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CareersAs Pakistan’s 69th Independence Day (August 14) approaches, a quick look at our workplace cultures reveals that line managers tend to micromanage their employees and make decisions for them. In the process, they take away freedom from their employees – something that they value most – instead of empowering them and allowing them to make decisions.

Since micro-managing employees is a common practice in Pakistani workplaces as it is globally, an article in the Harvard Business Review titled Declaring Independence in the Workplace is extremely relevant. According to the article, a large number of knowledge workers – professionals with talent, experience and drive – feel “stifled by managers who misunderstand what effective management means.” This is because in their misguided efforts to increase productivity and foster innovation, managers do more harm than good. They end up destroying both creativity and passion – key ingredients to the intrinsic motivation that leads to engagement at work – by limiting employee autonomy.

As managers, we often give employees ‘responsibility’ while keeping the rights to all important decisions to ourselves without consulting our teams. The Harvard faculty says it is critical for employees to have a say in their work if they are to stay motivated and have a sense of achievement, because the ability to make meaningful decisions at work inspires creativity and innovation.

In order for employees to demonstrate independence and autonomy, they have to be intrinsically motivated and have a say in their work. This comes about through demonstrated trust by the management. Trust does not mean refraining from micromanaging – it goes way beyond that. It involves letting people take risks and learn from their mistakes. In high-trust environments, people not only do their work, they constantly strive to improve their work and they take calculated risks that benefit the organisation.

– Fauzia Kerai Khan
The writer is Chief Consultant, i&b Consulting,Training, e-learning. fauzia@iandbconsulting.com

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