How to Encourage More Autonomy With Your Team

You want more autonomy, but so does your team. And the reality is, the more autonomy your team has… the more you’ll have too.

Autonomy doesn’t mean working in isolation or without any guidance. An autonomous workplace thrives on mutual trust, respect, reliability and integrity. I like to think of autonomy as freedom through structure. As the leader you set the parameters, but allow flexibility within them.

So, how exactly can you cultivate more autonomy with your team?


Build Trust

Trust is such a big word. It’s not always easy to let go, but you hired your team to handle specific responsibilities. Trust them to do their job.

Whether it’s about keeping your door open to talk, sharing the same mindset with the team, or giving them a chance to solve problems on their own, you need to show that you trust them.


Allow Mistakes

If you thought building trust is hard, allowing mistakes can be even more difficult. But building trust doesn’t mean expecting perfection. Your team will make mistakes, and they will learn and grow from those mistakes if you give them the autonomy to do so. That means not jumping back in and taking over, but giving them feedback and coaching to help them improve.


Provide the Right Tools to Get the Work Done

Does your team have the right tools to get the job done? Giving them the autonomy to accomplish milestones and reach goals without equipping them with the right tools, training, and assets is counterproductive. Do your part too. Once they have all the essentials, they’ll be able to work with more autonomy.


Take a Step Back

Autonomy should always follow alignment. This means communicating goals, clear expectations, deliverables and deadlines. And if they need help or have questions, it means making yourself available.

But once there’s alignment, take a step back and give them space to perform. I know some entrepreneurs can’t get enough of micromanaging, but it’s important to know when to step up and step away. And encouraging autonomy with your team has to do with the latter.


Celebrate and Reward Wins

Whether big or small, all wins should be celebrated. This positively encourages your team to keep showing up, delivering results and working to improve without the need for additional oversight.


Find Out Your Team’s Autonomy Needs

Your team is made up of different people, so autonomy will mean something different to each of them. Spend some 1-on-1 time with them to learn what level and type of autonomy they desire.

Do they want more or less interaction with you? More or less direction? More or less feedback? Do they want more responsibility, flexibility in their work schedule, the ability to choose what projects and tasks they work on, the ability to choose who they work with? These are questions for you to ask. And the answers can be used to encourage greater autonomy.


Are you building a culture of autonomy?

Creating an autonomous workplace and culture can increase productivity and the results you’re aiming for. 

By fostering a culture of autonomy built on mutual trust, your team will become more motivated to go above and beyond. This, in return, will also boost your business’s success.

And aside from the perks that your business will get, think about your team too. Greater autonomy leads to greater satisfaction and staying with your company longer. I’d say that’s a win-win!

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