Initiative – what would you do?

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If I had a dime for every time…

…I have to tighten up my verbal filter at work…


I think to myself, on a regular basis, “Are you actually saying these things OUT LOUD?!”

Take, for example, our ongoing battle about “initiative.”

Quick background – the company asked my old manager to “step down” so that they could hire someone with better experience for managing the somewhat sinking vessel that happens to be our department. In comes a smooth talking guy from California, with lots of new-aged babble full of Buzz Words.

Our conversations are always filled with “Ok, let’s circle back.”

Or “We will come back to this.”

Or “Let’s talk about this again next week.”


A few months ago, things got a little ugly, so Boss Man and myself had a little meeting about our communication. Boss Man told me that I don’t take enough initiative. I told Boss Man that I didn’t know where to start. I asked him for some direction. I asked him to please let me know what the current objectives are, and which of the other departments we might need to be focusing our efforts on supporting. Boss Man informed me that he wasn’t a “micro-manager” and that I would have to figure out what my own objectives are.

Code – Boss Man has no idea what my objectives should be, so he is putting it back on me.

Verbal Filter debris – “If I knew what all of the objectives were, I would have applied for the manager position, and run the whole damn department myself!”


So, Now.

Annual performance review.

I dreaded it for weeks. Not because I thought I deserved any poor reviews, but because Boss Man does not have a clue what projects I work on. 90% of my work is doing small projects for managers from other departments “if I have time.”

Verbal Filter debris – “Of course I have time! My own manager fails to give me any projects, objectives, direction, support, or coaching of any kind!”


The review went much better than I expected. Probably because of a lack of proof to the contrary, I received “Satisfactory” across most of the categories. I even received an “Exceeds Expectations” for quality of work (see… I’m not a total slacker)!


But my pitfall is still “Initiative.”

I got a 2 out of 5.

And the reason?

Batten down the verbal filter hatches!

Boss Man told me that, because my position is basically set, and because I know my job and I do ALL of the things my job requires of me, and because the POSITION DOESN’T OFFER ME MORE OPPORTUNITY, I only get a 2 for initiative.


BUT, he adds, IF my position offered more of a challenge, he has no doubt that I would score better in this category.

Umm…. Thanks?

Verbal Filter debris – “I’ll show YOU some initiative… “

(But really, what DO you even say to something like that?)


Time to go back to my own little corner, where I can be ignored in peace.




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