How to Encourage Employees to take Initiative

February 14, 2019 adminmj

Businesses constantly look for employees ‘with initiative’ and drive. Those people who show a real curiosity and determination to ‘get on’ and achieve things and show a sparkle to try new and different things to achieve their goals.

They’re like gold in the workplace.  So much so that many recruiters use the criteria of ‘show and take initiative’ in most of their recruitment practises and job applications.

Defined as the ‘ability to assess and initiate things independently by using your imagination and common sense’, initiative is a key characteristic of successful leaders.  Those people who identify what needs to be done and go out and do it.  Or get others to.

Practically as a leader, it means being able to set goals and tasks for your people and trust they will get on with the job and do it well.  Take initiative. It means trusting that if they struggle, they will let you know or be proactive in finding out answers to questions they have.

In short, they take responsibility to deliver what they say they will.

Professional development Programs, building teams at all levels and ensuring all ranks of your leadership competencies should have initiative as a key foundation.

Why don’t employees take initiative?

Before you, as a leader or manager, pull your hair out because you feel as if you must ‘spoon-feed’ your people, answer these questions:

  • Are they new graduates who are inexperienced and may not know what your expectations are and that you want them to show initiative?
  • Are they scared of making mistakes for fear of getting into trouble and so tend to behave on the side of caution, and thus apathy?
  • Is the culture in your team or Organisation one of power and control, where people are fearful to ‘do the wrong’ thing? If you have a culture where mistakes are not tolerated and people are berated for making mistakes, don’t ask them to take initiative.  They won’t.
  • Are you a leader who is unpredictable in your behaviour and your people are unsure how you will act on any day – thus are less likely to try new and different things?
  • Some people are ‘plodders’ – they will never take initiative as it’s not in their make-up. They are happy to be told what to do and how, but it places greater stress on leaders and managers.  Don’t try to make a Chief out of an Indian, as they saying goes.

To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace
Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup

Scary Figures about Employee Engagement

  • Less than 25% of leaders have any employee engagement strategy at all.
  • Only 40 % of the workforce know their company’s goals, strategies and tactics.
  • 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week – compared to 18% of employees with low engagement.
  • Highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their companies than their disengaged counterparts.
  • A study of 64 Organisations revealed that Organisations with highly engaged employees achieve TWICE the annual net income than Organisations whose employees are less engaged.

Source:  https://www.themuse.com/advice/10-shocking-stats-about-employee-engagement

What high-performing companies should be striving to create: A great place for great people to do great work.
Marilyn Carlson, former CEO of Carlson Companies

Smart successful businesses have their eye on employee engagement, knowing that it is critical to their business outcomes – employees who want to be there, have a desire to succeed and will do what it takes to meet their goals.

In all professional development programs where the focus is on building teams, employee engagement must be a key focus.

9 Ways to Encourage your Employees to take Initiative

  1. Create a safe, achievement-orientated culture – your people need to know that you are a proactive and innovative Company that thrives on challenges. Mistakes are tolerated as long as they are learned from.
  2. Set exciting goals – set goals that are high, but achievable. Make it fun and create an environment where scores are regularly tallied with a gong or bell, for example.  This way, people see when goals are achieved, and a sense of collaboration is fostered.
  3. Hang with your people – talk to them, show interest in them and get excited about the new ‘way of being’, sharing ideas with them.
  4. Create a culture of experimentation – let people know that innovation is good and welcomed and that mistakes give you all a great platform from which to learn.
  5. Keep it simple – don’t overdo it. Just keep the rules simple and reward people for their contribution.
  6. Reward achievers – tying in to creating goals and ways to publicly see when they are achieved (like a bell), create simple and achievable rewards for your people – movie tickets, money, days off etc.
  7. Lead by example – get involved, get pumped and positive. Tell your people how much you value them showing initiative and doing things without being prompted
  8. Celebrate achievements – cakes, certificates and giving awards are examples of showing people you appreciate their efforts, which keeps them motivated.
  9. Have fun – there is no better place to work everyday than a fun and enjoyable working environment.

Be the proactive leader, who encourages your people to ‘give things a go’, encourage them to see opportunities, become boundary-less and reward them handsomely when they succeed. Not only with money.  Praise often does just fine.

Energetic, engaged and innovative employees are like gold.  Make sure you keep them shining.

Pure Magic International Business Solutions is an award-winning company, passionate about helping clients achieve strategic business outcomes through leadership, management and people development strategies and techniques at all levels by using a range of easy to implement HR and Organisational development strategies.

To find out more head to www.puremagicbusiness.com.au.

Free session with one of our experts:  If you have any questions or would like a discussion about your Organisation, book a free session with us via our online calendar – https://my.timetrade.com/book/QGY21

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