By David Lee December 7, 2015 TLNT
Whether your goal is to increase employee motivation, engagement, or morale, one of most effective actions you can take is to give employees more autonomy.
This means giving them more room to make decisions, to think for themselves, to “own” their jobs. In short, it’s allowing them to think — and act — like a small business owner.
Doing this will be very good for your bottom line.
In Daniel Pink’s excellent book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Really Motivates Us, he sites a study revealing the powerful role satisfying this fundamental human need has on employee performance.
More autonomy = Faster growth + Higher retention
In the study, conducted at Cornell University, half of the 320 small businesses studied demonstrated old fashioned command and control management practices, while the other half gave employees autonomy.
Those businesses that gave employees autonomy:
More autonomy = More work + More initiative
Furthermore, research conducted by BlessingWhite, and published in A Study of Voluntary Effort in the Workforce, revealed that “Responsibility for one’s work” was the No. 1 driver of discretionary effort.
In other words, if you want employees to work as hard as they can and go “above and beyond,” the most important thing you can do is give them more autonomy.
More autonomy = Greater resilience
Command and control environments that do not allow employees to think for themselves, make their own decisions, and try new things — i.e. that don’t allow autonomy — create an atmosphere that fosters “Learned Helplessness.”
Employees in this environment learn that thinking for themselves and acting on their own is pointless, so they don’t even try. Instead, they passively await orders.
In contrast, when employees get the chance to think and act like small business owners — i.e. they have autonomy — they continuously build greater confidence and resourcefulness. They continuously build greater self-efficacy and the perception that they can “handle it”… whatever “it” is.
Because of this, these employees possess far greater resilience. Resilient employees not only can handle the demands and pressures of a “do more with less” workplace more easily, they also respond more resourcefully to major changes and challenges.
Resilient employees are “Can Do” employees. In the words of Southwest Airlines, these employees demonstrate a Warrior Spirit.
10 things that managers can do
So, if you want more motivated, engaged, and “Can Do” employees, do this:
About the Author
David Lee is the founder and principal of HumanNature@work and the creator of Stories That Change. He’s an internationally recognized authority on organizational and managerial practices that optimize employee performance, morale, and engagement. He is also the author of “Managing Employee Stress and Safety,” as well over 60 articles and book chapters. You can download more of his articles at HumanNature@work, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/humannaturework.
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