Always Asking Permission? Steps for Taking Initiative.

At most jobs, especially corporate ones, it’s important to be able to know how to be assertive. But if you aren’t a natural go-getter, how do you go about becoming one? Taking initiative is vital to many aspects of a career—so whether you’re taking on new management responsibilities or looking for ways to be more independent in your current role, read on for tips on how to take a little more control.

taking initiative

1. Talk To Your Boss

This is perhaps the most straightforward (and easiest) way to start taking on more at the office. Asking your manager if there are additional projects you can work on or skills you can learn on the company’s time/dime demonstrates that you’re able and willing to handle more responsibility. This conversation will be even more productive if you have a few solid ideas about what you can work on before you even walk in the door. It’s also a good time to discuss where you and your boss see you going within the company in a few years’ time—a sometimes difficult, but necessary, conversation to have.

2. Seek Out A Mentor

In work, as in everywhere else in life, relationships make all the difference. Whether it’s a boss, a coworker, or someone else in the industry, take some time to identify a person who looks to have it all figured out, and ask them for an opportunity to talk. The meeting can be as casual as a laid-back lunch or as formal as scheduling an official sit down to discuss career advice. Remember the old (and often at least partially true) saying: many times it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and a good mentor can help you build confidence and leadership skills.

3. Don’t Wait To Be Asked

Take a few moments to look around and see what needs to get done…then do it. This can be tricky if you’re dealing with outside customers or people in different departments, so be sure to get the OK from the appropriate people, and let those who will be affected by your work know what you’re doing. Directors will appreciate your forward thinking, and you’ll genuinely be helping coworkers whose tasks might be overwhelming for one reason or another. It’s a win-win for everyone.

4. Make (Constructive) Suggestions

The key here is “constructive.” No one wants to be bombarded with all the nitpicky ways you could do it better if only you had a chance. Save your suggestions for the appropriate time (like a specifically scheduled meeting with your boss), and have concrete ways in which you would solve the issue or issues. The idea here is not to create more stresses for your manager or coworkers, but to acknowledge a problem and offer the solution (conveniently performed by you, of course!) in one fell swoop.

5. Never Stop Learning

Regardless of your field, there are always new innovations—or information—or products coming out that can add to your knowledge. So keep up and stay informed—and don’t just use what you’ve learned to enable you to do your own job better and show you have a desire to grow within your industry—pass on interesting, helpful news to your coworkers. Send a concise email with a link to the relevant article you found. You’ll show you’re a team player, which is just as important as shining solo.

There are plenty of opportunities to take charge of your career if you’re simply willing to look closely and put in the extra effort. That time and enthusiasm will likely pay off, especially if you’ve already had a talk with your boss about your growth timeline within the company.

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