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“We need employees who can think, not just follow orders.”

25 Sep

The above quote from the 2015 Harvard Business Review – Developing Employees Who Think for Themselves is even more relevant today. In a rapidly changing world where organizations must be dynamic, and adaptable, their very success hinges on employees “who can co-create value with customers and constantly improve operations.” Employees that can think on their feet.

So what is the process to help employees to not just follow orders, but to think on their feet? By redesigning job roles to give workers more ownership of:

  • How they perform tasks. Shifting ownership of the process from the manager to the employee, “giving employees a hand in the process while still holding them accountable for the output is good for performance.” Thus, when a problem does occur, it can be addressed and solved by the individual closest to it.
  • Their identity. Helping them “gain ownership of their identity at work — specifically, by bringing their true and best selves to work.” Allowing workers to be themselves, within organization parameters, helps to engage workers.
  • Their time. Almost all of us are looking to gain control of our schedules. “Combined with process ownership, which includes accountability for outcomes, time flexibility allows individuals to consider how best to complete the work that needs to be done within the constraints of the company and their own lives.” Improved engagement comes with this flexibility. It also tends to increase the number of hours spent on work due to the employee’s “enhanced commitment.” 

Craig Dadoly