How to get your team to show more initiative

Go to dictionary.com and you’ll find this definition for initiative:

The power or ability to begin or to follow through energetically with a plan or task; enterprise and determination

Good stuff don’t you think?

1. “Power and ability” 2. “Follow through energetically” 3. “Enterprise and determination”

Would your firm be more successful, more profitable and more exciting to work in if these three things showed up with more of your people, more of the time?

Of course it would…

My experience suggests that all accountancy firms would benefit from unleashing more initiative in their firm. So…

Here are 3 tiny tools to build more initiative, and unleash greater success and profits into your firm…

Think of initiative as one side of a gold coin – let’s call it Heads.

Tails – the other side of the coin, is called delegation.

It then follows that the better you are at delegating, the more you’ll see your people demonstrate more initiative more often.

Here’s a bit more detail…

I’ve lived by this little formula in my various roles as a leader and it’s proven it’s worth:

“Delegate the result, not the work”

A great example for this is the reaction we get from our four kids when we delegate a result rather than work.

My favourite example is when Kate (my wife) says:

“Before you go on the Wii kids, would you please clear the kitchen so that it looks like mum has done it?”

It works pretty much every time.Contrast this with Grandma’s approach which is to describe the detailed work required:

“Dominic, could you put the cutlery in the draw, Maddy put the plates and bowls away, boys could you please clear the table and sweep the floor. Oh, and no arguing!”

Both work.But Kate’s requires almost zero supervision and generally gets a better result (faster and cleaner). Why?

Tiny tool 1.  Because Kate used the question “would you?” which requires a voluntary commitment. It’s ‘soft’ and does not sound like a dictat. “Could you?” is easy to say yes to, but does not commit them to the job, only an ability to do the job! “Would you?” receives much less resistance to any other form of delegation request.

Tiny tool 2.  Because they know exactly what the kitchen looks like when mum cleans up (clear result). A crystal clear, unambiguous end-game for all four kids.

Tiny tool 3.  Because they can organise themselves and feel ownership of the work – they decide on who does what work, and how it gets done. Yes they argue occasionally but it’s about how the work gets done which sounds like constructive energetic debate to me!

Using these three tiny tools means that the kids demonstrate all three elements of initiative in bucket loads:

Power and ability to follow through energetically and show enterprise and determination

Tiny tool 4. Always explain why something needs doing (“before you go on the Wii”) and why they are the best people for the job.Understanding why’s and wherefore’s is a source of power, energy and enterprise too.

Time for action:

  • Can you master using ‘would you?’ with you people?
  • Can you work on describing crystal clear outcomes/results when delegating tasks?
  • Can you give your people the space to organise themselves more?

Bet you can’t!

Hopefully you now respond with “Oh yes I can!’

Please make it so and delegate results like Kate does. 

And if you want more on delegation click here.

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