Tomorrow is Independence Day in the U.S., and although you probably can’t declare yourself free from all constraints and authority at the office — at least, not without winning the lottery over the long weekend — you can make a few small changes that will allow you to function with a greater degree of autonomy in your day-to-day life.
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Autonomy is key, if your goal is to be successful at work.
“Experts say that workers who believe they are free to make choices in the workplace — and be accountable for their decisions — are happier and more productive,” writes Rick Nauert, Ph.D, at Psych Central.
Of course, the best-case scenario is an employer that fosters autonomy, by making sure that bosses don’t micromanage their workers, and by rewarding self-directed behavior. Since you can’t manage your manager (well, most of the time) the best approach is to focus on the behavior you can control — your own.
1. Be responsible.
Do what you say you’re going to do, 100 percent of the time, and if something changes, communicate. Even the most easy-going boss will tighten the reins if she thinks her reports won’t deliver or manage expectations when challenges arise.
2. Document your successes, and share them.
Brag sheets aren’t just for college students — or for review time. Your manager has his own goals to hit, so don’t count on him to have time to notice your wins. Track them, and share them at the appropriate time, and you could buy yourself a bit of breathing room.
3. Be the change you want to see.
If you manage people, start giving them choices about how to meet their goals and manage their day. Psychologists at California State University discovered that being give a little bit more autonomy energizes teams and improves productivity. By giving your team space, you’ll show your own managers that independent workers produce results.
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