When I was around 10 years old, my stay-at-home dad went back to work. For the next few years, he switched jobs a lot. For a while he took portraits in a photography studio; another time, he managed a bookstore. He told me more than once that he was looking for a job with plenty of autonomy. He was an independent spirit and liked to see his own ideas implemented–traits that I inherited from him. To this day, I know personal autonomy is an important factor when he’s choosing a new role.
My dad isn’t the only one who believes some measure of independence is essential in the workplace. Studies have shown that autonomy makes workers more satisfied with their jobs and increases productivity.
“Autonomy is the antithesis of micromanagement,” writes Joan F. Cheverie, manager of professional development programs at the higher education and IT nonprofit EDUCAUSE. And it may be the best way to ensure your employees are happy at work.
In control of your destiny
In the workplace, autonomy essentially means having a job where you can make at least some of the decisions on your own. The degree of autonomy you have can vary dramatically, from having a say in your own goals or the projects you work on, to deciding when and where to do your work. For most people, it’s important to “perceive that they have choices, that what they are doing is of their own volition, and that they are the source of their own actions,” according toCheverie.
This theory applies to groups as well as individuals. If a work team has the power to make decisions as a group—independent of higher management—that team is autonomous to some degree.
The science of autonomy
So what’s the big deal about autonomy? …..
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