Proactive vs. reactive management

Updated April 17, 2017

Proactive management means thinking ahead, anticipating and planning for change or crisis. Reactive management means reacting to change or crisis after it happens. This means that reactive management is characterised by lack of planning.

Management Style

Management can be both proactive and reactive at the same time. This means that management anticipates an event and simply reacts when it has occurred. This is in contrast to pure reactive management where there is no anticipation of the event. As such, when management does react after the event, there may be confusion and utter failure to cope with the changed situation.

Proactive Management Techniques

Planning ahead for short- and long-term changes is a primary feature of proactive management. To accomplish this, top management has to work in collaboration with other departments. This includes finance, marketing, technical and human resource departments. It also means conducting continuous training workshops ensuring employees are equipped to deal with change when it happens.

Reactive Management Techniques

Lack of planning or formulation of a contingency plan or disaster emergency plan characterises reactive management. Such management is bureaucratic and autocratic. Managers are dictatorial with myopic vision. This means that a department only drafts very short-term goals.

Workplace Atmospohere

Proactive management ensures employee empowerment and identification. Continuous learning and training with channels of creative thinking to avert long-term problems lead to lean and proactive thinking. All organizational employees are involved in the process. In contrast, workplaces characterised by reactive management are authoritarian. There is a lack of employee identification as employees are discouraged to give suggestions.

Modern Organizations

Contemporary organizational structures are characterised by proactive management. This encompasses governmental, public, private and non-profit enterprises. These organisations recognise that changes are inevitable due to turbulent markets and globalisation.

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