Employee initiative can make a marked improvement in performance and productivity, especially when knowledgeable employees demonstrate it in partnership with their supervisors. Until recently, however, it has often been difficult to achieve this. While most supervisors welcome constructive ideas and suggestions from their people, some resent it, even fear it, because they do not know how to handle it.
On the other hand, knowledgeable employees would like to increase their contributions to the organization, if they were encouraged to do so. Knowledgeable employees are well-intentioned people who know more about their specialties than do their supervisors. In fact, some even look down on their supervisors and resent what they will call cloudy management. So, instead of working together, they are often divided into two hostile groups.
Dr. Melvin Sorcher has a solution to this impasse. Drawing on his work in behavior modeling, he has designed a training program to mold supervisors and subordinates into a productive working team where ideas and suggestions flow freely. His program revolves around five situations that research has deemed to be most important ones in which employees need to develop their skills.
Dr. Sorcher, the creator of a training program he calls Taking the Initiative, focuses on five skills-building situations that encourages employees to demonstrate their initiative. According to his research, the five areas in which employees have difficulty showing initiative are:
· asking for clarification, or help.
· presenting a new or better idea.
· anticipating or solving problems.
· participating in performance appraisal discussions.
· expressing concern to supervisors or co-workers about a situation.
Consequently, employees are minimally involved in their work because they lack the self-confidence and desire to go a step further. As it is, employees are minimally responsive to performance issues and organizational objectives. Their supervisors make all decisions for and about them.
As a result, employees do not learn how to initiate action productively and produce results that last. Nor do they use their job knowledge to develop the essential skills of contributions, innovation, communication, and collaboration.
It seems to me that, if each employee were to be encouraged and supported to take the initiative, then we would have more effective and productive organizations.
Remember: When you maximize your potential, everyone wins. When you don't, we all lose.
© Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW, Management Consultant and Trainer, who conducts seminars addressing customer service, management, parenting, and self-development around his motto "... helping you maximize your potential".
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