When I work with others, I enjoy working with someone who has initiative and is proactive. Early in my career, proactive people gave the impression that they have control over what they do. They made work feel much more engaging, and I looked up to them as role models of workplace performance.
Over time, I had opportunities to practice it myself in my work. Being proactive made me able to deliver a higher impact to my team.
So, how do I go about this? The first part of being proactive is communication.
- Communicate up.
Everyone reports to someone. It is crucial to keep your manager informed about what you do and whether you're blocked in your projects. Especially when you are stuck. It is their job to get you unstuck.
As engineers, teams usually have a rhythm on how to operate and execute projects. Be it daily standup, weekly meetings, and others. Regardless of your methods, those should not replace you informing your managers. Through written or verbal, in 1-on-1s or other ways, to keep them informed.
- Communicate across.
If you are like most people who work in a company, small or large, you work with other people. They have expectations from you, and you have expectations of them too.
Talk to them. Share about what you do, the accomplishments you delivered, and the challenges you encounter. The more they are aware of what you do, the more likely they can collaborate with you.
It is not all communication and no actions. You need to be proactive in contributing to the company. In the engineering world, there are a lot of opportunities to do so. Here are a few examples:
- Proactive in triaging bugs that you see or others report to you
- Identify tech debts and file them into actionable, prioritized tasks
- Thinking about opportunities to improve the team
- Observe inefficiencies in the technology stack, and fix them.
Once being proactive is the standard, you will start seeing inefficiencies. You start seeing problems in your area of work. Think of them as opportunities. Moreover, think of how they might impact the company. What might happen if you fix those inefficiencies and problems? Think of several ways in which technology can help. Share ideas with your team, your managers, and coworkers. Get feedback and refine your thoughts.
By being proactive in small ways, over time, you start building ideas and opinions on how things can and should be. Do it from the beginning, as it could help you in your career over the long term.