There is great fear amongst employers to give their team autonomy in one sense or another.
Team autonomy related instances are supposed to happen within the confines of professionalism. However, sometimes, certain mismanagement issues lead to unforeseen circumstances.
To that end, micromanaging your team gives your employees the impression that you don’t trust them. This in turn leads to demotivation and poor job satisfaction.
Team autonomy is an essential part of any business and it allows the company to grow as well as create leaders amongst your workforce.
What is Team Autonomy at Work?
Autonomous teams are workgroups that allowed the organizational autonomy to determine their methods of work and aims in their work.
Team autonomy at work generally refers to the leeway you provide your employees to conduct their work.
This, however, does not mean working in isolation or having a lack of guidance. Autonomous workplaces are based on mutual trust, reliability, integrity, and respect.
Team Autonomy Benefits All, Here’s Why!
Employees given the freedom to decide how they want to go about their responsibilities have been seen to be happier, more committed, and generally more productive and show a greater sense of loyalty than those who have no say, and each of their tasks is dictated.
Team autonomy also contributed to a feeling of engagement within the work employees do and their organization. This in turn is a great deciding factor for many to stay with the organization or seek employment elsewhere.
Other benefits of allowing autonomy include:
- Increased positive mood and engagement
- Feeling of accountability and in turn, want to perform better
- Increased feeling of value as an employee for that company
- Greater motivation to learn new skills
- Higher productivity
- Improved sense of team and organizational culture
- Improved work/life balance
Furthermore, having better employee engagement allows for better retention but also often leads to a decrease in absence rates.
But at the same time, allowing your teams to be more independent allows your managers to have time freed up to allow them to focus on more value-adding tasks.
How to Encourage Team Autonomy at Work?
Here are our top two ways to encourage autonomy at work naturally and beneficially for yourself and your employees.
1. Focus on the People
Autonomy in the workplace needs to start at the very beginning, let’s go back to the recruiting process.
When recruiting to your organization you need to look out for the right mindset and attitude that will allow you to create the autonomous team you desire.
Different people have different personalities and comfort zones. Certain individuals prefer supervision and a thorough direction. On the other hand, some thrive when given freedom and independence.
Some people are simply just happier being autonomous than others may be.
Whether this is because of their personalities or just what they are used to, look out for this during the recruitment process.
Hiring people who fit more comfortably in a more autonomous culture not only will allow you to make autonomy easier to integrate but these employees will help this endeavor by role-modeling that behavior to your other employees.
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do” – Steve Jobs
Ensure that during the recruiting process but also the onboarding process, you make autonomy a key point in your discussion.
However, do not overstate how much autonomy you are willing to give to employees. Make sure that employees are fully and correctly aware of how much independence they will be granted in a particular role. They should not be misinformed of the role, creating issues down the line.
Furthermore, with the people that you hire make sure you will be able to build a culture of trust.
When informing your employees of the autonomy that they have and allowing them to take the lead on the projects delegated to them, you need to accept the possible mistakes and risks that may result from doing so.
Not allowing this autonomy or delegation often comes across as a lack of trust in your employees.
You may not wish to give complete autonomy to your employees right when they join. But try and ensure that you correctly engage them. Start small and gradually increase the responsibilities and freedom given to them.
Check this out:
2. Give the Right Tools to Get Success
Apart from just giving your team the trust to be autonomous, you need to provide them with the correct tools to be able to get the job done.
Giving your team members to a responsibility to reach a certain goal, but not providing them with the right technology, training, or resources to do so is counterproductive. This not only harms you as a company but also hurts the relationship you have with your team and their ability to trust and maintain the autonomy you provided.
Guarantee that autonomy in the workplace has as much access as it does your trust. Unavailability of the correct tools leads to frustration and disengagement.
You need to tell your employees what must be done but not how it must be done. Without trust in themselves, their abilities, or their judgment there will be a definite lack of motivation. And this is all relayed to them when you do not give them your trust on how to manage tasks.
Provide your team with the tools to get the job done and they will figure out how.
This does not necessarily mean being absent from the scene completely, although taking a step back at times and forcing your team to solve their problems is also a good approach to take at times.
However, taking a step back is not you becoming obsolete. You, as a leader, and a mentor is one of the tools your team may need. They need to know situations in which they will require your sign-off, but also know you are available to aid them when they need it.
Although, make sure the need for sign off is limited. As long as they follow an agreed plan, how they implement the plan should be left up to your team. This allows for a mutual feeling of trust to develop.
As stated, providing the correct tools is not only limited to physical tools. You need to also provide them with the support for a growth mindset. Allow your team and yourself to focus on mistakes made in appositive light and allow growth rather than fear.
Acknowledgment and focus on when things go right are always beneficial too. When your team knows that they performed well and are validated gives them something to keep aspiring to and repeating.
This support and motivation require communication, as do instances when your team requires a little more support or resources.
A thankless culture, where everyone is left to their own devices and do not have the option to seek help only leads individuals to be dissuaded from taking up and wanting the accountability that comes with autonomy.
3. Create the Perfect Culture to Harness Team Autonomy
There you go, our best tips to inspire team autonomy within your department – and that too without raising any eyebrows.
Do not create a culture of “learned helplessness” where your employees are controlled and are not provided the opportunity to grow and think for themselves. This is not a culture conducive to healthy growth or innovation.
Knowing they have a say allows employees to have a resilient attitude. They will work better and be happier.
Creating an autonomous workplace and an autonomous culture will get you results and productivity your company will thank you for.
Make sure your employees want to stay with you because they know that your company is the best fit for them and is a place where they can learn the most and gain a fulfilling career.
It won’t be the easiest or quickest thing to achieve but autonomy will give your team more motivation to go above and beyond, so make sure you keep at it.