If you are a parent, you probably remember when your child started becoming independent. First, they wanted to feed themselves their own Cheerios. Next, they tried to pick out their own clothes. And then, they insisted on holding their toothbrush when cleaning their teeth. All these little steps along the way were so meaningful to them because they were becoming “big” and you saw the pride on their face when they were able to do something by themself. This drive that your child displayed early on is the same drive that also fuels grown-ups – to have ownership over things in their life.
Daniel Pink, author of the book Drive, found that a desire for autonomy is one of the three primary sources of motivation for people. When people feel a sense of control and ability to make decisions in regards to their work, it increases engagement and, ultimately, their motivation to perform. In regards to having control over their work, Pink specifically says, “People need autonomy over task (what they do), time (when they do it), team (who they do it with), and technique (how they do it).” Essentially, they need to be the one making the crucial decisions or, in some cases, be closely involved in the key decisions that impact their work. This is what creates autonomy.
Now naturally, it’s not feasible for the people on your team to be involved in every decision in relation to their work. That’s just too many decisions and some of them they simply can’t have the authority over. However, there are key areas where their work is strongly impacted and where people also have strong opinions. These are the areas where having more autonomy will be most critical to them. As Pink says, “To help your employees find autonomy, the best strategy for an employer would be to figure out what’s important to each individual employee.” Consider using some of the following questions with your employees to find out where increased autonomy is most critical to them:
- What aspects of your work are most important to you?
- Where would you like more control in your role? That is, which decisions would you like to be making that you currently do not?
- What are the ways in which you feel your work could be improved?
- What are the areas where you’d like more freedom in your work?
Overall, just remember that having control, decision-making capability and autonomy creates pride and ownership in one’s work. If you are dictating what, how, when and with whom their work is done, then you are the one who is truly owning it. If you want to instead create ownership for the work in others, it is crucial to find ways to turn decision-making control over to them. Just like we see with our children, the drive for autonomy is embedded deeply. And when we find ways to promote this drive, we can increase the motivation, work ethic and desire to achieve within our employees.
To learn more about how our sales coaching technology can help drive freedom and autonmy within the leadership of your sales team, click here: