Provide Context, Not Control

Overview

Provide the information (the context) to a team or team member in order to allow them to make their own decision about how to respond to a situation rather than simply telling them what to do (asserting managerial control).

Why We Do It

Allowing your team to make their own decisions has a number of benefits. First of all, it invests them more in the outcome. Having agreed with you on the goal, and having reached their decision to act on their own, the team is much more likely to continue taking steps on their own—without outside guidance—to ensure they reach the goal. This may include putting in extra effort, putting in extra time, and addressing roadblocks that come up without waiting to be told. In other words, a team with autonomy and context will operate in a more self-directed manner than one that lacks one of those two things.

Even if your team is not a well-oiled, self-directed machine, it becomes much easier to nudge them in the right direction to achieve the goal if they have all the information and have already agreed with you on the importance of reaching the goal.

Additionally, this fosters a greater sense of autonomy for members of the team. Rather than being told what to do, they are being given information and participating in decisions. In other words, you’re investing the time in your team members to explain the deciding factors and then mentoring them on the decision. In addition to satisfying employees that value autonomy, you’re also demonstrating a non-controlling management style and laying the foundation for future leaders to emulate.

Depending on your company, this idea may also play an important part of the company’s culture and purpose, like it does with Netflix. Having your team see you taking actions that clearly align with the company’s values demonstrates your belief in those ideas, reinforcing their importance with your team.

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  • How to take action
  • Results you can expect
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  • Related plays you can try
  • Engagement research supporting this play

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