Autonomy is a core element of motivation and a need for everyone to feel satisfied in their work. It is defined as the desire to have control over what we do, aligned with our true interests, values, and purpose. Autonomy at work leads to positive effects on well-being, job satisfaction, and employee creativity and happiness.
Some companies have successfully implemented autonomy in their culture, such as Valve, Netflix, and Ritz-Carlton. Valve lets newly hired employees pick their own projects based on their interest and aspirations, while Netflix inspires people instead of managing them, trusting each individual to do what they think is best. Ritz-Carlton empowers their employees to delight guests with complete discretion and autonomy, establishing trust between the employer and employee, boosting employee engagement and customer satisfaction.
Spotify, on the other hand, built one of the best engineering cultures by organizing for autonomy, breaking their engineering teams into 8-person autonomous squads, and letting people choose what to work on. They also let people choose which agile practices and tools to use in their work, while applying an open source method. By maintaining a balance between employee empowerment and operational discipline, companies can implement autonomy successfully and improve employee motivation, creativity, and happiness.