Don’t hold employees, a prisoner of your choice
The greatest motivation and most personal satisfaction comes from those goals that we choose for ourselves. Self-chosen goals create a special kind of motivation called intrinsic motivation – the desire to do something for our own sake. When people are intrinsically motivated they find it more interesting and they more enjoying. They feel more creative, and process the information more deeply. They persist more in the face of difficulties. They perform better. Intrinsic motivation is awesome in its power to get and keep us going.
Actually it isn’t so much actual freedom of choice that matters when it comes to creating intrinsic motivation, but the feeling of choice. Choice provides a sense of self-determination, even when choice is trivial or illusory.
The good news is, while true autonomy in the workplace can be hard to come by, the feeling of choice can be created fairly easily, using these three tips:
Tip 1: First, and most obviously, your employees need to understand why the goal they’ve been assigned has value. 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.
Tip 2: When the goal itself is predetermined by Management, allowing your employees to decide how they will reach the goal can create the feeling of choice necessary to be intrinsically motivated. Allowing them to tailor their approach to their preferences and abilities will also give them heightened sense of control over the situation they find themselves in, which can only benefit performance.
Tip 3: If you have to assign both the goal and the method for reaching it, try creating the feeling of choice by inviting your employee to make decisions about more peripheral aspects of the task. Studies show that these more peripheral decisions create a feeling of choice, even when the choices aren’t particularly meaningful or relevant to the goal itself.
Take time to reflect on how you might be able create a greater sense of autonomy in your own workplace using these three steps. Choice is incredibly motivating – to bring out the best in your employees, harness its power.
There is mounting evidence evidencing that employees who exercise autonomy regularly at work are happier and more productive. The right workers in the right role can transform an entire department–maybe even an entire organization–but only if their ability to act on their intuition and creativity is unleashed.
People don’t just want a job anymore; they want a fulfilling job. Fulfillment at work comes with the freedom to make decisions and own your position. Employee empowerment breeds elevated customer service, because everyone treats their job like it’s their own company.
Some quick wins to create more autonomy in the workplace.
Give parameters, then offer choices.
Give employees the freedom to set their own schedule and level of responsibility. Avoid forced move against their wishes. That freedom encourages the highly positive behaviour from the employees. People are all different. Some do their best work in the early morning. Some prefer to grind it out on the weekends or in the wee small hours of the morning. Having a choice in deciding when you will do your best work is extremely empowering.
Many managers still insist on the 9-5 for one reason only–control. They lack the trust to relinquish control over employees’ schedules.
Find a way to unify the culture.
If you do decide to forego the typical work day, you’ll have to find other ways to create a cohesive company culture. Letting employees be in control of their work schedules will lead to greater autonomy, but it could also lead to isolated employees.