Posted by: drewdice | May 12, 2011

Driving Engagement through Self Direction

Earlier this week, I attended the 2011 SPBT Conference (Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers), where the theme was Leading through Learning. Part of the message delivered by the Society’s leaders was that now, more than ever, it is critical for leaders to coach, mentor, lead and enable to drive higher levels of performance and accomplishment. They brought in two pheomenal keynote speakers – Dan Pink and Captain Jim Lovell, of Apollo 13 fame to help drive home the critical messages.

I have had the pleasure of hearing, watching and reading Pink on a number of occassions, and I dig his stuff. Interestingly, he softened his position on incentives (not too much), and I think this was due to the nature of the audience and industries to whom he was presenting. There were many parts of Pink’s keynote that stuck out for me, and I’ll highlight one here – and ask for your feedback, as well.

On the concept of enabling better performance, and motivating people, he talked about management versus engagement – that management is a great “technology” to drive compliance, and that engagement (what organizations are really after) is driven through self direction. That led him to discuss autonomy in greater detail and he offered the group a quick way to get a pulse on the level of autonomy (self direction) present in one’s own organization/team/group – an Autonomy Audit. Here is how it works:

– Look at 4 elements – Time, Team, Task, Technique
– Have individuals rate (on a scale of 0-10, 10 being the highest) how much autonomy they feel they have over each component. Have managers do the same exercise, rating the level of autonomy the manager feels she gives to her team in each area.

So, the questions would be:

– How much autonomy do I have (does my team have) over their schedule and timing of when they accomplish their work (not deadlines, just the time they do the actual work)?
– How much autonomy do I have over the team with whom I interact, collaborate and get work done?
– How much autonomy do I have over what I do at work each day?
– How much autonomy do I have over the way in which I do my work each day (are the methods and processes mapped specifically for me)?

Totaling up the scores, greater than a 28, in Pink’s opinion, shows a healthy level of autonomy, and is a good leading indicator for people to make progress (a key element in fulfillment, motivation and achievement). In Pink’s experience, there almost always exists a gap in how individuals and their managers view autonomy, with managers scoring higher on what they believe exists. In that gap lies many of the areas where and why individuals and teams achieve less than they otherwise could.

I’m curious to hear you take on the topic of autonomy – what you see, what you think and how organizations can do better.

Cheers,

Andrew

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