Roadblocks and Dynamite: On initiative and why saying no may be hazardous to your health 

Roadblocks and Dynamite: On initiative and why saying no may be hazardous to your health 

Last month, we talked about the impact of a direct manager and leadership team can have on an individual (I fired my company!)….  over 60% of employees leave your organization because of the manager and 90% because of the leadership team in general.  Many of you responded with your own viewpoint, and continue to share on your personal experience.

However, leaving your job doesn’t happen overnight (well almost never) – and, for the most part, it may take a while for you to decide to pull the plug….

What if there was a way to prevent you from making that decision? From having to find something new – that could be better, but may be worse?

What if there was a way to dynamite the roadblocks that are slowing you down at work?

Several years ago, a corporate director came to my building to do a walk through inspection and evaluate us on how ready we were for our peak season. We walked him through the building, pointing out all the things we had done well over the year since he had been there last, skipping over the things we hadn’t addressed (or, to be honest, didn’t want to bring his attention to).

Of course, he didn’t get to his position for accepting what he was told, and after a few times, he asked about one of our processes. We explained that the process was a one-off – we were different than other buildings, so basically we couldn’t be compared to other buildings.

He stopped us right there and asked if we did the basic process (similar to “do you breathe every day?”). We did. Then we were asked if it made any difference how we “breathed” – we still did it, and needed to figure out a way to get it done – in this case, in a faster, more efficient way.

We needed to take initiative.

Our team had been hiding behind all of the excuses of why we were different, how we shouldn’t be compared to anyone else – instead of realizing we were just “variations on a theme” and took initiative to find a way.

In the survey, over 80% of employees said they left their company because of a lack of advancement, not feeling connected to an organization, or problems with the work environment.

Is it possible that you could find a way around some of those roadblocks that could be very real – and make your own dynamite to take a different path, make a different road?

Initiative is about taking responsibility for your work, and making it your job to make it excellent (Millikin, 2016). Instead of “What am I required to do at work”, you say “How I can best help my peers, managers, company be the best they can be?”

So… let’s do it, you’ve said. How do I blow up these roadblocks that’s holding me back?. 

  • Put yourself in YOUR customer’s shoes. Who is your customer? It may not be the external customer at all – but the accountant that needs your report by Thursday, so she can meet a deadline – and you get to it when you can. Your customer isn’t happy – but could you change that?
  • What problems exist? You probably already know several in your workplace. What are the issues? What do you just put band-aids on because you feel you are engaged or your team doesn’t support you? It doesn’t matter. If  you can get it done – then do it. Don’t wait for support from someone else if you have the power to make it better (See #1 above). You’ll be surprised at what gets done when YOU start it.
  • Find a better way. If you do a number of tasks you find menial or boring – brainstorm. Understand the reasons the tasks need to be done, and if so, find ways to make them more efficient. There could be a chance that you are NOT the best person to do it – and if you took on something that was more suitable to your strengths and job requirements, then you can get back to taking care of #1 (your customer, of course!)

Note this does NOT give you the right to march into your boss’s office and say I’m too important to be doing data entry. It DOES mean you should think about the implications, the cause and effect of your actions, and think about how you can better impact the team and organization.

Take a chance. Take initiative. Blow up those roadblocks that are keeping you from being what you know you’re capable.

About the Author

Ashley P. Lesko, PhD is a navy veteran and President of Square Peg Solutions, which is focused on helping companies discover (and take advantage of) their greatest unknown assets – their people. She also teaches at Queens University in Charlotte, NC and Harvard Extension School, based in Boston, MA. Her growing body of work on new and front line manager leadership and talent engagement has been presented to the Society of Human Resource Management, Charlotte Business Journal, Elite Training Day Loss Prevention Executive Conference, and will be featured in February 2017 at the Innovision Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Dr. Lesko can be reached via e-mail at: ashley@squarepegsolutions.org and welcomes your ideas and challenges about what getting more out of your people by giving them more means to you.

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