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A View from Inside: PDC’s Class on Proactive Management

“The Art of Proactive Management’’ was not the first class I had taken at PDC, so I was already familiar with the organized, welcoming and professional approach the organization brings to its courses, with nametags ready at check-in and refreshments available throughout the day.

Our class in April at the Career Source center in Cambridge had 26 participants, and from the outset, instructor Bob Gonet encouraged us to get to know our fellow attendees through exercises designed to illuminate the basic principles he was teaching that day.

After a round of introducing ourselves, we partnered up and took turns describing a win we had had in our lives. But to make it difficult, we made the other person draw it out of us. As Gonet explained later, the purpose was not to dig for the accomplishment per se, but for what was important to that person about the accomplishment how they felt about it. Gonet’s reasoning is that, in order to keep good employees, it’s important to know your people and what makes them feel good about themselves. That way setting and developing goals is in line with what your employees want, and they stick around.

With every new exercise, we switched partners. I found that a very effective way to meet people and get different perspectives and experiences. The insights and challenges I heard from others allowed me to see a different approach to each challenge. It also kept anyone from spending the whole day with someone they might be out of sync with in terms of experience or motivation. Not everyone is on the same page.

We did a number of exercises to open our eyes to the differing strengths each person brings to his or her job, and how a manager’s style can squelch or enable behaviors. We practiced a Kurt Intervention Role Play where we had to correct an employee’s behavior while a third party observed and evaluated how the process went. The observer then explained his or her observations to the group what worked and whether any refinements were needed. Again, the approaches were different depending on the behavior of the employee being corrected.

Our last topic was about goal setting and how to get buy-in from an employee on the manager’s goal. Gonet used a method he calls “We Draw A Map” (which is actually an acronym) to define the major ingredients in goal setting. It is a very thorough method and can be done to build a collaborative relationship and keep an employee involved in his or her development. Meeting one-on-one with an employee is an important practice for a manager, and it’s very effective for keeping staff engaged and feeling valued. These are simple principles, but done well they make all the difference.

Bob Gonet is a terrific teacher. He is engaging, and he delved into examples of difficult situations given by members of the class. Gonet has more than 15 years of leadership development, behavioral coaching and corporate training experience and is committed to helping professionals and organizations achieve desired outcomes. He has coached and trained over 3,000 professionals from CEOs to VPs to middle managers.

Based on the discussions during the class, and the number of people who stayed behind to talk with him, the class was well-received by the participants. As for me, I would definitely be interested in any others classes he would teach through the PDC.

Edie Fossey, a marketing graphics traffic manager, can be reached at

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