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How to Be a Proactive Employee

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Being proactive at work not only boosts your self-esteem, but also your career. When you are a proactive employee, you seek to resolve problems before they even arise or become a problem. Being proactive is not limited to helping yourself, but others around you as well. It also means having to step out of your comfort zone at times to get involved.

Action Oriented

Being proactive at work requires taking action and initiative. For instance, if you see your current project has run into challenges and you can no longer meet the deadline, you inform all parties involved with the problem and find. These actions are proactive. You seek to ensure the rest of the process runs smoothly rather than ignoring the problem.

Job Description

Going beyond your job description to help out your boss or other team members is also a sign of a proactive employee, according to an article from "U.S. News & World Report" on managing a healthy work-life balance and being proactive. It’s about providing additional value that may not necessarily be part of your job duties. For instance, if you are in the event-planning business and must confirm all speakers attending, you may go above and beyond by also asking for a copy of a photo to use in the conference brochure -- a task you know your boss needs to do, but who is in over her head with other tasks.

Team Player

A team player is a characteristic that makes up a proactive employee. Your goal is to benefit the overall team. For instance, you are working in editorial and you are among several other staff members assigned to review articles that need to be published by the end of day. You finish all your assigned articles, but see other staff members are struggling to finish on time. You offer to help. This is characteristic of a team player. You are not only helping other team members, but looking at the overall need to the organization to have all the articles published in time.

Positive Attitude

Proactive employees project a positive attitude. Having a positive attitude allows you to turn any negative situation around because you have a mental state where you are seeking the best possible outcome. You don't give up. You also know how to use your smile to reverse the tone of a negative situation. You are resilient and your positive energy may also inspire others around you to strive for excellence at work.


Wendy Lau entered the communication field in 2001. She works as a freelance writer and prior to that was a PR executive responsible for health care clients' written materials. Her writing experience include technical articles, corporate materials, online articles, blogs, byline articles, travel itineraries and business profile listings. She holds a Bachelor of Science in corporate communications from Ithaca College.

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