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How can we give employees more control of their own jobs?

In a C21st Org, people do not fit into a predetermined job description or title, they co-define their role alongside a team by taking into considering their unique skills and characteristics in the context of  how to propel that team, towards a shared goal, and the organisation towards its purpose. A leader can set the scene for this approach by handing over control of what and how employees work whilst providing the support they need to transition to self management.

Self-management starts with a leader give employees more freedom, more accountability, and a clear and shared purpose to strive towards. When employee’s personal values and skills align with team and organisational purpose, they will use their decision making to drive the enterprise forward.

Ways to make this happen include:

  • Trust in every individual’s good intention and natural ability
  • Create an environment where employees feel safe bringing their whole self to work.
  • Work towards a structure where small autonomous teams based on authentic relationships are the norm.
  • Flood purpose and principle into management discussions
  • Provide employees with the information that they need to make wise decisions
  • Create financial transparency
  • Support financial literacy - eg. standard training in understanding a profit and loss report.
  • Limit compensation disparities
  • Hold employees accountable for results of decisions that they’ve made

When people feel that they are working towards a higher purpose, they are able to freely (and enthusiastically) give their time and talents. The higher purpose can’t just be a façade, however.  If it rings falsely, employees will see it for what it is: a ploy by the bureaucracy to increase productivity.  

When people are given the right support and resources they can define and do their jobs without management intervention.  If they feel that they are simply working in predefined jobs towards a profit for faceless shareholders, their motivation wanes, and they become disengaged.

“The ideas of stewardship, empowerment, and partnership are useful because they clearly carry within them the intention of doing something about the distribution of power.”

Peter Block

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  1. Cassa Grant

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