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7 Easy Steps for Encouraging Employees to Take Initiative

Employee Management - TBM Payroll, Glens Falls, NY

This article comes from Entrepreneur.

7 Easy Steps for Encouraging Employees to Take Initiative

If you’re a leader, it’s vital that members of your team make the right choice between doing nothing and doing something. For a healthy, forward-looking operation, they should want to choose action — and this begins with the encouragement of a proactive leader.

1. Start by creating a supportive environment.

Team members need to feel comfortable in their workspace. They should know that while they may strike out, their ideas will be heard and taken seriously by leadership. If the office isn’t a safe place to do this, new ideas will no longer be shared — or conceived at all. Make an effort to tell employees you are excited to hear their thoughts.

Don’t always have time to sit down and discuss ideas face-to-face? Create a process for workers to submit and share ideas. Even set up a unique email address for this exclusive purpose.

2. Kick people out of the office for a day.

From time to time, encourage your teams or units to meet separately outside their normal work environment. My company, N2 Publishing, did this with its design department. Members of the team met off-site for the better part of three days and developed some really creative ideas that the company plans to implement.

These thoughts may not have surfaced had the team members met in the same workspace they occupy day to day. Sometimes, all it takes a change of scenery for less vocal employees to come out of their shells and share ideas.

3. Preach volunteering and spearheading.

The initiative comes in many forms. It doesn’t have to mean single-handedly taking on a new project. Someone can volunteer to help another person who is already on a committee, team or project and support that individual any way he or she knows how. Remind employees that it’s not all about coming up with the idea but also helping to move it forward is valuable, too. If you praise volunteers as potential thought leaders, everyone will realize he or she has an important part to play.

4. Remember, a good plan today is better than a perfect one tomorrow.

Yes, it seems strange for a leader to discourage staffers from working too hard to perfect something. And in certain situations, this does not apply. But it’s important to remind team members that tomorrow may never come. What you are capable of doing today should be done today.

In essence, taking initiative means fighting procrastination. One tip I’ve heard from many others (and the advice works for my team) is to tackle first the task that you are least excited about. Nothing kills initiative like anxiety or dread.

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