Developing career by taking initiatives – Handling peer pressure

Taking initiatives and proposing ideas are some of the best ways of boosting your career. However, be careful when taking initiatives, your peers may not like it. Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. They may lose the limelight they are used to
  2. It may put them in bad light
  3. It may mean more work for them
  4. It may increase competition for that coveted promotion

What can you do about it?

  1. Anticipate: If you are willing, it should not be difficult to anticipate reactions from your to one of your initiatives or idea. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what they have to gain or lose if this gets accepted.
  2. Sell rather than tell: Getting your peers bought into the idea before making it official can significantly reduce the chances of peer-alienation. What is more, this person may actually become an advocate of your idea in public too once he/she agrees in private with you (a manifestation of ‘escalation of commitment‘)
  3. Be inclusive: Selling is going to be easier if you are willing to share the credit, rather than trying to do it alone. You may not lose much by sharing, but the gain (in terms of increased chance of acceptance and success) can be tremendous.

There are 2 kinds of rewards you are looking for when you propose new initiatives or ideas

  1. Implicit rewards – Learning new skills, developing relationships, getting recognition, doing what you like
  2. Explicit rewards – Getting promotion or bonus

If the goal is #1 above (which it should be most of the time, since trying for #2 directly is fraught with risks), sharing the limelight with a peer may be the best way forward. Also, depending on the circumstances in your work environment and your personality type, you may stop worrying about who gets the credit and instead focus on getting the initiative done in whatever way possible (It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit – Harry S. Truman). This is another way of ensuring the success of your initiatives.

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