4 Ways to Manage Employees Who Like to Figure It Out Themselves

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Guest Writer
Founder and CEO of Namely
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It’s plain to see that workers are becoming more and more self-sufficient by the day. Credit the Internet and the power of three simple words: “just Google it.” Consequently, some (or maybe most) of your employees will continue to work better with a little less supervision from a manager.

Of course, the degree of self-sufficiency depends on the worker’s personality, as a new study by the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (ENEI) revealed. The study, released in June, profiled 584 employees with the DiSC personality assessment, which provides insights into what motivates people and how they communicate with others.

Results showed employees who score high in dominance work best in an agile environment where they have more control to work outside of the office and the traditional 9-to-5 schedule. They need little or no supervision to remain focused -- and they prefer it that way.

To keep independent-minded employees happy and engaged, they’re going to need to be managed differently.

Here are some ideas for effectively managing more self-sufficient, independent employees:

1. Enable pre-onboarding and self sign-up.

Think of how frustrating it must be for new, more self-sufficient employees to spend a great portion of their first day on the job filling out paperwork with HR. That time could be better spent learning the ropes and training for their new role. On top of that, they often have to wait to meet with HR to enroll for benefits. Why can’t they take care of this themselves online?

Allow employees to onboard online before they ever step foot in the office. Aberdeen’s 2014 21st Century Onboarding study found organizations that practice this are 1.6 times more likely to have a lower cost per hire. Enable all new-hire paperwork to be filled out and submitted electronically, and allow employees to sign themselves up for healthcare with a benefits self sign-up tool.

Related: 10 Tips for Successfully Onboarding Your New Hire

2. Create a resource database employees can access remotely.

Employees with a more autonomous mindset will want the ability to navigate through past and current projects to get a feel for how things are done. They’ll also want access to resources and guides they can refer to when tackling a project for the first time. Use a cloud database in which employees can access and store the information they need, when they need it.

3. Set clear directions through a communication network.

Though independent-minded employees can perform well with minimum supervision, they still need clear direction to get things done the right way. More than half of the 1,000 workers surveyed by Harris Poll in June said not giving clear directions was one of the main issues holding leaders back.

Use a communication tool, such as a mobile messaging system, to unite the team and keep everyone in the loop. Choose a system that allows users to create detailed tasks, trigger them at the right time and notify all employees involved.

Related: Do You Let Employees Show Their Tattoos? Starbucks Doesn't - But That May Change.

4. Provide immediate feedback.

Another thing that could hold leaders back from effectively managing employees is not giving constructive criticism, 39 percent of workers surveyed by Harris Poll said. Minimum supervision doesn’t mean managers won’t occasionally need to steer employees back in the right direction.

Use a tool to provide instant feedback to employees on their tasks, projects or questions. It’s best to find one that allows users to comment directly on projects and questions instantly to simplify communication. The sooner employees learn what’s working and what isn’t, the sooner they can make adjustments.

Related: Five Steps for Giving Productive Feedback

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