It's a familiar scene: you explain the general outline of a project to your team — but no one takes the immediate initiative to contribute fresh ideas to the plan. If your employees routinely seem to hesitate when it comes to jumping into a new task, it's probably not a lack of motivation — it's most likely because they don't know how proactive you really want them to be.

Many workers don't want to overstep their bounds and intrude on what they perceive to be their bosses' territory. Yet you no doubt want your employees to bring you their A-game when it comes to giving each project their all from the start — so let them know it and help them do it!

Use these simple, research-proven strategies to get the ball rolling:

Clearly expect more.

Emphatically communicating to your employees that you want them to work beyond their job descriptions is a great way to empower them. Tell your workers that you encourage them to work together fluidly, and you want them to work on solutions to a project problem on their own before asking for your advice.

Avoid giving feedback while your workers are making decisions.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London report that talking about a task while your workers are actively concentrating on how they want to proceed with it will make their work worse, not better.

You don't want to overload their attention capacity; the researchers say the fewer distractions you provide, the better choices your workers will ultimately make. Give them time to arrive at a conclusion, then feel free to add your perspective.

Don't stress the end result.

A study from Boston Collegefound that the best way to encourage your workers' independent creativity is to tell them to think of your project as a journey, not a destination.

Your workers should be open to seek out new concepts as they develop the best idea — too many set expectations will limit their possible outcomes. Encourage your team to bring you incomplete work, too, so you can talk as a group about ways to shape it as they go forward.

Give on-the-spot rewards as a project progresses.

Want to reward your workers for their great work on your project? Don't wait until they're finished. According to Cornell University research, doling out small rewards — like frequent portions of a project bonus — as your workers excel throughout the project will increase how much they enjoy their work, plus motivate them to go above and beyond for the duration of the job.

In fact, the study found that almost 20 percent of workers increased their efforts immediately when rewarded during a task and completed it with greater success in the end.

Ask for advice.

Did your employees really step up, so the project turned out terrific? Call a team meeting and ask each member of your team what they did differently, and boldly, that made all the difference.

Find out from them how you can better plan the group's next project to allow their energy, ideas and effort even more free rein; let them know you welcome their input freely, now and for all future work. When your workers become more proactive, you become more proactive — and you all do excellent work!