Why Won’t My ______ Take Initiative?

CommunicationRecently, one of my coaching clients told me that he just can’t understand why one of his employees won’t take the initiative to follow through on tasks. You could fill in the blank with “Why won’t my [employees/kids/spouse, etc.] take initiative?” and the answer will still be the same. There are a few things to consider if you are experiencing this situation at work or at home.

  • Have you clearly explained your expectations (what you expect them to do, by when and what a good job looks like) and gotten confirmation that they understand and agree to do it?
  • Have you made it clear that you would like them to come to you for help or questions about completing the task?
  • What has your response been when they have come to you for help or questions? (Did you make them feel stupid or seem as if they were bothering you?)
  • What has been your response when they took the initiative to do something on their own? (Did you tell them they shouldn’t have done that or that they didn’t do it right?)
  • Have you asked them about their seemingly lack of initiative? (“You didn’t follow through on completing the [task], help me understand what that’s about. Is there something you need from me in order to be able to complete it?”)

We can make assumptions about others’ behavior, but we will never know what’s really going on with them unless we ask in a non-threatening way that doesn’t make them feel defensive. Often times, we have contributed to their behavior by our responses to their actions. Before getting frustrated by others’ lack of initiative, take a look at how you are responding/treating them by using the questions above. We can’t control others’ behavior, but we can certainly control our own behavior and how we treat others, which impact and influence the responses we will get from them.

 “When you are offended at any man’s fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.Epictetus

Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.” – Epictetus

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