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7 Tips for Greater Employee Independence

7 Tips for Greater Employee Independence

I’m at the point in my career where I don’t want to use my brain. What I mean is, I want my team to be confident enough to solve problems without my help. When my people can learn how to think independently, the entire team can achieve higher volumes and quality of work. Not only that, but employees that identify as self-reliant report:

  • Higher levels of happiness (83%)
  • Higher sense of security in their work situation (56%)

Encouraging employee independence is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. But the shift from dependent to independent doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve compiled 7 tips to motivate your employees to start thinking more independently.

Set Expectations

When employees don’t understand what they’re responsible for or how their performance will be measured, they’re much more likely to seek validation for every decision or action—no matter how small. Defining expectations and KPIs from the onset will allow them to take ownership of their role with minimal assistance. Communicating priorities is also essential to help them manage their time and tasks.

Provide Documentation

If I’m being asked the same questions over and over again, that’s a sign that I’m not being a very good boss. Employees must have access to documentation on processes and tasks relevant to their responsibilities. Employees will quickly learn to reference these documents first before coming to me with questions. Not only will this allow employees to reach conclusions on their own, but they will also promote consistency throughout workflows and support continuity when I am out of the office.

Encourage Critical Thinking and Resourcefulness

When one of my team members comes to me with a problem, I’ll first ask what they’ve done to try to find the solution on their own. If I’ve done my job right, they’ll have taken the following steps:

  • Clearly identified the specific problem
  • Research the problem online and within our company information arsenal
  • Raised the problem to their peers to see if they’ve encountered something similar

If after all these measures are taken, they still can’t come up with a viable solution, I expect them to at least offer up some options for resolutions. That way I know they’ve put some thought into how the problem can be solved. Best case scenario, we can execute one of their options.

Be Willing to Let Them Fail

Micromanaging is the death of independence at work. Plus, it only adds more stress to both you and your employees. Lay off the reigns, even if it means they’ll fail. Failure presents excellent learning opportunities. Failures make us rethink, reconsider, and find new ways and strategies to achieve our goals. Through failure, your people will get to know themselves better and learn from their mistakes. It also helps build determination and self-esteem, especially if followed up with a win.

Failure is not fatal and it’s important for your team to know that.

Offer Opportunities for Development

Millennials and the younger generation are struggling to think critically. With the digital age, they’ve been fed so much information that they have trouble determining what is true and what is false. This is just one example of why learning development opportunities are so important in the workplace. These learning materials then become a great resource for employees to use down the road when they have questions.


I am a firm believer in reoccurring one-on-ones. I have regular touch points with my team members for several reasons:

  1. Scheduled check-ins prevent random disruptions throughout the workday
  2. Make sure we’re aligned on up-to-date goals and priorities
  3. Provide feedback
  4. Give them an opportunity to communicate issues and discuss problems before they fester
  5. I become aware of and can remove roadblocks in their way of success

The power of the one-on-one has sustained the massive shift to remote work, so I don’t plan on scrapping

Positive reinforcement

To ensure your team doesn’t fall back into old habits, make sure to acknowledge and reward their autonomous behaviors. Verbal affirmation is an easy and effective way to do this. Even if you observe a small act of independence, acknowledging it will encourage your team members to continue this behavior. Plus, research shows employees whose performance is rewarded or recognized are more open to learning new techniques, skills, and taking on additional responsibility.

Step Back and Watch your Employees Work

An independent team structure is advantageous from the top down. Self-reliant individuals enable me to utilize my time in more meaningful ways like strategy and client interactions. Meanwhile, autonomous workers feel more rewarded and increase their odds of upward mobility by adding value to the business on their own. As you can see, independence is truly the lubricant to a well-oiled enterprise machine.

Being intentional about the access my team members have to me and what we do with that access is the basis of creating an independent team. By combining clear expectations, resourcefulness, failure‚—yes, failure—learning opportunities, and one-on-one time, this will give employees the right mix of structure and freedom to take matters into their own hands. And that’s when independence really starts taking shape.

The Apexon Employee Experience solution leverages multiple Salesforce Cloud products, including Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, the Platform Productivity Cloud and Experience Cloud, to achieve end to end Employee Experience. To learn more, visit Apexon’s Salesforce Services or get in touch using the form below.

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