"Bob Nelson's book shows how employees who take initiative not only create value for their organizations, but for themselves personally and professionally." - Dieter Huckestein, President, Hotel Division, Hilton Hotels Corporation
Whether you're an entry-level assistant or a VP working with the CEO, there's only one person responsible for your career--you. And here to help you realize your potential for success is management guru Bob Nelson, bestselling author of the 1001 Ways series. A unique motivational manual, 1001 Ways to Take Initiative at Work brings together hundreds of real-life examples, advice from business leaders, and the author's own techniques and exercises to show readers how to draw on inner creativity, develop self-leadership, set goals, take risks, and sell ideas.
"The biggest mistake you can make in life is to think you work for somebody else." -- Bob Nelson
TAKE ACTION--Elaine Crawford, a secretary at Johnsonville Foods, discovers an overlooked market segment, figures out how to reach it, pushers her idea through, and now runs a $3 million mail-order department.
QUESTION AUTHORITY--Feeling that the corporation is poorly managed, IBM programmer Jay Elliot writes a 20-page detailed letter to chairman Tom Watson, Jr.--and his career skyrockets.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX--Frustrated by bookmarks that keep falling out of his hymnal on Sundays, 3M engineer Art Fry creates the Post-It, today a $300 million business.
TRUST YOUR INTUITION--While still an administrative assistant at Zerox, Joanne Griffin senses opportunity in a project no one wants, directs a team to implement it, and is today a corporate Vice President of Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Employees who make the personal decision to strive for something more than just the status quo are the lifeblood of every successful organization today. Taking initiative is a key ingredient in making improvements at work, dealing with change, and providing customers with service that is far beyond their expectations.
Initiative is personal: the individual controls when, where, and how much initiative to take on the job. Even though its impact may be felt throughout an organization, initiative starts with the employee--and what he or she can do on a daily basis.
In a recent online survey by iVillage.com, employees were asked, "What is most important for getting ahead in the workplace?" Of the 7,760 people who cast their votes, 55 percent said that "initiative" is most important, followed by "inspiration" (17 percent), "intelligence" (16 percent), and "political savvy" (12 percent). (Comments about initiative taken from this survey are presented throughout this book.)
Although employees often recognize the importance of taking initiative, they may be hesitant to do so. Part I provides both ideas and inspiration for taking initiative on the job to overcome obstacles--real or perceived--that may be holding you back.
The chapters that follow provide a detailed overview of how you can take initiative, and in the process make a difference where you work. Whether it's tapping your inner creativity, taking needed action on a persistent problem, capitalizing on opportunities as they become available, or thinking up ways to improve your current work environment, the act of taking initiative will undoubtedly reenergize you, in addition to making your job much better and your organization more efficient and effective. By taking initiative, all employees can elevate their visibility within an organization and greatly improve their chances for recognition, learning, growth, pay raises, bonuses, and advancement for good performance.
By focusing on what you can rather than can't do, and emphasizing possibilities in your own sphere of influence, you'll increase your chances to not only have greater impact at work but develop your skills on a local basis before you apply them to a wider arena and obtain more lasting changes in your department, division, or organization.
PART I: YOU AND YOUR JOB
Thinking Outside the Box
Be Your Own Boss: Seeing the Big Picture
Toolbox: Unleashing Employee Innovation and Creativity
Take Action Now! Personal Attributes for Initiative
Doing Your Homework
Be Your Own Boss: Learn from Your Mistakes
Toolbox: Systematic Problem Solving
Take Action Now! Identifying Your Organization's Culture, Values, and Norms
Taking Action/Capitalizing on Opportunities
Be Your Own Boss: Taking Responsibility for Your Actions
Toolbox: Attitude and Balance Are Important to Taking Action
Take Action Now! Tips for Being in Charge
Be Your Own Boss: How to Make Suggestions Count
Toolbox: Selling Your Ideas to Others
Perseverance and Persistence
Be Your Own Boss: Choosing Your Peaks and Valleys
Toolbox: Managing Your Time
Take Action Now! Persistence Pays Off
PART II: YOU AND OTHERS
Leadership and Influence
Toolbox: The Five Sources of Power and How to Use Them
Be Your Own Boss: What Makes a Leader?
Take Action Now! Leaders Influence Actions
Be Your Own Boss: How to Get Others to Help You
Toolbox: How to Have Influence in Meetings
Take Action Now! Communication and Networking Tips
Be Your Own Boss: How to Say No: A Story
Take Action Now! Secrets to Managing Up
Working in Teams
Be Your Own Boss: Deciding What's Important
Toolbox: Empowering Teams
Take Action Now! Tips for Teamwork
Above and Beyond
Be Your Own Boss: Putting Yourself in Your Customer's Shoes
Toolbox: Naive Listening
Take Action Now! Delivering Above and Beyond Service
PART III: YOUR CAREER AND YOUR LIFE
Taking Charge of Your Career
Be Your Own Boss: How to Improve Your Marketability
Toolbox: Networking Made Easy
Toolbox: How to Ask for a Raise
Take Action Now! Planning for Advancement
Learning and Education
Be Your Own Boss: Deciding Your Career's Work
Toolbox: Ten Great Ways to Learn at Work
Take Action Now! Life-Long Learning
Developing Skills on the Job
Be Your Own Boss: Expressing Your Opportunity Interest
Toolbox: Cultivating a Mentor
Be Your Own Boss: Seeing Challenges as Opportunities
Toolbox: Balancing Work and Family
Take Action Now! Strategies for Taking Initiative
Be Your Own Boss: Constantly Search for Your Next Job
Toolbox: Simplifying Your Life
Take Action Now! Unlimited Opportunity
1. Index to Innovators
2. Index to Featured Companies