The Definition of Initiative
The practice of stepping out and proactively taking action.
What is Initiative?
Initiative is the practice of looking for ways that you can contribute to your team, department or organization and taking action. It’s saying to your boss, “Would you mind if I helped out on this project if I did so in my spare time?” What boss would say no?
Why is Taking Initiative Important?
In today’s economy, jobs are in high demand. Many have been unemployed for an extended period of time or have taken jobs that were not a perfect fit just to get by. Those that have jobs are often disengaged from their jobs and take them for granted. They are only marginally invested in the overall success of the organization and do as little as possible to hang on to their job. We’ve all seen the clock watchers and those that do just enough to say they are working. However, business owners and managers are on the constant lookout for people who take the initiate and strive to add value to the organization. This may be the quickest way to get yourself noticed and advance in your chosen career.
How can You improve in this area?
1. Be a Go Getter
Offer to help out wherever it’s needed. If you know your co-workers could use some help on a project, offer to help. When you hear of something your boss is doing, say to him or her “I can do that for you” or “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you with that.” I guarantee that your boss or manger will notice the effort. Take the initiative to do additional work that hasn’t been assigned to you. Ask for more challenging tasks. Do the things nobody else wants to do. Follow through and make sure a task is complete. Be the stand out Go Getter! A great book for you to read if you would like some additional guidance in this area is Dr. Bob Nelson’s Book 1001 Ways to Take Initiative at Work.
2. Figure Things Out on Your Own
People who take the initiative figure out how to do things on their own. Instead of waiting to be told exactly how to do something, Google it and learn how to do it yourself. Take a class or ask a mentor to teach you. Bosses are busy people. They don’t have time to sit down and make a step by step list of instructions for each and every task or assignment that may come up. They want their team members to be independent and figure out how to do things on their own. When possible, solve any problems that may arise or at the very least, when making your manager or boss aware of a problem, have a possible solution in mind for them. Be creative and think outside the box. Challenge yourself to find the information on your own and figure things out for yourself. In the end you will be glad you did.
3. Speak Up
Taking the initiative means contributing to group discussions. While there should be a certain amount of time that you lay low and earn the respect of others, you need to be an active participant who is engaged, thoughtful, and eager to contribute. Rehearse your comments in your head and then offer them with confidence. Nobody has to know that you might be anxious or intimidated. Take a risk and be bold. Show your co-workers and boss that you can be a valuable member of the team.
Always remember, you are lucky to be employed. No one is irreplaceable and there is always someone willing and ready to do your job if you choose to do it poorly! By taking initiative you are positioning yourself for success and advancement! Start today!
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