All businesses could benefit from giving their employees more autonomy within the workplace. When done well, this creates a collaborative atmosphere, and a united team and paves the way for a successful business. So how do you strike a balance between creating structures while offering your team enough freedom?
Why is freedom important for employees?
When people have a certain amount of freedom, they are more likely to come up with their own creative solutions to problems. This is especially true if their work is detail oriented and complicated. Staff also need to strike a good work-life balance so they grow both personally and professionally. This results in higher productivity and less staff turnover, with brand-loyal employees.
1. Encourage the sharing of ideas
Create a culture that promotes openness to innovation and creativity. When you include your staff in planning and problem solving you are giving them the opportunity to contribute in important ways. If any of their ideas are implemented, they will then have the experience of seeing how it helped the company grow. This will also take the pressure off you as a leader, giving you the chance to take a step back and rely on the people you have hired to carry the business forward.
2. Offer flexibility to employees
This could be implemented in various ways like encouraging your team to manage their own schedules, work remotely and set their own daily tasks. This will promote an atmosphere where staff feel trusted in an environment which favours overall output rather than micro-management.
3. Let employees set their own goals
People really thrive when they can master their own destinies. Ask your staff what they want to achieve in your business and how they imagine themselves achieving those goals. Of course, as a leader, you can help them narrow their focus or hone their objectives. A strong manager will be able to bring individual objectives in line with the company’s goals. This creates a win-win scenario for staff and business alike.
4. Think uniquely for each and every employee
As a manager, you have a responsibility not to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to your team. Spend time getting to know your staff members individually in order to understand their personal needs, strengths, weaknesses and goals. Really try and understand each of their personality styles and whether they require encouragement in places or more freedom in others. The upside of this approach is your staff will feel emotionally invested in and they will also be far more willing to go the extra mile for the business.
5. Be respectful and trusting
Spend time creating an environment that really fosters talent in a respectful atmosphere. When you micro-manage your team you are also subtly communicating that you don’t trust them to get the job done. If this is the case then they may also feel restricted in their daily movements and will be unlikely to push forward with big ideas.
6. Create a communicative atmosphere
Be sure to check in periodically to get feedback from your team. Ask them about any challenges they are facing and encourage them to bring their own solutions. This will model that you not only want to help them overcome the problem but that you trust in their judgement to contribute to the necessary changes.
The bottom line
A strong business leader is able to strike a delicate balance between managing a team effectively and giving your staff a strong sense of freedom. When done well, staff feel empowered and motivated, and will deliver big results for the business. This creates a mutually beneficial environment where business owners can really trust the people they have hired to grow the business and staff feel trusted enough to do so.