Curiously Chase

What Is Autonomy At Work?

People talk about autonomy at work, but don't often talk about what it actually is or how to have it.

Let's talk about autonomy at work.

I've noticed the word "autonomy" comes up in conversations about work a lot without a lot of definition of what it is.

Most people crave some level of autonomy in our jobs. We crave the freedom to make decisions. We crave the ability to work independently. We crave the satisfaction of doing a thing well in a way we chose to do it.

Even though people often say that they desire autonomy, they don't know how to define it or to find it in the work they're doing.

In this article, we'll explore the ins and outs of autonomy at work and I'll provide some tips for increasing how much autonomy you have.

What Is Autonomy?

So, what's autonomy all about anyway?

It's all about having the power to make decisions and take action on your own, without somebody critiquing your every move.

It's about being able to shape your own work and take responsibility for your own actions.

It's having the power to shape your own work and determine how best to achieve your goals.

In an autonomous work environment done right, employees have a sense of control over their own work and can take responsibility for their actions.

Pretty sweet, right?

What Isn't Autonomy?

But, wait – autonomy isn't the same as being completely on your own.

Autonomy also doesn't mean "do whatever you want".

There are still rules and boundaries (constraints) in place to make sure a business runs smoothly and autonomy has to work within those rules and constraints.

Autonomy is not the same thing as being able to work alone, either.

Autonomy is bound by your skills and tools. If you haven't developed mastery in the role you hold, your autonomy is limited to how much you're capable of doing.

You can have all the autonomy in the world, but that doesn't mean you can't ask for help when you need it. In fact, working together increases your ability to autonomous and generally makes the output of your work better.

Do You Have Autonomy at Work?

So, why might you feel like you don't have autonomy?

There are a few common reasons people don't feel like they have autonomy at work:

  • You feel like your boss doesn't trust you
  • You're being micromanaged
  • You have to ask permission for everything you do
  • You don't feel like you have the skills or resources to take on tasks by yourself

How To Increase Autonomy (Without Permission)

You may feel like you can't have more autonomy at work, but fear not, my friend – there are ways to increase your autonomy.

It's important that you start to notice where you want autonomy and where you can get autonomy.

Knowing where you want autonomy and where you're not getting it means you can start to create a plan of small steps to move towards the level of autonomy you want.

Once you've figured out the level of autonomy you want, schedule some time with your manager and making sure you're on the same page about what level of autonomy you want, what that looks like and what expectations for success look like for your manager.

Oftentimes, if you can understand the needs your manager has around communication and commitments, you can become better at self-management. Self-management is a great path to autonomy.

Once you and your manager have agreed that what you want is what you are able to do, don't be afraid to take on new challenges and show off your skills.

And hey, if you need to brush up on those skills, there's nothing wrong with seeking out some extra training or growth.

Autonomy is Ownership

Remember, autonomy isn't just about doing things your own way – it's about being able to take ownership of your work, feel confident in your abilities and serve the needs of the business.

So go ahead, take charge and see where a little autonomy takes you!

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