Initiative exhibited by employees can be the difference between a good company and a great company. When people contribute at the highest level an organization becomes very competitive. Management must encourage initiative and even more importantly must not discourage it. There are so many ways an employee can be unintentionally stifled when attempting to initiate improvements that they mostly go unnoticed and thus become ingrained in organizational culture. It’s important to encourage initiative – and not only through lip service. Also it’s imperative that it not be discouraged.
Encouraging initiative can be simple. If handled in a positive way creativity will flourish and organizational success will improve dramatically. Recognition for contributions is the most apparent. Monetary rewards, awards and perks are all effective methods of encouragement. Also putting suggestions into practice is critical to motivating employees to contribute. People must see that their efforts are productive in order that they see their contributions as valuable.
The most damaging impact of discouraging initiative is that the ideas that would have been suggestions begin to manifest as complaints. Complaints fuel a negative culture and lead to a downward spiral. Contributions can be discouraged by meeting ideas with resistance. Management should challenge ideas to test their soundness but there’s often a fine line between challenging and blocking and it’s often in the way things are communicated. When a manager is presented with a suggestion a potential issue may be raised with a ‘Have you thought about this?’ or it might be raised as ‘That will cause this to occur.’ When it comes to motivation the difference between a question and a statement can be huge. Discouraging initiative can be extremely easy but encouraging it can be just as easy if not more so.
Initiative must not only be encouraged – care must be taken not to discourage it. When all members of an organization are contributing at their maximum level excellence can be achieved.