How To Take Initiative in Your Workplace (With Examples)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 11 October 2022
Published 27 September 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Taking initiative at work helps show employers your enthusiasm and dedication to serving the company's needs, by anticipating tasks and completing them with minimal supervision from your manager. This can increase workplace productivity and help you accomplish more tasks without direct supervision. In the long term, this quality can help you grow further in your career as others may see you as a reliable and independent employee, opening you to more opportunities for promotions or pay raises.
In this article, we provide you with steps and examples on how to take initiative at work, with tips to keep in mind before showing initiative.
How to take initiative at work
Here is a guide on how to take initiative at work:
1. Offer assistance to colleagues in need
Taking initiative requires you to be team-oriented as improving work efficiency is beneficial for both you and the team. When you have completed your own tasks and have some spare time, you can check with your colleagues to see if they require help with any tasks, or you can assist colleagues who are struggling to complete urgent projects. This displays your eagerness to assist your team and your team-player qualities, which is one of the important aspects of taking initiative at work.
2. Take on different tasks
Although an employee has their own designated roles and responsibilities, sometimes you may be able to complete additional or new tasks. Completing these additional responsibilities may show your proactiveness. This can include housekeeping tasks like sweeping the floor and wiping the tables or logistical duties such as packing your storeroom and ensuring its cleanliness. Even though these may seem like small tasks, they can display your dedication and passion for working in the company.
3. Ask questions
To take initiative at work, ask questions and clarify any misunderstandings to ensure you understand the processes fully. From there, you can develop a better grasp of how the company works and identify which areas require your assistance. This not only improves work efficiency but also shows employers your passion for learning.
4. Be open to challenges
Overcoming challenges can help you develop your skills and show your resilience. Consider volunteering for new challenges and voice your concerns with your team or manager if you require help. Try to overcome a challenge with a positive mindset. Your employers and teammates may see your efforts. This can help you make a positive impression.
For example, the company may be thinking of expanding their outlets to a new location that you're not familiar with. Despite your unfamiliarity, you can show the initiative to lead the expansion by conducting more research on the new location and asking colleagues who have visited the area. This can show managers your determination to learn.
5. Seek feedback from colleagues or superiors
When you've been in the company for some time and are unsure of your work progress, you can seek feedback from your colleagues or superiors about your performance. Get their honest, professional opinions about yourself and understand your strengths or weaknesses. This is important as sometimes having a third-party perspective brings you fresh insights that you may not notice. You can seek ways on how to improve your work quality or areas you can take initiative in from their constructive feedback. Working on their feedback shows your manager your determination to improve and progress in the company.
6. Suggest ways to improve processes
One way to take initiative is to provide suggestions on how to improve work processes. You can share your ideas in a more professional setting like in a meeting, or casually bring them up during lunch-break conversations, depending on the severity of the issue. For example, if you've been constantly receiving complaints from customers about the long waiting hours at your restaurant, you can discuss this problem with your restaurant manager and offer ways to improve this situation. You might suggest implementing a reservation system that shows the estimated waiting time so that diners can manage their expectations better.
7. Foresee potential problems and address them
You can show initiative by foreseeing potential problems at work and finding ways to mitigate these issues. By doing so, it shows your manager that you're a self-starter who can identify potential challenges on your own and suggest ways to solve them. This assures them of your problem-solving capabilities and ability to work independently.
For instance, you may foresee that a certain outdoor event may be affected due to the unpredictability of weather conditions. You can suggest some feasible wet weather plans to your manager and plan equipment to bring beforehand, such as tents and umbrellas as precautionary measures against bad weather. These actions display your initiative at work as it shows that you can think and plan ahead with minimal guidance.
8. Volunteer for new opportunities
When presented with opportunities to venture out of your comfort zone, be brave and take the chance to learn something new. At work, new opportunities can allow you to build your confidence and skills in other areas, which is helpful in your career development. This can include offering to lead a project, working with a new vendor, venturing into a new market or taking on a managerial role in your department.
9. Make firm decisions
Sometimes, certain problems at work can lead to different methods of dealing with them. At this moment, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of different solutions impartially and making a choice between them shows your initiative of analysing workplace problems and being firm with your decisions. This is an important trait that shows your leadership skills at work, which helps to foster your career growth.
10. Maintain a positive mindset
Staying positive at work is important as it keeps you motivated and focused on solving problems. This is a trait that managers look out for, especially when the company is going through bad times, as it shows which employees work well under pressure and continue to deliver quality. For example, if your department has not been able to hit sales targets for months, you can continue to instil positivity by motivating your teammates to improve their sales tactics or change their approach. This shows your leadership skills in bonding the team and providing them with a direction to work towards.
11. Build your self-confidence
Even if you're highly knowledgeable or skilled in your field, taking the initiative to guide your team requires a good level of self-confidence. Having self-confidence helps you to voice out your thoughts and be firm with your decisions. This is important as this quality boosts your credibility and reliability at work, making you a dependable worker that your teammates can look to when they need help or advice.
Tips to consider before taking initiative
Although it's good to take initiative at work, there are a few things to consider before doing so. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Be realistic with your abilities
While it's good to offer assistance to your colleagues or share new ideas at work, it's good to think through them before voicing them out. These are some possible considerations:
Are these ideas sustainable in the long run?
Are you capable of carrying out these new tasks and not be overloaded with work?
Can you handle the extra pressure, when you're already feeling stressed with your current assignments?
These are important points as employers also value workers who can manage their time and deliver quality work. Therefore, it's wise to evaluate your current capabilities before taking bolder initiatives.
Consider your teammates before making suggestions
Before sharing new ideas or making changes to current processes, think from your colleagues' perspectives. For example, consider whether these changes increase workplace efficiency. Sometimes, implementing changes may cause your teammates more problems as they're required to learn new processes while completing their current workload, which can create more stress. Thus, it's advised to discuss with your team new ideas before sharing them with your manager.
Take in criticism professionally
If you're afraid of receiving negative feedback in your work, it's important to trust that your managers provide you with objective opinions. When they provide constructive criticism, sometimes it may feel negative. Do keep in mind to take these comments professionally and remember they're doing this to help you improve your work performance.
Related: How To Deal With a Difficult Boss
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