“For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
- Nelson Mandela“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
- Thomas Jefferson (The Declaration of Independence)
"Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!"- William Wallace, from Braveheart
“Freedom, so I can live; Freedom, so I can give; Freedom, yeah Freedom, that's what I need”- Jimi Hendrix
Freedom is a universal, basic human need. America’s founders even declared that it’s a God given right.Although some take our freedom for granted, most of those that have it cherish it, and those that don’t are willing to fight and die for it.
So why is when it comes to managing employees in the workplace, so many managers still think it’s their God-given right as a boss to micro-manage every aspect of their employee’s work?They tell them what to do, where to do it, when to do it, and how to do it.
They reward them for doing their jobs their way (sometimes unknowingly), and punish them for coloring outside the lines and doing it in any way that’s different than their own.Everyone hates to be micromanaged! It’s the number one complaint I hear about bosses. It just sucks the life out of employees.
Look, I get it – the workplace is not a democracy. We get paid to do stuff, and to do as we’re told. The Declaration of Independence was never meant to apply to the workplace.
However, as a manager, you’ve got the ability to tap into one of the most powerful motivational tools available to you – giving employees freedom and autonomy in how they do their work! It's magical, it doesn't cost you anything, and it WILL increase productivity and job satisfaction. It's money.Daniel Pink presents one of the most compelling, research-based cases for the power of autonomy in his book “Drive- The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” If you’ve never read it, at least please watch his Ted talk (over 6 million have) – it’s compelling.
What about the need for consistency? Sure, it’s important to get a consistent cup of coffee every time you walk into a Starbucks. However, the Starbucks Baristas each have their own unique way of engaging with a customer. I never feel like they are reading off a script ("would you like fries with that?").Same with Southwestern Airline attendants – I’ve never seen two attendants do their inflight announcements the same way – and they truly seem to enjoy it when they do! With other airlines, they read that damn announcement as if they are performing a eulogy. As far as I know, a Southwestern plane has never crashed because a flight attendant got creative with their oxygen mask instructions.
As a manager, it’s hard to let go. As human beings, it’s hard to let go of our “right” way of doing things. Relationships have been ruined over fighting over which way to load the toilet paper (of course, we all know the right way is under).Just give it a try. Fight that urge to tell your employees how to do their job and check over their work. Yes, they may make a mistake. That’s OK - mistakes can be powerful learning opportunities – and an opportunity for you to coach. Not TELL – coach! But that’s a subject for another post.