In recent roles I have been much more focused on ensuring the people around me understand the agile values and principles and the benefits they can bring to enjoyment and fulfilment at work.
Agile leads us to talk alot more about the importance of mindset and the belief that if you hire for attitude and train for skill but can you hire for skill and train attitude?
I have had a couple of team members and peers recently whos attitude and behaviour has been brought into question. When speaking with them many techniques are used with the core objective to bring a sense of self awareness. Why are they behaving in a particular way and did they realise the negative impact on others.
Whilst on most occasions this has seen an improvement in behaviour, in the short term at least, we encountered another issue of questionable initiative. Initiative? Where did that come from? Did we test for that in interview? What does it even mean?
We talk about creativity and curiosity which when coupled with initiative are extremely powerful but what affects people’s ability to be perceived as having and using initiative?
I started to realise that there is something much deeper going on. Whilst we can claim that some people just simply lack initiative our upbringing, society and work culture do have a direct impact on how much we are encouraged to use these important attributes.
If we have tight boundaries as we grow up and are not encouraged to try new things and gain some independence then this can have an impact, in society a shift towards a “blame” culture, deferring responsibility and becoming extremely risk averse. In work how much autonomy are we actually afforded to explore new things?
If we are in an environment where instructions are given top down and output is templated and constrained then how can we complain when in given situations individuals do not use initiative? Those full of creativity, curiosity and initiative may have already moved on to find a more suitable environment.
So when you are in a situation where you are questioning someone’s apparent lack of initiative think about how you can help them, understand what might be impacting their ability to use it and encourage them to be more self aware. You might also want to think about how initiative can be given freedom to show itself within group scenarios when interviewing potential new employees.