Being Effective at workplace – Taking Initiatives

initiativeThis post is a part of the series of posts I am doing on Being Effective at workplace.

Taking initiative is about picking up organizational challenges to solve without being asked and delivering results. Taking initiative is a well-known way to achieve stardom at workplace. A FastCompany article has this to say from the book How to Be a Star at Work: 9 Breakthrough Strategies You Need to Succeed:

For stars, initiative generally has four elements: It means doing something above and beyond your job description. It means helping other people. Usually it involves some element of risk-taking. And when you’re really taking initiative, it involves seeing an activity through to completion.

Here are a couple of other rules about initiative: First, before you take on anything new, make sure that you’re doing your assigned job well. Second, remember that social initiatives don’t count for much. Organizing the company picnic or a blood drive won’t get you the kind of recognition you want. They’re fine things to do – but do them because they bring you satisfaction. Third, the kind of initiatives that matter to your career are those that relate to the company’s critical path. Find out what promotes the company’s core mission, and tie your initiatives to it.

However, taking initiative is hard:

  • Since it is taking something beyond your regular work, it requires extra time investment which few people seem to have in today’s busy organizations.
  • It requires risk taking and results may not always be there, so an organization too focused on fixing problems and eradicating failure may actually penalize initiative-takers in many cases. Continue reading

Being Effective at workplace

Performance review time is coming close, and this affords me an opportunity to review my personal performance over last 12 months, as well as those of my reports, my peers and my manager as I prepare to write my feedback. While doing this, I was struck by the differences in results among individuals I have worked closely with, and I was forced (out of my curiosity and interest) to think deeper into these performance reviews (mine and theirs). Performance differences happen because of so many reasons; however, one of the underlying themes I have observed is the notion of ‘being effective’.

Effective is a very commonly used word, and is often mixed with being efficient, and sometimes with the idea of being right or wrong. Therefore, let me define them first, in the context of organization: Continue reading