9 Tips for Taking Initiative at Work

Updated June 24, 2022

Taking initiative in the workplace can help you demonstrate your value to your manager and colleagues. Proactive employees tend to take more responsibility for their actions and display qualities that make them good leaders. When you show initiative at work and lead by example, you can also motivate your coworkers to perform at a higher level. This article will help you understand what it means to take initiative at work and provide tips on how to do it effectively.

What is workplace initiative?

Workplace initiative is the ability to independently assess issues and initiate solutions. Workplace initiative includes a mix of skills that can help you both come up with new approaches to workplace problems and communicate them to other employees and management.

Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills 

How to show initiative at work

Being proactive at work involves a commitment to identifying issues and taking steps to resolve them. Taking initiative can help you improve your chances of getting a promotion, and it can inspire your coworkers to raise their performance. Here are some tips to show the initiative that will help you thrive in the workplace and improve your career prospects:

  1. Do more than what is expected of you.

  2. Make your career plan.

  3. Work on your confidence.

  4. Develop a team mentality.

  5. Actively request feedback and follow it.

  6. Always keep a positive attitude.

  7. Be prepared for any opportunity.

  8. Try to anticipate any upcoming issues and discuss them with your coworkers.

  9. Share your ideas for workplace improvements.

1. Do more than what is expected of you

Employees typically have a list of tasks that they have to do as part of their role. Seeking to do more than your usual duties will show your manager that you are dedicated to the company’s success. You will also serve as an example to others by raising the standard for what typical employee performance includes.

2. Make your career plan

Knowing what your career goals and projections are will help you gain the confidence needed to take initiative at work. Once you define your longer-term objectives and how to achieve them, assess where you see opportunities in your role to build the necessary skills and accomplishments. Then you should be proactive in hitting those targets, benefiting your performance and your career trajectory.

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

3. Work on your confidence

Even if you have the required skills to be successful at your role, being proactive and inspiring others to follow your lead requires high confidence levels. You can foster your self-confidence by constantly setting and achieving small goals. Then you can push yourself to take action to pursue larger accomplishments at your workplace.

Your coworkers may sometimes disagree with your suggestions, so displaying confidence in your reasoning can help you be an effective influencer and leader while fostering a collaborative and productive cooperative working environment.

4. Develop a team mentality

Although your ultimate goal should involve improving your career prospects, taking initiative and motivating others requires adopting a collective, team-based mentality. Seeing yourself as a team member rather than as an individual will likely show others that your objectives involve more than just personal achievement. Dedicating your efforts to the success of the team will benefit you as much as your company.

5. Actively request feedback and follow it

Asking managers and coworkers for feedback on your work will often reveal key improvements you can make that you may not have noticed from self-assessments. Constructive criticism can greatly help you figure out how to best take initiative at work. Acting on this feedback will show your manager and coworkers that you are dedicated to improvement.

6. Always keep a positive attitude

Maintaining a positive outlook is crucial to boosting your career opportunities and motivating others. Managers often develop strong opinions on employees when companies go through difficult times, especially because an individual’s composure under stress can reveal their qualities as a leader. When faced with a difficult situation, take some time to learn everything you can about the issue. This should help you approach the problem from a balanced and positive perspective.

7. Be prepared for opportunities

Challenges and opportunities tend to appear unexpectedly, and you need to be prepared to successfully approach them. Determining which issues are more likely to occur than others and what corresponding reaction will produce the best results will help turn the challenges into opportunities for you.

When those around you see that you are always ready for a challenge, it can help inspire them to work harder and improve in their careers. This will also show your manager that they can count on you in difficult situations, which may make them more likely to consider you for a promotion or pay raise.

8. Head off upcoming issues

Many workplace challenges occur regularly. Taking the initiative to prevent issues ahead of time can help boost your image as a problem-solver.

It also helps to discuss potential upcoming issues with your coworkers. This will help you gain deeper insight into what may cause the issues and determine how to fix them.

9. Share ideas for improvements

If you are confident, well-prepared, positive and aware of your workplace, you will likely come up with ways in which you can improve it. One key element in taking initiative at work involves participating in discussions and sharing how you think workplace processes could improve.

If you have come up with ways to improve a certain situation, appropriately express your opinion. You can share your ideas by talking with your manager, requesting meetings with key colleagues and discussing workplace processes with your coworkers during breaks. Actively offering ideas and solutions will help boost your workplace initiative and will show everyone around that you are well-prepared for the challenges you may face at work.

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