Why Do I have to Tell Them Everything?

We all want our employees to take appropriate initiative in their jobs because it makes our jobs a lot easier and makes the employees’ jobs more interesting.  Here are four critical factors in getting increased initiative on the job.

  4 Keys to Increasing Employee Initiative


1.)  Tell them that you want it.  Giving permission to show initiative can open the door to appropriate “initiative taking.”  Some people have been punished in the past for acting before being told and they are reluctant to step out again.  The first key is to let them know that you want them to take appropriate initiative.

2.)  Focus on confidence-building.  The key to building confidence is to give people meaningful activities to accomplish and then follow success with your recognition.  Remember that “meaningful” is in the “eye of the beholder”.  What you see as meaningful may not be seen the same way by the employee.  Take time to know your employees’ aspirations and engineer opportunities for meaningful success.

3.)  Reinforce initiative taking.  Certainly recognize success, but even when failure occurs you can recognize the effort.  You never want to recognize/reward failure because that creates confusion about expectations, but you can recognize that the person attempted something and that you want them to continue showing initiative.  For example, you might say, “Even though the result was not what was expected, I want to thank you for trying it on your own.  I appreciate your initiative.  Now let’s talk about how to get a better result.”

4.)  Redirect failure without reducing self-esteem.  Aways focus negative feedback on the result, behavior, or both, but never on the person as a person.  Blaming the person only serves to reduce self-esteem and reduces the probability of taking initiative in the future.