How “Hands-Off” Is Too Hands-Off?

Providing employees with a level of autonomy can yield great results, giving them the space they need to think creatively and innovate. But, an overabundance of autonomy can actually be harmful, lowering productivity and hurting collaborative efforts.

Ultimately, there is a fine line between creating an environment that promotes innovation and being too hands-off. But figuring out where the tipping point lies isn’t always easy.

While there is no hard-and-fast rule regarding how much autonomy a manager should provide, there are signs you are being too hands-off with your staff. Here are a few that could indicate a problem.

Issues with Collaboration or Coordination

Most employees don’t work in a bubble. Their work directly impacts others, particularly if they participate in group projects or objectives.

If your workers have so much autonomy that they stop communicating and coordinating effectively with one another, it’s time to reel them in. When it comes to team goals, a certain level of structure may be necessary to keep everyone on target.

Duplicated Efforts

In some cases, autonomy allows employees to pursue their own ideas or interests that could benefit the company. While this can be great for innovation, it causes a problem when two team members are unknowingly doing the same work.

Duplicated efforts suggest a breakdown in communication may be occurring or, at a minimum, no one is tracking how employees are spending their time while working on these side projects. Plus, valuable time is being wasted, as two people are essentially doing the exact same thing for no additional benefit when compared to one person doing the work.
If duplicated efforts have become commonplace, it’s time to create some form of tracking system to ensure two people aren’t incidentally doing the work of one.

A Lack of Focus

Autonomy empowers employees to focus on tasks or ideas that catch their interest. But, sometimes this allows workers to hop between ideas or pursue innovations that aren’t actually beneficial to the company’s core business.

Jumping between tasks harms productivity, so letting workers shift their focus based on a whim can be detrimental to operations. Similarly, if an employee begins concentrating on an idea that isn’t part of the original objective, that doesn’t provide the company with any potential benefit.

Whether it’s for making sure critical tasks are completed (regardless of whether they are seen as enjoyable) or for preventing someone from running off on a tangent, enough structure and oversight need to exist to ensure your staff is focused on what matters. Otherwise critical duties may be overlooked or a significant amount of time will be wasted.

In the end, autonomy can be great for promoting innovation, but that doesn’t mean some level of control isn’t also necessary to keep everyone on target.

If you are interested in learning more, the professionals at CPS Recruitment can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable team members today and see how our expertise can benefit you.

Scroll to Top