In the business world, it pays to be one step ahead at all times. But if your current management and leadership strategy is reactive in nature, it’s hard to get your business where it needs to be. Identifying and seizing opportunities to be proactive will put your business in a position to thrive.
Proactive business leadership can help a company overcome numerous weaknesses and shortcomings. It can help your business neutralize volatile spikes and dips in the market, stabilize cash flow, spark innovation, speed up response time, embrace growth, and more.
Most business leaders won’t argue against the adoption of a proactive approach. Instead, it’s the “how” that gets them. Practically speaking, how do we adopt a proactive approach that makes sense within the context of our organization? Well, here are a few suggestions…
1. Invest In Preventative Maintenance And Ongoing Support
If there’s one area where many businesses are far too reactive, it’s with maintenance and support. This includes maintenance of physical equipment, but is an especially pervasive problem with IT – and a costly one at that. Faults with IT can lead to downtime, which can dramatically impact the bottom line and create friction that drives customers away.
“Ongoing maintenance is key to keeping small business tech support costs under control,” Kansas City-based Invision explains. “Many times, maintenance and tech support visits give us the opportunity to note problems early on. Those problems with your IT equipment can be repaired or scheduled for replacement before they affect productivity. Plus, generally you’ll pay less for tech support in the long run by keeping business systems running smoothly over time.”
Whether it’s IT support or maintenance of physical equipment, a preventative approach will identify issues earlier on and prevent minor problems from becoming costly snags.
2. Seek Feedback From Employees
There’s often an unintentional gap between company leadership and the employees. If permitted to thrive, this gap will continue to widen and create unresolvable friction that stunts growth and limits the organization’s ability to satisfy customer needs. You can prevent this by seeking regular feedback from employees.
“Get to know the people on your team and ask them about what they find difficult or challenging in their jobs. See if you can get them to pinpoint an area where they need support on a particular project, with a client or on an assignment,” consultant Beth Kuhel writes. “Once you understand their pain points, offer your support and follow through with helping them tackle their challenges.”
3. Give Employees More Autonomy
If you have a tall business structure with rigid processes that require employees to follow a long series of documented steps to gain approval for specific actions, you’re inadvertently causing your business to be immobile and inflexible. The best way to overcome this is by extending greater autonomy to your employees.
Assuming that you do a decent job of hiring employees who are self-starters and can be trusted, you shouldn’t feel nervous about this. Your employees are on the front lines and know – sometimes better than you – which decisions will generate the maximum return. Trust them!
4. Get Ahead Of Issues Before Customers Find Out
The worst thing you can do – particularly in today’s age of viral social media posts – is to wait for customers to discover an issue. This reactive approach can tarnish your brand beyond repair. Instead, make it a point to proactively announce mistakes before customers find out. This allows you to formulate a response and implement it earlier on – ideally creating less fallout and more control over the story.
Flexibility is one of the primary benefits of being a proactive organization. As you reject your reactive past and embrace simple proactive behaviors, you’ll find that your business is in a better position to seize opportunities, implement new strategies, and leverage its newfound agility to reach and engage customers with ease.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to rejuvenate your organization from the inside out. Moving from reactive to proactive requires a seismic shift in company culture and leadership. Once you’ve made the commitment, you’ll have to dig your heels in and see it through to fruition. This is not a time to sit on your hands. You’ll have to step up and facilitate movement.
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