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Management Tactics to Improve Pro-Activity

By Lisa Woods (921 words)
Posted in Management on June 26, 2012

There are (23) comments permalink

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You want your employees to move faster, do more, follow-up on opportunities and complete action items, but how can you inspire them to do it on their own?  If you are tired of getting month end reports without any substance and want your employees to generate results on a daily basis, here is an essential management tactic you can use to improve your employee’s pro-activity.


Get ready for it….it is shockingly simple…your commitment to it is the only thing necessary to make it a success.


The best way to get your employees to be proactive on a daily basis is to talk to them every day.  Crazy concept I know, but there is a twist.  It is what you say and the consistency of your behavior that will make the difference.  Here is what you can do to improve employee pro-activity.


The consistency of your behavior matters:

If you are in the same building, on the road, or have decentralized employees…no matter where they or you are located, call them at roughly the same time every day, every other day or once a week.  You decide how proactive you want them to be and that is how often you should be calling.  But the consistency your behavior is what is important.  They need to come to expect your call.


Here is what you say when you call, every time you call:

“So…what do you have for me?”  At first there will be silence.  You may get a response like “what are you talking about?”.  Be prepared to push the conversation by asking, “what are today’s updates?”  “What is the status of x, y or z?”  “Tell me something exciting that you are working on.”  By pushing this dialog you will spark a nerve in your employee.  After they give you some update on their day, ask them “Do you need anything from me?”


Make sure you take notes when your employee asks for support:

If they do need something from you, make sure you do it and follow-up with them the next time you call. Lead by example to show the urgency of your work. 


Don’t get pulled into doing all the talking:

Employees have a way of getting their boss to do all the talking, getting updates on things going on above them in the hierarchy.  Don’t get caught up in this trap.  You are calling for one reason.  The call should be short and to the point; your job is to listen, not report to them.


Give out praise for accomplishments:

When your employee gives an update, show your enthusiasm for their work.


Give out silence for their lack of productivity:

When an employee has nothing to report, keep your contact brief, ask a question if you have it from previous updates, and express your interest in a more productive day next time you speak.  Then move on to your next call.


Why does this management tactic work?

  • Your employees will start to expect your calls.  
  • They will not want to be in a position were they are not able to respond to you.
  • They will start taking notes of their accomplishments each day, preparing for their briefing and seeking your enthusiastic approvals of their work. 
  • Good employees will become great ones.
  • Poor employees will either move forward or move themselves out of the line of fire.


What are some additional benefits of this tactic?

  • Work will get done faster, without surprises and with more collaboration.
  • You will have the opportunity to coach employees when needed and break down barriers to getting things done outside of their scope of ability.
  • You will be well informed on your department issues when you are talking to your own management.
  • Weekly and monthly reporting will be streamlined and some even eliminated.  Your employees will no longer be adding fluff to reports; results and future actions are all that will be necessary to keep the dialog moving forward.
  • The more efficient you get at this process, the shorter the amount of time it will take to accomplish it and the more productive you will be, as well as your employees.


This management tactic may seem simple, but it takes your determination to make it work.  Try it, be consistent, and make it a part of your routine.  You will see results immediately and over time your employees will appreciate the personal support, the recognition, and the clarity of direction they will gain from your time.


We will continue to add content to our management communities so you can continue to grow your knowledge base and your career.  Here are some community pages that may be of interest to you.
First Time Manager or Supervisor
Middle Manager
Senior Manager
Executive Leadership / General Management


I hope this perspective is helpful to you in your day-to-day life.  Test out these concepts and share your results with us.  Others can benefit from your experiences.  Good luck!

{#/pub/images/lisa5.jpg}Written by Lisa Woods, President ManagingAmericans.com

Lisa is a successful entrepreneur, world-class marketing strategist, and dynamic business leader with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth. Throughout her career, Lisa has been influential in integration techniques, organizational and cultural overhauls, financial turnarounds and developing employees into exceptional leaders, results driven managers and passionate team contributors.


Do you have a question for Lisa?  Post it in our Executive Leadership Community, she will be happy to help: Ask an Expert


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Comments (23)

Larry Easto - LinkedIn posted on: June 29, 2012

Even if you only have one-part employee, you will want that person to be as productive and pro-active as possible. As a result, you can spend less time on management issues and more time doing what you like best.

Alan Charles - LinkedIn posted on: June 29, 2012

A very interesting question. Leadership, ensure the leaders are sufficiently trained to enable them to lead correctly. Let the team, or team member own the issue if they are fully experienced in that area, this level is self motivating, at other levels support and motivate as required depending on level of skill for that task.
Give the framework and ask the group to solve and create the new standards. This works well if the strategy is then each group can have an opportunity to share this learning with other groups within the organization, and them doing the same.
So I see it as the combination of the motivational/leadership house combined with the tools of improvement kaizen etc that leads from fire fighting to pro active changes.
The managers skill is to delegate correctly but not delegate the responsibility, ensuring he follows up to keep focus. Usually, because lack in culture this falls down so no follow up is done and no recognition takes place

Robert Markovetz posted on: June 29, 2012

Really an outstanding tactic for getting employees to be more pro-active. I have experienced it in the past and it is very effective. Sales organizations use this tactic a great deal with their salesmen. They typically have weekly productivity calls where employees talk about their production and goals for the next week.

Barton Smith posted on: June 29, 2012

This is what has helped me;

Show confidence and belief if a consultant makes a mistake as long as they are learning and developing.
Get to know your team, what are there goals, what motivates them and link success to these drivers.

