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When you think of the most significant contributor to a person’s happiness, what comes to mind? For some, they may feel money and personal wealth, others may think to be attractive or to be famous, but a report by The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology says it’s autonomy.

Autonomy means that you feel that you are the one in control of your own life and the decisions you make are chosen only by you. When you apply this to the workplace, employees that feel they are in control of their day and work life will be happier and more productive.

As a leader within an organization, you should be learning and developing ways to improve your leadership skills and fostering your employees’ autonomy. Micromanaging your employees rather than cultivating their sense of independence will only inhibit their productivity and happiness within their role in the company.

Autonomy doesn’t mean that you should allow your employees to be completely isolated from you and their team, and it doesn’t mean they should be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want. In companies that encourage autonomy, the fact that the work gets done is never as important as how the team members get the work done. Employees should be able to create their process, once they have been in the company long enough to develop their best way of getting the job done.

To help your employees get a sense of being autonomous in their position, here are some steps you can take in your role as a leader.

 

Help them set their goals

Every motivated employee wants to achieve their goals and continue to further their careers, and you should encourage them to reach future successes. Again, how they reach their goals is not as important as reaching them, and they should be able to hold themselves accountable for achieving them. Sit down with individual employees and talk about what they want to do in the future of the company and how they can be proactive in getting there. Not only will it make them feel empowered to reach their potential, but they will also feel emboldened in their ability to achieve their goals. Be willing to help them and provide them with tools they need to succeed in their goals.

 

Understand that mistakes happen

Every single manager and leader should understand and accept the fact that mistakes happen. Rather than focusing on their oversights and errors, allow the mistakes themselves to serve as a tool to learn from and move forward. As soon as employees are afraid to make mistakes rather than achieve success, that mindset is hard to shake.

 

Foster trust

As the manager, you should be able to trust that your team will do their best to complete work on time, and employees should believe the same from you. This two way street of trust helps every worker feel valued and independent within the company.