As businesses rely on intranet software more and more to establish a functioning digital workplace during lockdown, employees across the country are being encouraged to be autonomous in their day to day tasks. Here’s what business leaders can do to support their staff:
What is working autonomously?
Autonomy at work is the ability for an employee to act on the task requirements within the given work environment. This means the employee has freedom to combine procedures, access to resources, timings, prioritisation, and tools to complete the task to the required standard.
Autonomy is different to independence, because it includes the employee’s relationship with others. Even when employees are working autonomously/independently it is within a company framework of organisation, benchmarks and standards and must take in to account the actions of other team members.
5 tips for encouraging your employees to work autonomously
- Establish a culture of trust
- Communicate frequently
- Be prepared for mistakes
- Hire independent-minded staff
- Offer choice within set boundaries
1) Establish a culture of trust
If business owners aren’t willing to trust their staff to perform their allocated tasks, problems will inevitably arise. When managers are reluctant to delegate, employees could interpret this as being due to a lack of respect and trust. A workplace culture that is devoid of trust will – amongst other negative consequences – lead to a workforce that lacks initiative and autonomy.
To rectify this, start by consulting your employees about tasks and projects in order to gather new ideas and nurture a trusting relationship within your workforce. There’s no need to dive in at the deep end – simply start by allocating small tasks for your employees to complete independently and increase them gradually over time.
2) Communicate frequently
Meeting with your employees frequently can give you the opportunity to review your staff’s progress and see how they’ve met their individual goals. Regular meetings give you the chance to identify any areas where your employees may need support or if there are any roadblocks that need to be addressed.
Regular two-way communication and collaboration also gives you the chance to recognise your team members’ achievements, which will do wonders for morale. Failing to acknowledge employee successes, on the other hand, can be seriously demotivating, and even lead to a disenfranchised workforce.
3) Be prepared for mistakes
Giving staff the independence and autonomy to make decisions will improve overall performance and boost confidence in the long run. However, be prepared for an initial increase in mistakes, and make sure you react in a supportive manner. Being overly critical of any errors or mistakes can kill creativity and drive, leading to a detrimental effect on employee engagement. Indeed, if your staff are fearful of making mistakes and suffering the consequences, they are less likely to take initiative. Instead, identify the errors made by your team and provide advice on how to avoid them in future.
4) Hire independent-minded staff
Establishing a successful autonomous workforce starts at the very beginning, during the hiring process. Recruiting team members with the right attitude and mindset to effectively complete tasks independently will make it easier for you to change your company culture into a more autonomous one.
Some people respond well to clear instructions and direction, while others prefer to work on their own using their own initiative. When hiring employees, make sure that you take the time to understand how they prefer to work, but make sure that you are very clear about your expectations from the beginning so that candidates won’t be surprised once they join your team.
5) Offer choice within set boundaries
One of the most important aspects of establishing autonomy in the workplace is offering your employees the freedom to choose how they work. That said, too much choice can reduce productivity and lead your staff away from meeting your business goals.
Take a balanced approach by setting some expectations about what your staff should deliver. With clear boundaries, your staff will be more inclined to make the most out of the choices that they make, providing them with the motivation they need to be innovative and put new ideas forward.