Support your people and their progress when they achieve and invest in your success

Be prepared to extend those who want challenges to grow
Be patient and be prepared for setbacks when your directs are taking on additional duties

Team briefs are a great way to inspire as you share challenges exchange views and unifies

John Kaestle posted on: June 29, 2012

Good counsel Lisa. People focus on what the boss pays attention to. Setting clear expectations (aligned goals), fully supporting the individuals, and strong and consistent follow-up and interest goes a long way.

Bonnie Friedman posted on: June 29, 2012

Employees need to feel involved and committed to the mission and goals of the organization. It can't be just lip service. Management must be sincere. When employees at all levels are truly engaged, an organization and its brand flourish. Inline Dynamics is an exciting new method to align internal operations with external communications and marketing to achieve enlightened results. For information on a beta test, feel free to email me at bonnie@bfstrategic.com.

David Forbes, MBA posted on: June 29, 2012

It has been noted that "the behavior you reward is the behavior that gets repeated." Thus, you should observe employees doing things right and reward them conspicuously and consistently. Conversely, you should observe employees doing things wrong and immediately take corrective action, escalating if necessary. Really, this is One Minute Manager discipline.

Bob Gately posted on: June 29, 2012

Lisa, thanks for sharing the link. The article is one of the best I have read about how to talk with not at employees.

Robert C Collins II, CPP/MH posted on: July 2, 2012

Thanks for posting this Lisa: Effective, consistent communication with employees is essential; accomplishing this in person is even better than over the phone (if possible). However, I found when working in industry and now as a consultant working with clients, one can never cover updates on everything expected from your employees since they have to focus on far more than you can discuss on a regular basis. Consequently, this requires creating an environment which will encourage them to put in the same effort to complete all assignments successfully, or notify you immediately concerning conflicts.

Ellen Barrier posted on: July 8, 2012

Excellent advice. Also, encouragement and lots of praise when the workers do a good job is very helpful. Most importantly, is getting the people who are under your leadership, to trust you. Trust inspires respect, which brings about loyalty. If the worker have trust in leadership in their company, they will respect the company. Out that company will come higher production and great financial success because of the workers. Have some fun time with the workers and celebrate accomplishments!
Make It Happen!

Peter Mason posted on: July 11, 2012

Team building experiences ..off site trainings....variety in work assignments and routine.
Develop their confidence and self esteem through outside training seminars such as Brian Tracy or other.

William Djubin posted on: July 13, 2012

Include them in the Plan and Goals. Let them know the intentions and vision.
Let them know where you are and where you intend to go. Keep them updated with results and win.

Gary Aldam posted on: July 13, 2012

Try using examples from other industries. Find examples of what high performance really is and challenge them to be like that. We have seen real success with this approach.

Alfred Doloksaribu posted on: September 25, 2012

I believe well motivated, proper training and rewards will increased employee productivity.

Christopher Thames posted on: September 25, 2012

I think that getting people to do more is all about emotional leadership. First and foremost, work ethic should be embedded in your organization's mission statement (perhaps creating a family environment). Passion for the job should be a genuine and cultural experience that manifests itself throughout the team maybe through parallel leadership strategies.

Recognizing people with certain qualities before you even consider hiring them is the most critical part in my opinion (talent management). Most organizations do not utilize a hiring board where the candidate must perform a 2 or 3 part interview. Therefore, you may be gaining a sub-par employee within your organization. There are many different ways to get more productivity out of your workers but I also believe that whatever this incentive is to do so must compliment the entire organization and not just a chosen few.

Christopher Thames posted on: September 25, 2012

One of the best ways to motivate your people as a leader is to motivate yourself as a leader! Usually, your attitude as a manager or leader reflects upon your employees. So if they are not as productive as you want them to be then maybe it is you that needs to work harder! In other words, lead by example to motivate those who you expect more from.

Frank De Corte posted on: September 26, 2012

In general, I involve employees in any initiative. I will work out an idea with afew close colleagues and present it to a large group (informal team). Typically I will use techniques such as C&E matrix, and even have a C&E exercise in the group. As a general rule (Parato again), only 2 of 10 people will actively contribute but they will pull along colleagues => more involvement & activities. Hesitators don't want to be left behind and the cynics will follow, certainly after some extra 'pulling along'.
KR, Frank

Japie van Heerden posted on: September 26, 2012

Eliminate non-value-adding activities and implement key measurements driving throughput towards or above design capacity. Providing that throughput is defined as product sold to the customer and the money is on your bank.

Alfred Doloksaribu posted on: September 26, 2012

Well sir, as an employee doing the same job over and over again every day will makes me bored. Self motivation and productivity will be fading out as the time go by, that's why managements or superior should take a part to communicate it. My opinion motivate people by challenging them will work well, it will makes them to be more creative even though the result will be just a same as before. At least they will do the same things differently, actually sir these is my own experiences as a staff.

John Ramuno posted on: September 27, 2012

Lean educate EVERY employee to help them become Lean Thinkers. Once they are, or are on their way to becoming so, their mind-set and personal culture behavior will allow them to "be more productive on their own" - because Lean thinkers strive to improve (be more productive) in all they do, w/o being asked or "measured" by management. Create lean Culture by creating (educating) Lean Thinkers well BEFORE you ask them to be "more productive". Culture is the answer or the problem.

Kashif Shamsuddin posted on: October 15, 2012

Motivate them and make them realize that they are part of organization and we are all family and ensure them each member get benefits as per their share...

Cynthia Zone posted on: October 15, 2012

Moreover, business leaders should realize the need to empower their employees with simple incentives that can always improve their outlook of the business. There’s no single thing to pin this down; a thank you from the boss, a change in furnishing, increased and attainable rewards systems… it all depends on the means of the company.

Kaipha Simon posted on: January 3, 2018

I'm a Kenyan ...this notes are very helpful... I'm putting it in to practice

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