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What do people want? Autonomy at work!
What do people want most in the workplace? They want flexibility. They want to be heard. They want to be welcomed. But, most importantly, people want autonomy.
A survey published in 2021 by Jabra, a technology giant, questioned 5,000 professionals from around the world, and showed that 61% of people want flexibility in their work, as long as it is conditioned autonomy to exercise as they wish. In 1985, psychologists Richard Ryan and Edward Deci developed a theory that challenged the notion of reward, and re-considered the main driver of motivation in human beings. The experts' theory of self-determination showed that one's autonomous motivation for personal and psychological growth is the main catalyst for human success and fulfillment.
Autonomy at work starts with giving people a voice!
Henrique Driessen, architect and CEO of Elephant Skin, says that one of the company's hallmarks is to build a safe work environment where people have a voice. “Having a voice is to have a great responsibility. You need someone to listen to you and, if that happens, you are generating an influence on someone. And when you influence others, your voice matters!” Having a voice is having the opportunity to motivate or inspire others. If that is not possible, it would be better to keep silent than to just criticize and add nothing. ES highly values the diversity of ideas presented by each person, inspired by their culture, personal characteristics, worldview and unique experiences. "There are many ideas that don't work, but in a group, a ‘bad’ idea can open someone else's mind to a different, better idea.”
Management that makes autonomy really efficient
The pandemic forced many professionals to re-align their perception of work, as they experienced greater autonomy, freedom and flexibility. Not all organizations, however, knew how to deal with the reality of remote work and, consequently, made serious mistakes, such as trying to bring forms of control to remote work, generating negative influences on the motivation and, thereby, results of their employees.
The book, “The Fearless Organization,” by Amy C. Edmondson, Novartis professor of leadership and management at Harvard Business School, claims that people are in search of freedom, and when that criterion is in play, many of them prefer to leave their jobs in the face of dissatisfaction.
The following points are fundamental to promote autonomy in the workplace:
Measuring production – Measuring the performance of people who are working on innovative projects is much more difficult. In these cases, the search for result indicators can be the best alternative.
Establish a good work structure – It is necessary that the work environment has, at least, a minimum structure in which people can be sure about their roles, responsibilities, and goals. Regular Feedback – Feedback, when applied correctly, has the power to increase and improve employee performance. Feedback should be frequent, specific, objective, actionable, and balanced.
Psychological safety – A culture of “psychological safety” is one in which people feel comfortable talking, questioning, and do not fear taking risks or making mistakes. Adjustment and correction in the process – People management is complex and making mistakes is part of the process. It is essential, however, not to forget that “failing fast” helps to promptly correct the course.
There are no formulas – You may be inspired by some management models, but remember that your company is unique. You will need to be flexible, adapt, and see what works best with your team. Everyone discovers together!
Henrique says that when building an environment of freedom, the challenge is to present people with an atmosphere in which they are not afraid to speak up and propose ideas. Fear and timidity make a workspace static and doomed to failure. “This is a place to have ideas, to talk, and to grow together. As long as we continue doing this, I can't even measure future potential, because the growth is infinite. This is truly a timeless company.”
If you are granted freedom, Just Do It!
“It's no use having an idea and not doing it. There are people with genius ideas, but without action, they don't just become geniuses. There are also many hardworking and creative people who become geniuses because they follow through. It’s no use being creative and not doing
it.” Henrique says that the formula is to just do it. And, if there is a problem, solve it quickly, because the secret is in how quickly you can solve the problem and not in how well you can avoid said problem.
At Elephant Skin, people have autonomy at work, can exercise all of their creativity, and feel free to propose innovative ideas. The CEO of Upside, Case Scott, has a very similar outlook to the one we implement here. Scott says that “innovation” is overused these days, with the whole world chasing it, when really it's just a “front” to pretend to make changes.
Henrique has a particular view on the matter: “Innovation is a change in culture, structure, management and processes. Innovation is everything you do to change something that is being done. But it's worth remembering that from the moment you create something, innovation has already taken place. The plan here is to always evolve. Go and do it! Collaborate with people who believe in your idea and just do it. If it works, great! And, if it doesn’t work, you've tried and, in doing so, learned from the experience.”
What really motivates you as a human being?
Henrique says that SPORTS is one of the greatest schools in which to learn about any subject. In sports, the motto is: either you work as a team or you don’t work. The same strategy that is used for an athletic team can be applied to a corporate collective. The most admired characteristic of successful athletes who continue to dedicate themselves to the sport is a pure and unbridled motivation, without any financial or material stimulus. But, “How can you motivate yourself when no one is watching? How do you manage to do something when you don't have to? It's just you with yourself … what moves you?” At Elephant Skin, you find the freedom to express your ideas and to make it happen. Nobody will tell you how to do it, but you will find your own way; your rhythm.
We are a company that wants to breathe on its own!
Elephant Skin embraces autonomy in its work structure, but also in its global growth. Henrique says that the challenge is to create a company that can sustain itself, when its founders are no longer around. “I don't have any ego regarding the CEO position, but I have a huge affection for the brand we have created and for the fact that there are many people living off of it. 100 years from now, I want people asking what will become of Elephant Skin 10 years from now.”
If you have a great idea, get it out of your head and do it!
Communications Manager - Roberta Lemos
Author – Journalist Daiana Barasa and Juliana Rodrigues | Naiá
Interviewed – Henrique Driessen - CGO
*All Rights Reserved to Elephant Skin Group Corp.