The more proactive an employee, the more willing they are to take on risks. And we all need proactive employees – how else does innovation, problem solving, and change take place? Managers need to play a leading role in helping those proactive employees manage risks – and letting them know it’s okay to take a risk, as long as you are being honest with yourself regarding the upside and downside potentials.
At the end of the day, you need to set boundaries and keep an open dialogue where your people are not hiding their risky behavior. Here are a few simple ideas to share with your team when you discuss that taking a risk is not in and of itself foolish:
Define good behavior. That means teaching your team to become good listeners, make sure they are getting feedback on their ideas, and agreeing on a plan of action with the rest of the team.
If it isn’t measured, it isn’t real. (h/t John Stiernberg) Progress has to be measured against expected results. How else will you know if you’re on the right track?
Continual communication. Ultimately, if you’re the boss, your team’s actions will always come home to roost. So make sure you establish clear communication guidelines so you are kept in the loop.
Continual encouragement. Taking risks implies that there are unknowns. As long as your proactive team members are communicating and measuring results against the plan, you need to keep encouraging them to succeed against the inevitable road bumps and potholes they will encounter.
The best managers provide a level of autonomy so proactive team members feel comfortable taking initiative. But it’s also your responsibility to ensure that they don’t take on too much risk. Some proactive ideas will fall by the wayside, while others will bear fruit. With a plan, and commitment to measure results, and continual communication and encouragement, you can unleash all the potential your team members are striving to deliver.