Still Micromanaging? An Autonomous Workplace Benefits Everyone

When it comes to the well-being of your employees, it is pertinent to understand the benefits of autonomy. Studies have found that autonomy not only improves their well-being but increases their levels of job satisfaction too.

But what exactly is autonomy? What about it helps improve the lives of your employees? Let's take a closer look. Hopefully, you will understand the true value of adding autonomy to your place of work. 

Is autonomy all about work hours?

Yes and no. Autonomy, for the most part, is greatly related to flexible work hours. Those who have the ability to work when they want report higher levels of satisfaction in their jobs. Autonomy, however, isn't all about flexibility in a person's work schedule. It is about having choices and being able to choose for oneself the best way to complete job-related tasks. 

Where does autonomy start?

It starts with providing your workers with the ability to make their own choices. And to be completely honest, you don't even have to let them make their own choices; you just have to let them perceive that they are making their own choices. For example, you can give your workers the ability to choose which eight hours out of the day they want to work. Either from 7am-3pm, 8am-4pm, 9am-5pm, or 10am-6pm.

By doing this, you are still guaranteeing that your workforce will be in and out of the office between the hours of 7 am and 6 pm, yet you are providing your workers with the ability to work according to a schedule that best suits their needs. 

Are you managing people and or managing activities?

As a manager or supervisor, it is of the utmost importance that you recognize the difference between managing people and managing activities. Managers don't spend their time completing a wide variety of tasks. Instead, they manage the people who are completing these tasks. You have to work through the people you are managing to ensure projects and work tasks are completed.

How can you successfully do this? It starts with throwing out strict orders and replacing them with strict deadlines. Your employees can come to you if they need direction on completing their tasks, but you should not hover over them. Instead, provide them with autonomy. Give them leeway to complete their tasks according to schedules and options that work best for them.

Higher levels of productivity.

And remember, the happier your workers are, the higher their levels of productivity will be; this translates into successful project completion and higher profit levels.

If I grant autonomy, does that mean I am giving up control?

A lot of managers feel as if they are giving up control over their projects when they provide their workers with autonomy. In a sense, you are giving up control. You are no longer harping out orders and making your workers follow a precise set of instructions to get a project completed.

What you need to realize, though, is that even though you are distinguished in what you do, your workers may be able to find more efficient ways to accomplish their tasks; this can result in saving both time and money. What it all boils down to is giving up complete control and avoiding micromanaging.

Lead and direct.

You don't have to oversee every minute detail of a project. Your job as a manager or supervisor is to lead and direct. By setting objectives for each team member, you are pointing them in the direction they need to go while allowing them to figure out for themselves how they can best meet those objectives.

It is also your responsibility, though, as a manager to hold team members accountable when they don't meet their objectives. Once they see, however, that you are allowing them to meet their objectives according to schedules and processes that work best for them, they will work harder to prove themselves and their abilities to successfully complete delegated work tasks. 

Implementing autonomy and maintaining structure.

The number one factor to keep in mind when giving your team members autonomy is to start out slowly. You don't want to hand over too much autonomy in the beginning only to have to take it away because of a lack of the ability to maintain internal structure. 

Studies show that teams are negatively affected when you take something away from them, such as autonomy. By giving them autonomy in increasing intervals, though, this can boost their collective output. And it helps you maintain structure and allows you to gauge your ability to effectively loosen up on project control. 

Key Takeaway: Autonomy truly is a win-win for everyone involved.

​We've covered how autonomy is going to benefit overall project completion and provides benefits to your workers, but how is it going to benefit you? For starters, it is going to free up a large portion of your time. Instead of hovering over your workers, you can spend more time in your office developing strategic solutions to some of your more problematic projects.

It is also going to lessen the stress you deal with because you won't feel so tied down to projects. Instead, you can have peace of mind in knowing projects are getting completed according to work processes that are improving employee satisfaction. It's a win-win for everyone.