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One must listen if one wishes to be listened to.La Rochefoucault

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Liberate initiative taking

Liberate initiative taking

To be able to take initiatives, you must enjoy an environment favorable to risk taking. How can you develop a climate of psychological safety, a true key to the performance of teams and organizations?

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Businesses increasingly need personnel whose engagement goes beyond the simple application of rules. At all levels and in all positions, they are looking for staff ready to take initiatives. Several trends participate in this evolution: the increasing complexity of the tasks, a higher need for reactivity, ever more demanding clients in terms of service and personalization, etc.

Let us consider the situation of Élodie, a client advisor with a French telecommunications operator. She must process Nicolas’s request, a French client residing in Munich, who wants to set up an appointment to install Internet in his holiday home, located in France. Yet, to do this, the computer system requires the entry of a French mobile number. Impossible for Nicolas, who has a German mobile phone number. To bypass this imbroglio, Élodie takes an initiative: she enters her own number and notes down the appointment in her agenda, to be able to play intermediaries between the technician and Nicolas in the event of a problem. In parallel, she sends an alert about the issue created by the application restrictions, for a future software update.

In this example, Élodie’s spirit of initiative allowed her to maintain the level of satisfaction of a long-standing customer, irritated by byzantine processes. Every day, organizations thus depend on staff members who know how to “think outside the box” to conduct their assignment. Like this nurse who dares contradict the physician because a prescription seems inappropriate to him. Or this accounting assistant who corrects herself an erroneous invoice to enable a provider to be paid on time. 

What makes such a spirit of initiative possible? Not so much the people themselves than the environment in which they operate, it has been observed. Indeed, any initiative involves endangerment: the risk of being misunderstood, judged, mocked, blamed in the event of failure, etc. Amy Edmondson, Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, thus forged the concept of “psychological safety” to describe the conditions in which staff members are ready to take the risk to venture out of the established framework.

Discover how to free the staff from their fears and encourage them to take relevant initiatives.


In this synopsis:
– Regulate the initiative to better liberate it
– Set up an environment of psychological safety
– React to an unfortunate initiative

Synopsis n.288a


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