The pandemic-induced work-from-home arrangement has given the concept of “autonomy” a lot of airtime. Without managers monitoring every move, employees naturally had to engage in more self-management. This idea surprises many business his leaders. They fear team members will become lazy if they are not supervised or given detailed instructions.
For the majority of workers, this attitude is misplaced. Some employees are not well equipped to do their job without an office structure and instructions on what to do and when, but most are not. , will gladly accept the chance to demonstrate their ability to meet business objectives. They may take time to adjust, but thrive when given a sense of empowerment for their work.
You might be surprised at how your team’s performance improves when you stop making assumptions and let them make important decisions on their own. Here’s how you can increase your team’s autonomy and why you should try it.
Delegate Better and Lead Quietly
Delegation is a tough act for many leaders. They cling to the belief that their title makes them all bosses in every way. If you want to build an autonomous team, you have to loosen your hands.
Delegate roles to team members whose talents, skills, and experience are best suited. Empower your team to make and execute decisions without having to get your approval every time. When goals and assignments are clear, employees can run together with their balls.
As a leader, your role is to provide your team with the resources they need so they can answer questions and provide guidance. Let’s say you want to delegate a wide range of responsibilities to the technical lead of your team. That person has carried most of the coding burden. You’ll need to work with your leads to find ways to take over the coding so they can take on the new mentoring and management duties you envision.
Delegating authority gives teams the opportunity to fully invest in their work and take ownership of the process and results. Only good things come out of it.
Give everyone autonomy and monitor the emergence of leaders
Team autonomy is not a matter of choice and choice. For this to work, you need to give everyone on your team autonomy. This includes members who have hitherto relied more on management direction than on independent thought.
Delegating authority to specific team members does not mean that they work in isolation. They still have to work with the rest of the team. If you do your job well, the employee you promote provides the structure some team members need while maintaining overall team autonomy.
For example, if you delegate the responsibility of creating a project timeline to one individual, that person should consult with other team members. The team discusses the factors that influence the timeline to create something that everyone agrees on. They hand over the timeline for you to monitor (not endorse).
What happens in this process is the emergence of leaders at all levels. Autonomy fosters peer-to-peer learning that organically creates strong team dynamics. Everyone learns something from others.
Effective leaders build those around them. If you offer your employees the autonomy that allows them to take initiative at different levels, you are building a very deep team that is highly productive and resilient.
Trust your team.
Trust is a mutual proposition, especially when building autonomous teams. When you give your team autonomy, you have to trust them to make the right decisions. In return, teams must trust that they are confident in their ability to make decisions that lead to strong outcomes.
Employee trust is critical to key factors such as productivity, collaboration, innovation and dispute resolution. These are the qualities of a successful team, company success.
No one said teams could easily be trusted to make important decisions on their own. This is where your ability to mentor, guide and coach comes into play.
Autonomy doesn’t mean standing by and watching teams and projects self-destruct. On the contrary, autonomous teams gain confidence from knowing that you are monitoring their efforts and that you will step in if they stray too far. Get together to brainstorm ideas for solutions before they go too far.
What you don’t do is throw your hands up and take over. If you do, you’re telling the team that you’ve lost faith in them, and they’ll be nice to you. Tweak them in the right direction and they can course correct themselves. That is autonomous teamwork.
Increase team autonomy
Giving your team autonomy does not mean giving up leadership. You have to approach it differently.
How much autonomy you allow and where you apply it is still up to you. But even a little bit of good work can create more constructive collaboration than chaos.