When Initiative Is MIA: What to do about it?

I had a wonderful opportunity to take initiative on the weekend. And I didn’t.

No, no, of course I won’t obsess about it (not!) It’s just that this weekend, I was preparing an activity for a class this week about initiative because a student and I had a discussion that ended with the question: how can a manager encourage employee initiative?

I googled initiative and came across articles discussing engagement. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace, only 15% of today’s workforce consists of actively engaged employees* . Which begs the question: why? Lack of interest, indifference, stress at or outside of work?

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace, only 15% of today’s workforce consists of actively engaged employees

An attractive infographic on snacknation.com presents the 9 pillars of employee engagement: 1. Values & Purpose; 2. Workplace Environment; 3. Recognition and Incentives; 4. Communication; 5. Well-defined Roles; 6. Buy-in from Managers; 7. Health & Wellness; 8. Relationship with Colleagues; 9. Personal Growth & Development.

In three words, lack of initiative stems from lack of knowledge, purpose and support: head, heart and hands. An actively engaged employee is at work head, heart and hands. She’s all there. Present!

An actively engaged employee is at work head, heart and hands.

And that takes me back to the start of this post: why didn’t I take initiative? An assumption. That assumption was, once examined, erroneous, not true, false. In short, I lacked knowledge – ‘key intelligence’, so to speak. The heart and the hands couldn’t follow; they were missing out on the intelligence!

How often do we miss out on amazing opportunities for lack of the facts? Further, do we always have to know, be told, be asked — to take initiative?

My personal definition of responsibility is response-ability. If you can respond, then act. I even break down the base word response into an acronym:

Resources

Energy

Skills

Power                                  – ability = responsibility

Opportunity

Network

Savviness

Experience

You have the resources (if not all, some), energy (even if minimal), skills (once again, maybe not all, but some), power (if you have the opportunity, then you have the chance to intervene), network (people are all around you: talk!), savviness (enough knowledge to see there is a need, and if you can’t, you can ask someone to help), and experience (again, if not all, some).

The bottom line: If you see the need, then you have the response-ability to intervene. That, to me, is what initiative is all about. Whatever, you do, don’t listen to those sneaky assumptions; get the facts and act.

So, I missed my opportunity on the weekend, but at least I gained a powerful object lesson to use in my class this week on manager intervention to encourage employee initiative.

The bottom line: If you see the need, then you have the response-ability to intervene. That, to me, is what initiative is all about.

Gotta go, now. There’s laundry to take care of and classes to plan. Initiative, right?!

What are your tricks to taking initiative? I’d love to know! Drop me a line in the Comments.

  • Claire :O)

 

* https://www.forbes.com/sites/brentgleeson/2017/10/15/5-powerful-steps-to-improve-employee-engagement/#6bb67fb4341d

[Photo: Shutterstock/Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko]

JDI! (Just do it!)

Every page answers a question“, a student explained as he proudly me his PowerPoint presentation. We tweaked a few structural errors here and there, and corrected some forgotten capitalizations.

“Wow!”, I thought, “intentional”. The whole content was intentional.
I suddenly heard the voice of an editor I once I had.

“What’s the intention? There has to be a pedagogical intention. Why are the students doing this activity?”, she would ask, and rightly so! Back to the drawing board. Invariably, I had to redesign the activity and rewrite it too.

But what a valuable lesson, and a timely reminder: intention. You need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing for your work – or life, for that matter! –  to be meaningful and effective.

 State your intentions

Here are five verbs you can use to express intention. They are always followed with the infinitive form of the verb (to + verb).

Want              Joe wants to open up a new branch in the coming year.

Need              We need to order new parts for the customer.

Intend           HR intends to hire twenty interns this summer.

Plan                The technician plans to leave for Italy on Friday.

Aim                 I aim to help you express intentions in English with this post.

 

Setting goals to map out the work flow serve as rungs on the ladder of productivity.

 

Be smart about it

Whether you’re a teacher, student, customer service rep, accounting clerk or project manager, your intentions need to be clear every step of the way for the results to be satisfying. Setting goals to map out the work flow serve as rungs on the ladder of productivity. The best goals are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

 

Action is the 3D printer of achievement; intentions and goals are the raw materials required to feed that printer.

 

Here’s the deal

As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Figuring out intentions and setting goal are great, but without any action, they’re pretty useless. Action is the 3D printer of achievement; intentions and goals are the raw materials required to feed that printer.  So, JDI (just do it!)  

What are your intentions for today?

 

[Photo: Shutterstock/FabrikaSimf]