How To Take Initiative At Work (With Examples)

By Sky Ariella - Jan. 19, 2021
Articles In Guide

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Every driven professional is looking for a way to stand out from their competition and impress their employer to advance their career.

Taking the initiative to make things happen in your position is a tremendous tactic to attract positive attention from a supervisor and be a generally good employee.

The Definition of Taking Initiative at Work

Most companies have that one employee who goes beyond their basic job responsibilities to accomplish goals and find solutions without being asked.

Their supervisors know that they can count on them to get their job done and more. Thanks to being proactive and problem-solving, they experience career growth.

This describes an individual who takes initiative at work.

Ways Taking Initiative at Work Can Help You

  1. Helps you stand out from the competition. The professional world is competitive despite the field you work in. Even people in the most laid-back occupations need to make themselves stand out to gain traction in their careers.

    Taking initiative helps you shine among the competition because it shows that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to do the best work.

  2. Builds confidence. Putting yourself out there as a capable employee who’s eager to take on difficult assignments builds confidence. It’s impossible to get better at your craft without taking a little calculated risk to improve.

    Volunteering for chances to showcase your skills with a solution-based mindset gives you practice, which eventually adds up to confidence.

  3. Your employer sees you as dependable. Businesses want to fill their team with individuals who take initiative because it means that they won’t need to hold their hand through every small task.

    Taking the initiative of raising your hand to participate in projects or developing a long-term career plan demonstrates reliability to your employer. This means they’ll be able to trust you with more responsibility in the future.

  4. It can improve your career. Taking initiative in the workplace can greatly advance your career over time. Stagnant employees who don’t take action to move upward in their company usually don’t.

    It’s the people who take charge of their career and insist on making the outcome they desire a reality who actually improve their professional position.

17 Tips for How to Take Initiative at Work

Taking more initiative at work is a strong strategic move to make if it’s gone about in the right way. You’ve taken the first step by deciding to be more resourceful in your professional life. The second is reading through the following list of 17 tips for how to take initiative at work:

  1. Think about ways to improve the organization. Even the best companies manage to find ways to innovate and improve their productivity. This is true of your employer as well. Consider the ways that your organization or team could improve.

    Once you’ve gathered a list of realistic ways to innovate your company, think about how you’ll go about presenting these ideas to your team. You don’t need to formulate the entire plan, just the thought outline.

    Bringing up something simple, like finding a cheaper supplier for the same materials, might make a huge difference in your company.

  2. Go the extra mile when completing projects. Work is stressful, and because of this fact, many employees cruise by for years just meeting the average expectations of their employers.

    While only meeting the bottom line of completing your work probably won’t get you fired, it also isn’t going to win you any promotions either.

    Going the extra mile when working on projects is an excellent way to take initiative. It shows a commitment to the job and reflects well on your work habits.

  3. Speak up during meetings more. A lot of companies have meetings weekly or monthly as a designated time for employees to converse about what’s going on. Unfortunately, many employees stay quiet during team meetings. This is a squandered opportunity to speak up and take initiative.

    If you work in a company that doesn’t have periodic meetings to discuss as a team, reach out to a supervisor to schedule something. Even though you’re not presenting to the whole team, it’s the next best option to let your opinion be heard.

  4. Ask questions. One of the best ways to take initiative at your job is to ask questions every chance you need to. Asking questions shows that you’re interested in improving and doing good work. You can’t advance from your position if you don’t know where you stand or what you can do to get better.

    Questions enhance clarity, which trickles down to bettering your personal skills and work quality.

  5. Only put out work you’re proud of. When you first began your job, this tip was probably an inherent part of your work process. Over time, though, your drive to only turn in work that you’re 100% proud of becomes a little less intense.

    It’s a natural cycle that happens when someone settles into their professional role.

    However, an employee who takes initiative overcomes the lull of complacency when it comes to the quality of their work. Only attach your name to work that you’re proud of, no matter how small the task is.

