As leaders, we experience frustration on occasion, including being frustrated when some team members lack initiative.
We don’t understand. We’ve created a great work environment in which everyone should be engaged. We teach them, train them, and coach them. We encourage them to take the initiative in assessing situations-to take charge, make decisions, and act independently to do the right thing.
However, some don’t and some won’t. What can you do to fully engage them?
Tackle the challenge of getting those who lack initiative to take charge.
Let’s assume your work environment is great and most team members take an appropriate amount of initiative. (If this isn’t true, we have a bigger challenge that we won’t address here. Let me know if you need a little help.) But with those who need an “initiative injection,” here are five suggestions:
1. Do a thorough job of communicating your expectations and any consequences, then follow up.
2. Explain the outcome you’re looking for, ask them to determine the solution, then follow up.
3. Be consistent in how you approach them.
4. When deserved, acknowledge a job well done and provide positive reinforcement.
5. Evaluate your training and content. Convey the importance of initiative with multiple “what-if” exercises and restating your expectations. Make sure everyone is clear on the boundaries you set.
Don’t be afraid to pull the plug on those who can but won’t. If you let them, they will continue to frustrate you. Over time, they could bring down the spirits of the rest of the team.
Remember this: The disengaged are as engaged as you engage them or as disengaged as you let them be.