Building autonomous teams

How to create more autonomy at work?

Working in a team within an organisation brings challenges. How do you make decisions in a group, how do you get rid of all that bureaucracy and hierarchy within teams and organisations? Can and is the strategy optimally implemented within the team in the current situation? Teams that have a lack of autonomy at work, are often less resilient and creative.

The transition from the current way of working to the new way of working is often complicated. We can help you in the process of how to build an autonomous team.

Building more autonomy in the workplace

Human Insight has developed best practices and practical tools for organisations, leaders and employees. These help them to work with the insights that the autonomous team approach has to offer.

Based on our success with other organisations, we have found that our approach helps to uncover the behavioural aspects at team level. These aspects need to be addressed to be successful in strategy execution, self-direction development and overall team performance. This is done through:

Research on autonomous teams

Based on our work with more than 2,500 organisations and over 20 years of experience, we have explored the idea of high-performing teams versus teams that fail.

Our research focused on people’s individual contribution and how it affects team lineups and overall performance. This led to the birth of a strategic contribution assessment that provides insight into:

Natural contributions

Where one's natural contribution lies is proportional to strategic execution and their areas of achievement.

Tackle problems

How team members tackle complex problems is indicative of their role within the team.

Dominant coalitions

These coalitions affect groupthink, team performance, and overall team behaviour.

Autonomous teams

Through better understanding and alignment within your organisation, profitable teams can emerge and take shape.

The New World of Work:
More self-direction, less control

Employees’ ways of working are changing, organisations are changing and old structures no longer work as well as they used to. Employees want more freedom and less control by others in the performance of their duties. This may be exciting for a manager. How can employees work together effectively in a team without a clear leader? Exactly: by creating self-managing or autonomous teams.

"What does autonomy mean in the workplace? A self-managing or autonomous team is responsible for determining its own goals, working methods and contributions within the team. There is usually no manager within the team. Employees within the team take leadership of their own tasks."

How to improve autonomy in the workplace?

An autonomous team sails its own course, often without a manager or supervisor. What is expected of you as a supervisor or manager? How do you improve autonomy in the workplace? But first: How to measure autonomy at work? Because knowing and understanding your current situation is the base of changing. 

In self-steering, the team is responsible and an autonomous working environment is created. This does not mean that you, as a manager, are not needed anymore: Leadership within autonomous teams needs a different approach. Let go of micro-managing and let your team learn and make mistakes: this is how you can develop autonomous teams at work.

So how do you efficiently create more autonomy at work? It starts with a clear goal: a dot on the horizon. Furthermore, you need to know which elements influence human behaviour, how routines are formed that help or hinder performance.

Improve team dynamic

Improving team dynamics directly affects the self-management within a team. As soon as the dynamics within a team are not good, the whole team runs into problems. People communicate less and do not work well together. There is also often a lack of psychological safety.

Therefore, individual contribution to team dynamics is one of the most important aspects within an organisational environment. Provided they are well coordinated, this leads to great success. However, teams often struggle to perform due to a large number of factors.

What can you as a senior leader or team member do to influence the team dynamics of high-performing and autonomous teams?

Do you want to know what we can do for you? Contact us!

Autonomous teams are profiting teams

Teams that start working together based on this approach will see immediate results because the insights are immediately applicable in the workplace. Not only creates autonomy at work more resilient teams, but there are several other benefits that an autonomous working environment offers. 


Benefits of autonomous teams

By improving team dynamics, structuring roles and tasks and ensuring psychological safety within teams, self-management can be achieved. This leads to:

  • An autonomous work environment: Teams work more efficiently and have increased agility and flexibility.
  • More responsibility: Team members have a clear task and feel that their work matters.
  • More creativity: In self-directed teams there is no fear and there is more sharing and cooperation.
  • Higher satisfaction: employees feel appreciated and are motivated by the created freedom.

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This approach helps you, senior leaders and teams to increase self-management and build autonomous teams. It provides insight into where which people are needed to enable the required changes in specific areas of the business.

Specifically, it helps to measure autonomy at work and create a clear talent development plan. You gain insight into the development areas of your team, team dynamics and individual (leadership) development. The application of this framework and its tools will help your people to perform better in their jobs and creates more autonomy at work.

Schedule a meeting with Human Insight to discuss the challenges in your organisation and how Human Insight can help you.

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Would you like to know what Human Insight can do for you or your organisation? Contact us today!