Blog 96 Job AutonomyBy Brian Binke

Leaders are responsible for making sure the whole construction team has the confidence they need to do their job to the best of their ability. It is easy to underestimate how important autonomy is to retention and overall job satisfaction. If employees do not feel like they have the ability to set their own path, they frequently look for another job that gives them more freedom. By emphasizing job autonomy, leaders can build trust, improve innovation, eliminate confusion and increase job satisfaction. 

Build Trust

As a leader, not listening to other people’s ideas demonstrates a lack of trust. Employees want to feel like their input is valued by the company they work for. Pride is a powerful tool. People want to perform well for themselves, but they also want to impress people who they respect and believe in. If the trust is not there, employees will feel less motivated to succeed. As many as 45 percent of people in the workforce feel that "lack of trust in leadership is the biggest issue in work performance,” according to a research study performed by Ken Blanchard Companies. If you disregard the employees’ suggestions, overly criticize their work or provide unnecessary direction, they will start to second-guess themselves. The key is to find the right balance. Leaders should give employees room to take initiative and be innovative while still providing constructive criticism when necessary. 

Improve Innovation

No single person has all the skills and personality traits needed to establish a creative, productive and innovative work environment. Your hiring manager should hire people that have a variety of skills. This way, all the necessary skills are represented on your team. The first step as a leader is to identify what areas you struggle with. You need people around you that have your weaknesses as their strengths. For example, if you struggle with the civil areas of construction, you want someone on your team who is good with dirt work and underground utilities. Having a balanced team is the first step to innovation. 

The exchange of ideas between motivated people is essential to innovation. Brainstorming sessions are a lot more effective if you have a diverse group of people who can come at problems from different angles. However, this only works if the employees feel empowered in their position. They will contribute more to problem solving and brainstorming scenarios if they feel their opinions will be taken seriously. Thus, autonomy is essential to innovation. 

Eliminate Confusion

One of the most important jobs that a leader has it to establish clear and measurable goals for their team. Leaders need to trust that the team will work together to meet their objectives. If you micromanage or overanalyze, it creates confusion about what the goals are and how much progress has been made towards those goals. The team members will start to doubt themselves and a simple task can become a lot more complicated than it should be.  

Increase Job Satisfaction

If there is a lot of micromanagement occurring in the workplace, employees will feel like they are not in control of their lives. Employees must feel some independence; it is human nature. Just as most people feel unhappy in life when they do not have independence, a sense of autonomy is needed for job satisfaction too. Professionals want to make decisions and have some input on their own goals. 

A lack of autonomy is the fastest way to send employees on the search for a new job. Obviously, employees cannot manage themselves. The goal as leaders is to give employees a sense of ownership. Make them feel valued. Make them feel like they have some control over the work they perform and the career path they take. 

Brian Binke is the founder and CEO of The Birmingham Group (TBG). TBG is a globally recognized executive search and consulting firm specializing in the construction arena. Over the past 22 years, Brian has established himself as one of the construction industries most respected leaders. He has won numerous awards for his industry innovation and has been recognized as the No. 1 worldwide revenue producing manager for the largest recruitment network of more than 800 independent firms. 



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