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The Space Between Autonomy and Abandonment in Management

Autonomy or abandonment in management

This post lists the key insights from this article, from Dan Ubilla, an engineering manager at View The Space.


The author was asked how he approached management:

“I believe in autonomy. I try and translate the needs of the business to the team and then give them the autonomy to make the right decisions.”

Dan Ubilla

What is autonomy in management?

Autonomy means you’re not told what to do. You get to call the shots. It sounds like freedom. It rings of trust. It is ownership.

You are able to entrust your team to do the work. On top of that, you are building trust with your team. And your team is also able to stretch themselves and grow.

What is abandonment in management?

When you turn the dial too far on autonomy, you have hit abandonment. You are asking everything of your team. They are tasked with finding the solution. They are asked to define the problem. They are setting the objectives and the timeline. And they are deciding what good looks like.

A manager’s job is to translate business goals for teams and individuals. Their job is also to share context and help team’s adjust their direction to better match the organization’s. Defining what good looks like, setting a timeline, setting objectives, and problem definition are all tools a manager can use to keep team’s impact high. By giving these all to the team, the manager is left with fewer tools to help the team increase their impact.

What you need to target: the space between

The trick is in identifying the space between autonomy and abandonment that works for your team in the moment. As you are deciding how to find the right spot between autonomy and abandonment, there are two considerations: what are the tactics available and what does the moment call for.

2 min​ read

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