Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Engaged Employee - Autonomy

Here is a very easy scenario for you. You go to work one morning and the boss tells you, “Here is what I want you to do. Here is the way I want you to do it. This is the way I want the results to look. These are the exact steps that I want you to follow. Do not vary from these steps even a little bit. Get to work and have a nice day.”

As I write these words I can feel the motivation draining from my own body and mind, just as they would drain from yours.

Alternatively the boss might tell you, “We need to get these 37 orders processed today. At the end of the day I need to know that they’ve all been processed, plus I need a report that I can use to track the delivery dates on each one. Thanks for making this happen."

As I write those words I find myself asking, “Is that a lot of orders? More than I would normally do in a day? If so, what am I going to do to get these orders processed? Who do I need to ask for help or assistance? What should the report look like?”

And while I now have more questions than answers, my mind is bubbling with ideas and possibilities; limitations and workarounds; roadblocks and solutions. In short, I’ve just engaged my brain, my thoughts, and my creativity to find a solution. I may not know if I can do it, or how I will do it, but I’m sure going to try.

It may be hard, but it’s going to be fun to figure it out and make it happen!

At least, that’s what your best, most engaged employees are going to tell you. The one’s that you really need to run your business. The one’s you can’t afford to lose because they feel bored, undervalued, or underappreciated.

If you are a leader and you really put yourself into the role described you know exactly what I mean when I say it will be fun to solve the problem and not fun to follow someone else’s solution step by step, with no thought or creativity from me.

Survey after survey has shown that one of the major things that any high quality employee wants is the ability to be autonomous. To make decisions on their own, plan their own work, and find creative solutions to problems. Yet somehow, in the name of management and control, we’ve managed to suck the creativity right out of them by insisting that things be done one way and one way only. Sometimes we call this process “following procedures”. Other times we refer to it as “best practices”, which really sounds impressive in terms of the results that someone else got using that procedure.

The funny thing about “best practices” is that what worked so well for Bob, may not work so well for Sally. Regardless of what we call it, we need to be careful to not stifle the creativity and autonomy of our best employees. Instead we need to think about how we would feel if someone always told us exactly what to do and exactly how to do it. Only then can we begin to unleash the power that is right below the surface for all of our best employees.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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