Autonomy in the Service Industry

Autonomy is a risky part of any business. It has been a part of many successful businesses throughout the last 20 years, notably IBM. IBM has had tremendous success with allowing their staff complete autonomy. Staff are only required to report into the office once a month for a team meeting. As long as assigned projects are completed on time and up to standard the company, employees are free to complete their projects whenever and wherever they please. The almost limitless autonomy has been really well received with the millennial generation as they thrive on creativity and working on their own terms. IBM has seen consistently strong productivity numbers from staff members and continues to ‘lengthen the leash’.

The concept of completing a task on your time whenever you feel like only works in specific industries. One industry that it does not work well in is the service industry. Staff members need to show up to work everyday, on time, and ready to serve. Business hours are set in stone and customers expect service during those hours. The idea of serving customers at 3 a.m. because you just crushed a Vodka Redbull and cannot sleep does not fly. This may work in a development firm where you can work at any hour as long as you are done your work by the project deadline but not in the service industry.

The service industry has room for creativity within the marketing side of the business but little room to play with in the front line service position. Being creative within a customer service position will likely get you fired for not following company standards and set policies. Staff with a customer service title need a creative outlet to keep them motivated in their repetitive job. This is an opportunity for service companies to maximize productivity within their staff. Companies need to offer creativity sessions, which allow staff members to brainstorm and share ideas on how to operate the business more effectively on a day-to-day business. A single afternoon every couple of months, where staff can step back from their daily service jobs and evaluate what could be done better on an ongoing basis.

Give it a try; what’s the worst that can happen? Your company will increase productivity and staff members will feel valued because they got to contribute to the business’ success.


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