As a core value, we define proactive as
actively seeking opportunities to improve our client’s products, our processes, and our abilities.
Proactive as a core value seems like a given for any company. Of course you want your team to be built of people who are improving products, processes and skills. But behind the veil of competent work output, “proactive” says a little more about the person and the team.
Proactive = giving a shit
Being proactive says you care. It says you give a shit about the work you produce. It says you care about how your team is depicted and the output you produce together. It says you care about how your clients feel. It says you care about the end users, even though you’ve probably never met them, and the experience they’ll have with the product you’re building.
Think about it. If you didn’t care - you could still get your job done, as you were told or as it was given to you, no more, no less. It’s done, but you’re not proactive, you’re reactive. I’ve worked with people like this. They do fine work, but it never goes beyond that, beyond the “known” work. Although it can be good work, it will never be great work.
When you’re proactive, you look beyond the known work and into the unknown. You have to be willing to take a risk, to walk into uncharted territory. It’s the proactive person who thinks two steps ahead, and then instead of being satisfied when they reach that point, they keep on going, because they have both the skill and the desire.
Proactive = being prepared (or becoming prepared)
Sure, we’ve been reactive. We all have. There’s always the scenario we couldn’t/didn’t anticipate, and now we’re scrambling to put out the fire. But even in that moment of reaction, there’s a chance for a proactive approach. Once the fire is out, all is calm... what now? A reactive person would give high fives all around and move on (thank god that’s over!). For our team, this is the point where we take the time to gather our understanding of what happened, pull out the lessons we can learn and then set ourselves up with a better process to ensure we don’t fall into the same traps again. Reactive teams hunker down for the next fire drill; proactive teams fireproof the building.
This core value means we look for team members who give a shit about their work, their skills, their clients, their team. They are looking out for us, they’ve got our backs and are taking extra steps to get things done, without being asked. Because they care.
ps. if I was really proactive, I would have thought of this post, before someone else on the team thought it up. Sigh. Proactive.