Inspiration Counts

Why Your Employees Aren’t Taking Initiative

Why Your Employees Aren’t Taking Initiative

Taking initiative requires taking risks; taking risks means you assume responsibility for any resulting failure. This idea is daunting, but if employees remain stagnant, your business will too.

why your employees aren't taking initiative

Motivating your employees to take initiative, despite the risks, is a challenge many leaders face. Because employees’ desire to take initiative is affected by a variety of things, from lack of focus to feeling qualified, it’s hard to find one over-arching problem and fix it.

If you can identify a few reasons, however, you can work to improve all of them over time, and watch employees blossom into initiative-taking rock stars. Consider whether these four reasons are an issue in your organization, and tackle the ones that are most prevalent.

They’re Not Focused on the End Game

Have you ever asked yourself why you go to work every morning? Everyone’s answer is different. Push yourself and your employees to think beyond the pay check and focus on the real reasons that they’re working, whether it’s to put a kid through college or reach the next level in their career.

Whatever the reason, encourage employees to acknowledge it: “It’s important for employees to understand why they do what they do and what consistently motivates them to achieve more. Showing initiative is not a one-day mind-set. It’s an everyday process that needs continual inspiration,” says Marty Fukuda, COO of N2 Publishing.

Inspire Initiative: Fukuda encourages leaders to have employees keep reminders of the reason why they do what they do in the office. This is a great way to help employees stay motivated while encouraging them to do more than the bare minimum. As the boss, you should lead by example, so be willing to share your reason for working as well.

Your Employees are Comfortable with Their Workload

Feeling comfortable in a job and routine is a deterrent for stepping out of the every day and taking initiative. It becomes easy and secure for these employees to do the same things, day in and day out, avoiding risk and doing what they know they’re historically good at.

While all employees should feel comfortable in the workplace, they should also be encouraged to step out of their comfort zone to take initiative every once in a while.

Inspire initiative: You can’t just walk to the front of the room and say, “Take initiative!” Instead, make a positive example of others who have done so already, while in a team meeting, for example. Remind them that in the particular case you’re referring to, and all others, that perfection isn’t required, which may eliminate some of the pressure. Finally, don’t forget to praise liberally.

They Don’t Feel Qualified Enough to Speak Up

Imposter Syndrome can have a significant impact on the way employees operate in the workplace. If they don’t feel like they deserve to be there, they won’t speak up, because to them, their ideas hold no value.

So how do you handle this situation? Validate your employees’ value and work on a regular basis, suggests Vincent Rendoni, with TinyPULSE. Make it an important part of your company culture. The more successful employees see that they are, the less they’ll feel like an imposter in their position.

Inspire initiative: One-on-one meetings are great ways to relieve the pressures of performance and highlight successes. Be a positive, encouraging presence to your employees, and don’t forget to remind them that we’ve all been there. Have you had an experience with imposter syndrome? Tell your employees about it, and start a dialogue that can help them and the business.

They’re Afraid to Fail

Personal failure is the number one fear of Americans, according to Fighting Fear: The 7 Billion Dollar Price Tag. This is never more prevalent than in the workplace, where taking initiative means assuming the risk of failure. This is an especially scary reality for employees who have experienced rejection when sharing new ideas or going out on a limb with previous work, whether in their current position or one that came before.

Inspire initiative: While this fear of failure can’t be cured completely in the workplace, there are ways you can combat it. One of the best things you can do is create an open environment, where perfection isn’t expected and new ideas are welcomed and applauded.

BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She’s now her own business owner and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more.

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