Definition of Autonomy
Every day we make countless decisions about everything from what to wear in the morning to what to eat for dinner. In most cases, we never stop to think about why we’re making these decisions nor do we pay much attention to the fact that no one is helping us to make them. If you stop and think about it, though, we have not always had the power to make decisions for ourselves; rather, we are granted this power as we grow older. The power to make our own decisions without the interference from others is what’s known as autonomy, and in nearly every sphere of life, it is incredibly important.
Autonomy is a term used to describe a person’s ability to make decisions, or speak and act on their own behalf, without interference from another party.
The importance of autonomy at work
Autonomy, in its simplest definition, is the urge to direct your own life. It’s something we want in both our professional and personal lives, but having autonomy at work (or not having it!) has taken on a pressing new meaning. Autonomy in the workplace isn’t just about managing our actions – it’s about choice; to be able able to choose and actually create our options.
The importance of autonomy in the workplace can’t be minimized. It has a knock-on effect on productivity, creativity and the quality of work produced, as well as work satisfaction and workplace trust. Without the ability to control what, when, and how we work – and even who we work with – we’ll never be fully motivated to complete a task… Nor will we want to stay with a company for very long. People simply won’t invest in a workplace that doesn’t respect their ability to manage their own professional space.
In our new era of “employee experience”, people expect to feel empowered at work. They want to feel valued and have a sense of ownership. If they don’t, most will simply up and leave. And where people feel oppressed and unhappy, neither promotions nor pay rises will fix the problem. In fact, one study found that people were two and a half times more likely to take a job that offered more autonomy than more influence.
While most managers recognize micro-management is bad for business, few have put strategies in place to actively support its solution: work autonomy. And yet, most of us – 79% according to one study – have experienced the pains of having too little autonomy in the workplace. As expectations of what we want from our jobs and employers develop, so too does our desire for greater autonomy. Here’s why building greater autonomy at work should be a top priority for every company – and how to practically go about it.
These Notes are from the “No Limits” Radio Programme on Impact 103fm!! Should you wish to get access to the teaching Audio, Join the Tribe:
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