Two coworkers in an office meeting smiling.
Giving employees freedom while managing them is likely to lead to increased creativity and productivity. — Getty Images/courtneyk

Business is not a one-size-fits-all approach; however, all companies can benefit from providing more freedom to their employees. Allowing your employees to gain their own autonomy within the workplace will create a cohesive and united team, paving the way for overall business success.

Here’s how to effectively manage your employees while also allowing them to embrace their freedom.

Why freedom is important for employees

Providing employees with autonomy at work is more likely to generate creative solutions among team members, especially if the work is complex and detail-oriented. Giving employees freedom during work will also lead to better productivity as employees are free to strike a proper work-life balance that will give them room to grow within the company. Employee freedom also leads to lower employee turnover and higher brand loyalty for your business.

6 ways to balance managing employees with providing freedom

Here are six ways to strike a balance between managing employees and giving them more freedom in the workplace.

[Read more: 9 Leadership Training Programs for Managers]

1. Allow employees to share ideas.

Giving employees the chance to share their ideas breeds innovation and creativity while building confidence that their contributions are impactful within the workplace. Great leaders understand that just because they are the manager, it doesn’t mean they always have the best solution. Oftentimes, employees working within the day-to-day operations have found ways to more efficiently and effectively execute their daily tasks. Giving employees the space to share their feedback and ideas — and providing a safe space to do so — will create a more positive work environment. If your door stays open to ideas, your employees will feel free to collaborate.

2. Offer employees flexibility.

Give your employees the opportunity to be directly involved in creating their own work schedules. Allow employees to decide whether they want to work in the office or remotely, let them set their own daily hours, and trust them to schedule their own time off. If you feel like this is “handing over the reins” too much, start with small steps like asking your employees what shift they prefer to work or which days they’d like to take off. Creating — and advocating for — a work-life balance will provide boundless freedom and, in turn, employee loyalty.

Check in with your employees about any challenges and concerns they have, and listen to them when they come to you directly with a problem.

3. Let employees set their own professional goals.

Employees will come to work every day ready to do their best when they’re given more autonomy over their work life and career trajectory. Asking your employees about their professional goals and allowing them to work toward those milestones results in a liberated team. Fully support them on their growth journey.

4. Manage each employee with a unique approach.

Get to know how your employees work, by observing or asking them, and determine the best management style for each of them. People come from all walks of life, and each individual’s work style is unique. Introverts and extroverts should be managed differently, including those who work best independently or those who thrive during collaboration. Everyone on your team will succeed with the right kind of support. As the manager, be willing to take the time and figure out what that support means to each person on your team.

[Read more: 6 Tips for Managing a Multigenerational Team]

5. Lead with respect and trust.

As a leader, you have the opportunity to help foster the talent you see in your employees. Treat them as equals by demonstrating mutual respect and trust rather than micromanaging — i.e., controlling every aspect of their jobs. Respect and trust will create a positive work environment that can feel free rather than a place with restrictive movement and growth. Your skill as a leader is not positively related to how much freedom you give your employees.

6. Ask your team what roadblocks they’re facing.

Check in with your employees about any challenges and concerns they have, and listen to them when they come to you directly with a problem. Be open to making changes. If a previously established process is not working for an employee on your team, ask them to come up with a solution they think will work better for them (and maybe other employees, too). Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it is still the best process to follow.

[Read more: 5 Tips for Managing Customer Expectations After COVID-19]

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