  6. Consider your future and career goals. Individuals who display initiative in their career are often thinking about objectives in the future and how to achieve them.

    Writing a detailed plan for defining and reaching your career goals makes accomplishing them more manageable because you’ve outlined the necessary steps.

  7. Building rapport with co-workers. It’s important to build rapport with co-workers and act together as a team. The staff of a company needs to be able to function well together, even in jobs with competitive undertones.

    Building a relationship that’s more than a surface level with your co-workers helps improve the workplace dynamic. This shows an employer your initiative to improve the functioning of the team.

  8. Request constructive feedback from supervisors. Another technique for showing your employer you mean business when it comes to growing your career is to request constructive feedback.

    Asking a supervisor for feedback about your skills and weak points indicates that you’re an employee who’s open to suggestions and ready to improve your performance.

    Put their input to good use after you’ve received suggestions from your colleagues. Consider the points they’ve raised and how you can go about tackling them one by one.

  9. Pay attention at all times. You never know when a vital piece of information is going to be brought up in a meeting or a new opportunity will present itself briefly. To make sure you’re aware of everything happening at your organization and any opportunities for advancement, pay attention at all times.

    There’s nothing worse than messing up something in your control because you weren’t paying attention.

  10. Always be prepared for the next opportunity. Your place of employment has a wealth of opportunities that can introduce themselves at any given point. Taking advantage of these occasions relies on catching them at the right moment and being ready to take them on.

    Keep yourself organized and prepared enough to pursue any professional opportunity when you get the chance. Preparedness demonstrates initiative and readiness for receiving more responsibility.

  11. Adopt a team-centered mentality. A business achieves its success through the strength of its team. Always feeling like you need to compete with your co-workers creates a tense work environment that’s difficult to collaborate in.

    To avoid the uncomfortableness of being on a team that’s at odds with each other, adopt a team-player mentality. Even if there are a couple of people at work who you simply can’t stand, they’re a team member and an essential part of your company thriving.

  12. Offer to help when you can. An employer notices when you go out of your way to offer help when you didn’t have to because it exhibits initiative. While you should never extend your services to help when you already have a full plate, making the generous offer when you can will impress a supervisor.

  13. Take on some extra work. This is another tip that’s only possible to do if you have enough room for it in your schedule. When you have some downtime at your position, it might be a good call to ask for some extra assignments.

    This kind of behavior tells your boss that you’re not going to sit around and wait for work to fall in your lap. You’re going to get up and seek it. When your manager is considering who to give more responsibility to in the future, they’ll remember this gesture of initiative.

  14. Step up to solve problems when they arise. Problem-solving is an advantageous skill for employees to have, but it’s useless if you don’t share this information with your colleagues. Although nobody is thrilled at the idea of maneuvering problems and overcoming obstacles, it needs to happen eventually in any professional environment.

    Speaking up with suggestions for solutions to issues when they arise puts your abilities to problem-solve on display, which leaves a positive impression on your employer that you’re taking the initiative in a tough situation.

  15. Act as a leader within the company. While you might be in an associate’s position now, there’s always the possibility of leadership in your career’s future. Start now by acting as an example and presenting leadership skills.

    Many companies prefer to promote supervisory positions from within, and demonstrating leadership characters early puts you in mind when these opportunities occur.

  16. Improve your soft skills in your spare time. Taking it upon yourself to improve your career’s transferable skills shows an immense amount of initiative. An employee is rarely told they need to work on their interpersonal abilities or time management.

    It’s a realization and undertaking that they must explore themselves to become a better employee. Using your spare time to sharpen your soft skills improves your overall performance and demonstrates workplace initiative at the same time.

  17. Stay positive. Co-workers are aware of and affected by the energy you bring to the workplace. Even though a professional environment has the potential to be stressful at times, staying positive is significant to how you’ll be perceived.

    An employee with a positive attitude is viewed as having a sense of initiative because they don’t get bogged down with the hassles of work and instead continue to get their job done.

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Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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