There are many ways for workers to take initiative. It can be as simple as asking questions to better understand their jobs and therefore do it more efficiently. Or, it can be by offering to pitch in and help their colleagues with their workload.
It can be by improving themselves by signing up for training or workshops or doing volunteer work. Also, it can be as wide-reaching as insightful suggestions on how to make your company’s processes better. Workers who show initiative are engaged and highly productive. They also have the ability to work creatively and motivate others.
Management may find it easy to dismiss the lack of initiative in their workers as unimportant to the business. Why should workers have initiative? Ensuring high productivity and process improvement? That’s what the managers are for. However, workers without initiative mean a lost opportunity for the business to develop and leads to complacency and stagnation. The lack of initiative is also the red flag of an unengaged workforce with the risk of losing valuable, skilled, and productive workers.
Encouraging Employee Initiative
1. Supportive environment
Employees don’t take initiative because it incurs an amount of risk and more often than not, companies punish failures. By taking an approach that it’s okay to fail and try again or that a failure is a valuable learning experience, employees are more confident and forthcoming with taking initiative. If a worker shows initiative, support that initiative. Provide the workers with the information and resources that they need to complete their jobs with as little limitations as possible and they may surprise you.
Employees love to be recognized for their hard work. If they feel that management just ignores their efforts, they will not exert themselves to do better. Recognizing and rewarding initiative communicates to the employees that their initiative, hard work, and ideas are appreciated. Employees will then keep doing their best.
3. Welcome initiative
If management does things without seeking input or solicits ideas from the workers, then the workers have no motivation to voice out their ideas. They’ll think that their ideas are unwelcome. Have a platform where you can challenge your workers to improve themselves or your processes, or just make general suggestions. Show your appreciation for their initiative by listening to their ideas and giving feedback.
4. Encourage employee learning and development
Learning and development ensure that your workers have updated and possibly expanded skill sets. Skilled workers are productive and are a company resource. Workers who are confident in their skills are more willing to show initiative. Employee development also prevents stagnation and weariness for your workers. It communicates to workers that the company is interested in their development and increases employee’s esteem for the company.
One overlooked factor in encouraging initiative is communication. Employees who feel that they are out of the loop or that they are unappreciated because they have infrequent communication with their manager and coworkers don’t exert initiative.
Employees need to know that their work matters, what the company goals are and how they fit into it, and that someone is listening to what they have to say. With modern technology, communication is easy. Company communication apps like Beekeeper can facilitate communication between the management and employees, not only to keep in touch but also as platforms for the exchange of ideas.
Improvement begins within
Encouraging workers to take initiative is a good way to keep them engaged and productive. Your workers are the most knowledgeable about their jobs and do have ideas on how to improve productivity. They just need the motivation to voice it out or someone to actually welcome their ideas. Encouraging worker initiative should be a major concern for any business. When a company does not cultivate worker initiative, they risk harming themselves.