5 Steps to Give Autonomy without Blowing Everything Up

One goal of managing is to supervise less. Managers work too hard because they supervise too much. Giving autonomy to supervisors scares the crap out of incompetent managers.

Bureaucrats block autonomy with regulations. Control requires management and supervision. The bigger the employee handbook, the more you need to supervise.

Give competent people autonomy. Control blocks autonomy.

Giving autonomy to supervisors scares the crap out of incompetent managers. Image of a person sitting on the edge of a cliff.

How to give autonomy:

#1. Equip.

Hire for attitude, aptitude, and talent. Train for skills.

We learn a lot in a two-day training, but we develop when we put learnings into action.

Action equips people.

#2. Step back intentionally.

Begin by walking beside people. Mentor, coach, and train.

People learn to supervise themselves when you pull back.

People grow best when you’re not in the room.

  1. Discuss the goal of less supervision with your team.
  2. Develop a plan to manage less with your supervisors. Plan with not for. Loosen your grip when you expect people to take the reins.
  3. Establish a rhythm of meeting to monitor performance before you release people.
  4. Model the habit of continual growth.

#3. Endure the dip.

Things get worse before people get traction. How you respond to failure determines success or defeat.

  1. Explain the dip.
  2. Clarify the goal.
  3. Ask them to come up with a specific plan to resolve issues.
  4. Expect them to monitor themselves and self-correct.
  5. Stay available to help.
  6. Step in reluctantly.
  7. Schedule updates.

Tip: Behaviors resolve issues. What specifically will you do differently?

Autonomy is earned.

#4. Release competent people to learn from mistakes.

People learn most when they make decisions that don’t work.

Let people fail and learn. You weaken people when you habitually save the day.

#5. Prevent catastrophe.

Don’t let anyone throw gas on a burning fire.

What needs to be in place for people to have more autonomy at work?

How can managers learn to supervise less?

Still curious:

4 Powers of Surrender for Leaders

Forget Flexibility. Your Employees Want Autonomy. (hbr.org)