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Reacting proactively
by Lawrence Wilson

Reacting Proactively

The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the need for businesses to work hard on their strategies and plans.

Whether it relates to something fundamental about our business models such as pivoting products and services online, the structure of our organisation and its continued ability to deliver, or simply revisiting our strategy to take account of the new situation we find ourselves in. At this moment in time no business can afford to rest on its laurels, cross its fingers and hope that everything will turn out okay in the end.

Within this blog I look at two types of strategies businesses will find particularly useful right now; reactive and proactive.

Reactive business strategies are those that respond to some unanticipated event only after it occurs. While proactive strategies are designed to anticipate possible challenges.

Because no one can anticipate every possibility, no organization can be proactive in every situation. However, businesses that emphasize proactive strategy are usually more effective at dealing with challenges and pandemics. This gives them a better chance of seizing and retaining the initiative when in competition with other companies.

Proactive Strategies

The difference between applying a proactive strategy and a reactive strategy is largely one of preparation and accountability. It’s as much about day to day operations as the bigger picture.

In terms of the Covid crisis, before opening your premises you may choose to speak to your staff personally (or delegate the task to a trusted manager) and talk to them about their concerns. Some staff will have been impacted more acutely than others by the crisis and not quite ready to return. In which case, as the leader, you will need to know why and make alternative arrangements.

Being proactive is about going the extra mile for the safety of your team and customers.

Is your premises really ready to re-open? It might be ‘Covid secure’ according to Government guidelines but what do your staff think?

Once you have risk assessed your premises and made all the necessary changes, perhaps you might then invite trusted friends or your close network to give you feedback on the new set up and make changes if possible. You may not please everyone, but an extra level of detail will be noticed.

A lesser reactive strategy might involve opening your office, shop, restaurant, etc. and hoping all will be okay. Or adjusting based only on negative feedback you may or may not get from customers or staff. In both cases the horse has already bolted and the customer or staff member’s fears have been realised.

The other weakness of this approach is that many dissatisfied customers do not complain to management, they simply go elsewhere next time and advise others to do the same. Staff may not complain directly for fear of their jobs. Giving them a secure and anonymous outlet for feedback in the way of a survey or feedback form (and acting on it) would be a proactive strategy.

If a business owner assumes everything is fine until he or she receives a customer or staff complaint, it’s a reactive strategy.

Adapting your business model

When it comes to the bigger picture, an example of the difference between proactive and reactive strategies is in the area of adapting your business model.

With sales staff working from home and using video conferencing to deliver sales pitches, do you still require a representative in every UK region? This may require some tough but necessary decisions around restructuring and cost cutting.

Looking at the markets you serve and the value you add to your clients, are your products and services still relevant in the post-Covid world? Or do you need to proactively develop new ones? Or even perform a complete shake up based on your capabilities and the changed requirements of customers?

Combining Proactive and Reactive Strategies

Because no business can always be proactive, it helps to include proactive elements in any reactive strategy.

To ensure the human interaction that your staff might miss in the office is not lost, why not speak to them more frequently about what type of communications they prefer and take action. Could it be more light-hearted video conferences are required to help keep that prized office spirit alive?

There’s much you can do to be proactive in the current environment and re-connecting with the ‘purpose’ of your organisation, would be an excellent project and deliver a return on your time many times over.

Does your purpose run through your organisation like a stick of rock and do your staff buy into it? The ‘Why’ is what your customers buy. So having a clear understanding of it can help you survive and bounce back well beyond the crisis giving your team motivation and a shared mission to rally around.

I’ve highlighted a few operational and big picture proactive strategies. But there are many more ways you can take the initiative and turn events we sometimes feel helpless in the face of into positive outcomes for the future.

Simply fill out a free heath check form for a no obligation consultation should you require further information.

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