November 09, 2017

Showing initiative

It worries me when I hear "[person] is coming straight from university" as an argument for someone's lack initiative. Isn't that when you normally are full of new ideas and feel you can change the world, before you've gotten stuck in structures and old ideas?

Maybe it also depends where you study, as I meet a lot of amazing people who recently finished university and are extremely innovative and looking for challenges and solutions.
Those of us with more / longer experience  have to watch that we stay on top on what's happening in and make an active effort to not get stuck in old habits - especially true for those of us in tech. Stand still and you'll begin ti lose competitiveness and edge.  
A diverse, a mixed environnement will help us with that and be beneficial for all, not the least the business. We all benefit from diversity - however it requires,just like everything else, initiative and drive from all.
Things rarely just land in anyone's lap without effort.
The ability to show initiative is possibly the most important ability and quite frankly skill that I am looking for in a person.

Am I unreasonable?

And how do you support someone lacking initiative the best way, to get them to show more initiative? They need challenging tasks where they get to take the lead, of course, they need mentoring, but it's also tough when work needs to be done. 

Too easy to fall into the trap of giving them tasks where it matters less if they fail - but my opinion is that it rarely helps, boredom is a lousy motivator, I'm speaking from experience. That's why standard language training isn't for me, I cannot learn from a nonsense text book, I need an environment where I can see a use of what I'm learning - send me to a food market, let me end up in a situation where I have to grow with the task. Personally I think that is the best way of getting people to really learn: Give them a challenge that they can grow with - just keep an eye on them so they seek support if they need to.