I am sometimes a little wary of “initiative” in a work setting. I will explain why.
In my experience, some managers like to be in control. That is not necessarily negative, after all they bear the responsibility, the accountability to their senior. But over the years I have seen that sometimes managers view the “initiative” their team show to be a blessing or they may see it as a threat. I have worked in so many different fields and had both male and female managers of all ages and cultures. I have seen issues in team dynamics many times. Sometimes human relationships are the hardest thing about team spirit. People like to have respect, praise and acknowledgment.
This is one reason why I have developed the habit of communicating with my manager regularly, checking they are happy with any thing different I am doing, asking permission before any major changes to the way I work. I am wary of becoming a lone ranger at work, when actually we should be a team, working under the guidance of our manager and following company or organisational policies. I try to make sure my manager knows they have my respect.
However, sometimes there are just so many things going on, I am aware that my manager may not be able to process any more of my questions. So I have to accept that I need to show some initiative and get on with the job, relying on my knowledge of company policies and experience within the workplace. My manager seems happy with that.
Despite that, I like to mention every now and then that I still respect who is boss. I am not trying to go rogue. Last week, I finally found a way to explain my attitude towards initiative. This is what I said…
I think sometimes our work can be like all the tasks that need to be done within a home. Sometimes, parents have to remind or even plead with their children to do household chores. But if parents come home from work and find that without being asked, their children have been busy cleaning, tidying, perhaps even doing other jobs they are able to like laundry, pressing, emptying bins, or even preparing a meal – the parents will be thrilled!
However….imagine the parents came home to find their children had stripped off all the wallpaper, pulled up the carpet, thrown out the furniture and had redecorated. Now the living room is an eclectic mix of bizarre prints on cushions and throws, lime green vertical blinds, orange laminate flooring, purple stars adorn the walls, there are steel chairs and benches which are on wheels allowing them to be moved easily to create an indoor basketball court, and that the ceiling is painted with a special paint that glows in the dark…how would the parents feel? Would it help to know their children had paid for the new decorations they had bought with Dad’s credit card?
I voiced my opinion, that I am happy to keep working and showing initiative within the framework of all I know and understand of the way my manager tries to steer the team. I am willing to keep following company policies and do what I know ought to be done without being asked. Yet I am not trying to usurp anyone. I want to be part of the team, and contribute to a happy team that work together and achieve result. A lot of my motivation at work is contributing to a happy team spirit.
Initiative can be great….except when it goes too far.