The holiday season has officially begun. It’s a time to celebrate, break out of the daily routine, and enjoy ourselves. Still, let’s not kid anyone: holidays are distracting, and staying motivated at work can be a challenge. So before you head out to partake in festivities, take some advice from the Journal of Management article “Making Things Happen: A Model of Proactive Motivation,” which offers proactive goals that individuals can pursue in organizations. The article was published by Sharon K. Parker of the University of Western Australia, and Uta K. Bindl and Karoline Strauss, both of the University of Sheffield:
Being proactive is about taking control to make things happen rather than watching things happen. It involves aspiring and striving to bring about change in the environment and/or oneself to achieve a different future (Bindl & Parker, in press-b; Grant & Ashford, 2008). Proactivity has three key attributes: It is self-starting, change oriented, and future focused. The call center agent described above has taken it on herself (self-starting) to aim to improve work processes (change the situation) to enhance effectiveness in the longer term (achieve a different future).
The call centre example shows being proactive is meaningful at the lowest levels of organizations. Proactivity is also relevant at the highest levels: Deluga (1998) showed that U.S. presidents vary in their proactivity and that proactive presidents are rated by historians as more effective in leading the country than are passive presidents. This study concurs with wider evidence that proactivity can enhance work place performance (for a meta-analysis, see Fuller & Marler, 2009) as well as generate positive outcomes beyond work performance, such as obtaining employment (Kanfer, Wanberg, & Kantrowitz, 2001) and career satisfaction (Seibert, Kraimer, & Crant, 2001).
But where does proactivity come from? Why are some people proactive in improving their work context whereas others are more focused on actively sculpting their own careers? Can a manager enhance employees’ job proactivity? Understanding how proactivity is motivated is our focus in this article. To set the scene, we review ways of conceptualizing proactivity.
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