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Pro-Active V Re-Active – Advice needed?!



I have been hired as a sole in-house trainer (5 months ago) for a 40 strong IT call centre company (of 5 years old).

Luckily the company recognised that they have a need for training, their managers have never had any management training and their staff have never had the right sales training, and there's been no structured development or appraisals.

They company, as all companies, from day to day deal with changes, client requests, changes in the econemy, new project needs, sickness, lateness, attitude issues, and day to day changes etc, but they do it in a very re-active way, hope for the best, spend too much energy being re-active and have to fight the problem again in 3-4 weeks time.

I can train 9-5.30 everyday if they want me to...but it's the work that happens in the live environment that counts, and as much as i do side by side coaching also, if they constanlty ask for re-active training and not let me plan pro-actively then we get no where.

Please please let there be some hints and tips out there - i come from a very pro-active background and im struggling with the re-activity.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!!

Diane Mooney

10 Responses

  1. Please Leave a Comment!
    Please leave a comment for me, no matter how long or short it is! – i can really use your help! (so far only 5% of hits have left a reply!! – are there no more tips out there??)

  2. Perhaps try this …
    Diane, I empathise with your situation. I’m like you and I struggle to understand why people cannot logically work through something to establish ehe knock on effects. These are rather simplistic ideas but it might spark something better with your clever head: try taking situations which are not directly connect with the workplace and discussing what might be a typical sequence of events to follow. For example: if I didn’t go shopping what would happen? I’d have nothing to eat, then I’d go hungry, then my health would deteriorate from lack of food, then I wouldn’t be able to work, and so on. Sorry, a bit simplistic but get the idea? Alternatively get people together in teams and ask them to perform a task, e.g. put a jigsaw together, and write out a list of instructions on how to complete this task. This might help them to think about breaking down a task and therefore how each step affects the next and previous steps. Again, perhaps a tad simplistic but hopefully this might get your brain buds going. Good luck! Do let us know how you get on with this one, I think we could all learn from your trials! ūüôā

  3. For you or for them
    Hi Diane
    Can you clarify something for me – do you want some advice about how to get your company to start being more proactive or is it about you wanting to take a more pro-active approach to your own work now you are in training role?
    sorry if you have already made this clear, I maybe need another cup of tea!!!

  4. Reply
    Hi Christine,

    Thanks for your replies, it’s the company that needs to be more pro-active, im already pro-active but it’s the hardest thing to be proactive when everyone else around you is being re-active.
    The same reactive things keep happening, yet it’s a nightmare to get anyone to plan for that re-activity happening.

    Training, coaching and development gets put to one side when these re-active things happen.

    Hope that helps clarify, is that enough info?

    Thank you

  5. Easy to say…
    .. but hard to do. The further up the org you go, the more pro-active thinkers you will find. I notice you are also struggling with PDPs – I suspect it’s part of the same cultural problem. The solution for both I believe is the same – build relationships with senior managers – unless they set SMART objectives for more junior managers, it won’t happen.

    It doesn’t help you being in an *IT* call centre – in my experience, less people-focussed anyway.

    So you might not like it, but I think you should put the proactivity per se onto the back burner just now and get them doing PDPs, partly as a way of getting them to think ahead. If the company has decided at a high level to implement performance mgt, who owns that process ? Start there.

    Good luck,


  6. here’s one I made ealier….
    Dear Diane

    This is a derivation what happened at an IT help centre client of mine;
    1. List all the problems that crop up over and over again. Pick one of these issues.
    2. Carry out a quick-and-dirty analysis of what it cost to put it right for this chosen problemr THIS TIME. eg x hours of my time, y hours of a shift supervisors time, z hours of call handlers time etc.
    3. Factor in customer satisfaction/loss cost
    4. Multiply this by a conservative number of repeat occurences per year
    5. Multiply this by te number of items on the list you first produced at 1 above.
    6. Factor in the staff loss due to people’s frustration at the “same s**t, different day” scenario (if relevant)

    You now have a “cost-cock-up analysis”

    7. Take this to senior managers and present. This should create a degree of desire to stop firefighting and pro-actively get it right first time. Be prepared to offer a potential solution through training and process improvement interventions.

    8. Go to for a proven user friendly topic on process improvement.

    I hope this helps

  7. Thanks for replies

    Thanks for your replies, Rus I think that’s a very good excerise, I think i’ll take it one step further, do my own for a few things and also get the managers to do some, to promote pro-activeness. I think this will really hit home in an active way. Great Idea.

    Peter, im actually finding that it’s the highest up in the company that can’t seem to grasp the concept of pro-active/SMART objectives. I work directly with the directors and when you ask for timescales it’s always ASAP, everything is ASAP – solve now in the short term, and we’ll solve again when it comes to it if we need to…is their motto i think!! And don’t even try to ask how it’ll be measured!!!

    I have a very hard job to do, promoting a learning culture and as much as i’m trying my hardest, i feel like im still hitting a brick wall…

    Anyone else with other suggestions?

    Thank you

  8. There’s a phrase I use…
    for circumstances like this – Management by Subtraction.

    It feels as if people are told the expected standard of their work and then what they didn’t do.

    There’s also elements of ‘I don’t know what I don’t know’ here – what’s the knowledge base like across the organisation? Is job cover clear? Who supports who in times of addtional demand and need?

    Start with the job cover to identify depth of knowledge in each skill area and you may find some immediate ‘pro-active’ needs.

  9. Dig a well before you get thirsty
    Hi Diane

    You have my deepest empathy! I’ve been there done this and it is an uphill struggle. I agree wholeheartedly that proactive is always, always better than reactive and most successful businesses knwo this is the right approach.

    Measuring the cost of the reactive approach is certainly one way to get people at the top to sit up and take notice. However, you have to have their support and buy in to really change the way things are done. If a proactive approach is not supported by senior people it will probably fall over, even if you could get other line managers committed to it.

    If I were in your shoes I would try an assault on all fronts. I would use some cost comparisons. I would also try to persuade the senior people to let you run a pilot with just one team in the organisation and then work very closely with this team to truly demonstrate the impact of proactive management. I’d also work with a willing group of line managers (do you have any??) to sell this approach to them, work on their management style, show them how to coach their staff and aim to get them to be the disciples of the proactive approach.

    It won’t happen quickly but sometimes just chipping away on all fronts and sneaking it in through the back door is the only way to make progress. If you would like to have a rant and rave about it, please feel free to give me a call! Hope it goes well for you.

    best wishes

  10. Business plan ?
    Rocks and hard places spring to mind. While they may be reactive day to day, they must have a longer term plan? If so, work with them from that as a reference point. If they don’t have a plan, get out !!


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