Why is autonomy important? Shouldn’t a manager or leader be in total control, overseeing each and every facet of the organization, in order to ensure its success and profitability? Wrong!
Autonomy is the greatest motivator of all when it comes to employee performance and productivity. To understand this concept, let’s back up a bit…
Intrinsic motivation is borne of self-made goals and is the desire to do something for one’s own sake. When an employee has intrinsic motivation to achieve a goal or complete a task, they go about their work with more enthusiasm and gusto.
Intrinsic motivation yields a whole host of positive side effects:
- More enjoyment
- Greater interest in said task
- Enhanced creativity
- Deeper comprehension and information processing
- Higher stamina in the face of challenge or adversity
- Better overall performance
I know I’ve got you on the edge of your seat now: “How can I inspire intrinsic motivation in my team?”
Autonomy plays a major role in inspiring intrinsic motivation. The truth is, it’s less about the actual freedom of autonomy itself and more to do with the perception of choice.
That is, employees want to feel they have a say in the matter, even if at the end of the day you (as the manager or leader) are still the one calling the shots.
In any case, the feeling of autonomy in the workplace can be created by using the following tips.
1. Tell them why it is important.
It’s not enough to just say, “Here’s a task, it has to be done, now go and do it.”
Doesn’t create much motivation, does it? Instead, explain to your employee or team why said action is important, and how it benefits them and the organization.
Taking time to explain how a given task fits into the bigger picture helps employees understand why it is desirable for them to achieve optimal results.
2. Allow them to tailor their approach.
If all you’re concerned with is the outcome, loosen the reigns and let your team decide how they will act.
Again, this is the perfect example of instilling the image of choice while still maintaining authority over the situation.
Define the parameters and optimal outcome, then let them run with it. If you can’t manage to give up that much control, consider giving a couple of options for how to proceed.
3. Give total freedom in “peripheral” tasks.
A peripheral task is one that doesn’t necessarily directly impact or hold much weight against the bigger picture but nonetheless requires some decision-making.
For example, the weekly meeting agenda; location of a team luncheon or quarterly off-site retreat. Empowering your team to make these kinds of decisions creates a feeling of responsibility and trust, even if the outcome isn’t particularly substantial.
Remember, autonomy leads to intrinsic motivation, which leads to optimal employee performance and results.
Discover ways in which you can instill autonomy within your team and gradually loosen the reigns with each successful endeavor.
Doing so will not only inspire your team towards greatness but also allow you greater focus on big ticket items.