Taking Initiative at Work (Without Being Taken Advantage Of)

Working closely with a team has its ups and downs. It can be great to have people to bounce ideas off of and to work with on projects, but at the same time, there may be days when your productivity decreases due to someone else not pulling their weight.

It happens all the time, and it’s not always because your coworkers are lazy — sometimes they just have too much on their plate at once. You may be wondering how, if you see someone on your team struggling, you can offer your help without taking the task over completely and having to do their work on top of what’s been assigned to you. Here’s how you can find that balance:


1. Keep doing your best.

Mediocrity might seem like an easy way to avoid having other people approach you for help, but don’t be fooled. Not only will you be preventing yourself from reaching your fullest potential, which could turn into a bad habit in the long run, but you could also put your job at risk. Never compromise on the kind of work you do!


2. Make expectations clear.

It’s good to be a leader, but pushing yourself to always take charge may put the idea in your coworker’s minds that you’re the person who will always cover for them if they’re falling behind. It’s best to work with your team to figure certain parts of the project rather than calling the shots yourself. If your performance is being affected by the lack of cooperation on the team though, it may be time to alert your supervisor, and maybe under their guidance you can take a little bit more of a leadership role on the project.


3. Be confident in your abilities.

We sometimes take on more than we can handle because we’re worried that our performance isn’t “good enough.” If you know that you’re submitting your best work, allow yourself to be proud of what you’ve accomplished and remind yourself that if you’re impressed with the work you’ve done, that’s all that matters. You don’t have to take on someone else’s workload to prove your worth!