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Count yourself lucky to be alive during a period of human history, where immense changes are occurring in the business. Just a decade or so ago, no business owner would even entertain the idea of giving their employees more autonomy. ‘Why on earth would I want employees to just be able to do whatever they want!?’ would be the kind of tone you’d receive for asking why more autonomy was not allowed. That’s the fear, isn’t it? The potential fact that employees will go, rogue, do whatever they want, not keep the company’s best interests at heart. Now, however, there is a shift occurring whereby allowing more freedom to act on the initiative is taking hold in the world of business.
Towards the end of last year, Forbes published an article in which a call for more employee freedom was made. It was made quite effectively and thus well-received by many professionals and industry experts. In the article, the value of employee engagement was kept as the highest priority in this matter. Of course, there will be opposing viewpoints that mention employees might become less entangled with the company culture and its values. However, it must be noted that this is a fallacy that’s only given credence because of the risk factor. Indeed, this could happen, but what’s stopping your employees from doing such things right now? Nothing is the answer. The risk increases, but by how much nobody really knows because this hasn’t been tried before on a mass scale.
When employees have less control, they feel less valued. So if you’re a business owner, you should give your employees more autonomy for one or two months to see how things pan out. What you stand to gain is a reputation of confidence and trust, which could result in higher employee engagement, more innovation, happier employees and ultimately, more loyalty from your workforce.
‘But I’m not a business owner’ you might be saying. Well, ask yourself if you would like to have more autonomy in your own profession? More than likely, you’ll say yes. It’s natural for you to feel this way because more autonomy is equated to not just trust, but professional competence as well. Say for example your work as a certified nurse. You take orders from doctors and surgeons in order to fulfil your role. Advanced nurses do this but they also, take autonomous actions to give the patient better care as their situation changes. Nurses cannot always wait for decisions to be made by doctors, especially those that are either minor or procedural. That’s why at Bradley University they offer a Master of Science in Nursing course so you can become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). An APRN has full practice authority which gives them an advanced level of autonomy. You’ll be taking part in improving patient care and safety from the top down in the hospital.
Imagine scientists don’t have free reign to conduct experiments in order to find a cure for a disease. Imagine, they can only get the green light if a government body approves it and only after everything has been planned for them. Not much would get done, would it? In any research field, whether in business or in the public sector, must be given a high level of autonomy so that innovation can occur at the heart of everything. Research and development departments grind to a slow crawl when CEOs and other C-suite ranks medal in what area of the business is given more time and attention.
Thus as a business owner or a research professional, you should endeavor to make this process more autonomous so there is more to be gained. One way you can do this is by giving senior research professionals, the ability to plan their own projects. The key worrying factor is budgetary management as research without some kind oversight will eventually lead to financial waste. In terms of practical planning, this should be left in the hands of the CRO i.e. the Chief Research Officer. The financial planning must be kept in the hands of the CFO i.e. Chief Financial Officer. At times there will be strong disagreement but ultimately, both will balance each other out.
If more autonomy was given to employees, their happiness and engagement levels would skyrocket. Not only would there more a heightened level of trust, but employee productivity and innovation would jointly raise. If you would like a profession with more autonomy, it’s important to shoot for a role that does allow you this freedom via qualifications.