Businesses are built on risk and innovation and gumption. Once the leaders start to hire employees to help with the growing number of tasks, sometimes they lose sight of that. Challenges will arise every single day, and the leaders of a company need to have team members they can trust to take initiative and handle any and every situation that comes their way. Because of this, initiative should always be rewarded.
Why Initiative Isn’t Always Seen As A Positive
Sometimes employees who step up are seen as handling things that aren’t their business to handle. You can’t always be sure that the employee will make the same gut call in a situation as you would and that can cause problems. There might be unforeseen consequences, and as a leader in your business, you will be the one who has to deal with said consequences.
With all this in mind, it’s not hard to see why the company higher ups are likely to punish initiative, but that’s never the best way to handle this drive in employees.
The Upside Of Initiative
So managers, supervisors, and even executive team leaders should never punish initiative because adults repeat behaviors that are rewarded, and while initiative can have some downsides, it also has several perks.
- Production. No business needs an employee who sits idle until someone tells her what to do. Team members who take initiative always keep busy, and in doing so, can come up with new ideas and processes that management had never considered. This can be an incredible asset.
- Engagement. Team members who are engaged with the happenings around the office, with clients, etc. are much more likely to be committed to going the extra mile to achieve favorable outcomes.
- Ownership. Not everything that comes across a team member’s desk is exciting for her to work on. When the time arises for initiative, that team member gets to own the project and results in a unique way. This usually results in a different kind of dedication that you would normally see in day to day tasks, and this determination will certainly have positive effects on the business.
How To Handle Initiative
It is up to the leadership team to ensure that each team member is properly trained and has the tools at her disposal to make the tough decisions should she need to do so. If any team member has received the training and is still incapable of this, that’s a completely different issue, and the management team must address it separately.
When you can trust your team members, that’s an empowering experience for you both.
Instead of punishing initiative gone wrong, redirect your employee. Start by thanking them for taking initiative and make sure they understand that you value it. Next, discuss with them what a better course of action might be and your reasoning for traversing that path.
Always remember that when a staff member takes initiative, they are doing what they think is right. As their supervisor or manager, it’s your job to mold that definition of “right” and teach them to reframe their thinking so the next time they step up to the home plate, it will be a home run.