"Aditya, don't be reactive to situations; otherwise, you'll always be firefighting and lose sight."
I'm pretty sure every budding project manager has received this feedback in the early phase of their career. To be honest, I know that I shouldn't be reactive, but when we're in the heat of the moment, things become unclear.
By being reactive, I don't just mean being reactive in communication. I am addressing reactivity as a personality trait. It's a valuable lesson to learn from my current situation. Let's assume I'm short on cash for the month because of a big purchase. Any action I take to survive for the month is a reactive action. Why? Because my choices are a "reaction" to a situation I have no clue how to deal with. In such a situation, a single big-ticket liability can catch me off guard.
I could have been proactive and taken preparatory actions before making that big purchase. I should have planned for the purchase and the consequences of the purchase before completing the transaction. That way, I might have had better options to deal with the situation.
Such scenarios are part and parcel of being a project manager. The role demands that you be proactive and stay on top of things. Only then can the team gain the confidence to take necessary risks to gain an edge over competitors.
So, how can we become proactive?
Take control of your time and personal resources – You can't proactively manage the time and resources of a team if your personal finances and timetable are in shambles. It's a small but crucial step that lays the groundwork for effectively expanding your influence.
Think through scenarios – Take some time to consider all the possible scenarios that could become a reality and plan how to deal with them. Having a plan for each outcome gives you unimaginable confidence to face any challenge.
Implement the plans – Once you've taken control of your time and resources and have a plan for the situation you're in, it's time to put the plan into action and reap the results. Remember, every decision unlocks multiple new scenarios. This loop is infinite.
I will put these into action and see where they take me. Again, being reactive is not a negative, but one needs to be aware of the two and switch between them as situation demands.