The Power of Choice: How Autonomy Can Drive Employee Engagement and Productivity

CoachHub · 20 July 2023 · 7 min read

Whether at work or life in general, nobody enjoys the feeling of having someone constantly looking over your shoulder, telling you what to do. Even teenagers frown at constantly being micromanaged or given instructions without being allowed to make any decisions. It’s only reasonable that an adult will have an even bigger problem with it, even if it is not voiced.

In the workplace, micromanaging employees without giving them any leeway or autonomy over certain decisions can be very frustrating. In some cases, it can be damaging to a person’s self esteem or even breed distrust in the workplace. It deeply affects the foundations of the workplace relationships when it becomes clear to employees that team leaders or managers do not trust their abilities or intuition.

Nobody wants to be in a workplace where their opinions will be discarded or they will be prevented from making work-related decisions on their own. The point of a manager is not to tell team members what to do at every step, instead, it is to delegate responsibilities and make corrections where necessary.

Autonomy at work is very important because it helps to improve employee engagement and productivity. Workers who know that their input is valued in the workplace are a lot more likely to be more involved in their tasks. They have a stronger connection to their jobs than workers who are not trusted to do anything on their own.

While it may be difficult to introduce a culture of autonomy at work, digital coaching is a concept that can help both managers and employees adopt it faster.

The Benefits of Autonomy at Work

Autonomy at work is a lot more beneficial to the workplace than many managers know. This is because employees are a vital part of the efficiency of an organization and it is important that they are kept in the loop.

Improved job satisfaction and motivation

Job satisfaction increases among employees who are able to put their skills to test while solving problems in the workplace. They develop a greater sense of motivation when they know that their efforts are needed at work and that their input will not be taken for granted.

Increased creativity and innovation

The good thing about giving people autonomy at work is that you get their creative juices flowing faster. When they become aware that they will be required to think of solutions to problems or solve tasks on their own, you open up the gates of creativity and innovation in their brains.

Greater sense of responsibility and accountability

The awareness that they will be required to make decisions or that they will be held accountable for certain jobs or tasks increases an employee’s sense of responsibility in the workplace. They begin to take their jobs more seriously and devote more time towards the completion of their tasks.

Higher levels of productivity and performance

Employees become more productive when they have autonomy in their jobs. It is not by constable leaning over a person that they have better performances. Human beings tend to do better when they know that they will be held accountable for the result of any task. At the end of the day, this contributes to the successful achievement of the organization’s goals.

The Risks of Micromanagement

Micromanaging employees has a lot more negative results than you can imagine.

Negative Impact on employee morale and motivation

Employees tend to feel less motivated to carry out their tasks when they are aware that they are being micromanaged. The knowledge that someone will constantly be there to monitor their every move tends to reduce the joy they would ordinarily derive from that task.

Stifling of creativity and innovation

Micromanaging an employee means that a manager controls the way the employee works or interprets tasks. This stifles creativity in the long run because employees are not encouraged to take different approaches to problem solving, making it difficult for them to apply their creative skills.

Increased employee turnover and absenteeism

People generally tend to avoid situations where they are not allowed any measure of autonomy. In the workplace, employee turnover increases as more employees start to leave the organization. The main reason for this increased employee turnover and absenteeism is the feeling of being underappreciated.

Lower levels of productivity and performance

Micromanagement in the workplace doesn’t create an avenue for people to perform their jobs faster, since they have to constantly report to one person or people. Being able to make decisions over how to perform their tasks creates a sense of responsibility in employees that increases their workplace performance and productivity.

The Role of Digital Coaching in Fostering Autonomy at Work

Digital coaching is important for both team leaders and employees because it helps everyone understand workplace autonomy better as well as how to make it work in specific workplace cultures.

Helping employees identify their strengths and weaknesses

Digital coaches can work closely with employees to help them recognize their strengths and be aware of their weaknesses. When this happens, they become more able to make informed decisions about the kinds of tasks they can handle on their own. This helps to increase confidence among employees.

It is difficult for many managers to properly toe the line between providing feedback and micromanaging employees, but this is where digital coaching comes in.

Granted, some employees may struggle with anxiety or low self esteem that makes it difficult for them to make decisions on their own, but digital coaching can help them come up with strategies that increase their confidence and decision-making prowess.

Providing opportunities for skill development and career growth

Digital coaches can point employees towards career building opportunities to expand their skill set. This makes it easier for employees to make decisions on their own, especially when they are able to apply their skills to solve tasks in the workplace.

Encouraging experimentation and risk-taking

Digital coaching makes it easier for employees to take risks in the workplace. It encourages workers to take on bigger roles and try their hands at different tasks. This helps to boost confidence and skill acquisition among workers.

Providing ongoing feedback and support

Another good thing about digital coaching is that it provides employees with a reliable support system. Digital coaches are able to provide feedback at every step to point the employees in the right direction while giving them autonomy over the decision making process.

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Strategies for Implementing Autonomy in the Workplace

While it can be difficult to implement a culture of autonomy in the workplace, it is important to try for the sake of the workers and the goals of the organization. Autonomy is different depending on the organization, but the good thing is that digital coaching can make the process easier in an organization.

All employees like to know that their input is valued in whatever role they fill. Constantly micromanaging them stifles their ability and reduces their desire to put in their best in the organization.

There are a few strategies managers can implement to implement autonomy in the workplace:

  • Building a culture of trust and accountability
  • Providing clear goals and objectives
  • Giving employees the tools and resources they need to succeed
  • Encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing


Overcoming Challenges to Autonomy at Work

In the process of trying to improve autonomy at work, there may be a few challenges along the way but through proper management, they can be addressed.

Addressing resistance to change

Rather than forcing ideas or changes on employees, it can help to communicate with them on the need for those changes in the workplace. Effective communication reduces resistance among employees and makes them more likely to accept changes.

Dealing with risk aversion and fear of failure

One of the main things that make it hard to promote autonomy at work is risk aversion born out of fear of failure. Addressing this problem rather than ignoring it will make it easier to increase autonomy among workers.

Navigating complex organizational structures

It may be difficult to navigate the company structure when trying to increase autonomy. This is why it is important to study the intricacies of the organization to figure out an effective method of implementing changes in the company.

Managing the balance between autonomy and accountability

It can be difficult to toe the line between autonomy and accountability, especially when it wasn’t previously practiced. With time and patience, you can come up with a system that benefits all members of the organization.


Autonomy at work is important if you want to create a workforce of competent individuals who are capable of making decisions on their own. Not only is it important for the personal development of employees, it also ensures that they can work towards the goals of the organization without constant monitoring.

In organizations where autonomy isn’t practiced, digital coaching can make the implementation process easier to ensure that everyone is on board with the changes.

As hard as it may be to begin practicing new strategies in the workplace, patience and communication go a long way in making the process easier.

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Samuel Olawole
Samuel Olawole is a freelance copywriter and content writer who specializes in creating exciting content across a wide range of topics and industries. When he’s not writing, you can find him traveling or listening to good music.

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