Motivation requires action to become reality

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Tom_Sheehan_news.jpgTaking Initiative


Initiative is ‘the power, ability, or instinct to begin or to follow through energetically with a plan or task."  Most employers consider initiative as a ‘must have’ trait for every position they are attempting to staff. In addition, it is often critical to demonstrate initiative to be promoted in an organization. Here are some examples of how you can spot initiative from a current employee seeking to realize their potential.


They Do Their Current Job Well

The first critical element that must be present in order to demonstrate initiative, is performing well in your current position. The employees with the most obvious potential are the individuals who do their job well. They bring their best effort to work every day. This may also mean that they show additional engagement by working some overtime, including evenings, or weekends.  Demonstrating initiative means doing your current job right the first time. If an employee is unable or unwilling to put the effort to excel in their current role, you may need to  rethink your assessment of their upside potential.


They Go the Next Step

Managers often become frustrated by the lack of initiative in employees in terms of ‘going the next step’. While it is critically important to do the job well, real success often means going the next step. For example, if an employee does just enough to ‘get by’, or simply does ‘what they were told to do’ and no more, there is clearly a lack of initiative. Employees demonstrate initiative and potential by ‘going the next step’ without being told to do so.


They Make a Difference

An often used interview question for both new hires and promotions is: ‘What have you done in the past to demonstrate initiative by adding value to the organization’?  Employees with strong potential are always looking for ways to add value to their organization. That would include such things as:

  • suggesting process improvements
  • identifying ways to streamline work
  • implementing cost-saving initiatives


Adding value or demonstrating initiative can also be exemplified by helping achieve company goals, helping release a new product, or helping the company achieve its community involvement goals. Initiative demonstrates commitment.


Should you have questions regarding this topic or other talent management topics, please feel free to call me at 919.325.4113.

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