Freedom’s Close Cousin: Autonomy

June 30, 2015
| ByMike Ryan

With the July 4th holiday coming up shortly, I thought it apropos to talk about freedom. The independence to live your life the way you want to is a founding principle upon which this great county of ours was founded. While we often think of freedom in the context of our personal lives, its close cousin “autonomy” plays a big role in determining our fulfilment at work.

Of course, employees give up a little of their freedom when they sign up for a job; in exchange for a paycheck they commit to doing certain tasks. But in our talent-driven business world some of the nuances of the employee/employer contract are changing. The hours are sometimes more flexible (if not longer) while the focus of the work can vacillate as priorities change. In exchange for their employees’ commitment and mind share, most employers are less likely to worry about where they work or how they work as long as they get the job done.

Employees have responded. Autonomous workers say they are more productive. Surveys say they are more engaged. As a result, the best companies give employees more autonomy to do things their way, but the smartest also celebrate them when they do.

Recognizing an employee’s methods can be as powerful as acknowledging their accomplishments. It reinforces their sense of autonomy, while adding to their job satisfaction.

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