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Autonomy - Ask Employees

Employees want autonomy. Managers should give it to them not only because it increases engagement, but because it improves productivity.

But managers need to avoid one big mistake - not asking employees what autonomy means to them.

This is a common communication problem. A manager says "I know you want autonomy and I plan on giving it to you". The employees are happy. The manager starts to give autonomy. But employees aren't engaged or productive. Why?

Managers and employees have different definitions of autonomy. The manager is convinced she is giving the employees exactly what they want. The employees keep thinking "I thought she was going to give me autonomy, but this isn't it." Frustration sets in on both sides and the experiment is considered a failure. The manager is convinced the employees don't really want it and the employees are convinced that they didn't really get what they wanted and needed.

Do the smart thing. Give them autonomy, but have a long discussion (probably more than one) on what that means. What behaviors and responses indicate real autonomy. Come to agreement and understanding. Constantly be checking in to make sure the definition and the actions are aligned.

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