As you’ve probably guessed, proper time management is a big issue for me. But even beyond not wasting time, is the ability to ensure I don’t waste the time of others.
If you give an employee a task, you need it done as effectively and quickly as possible. If they come back to you with 100 questions, it’s going to take just as long as it would have for you to do it yourself.
Likewise if your supervisor gives you a task, they don’t want you to come back and ask, “Well where do I find that? Where do I go? What do you mean?”
The ability to take initiative is a very desirable trait, and one that employers put a high price on.
Think of it this way, imagine you’re sitting at your computer, next to a co-worker at work and they asked, “Hey how do I spell ______?”
You’d laugh and tell them, “G-O-O-G-L-E.”
It would be silly for them to ask you a question they can find out on their own in five seconds from their computer.
A Message to Garcia
The writer Elbert Hubbard once wrote an essay entitled, “A Message to Garcia.”
For years this short essay became a popular slogan about taking initiative when it came to projects and workload.
In short, if I gave you a letter and said, “Take this Message to Garcia, he’s located somewhere in Cuba,” gave no further instructions, and then shut the door, how would you respond?
“Find some guy named Garcia somewhere in the entire country?” you’d ask yourself.
Some would give up immediately on what would seem an impossible task, while others might ask around a bit before calling it a day. But a few, seeing the importance of the goal and taking pride they were entrusted with such an important task, would do everything within their power to achieve it.
While I’ve never been asked to “Take a Message to Garcia,” since reading Hubbard’s essay I’ve always placed a premium on taking initiative and ensuring those who have entrusted me with tasks, feel confident I’ll do everything within my power to complete those tasks.
The next time you’re given an assignment, practice this initiative.