Creative Leadership

Two Things An Employee Can’t Live Without

There are plenty of reasons to leave a job, and I’m often asked my opinion about that issue based on what some people are facing at work. It might be abusive leaders, incompetence, a lack of trust, or simply a toxic atmosphere at work. But if you’re thinking about leaving your job, here are two things in my experience a good employee can’t live without:

1) Having some sense of control over your work.  Certainly there are rules and policies to follow, but no one wants to feel like a robot. Even with assembly line workers, you should be able find ways you can express your individuality. It’s not about making things up, or changing the rules, it’s simply about you owning the job instead of the job owning you.

2) Having some freedom.  Without some sense of autonomy, an employee will never be fulfilled in their work. Politically we call that freedom “self-determination” – that ability to determine aspects of your life so that you’re not locked into a mind-numbing role day in and day out. Ultimately, some level of self-determination creates pride in your work, which is critical to success. The most often used freedom is time – when you work.  But there are other freedoms – vacation time, office location, working at home, etc.  Want to drive productivity into the ground? Take away your employee’s freedom.

If you can’t find some measure of these two elements on your job, then it’s time to look elsewhere. Without a sense of control and some level of freedom, any feeling of accomplishment and well-being will disappear – and fast. If you’re looking for more than a paycheck, then make sure you can check the boxes on these two issues before you look for anything else.

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  1. Good stuff.
    I would add that employees want to be heard, have some influence on the organization, and have opportunities to learn/grow. Salary is important, but the intangibles motivate and energize people.

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