It’s coming up that time of year when we look back and review our past year’s work and determine if we are making “the cut”. I’ve never really dreaded annual reviews but I think I would like to perform a different type of review of myself this year.
One of the many topics that comes up in our large enterprise wide meetings is this idea of employee autonomy: the ability for an employee (like myself) to have the power over her own work at a level that allows her to make critical decisions about said work without requiring a supervisor’s permission. The idea is that if I am good enough at what I do and have the proven ability to make the best decision about something that I be allowed to do it without requiring outside permission. I like how the boundaries were drawn. “If you ask for permission to perform a task or if you ask a question and the answer is “Yes” 99% of the time you have the authority to make those decisions on your own without additional permission”. That 99% success rate proves that you have the ability to assess a situation and use your skill set to make an informed decision and that your supervisor trusts in that ability.
In terms of my daily tasks I know with about 90% certainty what I can make a decision on without asking for permission or additional review from a supervisor. But if I were to rate myself on autonomy at work using the definition above how would I rate? I’ve divided my current job into several main categories and given myself a percentage based on how often I receive the “Yes” and how often I require additional permission or assistance to complete a task.
- Customer Service: 90% of my email responses require no additional review before I send them. I am sufficiently competent to answer the majority of inquiries I receive from external parties with which I interact. Due to the nature of my work this is actually a big deal. In addition, I would give my ability to respond to phone inquiries (which I do much less of on a regular basis) at about 95%.
- Process Improvement: The majority of improvements I recommend are supported by my direct supervisors. Even if the resources are not immediately available I am given verbal or written affirmation that “Yes, that would be great. Put it on a wish list for 2015 to discuss with [X] Department”. From 2013-2014, I have implemented three major improvements that have increased the efficiency of our work group tremendously: (1) Using less spreadsheets and switching to shared workspaces which reduces duplication and error rates; (2) Introducing new technology like cloud data management; (3) improving work instructions and templates to allow for more flexibility by the user and making the process flow more transparent for anyone to use.
- Project Planning: I would estimate this at about 75% autonomy because the majority of my planning requires input from multiple persons, work groups, and in some cases departments. I don’t feel it would be recommended to give one person 100% autonomy over a task like this since no one person can understand everyone else’s job 100%.
- Data Management: This is an area I’m confident in but at the same time I feel like improvement is always preferred. I rate myself at a good 80-85%. However, in terms of the autonomy I’ve been given according to the definition above I’m actually at about 90-95% in this current position.
- Quality Control: This is related to Data Management but I’ve categorized it separately because I feel that I do equal amounts of overall Quality Control as I do regular maintenance work. On this I give myself a 90% because when going into hunter-gatherer mode to perform root-cause analysis and correcting any input errors (either system generated or staff generated) I am able to, fairly well, correct a problem internally so that it does not affect the final output or overall customer service.
- Emergency Management: While growing up this meant food distributions, security, and the rebuilding of schools and homes it means something entirely different in my current work environment. I rate myself at 80% on this because while emergencies tend to pop up on a weekly basis this is often due to workload distribution and a mix of external factors outside my control. I do have to request permission from a supervisor before redistributing workloads for other staff members and prioritizing work group goals for short-term results since I am not the direct supervisor of the other staff. However, 90% of my recommendations on responding to any work related emergencies are implemented at some level. In addition, if a supervisor is not available I am able to manage more urgent situations with almost a 90% post-completion approval rating. Unfortunately, some situations require that staff with an RN make certain determinations. I consider my ability to work with other staff to ensure this happens as part of my autonomous rating since I am still responsible for the overall results.
With this new “rating system” put into writing I can now see that actually I have a large amount of autonomy over my work. It would be interesting to see how the weekly statistics compare to my end-of-year assessment. I also recognize that I have not included in any assessment of disciplinary actions that may have taken place (all of them minor and corrective in nature). At this time there are relatively few but the majority of them have to do with overall annual planning and since I have only just now begun the annual cycle for the second time it stands to reason that it would take at least one repeat performance to say that my ineptitude was the root cause and not my lack of training or experience with this particular type of work. For those recurring projects I have performed at least twice now I can say that there have been improvements from one instance to the next and should point out that it appears volume of overall work has doubled since I first began in Summer 2013.