The Power of Autonomy

April 28, 2014

Autonomy: The right or condition of self-government, freedom from external control or influence; independence.

People are pulled in a million directions and flexibility has become a major concern for employees in the workforce. But flexibility doesn’t just mean having a boss that will let you take a longer lunch for a dentist appointment or give you the option to work from home if your child is sick. Sometimes the most important flexibility given is that given in the work place. What does that mean? Employees who work standard hours in an office need some sense of control to reach their full potential and remain engaged.

Typically a worker with a list of tasks who is allowed to work them in their own way, own pace and own order will work more efficiently and possibly more creatively than an employee boggled down with rules or a micromanaged process.

Here are a few tips to give your employees more autonomy:

  • Believe in them until they give you a reason not to. Yes, if you have a clear process for how to do everything, you can typically know you will get the results you want; but then you won’t ever find a way to improve those results. Give your employees the power over small projects, not only will it force the employees to expand their skills they may also improve an outdated practice.
  • Look over your employees list of tasks and their strengths. Where are they shining that other employees aren’t? Team employees with different strengths up on projects in order to avoid group think and find new ideas. Once again asking employees their opinions and allowing them to take a leadership or coaching role will encourage them to become more interested and excited about their work.
  • Remember all work and no play makes work a dull place. If your employees come in from 8-5, 5 days a week and everything , every second is work related chances are they will burn out on it. Look for ways to create workplace culture and break up monotony with small engaging activities. A few suggestions include sales competitions, birthday parties, or out of the office activities occasionally like optional intramural sports leagues. These sort of activities can make employees more comfortable with each other and more open to sharing ideas, which results in making employees feel as if they have more control because instead of being just another worker bee they are a contributing part of a team.