6 Ways to Take Initiative at Work
Taking initiative when it comes to your career—whether that’s spearheading more projects in the office or reaching out to potential professional mentors—takes work. You want to demonstrate that you can handle responsibility, but you don’t want to come across as bossy or domineering. The process often takes a combination of both internal and external work.
1. Don’t be afraid to speak up and offer a solution
If you identify a situation or process that isn’t working (either for yourself or for your team), don’t hesitate to bring it to the appropriate higher up’s attention. But this works much better if you’ve already brainstormed some ideas on how to fix the issue and can present both the problem and the solution (or solutions) at the same time. Making your boss aware that something isn’t working, and you know how to fix it will ultimately benefit the company’s long-term success, which is what taking initiative is all about.
2. Figure out how to do more
While “quiet quitting” has become a phenomena in and of itself, the idea of doing no more than is strictly required of you has largely gone out of favor. However, this doesn’t mean you have to work eighty-hour weeks and give up your lunch breaks. Instead, it’s about looking around and finding small, additional moments to shine. After you’re sure you’ve completed your necessary tasks to the best of your ability, take a minute to consider whether there are other projects you can contribute to, team members who need help, or any other ways you can be of assistance.
3. Know how to identify an opportunity
Part of figuring out how to do more (see above) is teaching yourself how to identify an opportunity when it arises. If you look around and don’t see anything obvious that needs your attention, you really have to dig. How can you grow your skill sets and/or your visibility within the company? It may take a bit of insight and time to hit on an answer, but there are always opportunities for growth if you take the time to really look.
4. Request feedback
While taking on more tasks is a great way to show initiative, it’s also important that you learn what you’re doing right (and wrong) in the tasks you already have. Ask your boss for honest feedback about your work, and make a promise to yourself that you’ll tackle any weaknesses that she may identify. This shows both workplace initiative and an eagerness to improve yourself—both of which reflect positively on you as an employee.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Asking questions often gets a bad rap in the workplace, since some people tend to think it indicates you don’t know what you’re doing. But asking smart, thoughtful questions can actually show interest and curiosity in the goings on of your workplace, which are qualities any boss should be happy to have in an employee. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the way things work in your own office, since knowing how the process goes can help you contribute to making that process even better down the line.
6. Remember others
While taking initiative at work is a personal choice and journey, it’s not an individual one. It’s also important to look outwards to take into consideration the needs of your coworkers and team members. Their successes reflect well on you, and your successes reflect well on them—but the same can be said of failures. Focusing on what’s beneficial for you as a group demonstrates your willingness and ability to be a true team player.
It can feel intimidating to take charge of your career by refusing to just sit back and take directions. Depending on your personality, it might even seem impossible. But becoming more confident in your individual role, as well as your larger part in the company as a whole, is never a bad thing. Cultivate—and then celebrate—the skills that make you truly one-of-a-kind.