Leadership lessons – Employee autonomy is more important than you thinkMunira Rangwala
Not many entrepreneurs know that employee autonomy can have major benefits for the individuals concerned as well as the company as a whole. If you want your employees to live up to their full potential, you need to show them that the goals they are pursuing have real value. If entrepreneurs use power to make their employees achieve those goals, employees will only concern themselves with meeting deadlines. On the other hand, when employees are given the opportunity to choose their own goals, they will work towards those goals with fervor. Autonomy allows employees to control their work situation, and is therefore preferred over power.
Here are five reasons why autonomy is more appealing than power:
Autonomy leads to motivation
Autonomy is when you have the freedom to paint a picture you like so a customer will be willing to buy it. Power is when someone stands over your shoulder and constantly tells you what brush to use and which colours to choose. Taking away autonomy from your employees can completely obliterate any intrinsic motivation they derive from their work. Good leadership understands that motivation exists on a spectrum that is largely moderated by autonomy.
Autonomy reduces stress levels
When employees are given the freedom to choose how they want to achieve their targets, they work at their own pace, which leads to reduced stress levels. However, when leaders constantly remind employees about impending deadlines and keep adding tasks to their to-do list, employees suffer mental breakdowns owing to constant stress. Therefore, if you are concerned about the well-being of your employees (as you should be), you need to be willing to grant them autonomy.
Employees learn from autonomy
If companies want to stay competitive and relevant in the long run, they need to allow their employees freedom to learn new skills and techniques so they stay updated. Autonomy allows employees to deviate from their regular duties and take on new responsibilities. Power, on the other hand, limits employees by creating boundaries which they can't cross.
Autonomy increases the feeling of ownership
When employees believe that they can control their own destiny, they feel valued and accountable for the tasks that they are put in charge of. One way of ensuring this is by giving them the flexibility to choose the method of achieving their goals. When employees feel that they are trusted, their loyalty to their leaders deepens with time.
Autonomy improves workplace adaptability
If employees are given the freedom to function on their own, they are bound to have their own unique spin on tackling tasks and solving problems. This can eventually open up a wide range of solutions that strengthens the workplace. By tapping into diverse thought processes, a workplace becomes more adaptable, and this increases prosperity in the long run.
If you want your employees to give their 110 percent, you need to provide them with the environment to do so. Using power will only reduce productivity and make your employees quit sooner rather than later.
Read Also: Finding autonomy and purpose at work