Today, I want to talk about an aspect that I consider key to make teams highly productive. The autonomy of each member when working.
In an autonomous team, each member has the responsibility and authority to make their own decisions, without the need of continuously waiting for instructions from others. These types of teams are known as self-directed teams.
By this, I am not trying to say that decision making by consensus or collaborative activities such as Pair Programming should disappear from teams. Nothing could be further from the truth, autonomy must complement collaborative work and consensual decisions.
Do you want to know how we can promote autonomy within the team? I encourage you to continue reading!
The power of empowerment
It has surely happened to you that some time you have found yourself blocked working on something, waiting for confirmation or approval from someone to continue. This ends up wasting a time that negatively affects the team productivity in the end.
These situations are more usual in hierarchical organizations, where it is necessary to receive direction from people who are higher in the hierarchy more often when making decisions. Still, this can also happen in flat organizations, when members do not feel empowered enough to take a specific decision and go to the rest of the team to make it in consensus.
A team made up of empowered people fosters autonomy at work and therefore reduces the blockages created by dependencies, significantly improving productivity.
The requirements of empowerment
Empowerment in teams is not something that can be achieved overnight. Although the benefits may be obvious, and it may seem easy to apply at first glance, certain requirements must be taken into account that I explain below.
It is necessary that the culture of the organization promotes and facilitates the empowerment of members as well as environments of trust where autonomy can evolve in a healthy way.
Competencies and skills
Empowering people in activities that they are unable to perform fluently due to ignorance can be counterproductive. Blockages are more likely due to lack of experience, performance will be worse and the probability of failure will increase.
We all know that when we are more motivated we work with greater effort and dedication, so it is important to empower people in the activities that motivate them the most, even if they do not always have all the necessary knowledge to carry them out. This can be seen as an investment in the future. Although blockages and dependencies may be generated at the beginning due to lack of experience, these will become less and less, as the person gains autonomy. Thus it is important to have the figure of a mentor, who is at the apprentice’s assistance and who guides him during his learning. This way, we will not only boost autonomy but also the growth of people within the organization.
It must be ensured that all decisions made are aligned with the values and objectives of the organization.
It is important to assess the possible risks of each decision before making it and raise your hand when a review or a consensus decision with the rest of the team is necessary. As I have already mentioned, autonomy should not replace collaboration. It is natural that there are issues that need to be managed together.
Finally, and related to the confidence necessary for all this to work, no one should be blamed for the errors derived from their decisions. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn and improve and it is the team as a whole who is responsible for identifying them and minimizing their impact.
From my point of view, autonomy is an aspect needed to boost team productivity, as long as collaboration and communication are maintained.
I would love to know what you think about this topic and I encourage you to reflect on it. You can write your opinions or experiences in the comment section. I will be happy to read them!