamed of how it was going to be… you would have put in place a contingency plan for the hard times, and paid insurance to get through them. You may have thought ahead to what might happen if there were safety incidents, and how you were going to avoid risks and control hazards.

This was when you were most proactive. You wrote down notes of what to do in case of emergency, you set up steps for advertising, hiring, firing, tendering contracts, following through, after sales service and keeping your customers happy and coming back to you and telling all their mates. So maybe those notes and careful written plans have been sitting in the back of the cupboard since you got your first customer.

  • Proactive in planning means you constantly re-think, adapt, review, monitor and renew. Sounds like hard work hey, but the alternative to being proactive is being “reactive”, and it is this which takes away all your control.

  • Reactive means you are constantly mopping up damage, being forced to make changes which you may not be prepared for, losing the power you once had as boss of your business.

Being proactive is having foresight, thinking ahead of all situations, and one of the best places to find the solutions to problems before they arise, is with your workers. They are at “the coalface”, they see the problems; they know first-hand how to fix many on the job issues, and it may surprise you how much ingenuity they have! That is why you hired them in the first place, to add value to your business. It is also best practice to discuss standards and guides already in place which have been created from past experience of problem solving, risk management and hazard controls.

Careful business management means your plans need to be continuously monitored, reviewed, and adapted to change when required. In sharing information and listening to your work crew you are also fulfilling your legal responsibility for consultation regarding safety, and relevant business issues, which have an effect on your work group, clients, and visitors or changes that affect the workplace such as new processes or machinery you wish to introduce.

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