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The Champion Forum Podcast

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Thank you for listening to the Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! What makes you want to work for an organization? More and more, workplace autonomy is a key value for America’s employees. Autonomy is the degree to which a worker feels independence, freedom, and discretion to plan the work process and choose how to complete the work. Unfortunately, many leaders struggle to achieve this kind of culture on their team because they feel like this approach is too risky. Today on the Champion Forum Podcast, we discuss the power of autonomy and how to create this culture in your workplace. When you do, you will have a more empowered, productive, and innovative team. The benefits of a culture of autonomy: 1. It creates empowered employees. If you give your team members ownership over their job responsibilities, your workforce will be more engaged and enthusiastic. 2. It allows decision-making to take place at the point of contact. In most cases, you are not the person with the best insight into the issues your company faces. When you need input on a decision, you should always look to the people who implement the strategy or procedure. By giving them ownership, you help avoid your blind spots. 3. It increases productivity. Have you ever been stuck in a back and forth with your boss or employee? The result is usually a drawn-out decision-making process that slows progress and wastes time. Don’t be the person who holds up progress! If you give your team ownership over their decision-making process, they will have more time to work on what’s important to the business. Q: Which of the benefits of a culture of autonomy stands out to you? Have you ever worked for a company where you had autonomy? What was it like? Were there any drawbacks? How can I be sure my employees are doing the right thing? Instead of directing your team's activities, focus on aligning them with your company's goals and explaining their role. Here are three practical things that you can begin thinking about and working on right away. Q: As an employee, what helps you feel sure that you are doing what your boss wants? Have you ever worked with someone who was unclear? Have you ever worked for a micromanager? Describe your experiences. How do you think a manager can strike a balance between the two? 1. Give your people a chance to ask for forgiveness, not permission. Many employees are afraid that their work will not be good enough, especially if they try something new. How you respond to their ideas and failures will form their belief in this area. Have some faith in your team! You chose them because you knew they could do the job. Let them have the freedom to use their expertise and daily experience to innovate new solutions. 2. Stop micromanaging How do you know if you’re a micromanager? Ask yourself how you respond when people do something wrong. If you offer critiques without direction, you are a micromanager. Micromanagement has a damaging effect on your team’s autonomy. Give direction when necessary, but don’t worry about correcting every detail. They will learn some lessons on their own. 3. Cast vision by focusing on the outcome you desire. If your team hears you describe the entire process, they will not be motivated to innovate new solutions. Instead, they will execute your plan. Giving them the goals and then leaving them to work out the details will allow your team to work creatively and leverage their experience and expertise. To keep them on task, set up checkpoints where you can inspect their progress and provide redirection if necessary. Q: What keeps you from delegating? How would your week look different if you felt comfortable assigning more of your work to your team? Describe someone you know who is a good delegator. How do they communicate when they are delegating? How are their relationships with other people? Application Activities 1. How would you rate your current culture? Do you make it easy for your employees to take ownership of their work? On a scale of 1-10, rate yourself in these five areas. 1. My workplace has an environment that allows employees to take risks. 2. People stay at my workplace for a long time and are very engaged in their jobs. 3. My company responds quickly to customer issues. 4. Bonuses, raises, and other rewards are based on the company’s goals, not specific policies or procedures. 5. My company’s managers act like coaches, not micromanagers. Choose one of the areas where you scored yourself less than five and discuss it with your boss or mentor. Brainstorm some ways that you can improve on it. Remember that culture does not change immediately, so it may take time and effort for both managers and employees to adjust to a new way of thinking. 2. Look at your current workload. Challenge yourself to delegate 20% of your workload in 2022. When you do, you will develop your employees and create time for you to take on more challenging projects, develop your team, and look for creative solutions. If you need more help on delegating, check out our episode Overcoming the Dread of Delegation HERE. 3. Changing a culture does not happen overnight. Develop a plan to push the vision of autonomy to your team. 1. Publicly celebrate team members who take risks, even if they make mistakes. 2. Promote your culture’s values during your weekly meetings and touchpoints. Create a schedule that ensures you regularly reflect on each value. 3. Communicate your business's goals weekly, quarterly, and yearly so that your employees can act autonomously.

DECEMBER 8, 2021


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