Take Initiative

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Taking initiative -- such as using your own talents and energy to go the extra mile -- is one of the key ways to move up in the world. Here's a section on how to take initiative at your job.

Take Initiative

When people talk about management skills, they're usually referring to how a manager oversees his or her workers. This neglects one of the most important dynamics in a job, and that's sSmiling African American young woman holding red arrow that points upwardomething called "upward management" -- it's how well a worker manages and delivers on the expectations of a boss. Taking initiative -- such as using your own talents and energy to go the extra mile -- is one of the key ways you'll accomplish this.

Here's how to take initiative at your job: 

  • Bring solutions, not problems. Though it may look to you like all your boss does all day is sit back in a chair and throw pencils at the ceiling, it's much more likely that there's an entire package of responsibilities that you know nothing about. Because of that, bosses generally don't like to deal with problems.  So, don't bring your boss any problems; instead, bring SOLUTIONS. Let the boss know if a snag has occurred, but also offer solutions that simply need approval to be carried out.
  • Work toward a bigger goal. Figure out how you'd like the job to help you progress toward your short- and long-term goals, then ask for extra work in those areas. Your boss will hear the words "extra work,"  but you'll hear the words "free education that you get paid for." So, win-win.
  • A star made from two fingers of five hands.Create side projects. Want to shine at your job? Create tasks to tackle when you finish your other work early. Don't let side projects stop your main work from getting done, but feel free to work on something incrementally, over time. When you finally finish and present the project, it'll look like you invested a massive amount of extra effort to deliver something significant.
  • Ask for extra tasks. You can also volunteer to help out with any additional work that's on your boss's desk. Even if the answer's no, you'll always be remembered, and appreciated, for asking.
  • Help out your co-workers. When your co-workers need help, step in. Not only will they appreciate it, but they'll be there for you if you ever fall behind yourself.

If it sounds like "taking initiative" is another way of saying "extra work," you're on the right track. Just remember that if you're willing to work hard, your employer will notice, and you'll be rewarded with a promotion, more money and more prestige at your company. 

Now that you've learned how to be a great employee and help out your coworkers, find out how to snag a promotion here: Be A Pro.