Taking initiative sounds simple enough, but how do you take the initiative in your office without coming across like you’re interjecting into everything and without stepping on the toes of your co-workers? We’ve got you covered on how to make that happen, plus some of the benefits of being more aggressive when it comes to work as well as how you can encourage your employees to be more assertive.
Yes, you might be comfortable at work just being there and going about your normal day while very rarely rocking the boat, but did you know that by being willing to step up, it could increase a number of things at work, including your pay? According to Thrive Yard, some of the benefits of taking initiative include but aren’t limited to more problems being solved, less time wasted, less resources being used, stronger co-worker relationships, more recognition, and even an increase in your happiness in life and at work.
And that’s just scratching the surface of what can happen when you decide to step up in the office.
But before you go ahead and start jumping in to take on new tasks or offering up your opinion left and right, you need to consider if it’s the right time to take the initiative at work.
Just because you want to take on more responsibility doesn’t mean you should immediately jump in without considering your current situation. Are you in the middle of a massive project that takes up almost all your time at work? If so, it’s probably not the best time to volunteer or ask for more work. If you struggle to complete one or both projects, suddenly you’re behind and standing out to people for the wrong reasons.
Remember, you may have been brought in for a specific reason, and overstepping your boundaries or overcommitting yourself may not be a good look. Also, don’t promise the world on things. Yes, you may have new and different ideas, but you can’t solve every issue on the first try. Start small and gradually chip away at tasks and problems you want to work on.
You’re finally ready to step up and take on more tasks and become the go-to among your team in the office, but how do you go about that? There’s more to it than just standing up and saying, “I’m the leader now!” (I mean, you could do that, but it’s unlikely to be effective.) It’s also more than doing the usual cliché of “being the first to arrive and last to leave.” Those are good things, but it’s a bit like saying, “do better” without giving any actionable item.
So here are things you can and should do to increase your role within your team or company to start getting more people to take notice of you.
According to the folks at Indeed, “being proactive and inspiring others to follow your lead requires high confidence levels.” This can be done in several ways, from speaking with authority to completing small tasks throughout the day to boost your confidence. Even if all your ideas aren’t entirely correct, being confident enough to take that chance and try something different is something that people notice. When it comes time to make a decision or speak on a subject, do so with confidence – even if it’s just bravado at first.
Asking questions provides a ton of benefits to you that position you as a leader, chief among them being a willingness to learn, something everybody wants in an employee. It also gets you more involved and makes you appear more curious and interested in what’s happening. You can also learn things from the answers, which in turns means you can help on more projects. Asking questions is a win-win.
This sort of goes without saying when it comes to taking the initiative at work, but if you aren’t talking, you aren’t getting noticed or being a leader. Career Addict offers tons of great ways that you can inject your voice into the conversation without being rude or speaking up to raise problems, including requesting a meeting to address certain issues or topics. Don’t immediately confront your bosses or team about a question or issue out of nowhere; instead, carefully state your opinion so you aren’t attacking or putting anyone down. Another thing you can do to make it easier if you do have to offer criticism is to start the conversation on a positive note.
Yes, the task at hand is the most important thing, but always be thinking about what comes next. Because once you complete that task, you don’t want everyone sitting around wondering what the plan is. By thinking ahead, it gives you time to make the plans for whatever your next task or project is and allows you to take the lead because you can answer question people may have about it when the time comes.
If you are done with your tasks or have some extra time to spare, ask your co-workers if they need help or if they have any things that you can learn to do for them. Your co-workers will remember this and on future tasks be more likely to come to you for help. Plus, it’s something your bosses will notice because you weren’t sitting by passively and waiting for someone to tell you what to do.
One thing you quickly learn or notice in a professional environment is that not everyone is going to take the initiative and become a leader or offer up suggestions on things. It’s just human nature; some people aren’t wired like that.
Now, we’re not saying that as a boss or team leader you need to make everyone at your company into somebody who is willing to take the lead no matter what. But those people who arecomfortable taking the initiative should feel like they can when they are comfortable doing so. Here are a few tips to make that happen for your employees:
Here’s something that we at Blue Summit Supplies have tried to do since Day 1. In fact, one of our favorite sayings around the office is “Don’t be afraid to fail.” Because let’s be real, not every idea or project is going to turn out perfectly, and sometimes they are going to fail in spectacular fashion. And that’s okay.
At BSS, we encourage mistakes and don’t get upset about someone or something failing. We understand that failure is an inevitable stop on the route to success. If you support people trying new things and allow them to make mistakes without being called out or punished for them, that can go a long ways in making people feel more comfortable to step up in their role. In fact, we go so far with this idea at BSS that we have an award for the person who makes the biggest mistake each quarter of the year. It’s not meant to be an insult; instead, everyone learns about how or why the person failed, what they learned from it, and how they plan to improve on it for later. Plus, there’s a gift card involved.
Tell your employees that you want to hear their ideas and thoughts on things, whether that’s in meetings or emails. Encourage people to want to contribute rather than sit there and wait for them to be asked about things. When employee ideas are both wanted and needed, it makes them more willing to work to come up with them, according to Entrepreneur, who also has a host of other great ways you can give your employees the boost they need to take the initiative.
So the next time you have an idea, or just want to get noticed for the things you do in the office, speak up and don’t be afraid to share them with your boss or co-workers! And don’t be afraid to assert yourself into the conversation. By taking the initiative at work, you can hopefully have a happier work life, get more recognition from your bosses or co-workers, and who knows, maybe it ends up helping you get a promotion or raise.
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