Autonomy in the Workplace

Autonomy in the Workplace

Strong Corporate Entrepreneurial Leaders embrace the new autonomy

The independence and freedom being experienced by employees at this time is creating a transformation to the new way of working.  Companies are finding that strong leaders that do not fear employees being unfettered from the physical office, disengaged from office politics and accepting the destruction of distance limitation are thriving.  The freedom (autonomy) is allowing employees the ability to express themselves, prove they are self-managed, and even identify process improvements that may have gone unseen.

Virtual Work Has Many Benefits

Working from home has created an autonomy that allows employees to get past the politics of small teams and the pressure of competition that creates stress, reduces productivity, and inhibits creativity.  This freedom from the constraints of the office is having a positive effect amongst many companies…the explosion of Corporate Entrepreneurs.  There are other benefits of the decentralized, autonomous employee, the embracing of technology. 

  • For years companies have spent 2-3% of their revenue on print and document management.  Employees fought the use of digital documents and would “level-set” any efforts to move to a paperless process.  Now, they are utilized the technologies that are making processes better and profits increase. 
  • The use of video conferencing has brought to light the inefficiencies of most meetings.  While many will say they have video conference burnout, what they are really expressing is the lack of value most meetings have.
  • Managers are seeing the capabilities of employees beyond their friendship quotient.  Employees that may not have been socially close to management have suffered while those that “kiss-up” have received unwarranted benefits.
  • Investment in corporate travel and real estate offer immense bottom line (profit) savings.

Traditional Manager Fear Autonomy

Even though there are many benefits to the new autonomy, many managers think that autonomy creates chaos and is not “manageable.”  These are the managers that are driving the movement to get employees back to the office.  They don’t want their employees to create their own goals and decide how they will achieve the goals. 

Structural Autonomy

If these leaders where strong confident, corporate entrepreneurial leaders, they would realize what they are missing is the concept of Structural Autonomy, put forth in 1972 by Gulowsen.  Yes, more than 50 years ago experts were discussing autonomy without the benefits of the internet, video conferencing, cell phones and even computers on every lap!  So why after 50 years is it still so hard to accept that concept of autonomy?

Because traditional management does not understand Structural Autonomy.  This is when a group has control and can make decisions about factors within a boundary set forth by the corporate environment.  It enables teams to solve a problem with self-determined means, but within resource and corporate directive constraints.  If employees are trained properly, company policy and direction communicated, and have clear goals and objectives structural autonomy can add great efficiency to any company.

Corporate Entrepreneurial Leaders are Needed

Traditional leaders are afraid that if their teams can work in an autonomous environment, then they are not needed!  They are wrong here too.  Leaders are needed to identify and capitalize on the different factors involved in building a corporate entrepreneurial environment. 

A leader’s behavior will reinforce, challenge, influence and expand their teams’ capabilities to produce efficiencies if they see their efforts and self-determination are appreciated either by intrinsic or extrinsic rewards.

Employees Enjoying Intrinsic Benefits

Some if the intrinsic benefits that employees have expressed are:

  • Money saved by not commuting, such as gas, car repairs, cloths, not buying lunch, coffee, breakfast, etc.
  • More flexibility in their schedule
  • Less office politics
  • More knowledge sharing

“To successfully respond to the myriad of changes that shake the world, transformation into a new style of management is required.  The route to take is what I call profound knowledge—knowledge for leadership of transformation.”

William Deming

Transformation Resources

Transformation into a new style of leadership is as critical today as any time in our history.  Listen to our podcast: LEADERSHIP … TIME FOR A CHANGE | The Corporate Entrepreneur ( for more on this topic.

You can also have us help with your transition through:

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