The fastest way to move your career forward is by taking initiative at work. Doing the jobs you’ve been assigned and doing them well isn’t always enough. In order to stand out and show your true potential, you need to demonstrate to your company that you have the potential to do more than you’ve currently been assigned.
Taking initiative in the workplace can be an intimidating endeavor, but with the right approach and a strong sense of the goals you’d like to achieve, a few bold actions could be the difference between staying in the same job for years and actually growing in your career.
Taking initiative as an employee requires a degree of political finesse. You don’t want to come across as a brown noser, nor do you want to give the impression that you are attempting to leapfrog your peers, or worse, your boss. The key to showing initiative at work is spotting opportunities for improvement within your company that are simple and cost-effective.
The first step is keeping your eyes and ears open. Look for inefficiencies and problems that are slowing down your department or your team. Don’t focus on people, but rather look at the processes and mechanisms that might be gumming up the works within your company.
Once you’ve identified a problem, dedicate extra time outside of your regular duties to finding a way to fix it. Whatever you do, don’t shrug off your regular assignments in order to focus attention on the problem. Your first and most important job is to complete the tasks that you’re assigned in a timely and effective manner. Taking initiative on new projects should only happen in your own time once your other projects are completed.
Once you’ve figured out a solution to the problem at hand, set up a meeting with your boss and present what you’ve found in a clear and thoughtout manner. Depending on the scale of the problem, you might want to put together a presentation to explain the inefficiencies that you found and how you propose to fix them. Be sure to also include any information you can gather as to how fixing this problem will improve business. Numbers and facts are always more persuasive than gut feelings.
This is hardly the only method for showing intiative, but it’s certainly and effective one. The more problems you can solve, the more waste you can eliminate, the more indespensable you can make yourself to your company.