Why Take Risks at Work

Oct 12 2023 | Perspectives
A woman in a blue shirt sat in a leather chair on her iPad, which has a bright yellow case.

It can be daunting to think of taking a risk in the workplace. Failure is an overwhelming consequence, and often we overestimate the likelihood of something going wrong (we’re only human), making this intimidating feeling 10x worse.

Examples of taking risks at work include starting a new project you’re passionate about, asking for a pay rise, accepting a new role, debating unpopular topics, and changing your career path.

As an employee, why would you risk failure, and risk the thought of making a mistake? Erring on the side of caution is often our immediate response, “just in case”. But what if we challenged that perception? Why should we really be thinking about taking risks at work? Let’s find out.

Benefits of Taking Risks at Work

1. Encourages ownership & accountability.

When taking risks as an employee, manager, or leader at work, it’s your obligation to take full responsibility for the outcomes, whether they be negative or positive. If the risk pays off, employees can develop a real sense of pride and fulfilment. If it doesn’t, then they can be transparent about why and what might not have worked, and take ownership to better the outcome next time, which, in turn, helps their learning and development.

2. Leads to greater innovation & creativity.

Playing it safe can often lead to boring, mundane processes. Encouraging risk-taking within your employees can lead to creative and innovative ideas that might just be incredibly successful.

3. Helps employees develop new skills, pushing us outside of our comfort zone to learn new things.

Often risk-taking involves the unknown. So, encouraging risk-taking in the workplace can help employees develop new skills they don’t necessarily have by diving into this unfamiliar space. By taking risks, employees are pushed out of their comfort zones which forces them to learn new skills.

And with continuous learning comes continuous employee development, increased performance, and impressive growth.

4. Employees can learn from mistakes.

Taking risks isn’t always going to pay off, we know that. But as we’ve mentioned, it does provide a learning opportunity. And sometimes, learning from your mistakes is the most effective way of doing so. If a risk goes wrong, employees can learn from it, helping reduce the chances of those mistakes happening again.

5. Helps employees to reach their full potential.

As a result of going out of their comfort zone, employees are more able to reach their full potential through taking out-of-the-box risks.

6. Allows organizations to take advantage of exciting opportunities.

Opportunities for organizations are often risks. Investments, organizational change, new directions, they’re all risky. But they can all also bring the most success. Risk-taking allows organizations to take advantage of all of these opportunities.

7. Helps employees stand out.

Risk-taking as an employee shows leaders you’re willing to deliver and perform. Not only will you be expanding your experience, but you’ll show leadership you’re ready for new opportunities and new responsibilities.

8. Avoids the “what if” question.

Because what if you did take that risk? Where would you be now?

9. Avoidance of boredom.

As we mentioned previously, risk-taking can really inspire creativity and innovation, which reduces the chances of work becoming dull. By playing it safe, and sticking to the same old processes, employees can experience boredom, which can affect employee satisfaction.

Risks of Risk Taking

There is always the possibility of negative consequences when taking risks at work. There is always the chance that your risk won’t work out, and failure is a definite potential. This is why your risks should be calculated, but even then, things can still go wrong.

Ensuring you’re open, transparent, and clear on your vision, knowing exactly where you want to end up by taking this risk, you can control and more effectively manage the risk. So, ask yourself, what is your plan of action to start taking risks at work? Remember, risks are a skill which can only be improved incrementally, so practice makes perfect as with any skill!

Want to feel more comfortable taking risks? At EZRA, we have skilled coaches who can guide you through assessing which ones are worthwhile, and where you might benefit from risk-taking.

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