“Hire great people and give them freedom to be awesome”, says Andrew Mason, Founder and former CEO of Groupon. As frequently quoted as this might be and no matter how “awesome” it sounds, does it pinch you somewhere deep down when you think of applying the same idea at your workplace? Would you be comfortable in allowing your employees total autonomy over their own jobs? More importantly, do you think that would lead to them being awesome?
It does not typify you as a bad, cynical manager if you are skeptical about the idea of your employees being given total freedom at work. It might conjure up quite justified images of complete chaos with innumerable leaves being taken, lack of coordination as more than half of your workforce decides to work from home, deadlines piling up and your organization disintegrating and sinking into the deepest pits of anarchy. But what if! What if giving your employees that much more autonomy actually boosts their sense of ownership? That’s surely worth a try, right?
Allowing your employees a certain level of autonomy could have quite a few strong benefits not only for them but for your organization too:-
- Accountability: Though it is quite natural to assume that greater autonomy and freedom would equate to a dip in your employee’s sense of responsibility, it’s actually quite the contrary. Having complete autonomy leads to greater accountability as you know that it’s your task which you are doing your way.
- Being Valued: Autonomy makes your employees realize that they are in charge of their jobs. They also understand that the organization values them, that their judgments make a difference, that their role is appreciated in the bigger picture and that the management believes in the decisions that they take.
- Trust: The feeling of being trusted by the management is an amazing motivator. When your employees see that you trust them with however they plan to achieve their goals, they would try never to make you regret trusting them.
- Creativity: In most creative jobs, employees have been found to perform better when allowed more autonomy. In jobs that are more monotonous however, supervision does serve as a glue that prevents motivation from breaking down. Organizations like Google, that allow enough freedom to their employees to actually go ahead and do what they do best, have risen to the top-most rungs of the most ideal workplace utopias. That said, even in such jobs, a certain degree of autonomy is quite effective in boosting productivity.
- Better Decisions: Allowing your team more freedom in decision-making might actually lead to better decisions. The more they realize that you want more participation than just being “yes-men” (or women!), the more independently will they try to solve problems and quite effectively wow you!
The degree of autonomy you allow your employees has a strong effect on the kind of culture you plan to build in your organization. There are workplaces today that do allow unlimited sick-leave, coupled with 4 weeks of remote-access or work-from-home and 4 weeks of paid vacation. Sounds positively outlandish? No worries. You could start with baby-steps towards trusting your employees. With a bit of freedom at work, their awesomeness could indeed surprise you!
Do you think giving employees autonomy is a good idea? Write in at [email protected]