Do You Need More Autonomy at Work?

Studies have shown that more autonomy at work leads to higher job satisfaction and greater productivity, and is more valued by employees than either money or the ability to boss people around. In fact, research suggests that even the desire to have more power is linked to a perception that the wielder will have more control over their destiny. The question is, does your job provide you with enough freedom to succeed?

If any of the following are true, the answer might be no.


(Photo Credit: Pixabay)

  1. You know that you have goals, but you don’t know why – or how they fit into the company’s goals.

“… your employees need to understand why the goal they’ve been assigned has value,” explains Heidi Grant Halvorson at Forbes, speaking to managers and corporate leaders. “Too often, managers tell their employees what they need to do, without taking the time to explain why it’s important, or how it fits into the bigger picture. No one ever really commits to a goal if they don’t see why it’s desirable for them to do it in the first place. Don’t assume the why is as obvious to your team as it is to you.”

  1. You have to be at the actual office, even though there’s no good reason for it.

There are plenty of good reasons to require people to come into the physical office. Some leaders feel that the chance to collaborate in person is important to their team’s success; some projects move forward more smoothly when the team members are able to put their heads together in the same space.

That said, there are benefits to working from home. Many telecommuters feel that they’re more productive and even put in longer hours when they work from their home office instead of at corporate headquarters. Plus, it’s a nice benefit that doesn’t cost the company anything, and might even save money on real estate costs and utilities, depending on how often workers are allowed to take advantage.

Bottom line, if your organization insists on face-time that adds no value, it might be time to consider whether it’s the best place for you.

  1. Your boss second-guesses every detail, seemingly as a matter of course.

Micromanagers: if they could clone themselves, they would. As it stands, they’ll settle for poring over everything you do, with the end result that your work takes twice as much time and causes infinitely more frustration than it needs to.

Effective managers know that there’s more than one right way to do something. Their goal is to hire good people, give them the tools they need to do the job, and then get out of their way until it’s time to check in or offer real support.

  1. When someone suggests a new way of doing something, the response is, “That’s not the way we’ve always done it.”

Unless you work for the government, you shouldn’t have to hack through red tape every time you want to innovate. Sure, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, etc. But if every process and procedure is seemingly set in stone at your company, you might want to think about moving on to a place that will welcome your willingness to try something new.

  1. If you ask “Why?,” your boss hears, “I don’t wanna.”

Sometimes, manager-employee relationships break down. If your boss thinks you’re being an obstructionist, when you’re honestly asking for clarification on goals, you might have a problem.

If your boss has become the enemy, all is not necessarily lost. But until you repair the relationship, you won’t have much in the way of autonomy.

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