Do you ever feel like, as a manager, you’re squeezing the life out of your employees? That you may be over-managing to the point where it is detrimental to productivity? Employee freedom is one of the major ideas behind the future of work movement, and I think the right balance is still being defined. While most managers now know that micromanaging is bad, many still aren’t convinced that freedom is actually a good thing.

What is certain is the fact that today’s workers demand more flexibility and more accommodation of the other aspects of their lives. Part of that comes down to trust and integrity. If no one was around to keep an eye on them, do you believe that the people you have hired to do the job actually would? Remember, YOU hired them. If you can’t trust them, what does that say about you?

This article points out a fascinating case study in which two Nike garment factories in Mexico adopted different stances in this regard. One plant “empowered workers to decide their own production goals, division of work, and even team organization.” The other “imposed rules around task structure and timing, tightly controlling the shop floor.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the factory with fewer restrictions was more productive.

If it worked in a situation like this for a company like Nike, why wouldn’t loosening restrictions work for you? So if you want to get the best out of your employees, maybe you should be asking yourself what you can do to make them feel more of a sense of freedom. Do you have experience with an employee program or policy that resulted in greater freedom AND greater productivity? I’d love to hear about it. Write me a note in the comments below.

photo credit: Them looming mountains via photopin (license)