Force a person to perform an action or accomplish a goal and they will do the absolute minimum.
Allow the same person the choice to accomplish the goal and they will not only accomplish it but go above and beyond the requirements.
I recently learned this while looking over different corporate policies. Companies without vacation policies didn’t worry about employees taking time off near a big deadline; they allowed their employees the choice — if taking time off before a deadline would be wise or not. That choice, that freedom, which the employee can feel, is so important to a company and to a company’s corporate culture. Without choice your workers will feel as just that, workers. Drones. Slaves.
Slaves have no choice, no freedom. They do what they are told or suffer the consequences.
For employees the consequence may be getting “written up” or perhaps even let go. Of course, this however will only motivate an employee to work the bare minimum. Consider the following situation, and again I’m going to use a vacation policy as an example: Bob wants to take time off of work, however the dates he originally selected are days before a large deadline. Bob says to himself, ‘those two days I booked off are coming up but I can’t go because the vacation policy mandates that I can’t.’ Now, what if Bob thouht the following instead: I want to take those two days off but I won’t because that big deadline is coming up. Instead I will take time off the next week. See the difference? It’s can’t versus won’t.
Bob made a choice to move his personal time off around for his company. He wasn’t forced. He chose to. This gives Bob a sense of pride in his work and, by not being forced to move his vacation due to some esoteric policy, by allowing him choice, he has no reason to resent the company.
Same can be said for working from home, taking sick days, whatever.
The more policies you put in place at a company the stricter you make it and therefore the less choice you allow your employees to make for themselves. When your employees are given “The Choice,” then they are choosing to not only do their job, but also to follow a company. Contrast that with being forced by corporate policy; the employees will drag their heels because they know they have no alternative. They are slaves. No choice.
If you want your employees to feel empowered, if you want them to be more productive, then allow them the choice to be productive.Tweet