Champion Leadership Tip #39 – 3 Reasons Why Your Employees Are Not Taking Initiative In Their Roles!

Happy August!

One of the biggest issues my clients and prospects express greatest frustration about regarding the motivation of their employees, is that they feel their employees are not proactive enough, and that they do not take initiative in their roles.

I believe there are 3 reasons why this is happening.

Below are three areas to look at regarding how you and your managers are communicating to them (and with them) and to identify what type of messages you are sending, and/or they are receiving (sometimes communication from managers and leaders in organizations sends mixed signals, causing confusion for employees keeping them from being more motivated and proactive in their roles. In some organizations the mixed signals equate to a labyrinth):employee motivation, taking initiative in the workplace

  1. They don’t know you want them to
    (I know you think you’ve probably told them you want them to, but…leaders need to understand that “the meaning of any communication is the response you get.” So, if the response you get is counter to your intended and desired response, you need to review your communication, your style and ask for clarification and understanding);
  2. They are unmotivated and don’t care enough
    (this is a performance management issue. I would recommend having more frequent performance discussions and asking what is getting in the way of an individual failing to take initiative and responsibility in their roles. The response you get, if you ask, may surprise you!) ;
  3. There are de-motivators in the environment preventing them from doing so
    (e.g., they’ve tried in the past and have gotten negative feedback just for doing so from either a supervisor or peer who felt they were not authorized to do so, they’ve done so in the past, made a mistake and were given reprimanded for it.

A great resource for understanding and addressing the manifold scenarios that may be causing the performance problem is the book:

“Analyzing Performance Problems: Or, You Really Oughta Wanna–How to Figure out Why People Aren’t Doing What They Should Be, and What to do About It” by Robert Mager.

Additionally, if you are experiencing communication challenges in your organization you may want to read my latest white paper report “The 7 Deadly Sins of Organizational Leadership Communication,” which is available as a free download at

’til next time, make it a great week!