The Open Sandbox

Balancing Autonomy in the workplace

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Recently both my kids began their milestone journeys in education, a very important moment not only for them but also for me. As a parent, you want to give your children plenty of opportunities to grow, make choices and decisions that ultimately will help them succeed in life; more or less tools and resources to become independent free thinking adults.

Translating to the workplace,I think of young aspiring minds who graduate from school, seeking these opportunities to apply the extensive amount of theoretical knowledge they feel they have gained. How do these aspirations get fulfilled in an environment which is not always geared towards developing young minds and building their skills?

As a manager, creating the balance between ensuring all protocols are met and giving autonomy to make decisions, is an important challenge. Ultimately, these are the young minds you groom to help your company progress forward, so does your sandbox provide freedom to create and explore new ideas.

The key often lies not only in your training and development practices, but also structuring your operations with the appropriate measures of controls in place. If these checks and balances are built in, as a manager you have more opportunities to coach your team and proactively manage.

More often than not, managers are so ingrained in maintaining the status quo, that reactive management comes first and coaching comes second. I mean, if a child falls in a playground, we encourage them to get up, shake it off and keep going rather than reprimanding them.

Does your management style give room for “get up and try again” or do you just react and take control?

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