How can you give autonomy when you don't give choices?
Autonomy is vital for everyone at work, and research suggests millennials value autonomy even more than previous generations. Giving autonomy to others at work at first seems straight-forward: don't micro-manage people and provide choices. But science suggests delivering autonomy is more than just that.
First of all, while choices provide autonomy, not all choices are created equally. Research suggests that in some situations, the more choices you give someone, the less happy they are with the choice they make. (For scientific sources, please see "Choose From Three" in this list of scientific sources for our Choose Happiness @ Work game.) Limiting choices may result in more happiness for the chooser, so you might consider giving people you work with three, two, or even just one option...
You might be thinking "Wait, one option doesn't deliver autonomy!" But autonomy research suggests you don't actually have to have choices to have autonomy. If you want to be doing what you are doing, you have autonomy even if you have no choice. This makes getting buy-in from a colleague crucial. By explaining the why behind your request, you can deliver your colleagues autonomy even if they have no choice about whether to comply. As Italian diplomat Italian Vare said "Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way."
Do you get enough autonomy at work? What happens to your motivation when you get it, or you don't? How do you deliver autonomy to your colleagues at work?
As always, we would love to hear from you! Let us know your thoughts by replying to this email, leaving a comment on our blog or Facebook page, or by tweeting to @ScottCrab.
- Scott Crabtree and the Happy Brain Science Team