Initiative is a powerful tool that can transform an organisation into an agile, responsive one. This requires a proactive workplace culture. A proactive culture can turn people into engaged, committed drivers of business performance. On the other hand, if the workplace culture does not encourage employees to be proactive, they are unlikely to have the courage to take initiative. This means a lost opportunity for the organisation to develop, which leads to stagnation.
Are your employees less proactive than you would want them to be? Encouraging initiative may seem difficult, but making some changes to your workplace culture can have positive impact in the organisation. Here are 5 ways to create a proactive culture in your workplace to increase initiative among employees.
1. Set Boundaries
Firstly, it is important to communicate your goals and what you want to achieve. When employees have clear and concise goals to work toward, it helps them stay motivated. They can take ownership and responsibility for achieving them. Hence, this will encourage employees to take more initiative in their own work.
Secondly, it is essential to establish guidelines on what team members should do in common situations, as well as highlight fixed responsibilities and processes. Communicate your organisation’s core values so that employees know when they should stick to the rule book.
It is difficult for employees to know what to do in certain situations when there is a lack of certainty and boundary. Therefore, an established guideline helps your employees get a good gauge on how much freedom they have. This can encourage them to take more initiative in their work.
2. Encourage Learning and Development
Employees that are competent and empowered within their role are able to think and act for themselves. Hence, it is beneficial to provide training for your employees to help them identify their own skills and knowledge gaps. Focus on skills that helps with initiative-taking, such as critical thinking and decision making. Having these skills allow them to evaluate situations and come up with innovative solutions better, which eventually lead to them taking competent actions.
On top of that, it is also essential to provide your team members with resources such as tools and techniques that they need in their work. Make sure they also have the appropriate authority to carry out their roles. When they are well-equipped with information and tools they need, they can make informed decisions and turn good ideas into successful actions.
3. Provide a Supportive Environment
Besides being competent, employees need to feel confident to be able to take initiatives successfully. The best way to build confidence is to provide them with a supportive environment to thrive in.
One of the reasons why employees do not take initiative is because it incurs an amount of risks, and they might be afraid of failure. However, it is okay to fail and try again, as failure is a valuable learning experience. Hence, it is important to give employees a safe space to experiment and learn from their mistakes. When they feel supported and safe, they will feel more confident and forthcoming with taking initiative.
In addition to a supportive environment, fostering mutual, trusting relationships is vital in the workplace. This is particularly important in more flexible workplaces, where it is not easy to monitor team members’ performance against key criteria. Employees need to feel confident that they have an effective, secure relationship with their managers. When there is mutual trust, they feel supported and encouraged to take the initiative in their work.
Recognition is important in signalling to employees that their initiative, hard work, and ideas are noticed and appreciated by the organisation. When their efforts are ignored by the management, they will not exert themselves to do better. Moreover, recognising their efforts even if they fail is a great way to give them the courage to continue trying. This will allow them to continue to put in their best efforts in contributing to the organisation. Hence, this helps to promote initiative.
Communication is crucial in encouraging initiative. Employees who feel that they are out of the loop or unappreciated due to infrequent communication with their manager usually do not exert initiative. Employees need to know that their work matters, and that someone is listening to what they have to say.
On top of that, stimulating collaboration is a great way to kick start employees to take initiative in their work. People are often more motivated when they are working together on something new. In addition, collaboration means there will be a constant exchange of ideas between employees, this helps to build confidence and creativity among employees. This will boost their self-esteem and make them more proactive as a result.