What Is Initiative and How to Get Your Employees to Take Initiative?

October 16, 2019


“Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.”– Victor Hugo, French writer. Whereas, according to Mary Kay Ash, American businesswoman, “There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.”

In today’s workplace, the initiative has become increasingly important. Successful restaurants need employees to think and take action without being told what to do. After all, this kind of flexibility and courage is what drives teams to innovate and overcome competition. In this article, we will show you what is initiative and how to get your employees to take the initiative.


What is Initiative?

According to Henri Fayol, the initiative is one of the 14 Principles of Management, where employees should be allowed to express new ideas. The initiative is the ability to work without waiting to be told what to do. It requires flexibility and determination. Initiators can think for themselves and take action when necessary by using their heads and having the drive to achieve.

People who show initiative demonstrate that they can solve problems that may not have noticed needed solving by others, and they are always looking for chances to learn and grow. They do extra research if required, ask questions, and seek help when needed.


Why Is Initiative Important?

  • The management can know more ways of executing the predetermined plan as the employees give various suggestions.
  • Ensure a higher sense of belongingness in employees.
  • It encourages interest and involvement in the maximum participation of employees and creates added value for the restaurant.
  • Employees feel satisfied and take each necessary step to accomplish the plan.
  • More interesting, more cooperative and more effective working environment.
  • Achieve goals in a timely manner when they are set in consultation with staff.


How to Get Your Employees to Take Initiative?

Having staff members who have creative ideas is great. However, you need them to take initiative to move from the thinking phase into the doing phase. Here you can find 5 ways to encourage employees to take initiative towards the more interesting, more cooperative and more effective working environment.

1. Create a Supportive Working Environment:

Employees need to feel comfortable and safe in their workspace without being afraid of taking the risk, punishment, or failure. They need to know that their managers would hear and support their ideas and take them seriously. Establish a working environment where employees will feel free to fail and try again and learn from their failure as failure is a valuable learning experience. Provide your employees with the information and resources that they need to complete their jobs and come up with new ideas. Moreover, if you do not have enough time to discuss their ideas directly with them, consider creating a process for employees to submit and share ideas, by email, for example.


2. Recognize and Reward employees who take initiative:

Employees love when you recognize them for their hard work. If they feel their manager is ignoring their efforts, they will not do their best. By recognizing and rewarding initiative, you show your employees that you appreciate their initiative, hard work and ideas. The staff will continue to do their best. Consider rewarding those who are taking initiative with an extra bonus or by putting them and their initiatives in the spotlight so that they will remain eager to continue the work and lead the other employees.


3. Set an exciting goal:

Working on an ambitious challenge gives energy. Employees need to know that their work matters, what the company goals are and how they fit into it. Explain why you want employees to do things in different ways. You need to set a vision and make things concrete and tangible. By taking the initiative, employees would fight procrastination. They need to first deal with a task that is less enthusiastic for them as nothing kills initiative like anxiety or dread.


4. Make space for experimentation, learning, and development:

If you want people to do new things, offer them a chance to do so. Provide employees with the freedom to test and try their own ideas. Make sure that they have the capacity to work on new ideas.

Your staff can update and expand their skills set by having the opportunity to learn and develop their skills. Qualified employees, who are confident in their skills, are productive and a great resource for your restaurant and they are more willing to show initiative. You can show your employees that the restaurant administration is interested in their development and increases employee’s esteem for the restaurant by offering them opportunities for development. You may invite well-respected restaurant industry leaders to talk to, inspire and motivate your team.


5. Be the example and stay in contact with your employees:

Being a manager means you are playing an ideal role. Share how you try new things yourself. Make sure to share it with the entire staff. Have frequent communication with your employees. It is easy to communicate your efforts to your employees with modern technology. Be open and share information about what is going on in the restaurant to make taking initiative a priority.


In conclusion:

Establishing a culture of initiative requires you, as a restaurant manager, to actively seek suggestions, ideas, and recommendations from employees on how to fix what is broken and areas of improvement from your employees, encourage teamwork, allow work flexibility and telecommuting, give employees regular and actionable feedback and hire people with a history of taking initiative in the first place.