How much control do you like to have over your day? Over the tasks that you perform? Now, while you are searching for that next job, would be a good time to answer these questions for yourself. It is good bet that there are questions built into the interviews that you go to that will determine the answer from the perspective of the hiring manager. (I know that I do for certain.)
Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual (nice as that would be at certain stages) but some jobs are more structured than others, therefore more likely to have specific directions and expectations. These jobs are suited to someone who is comfortable with low levels of autonomy. Other jobs seem wide open to interpretation and better suited to someone who appreciates, and is capable of handling, a high level of autonomy.
I remember the first few moments after bringing my older son home from the hospital. I had babysat for years and up until that moment felt confident that I could be a parent. But in that moment I was pierced by a fear that someone messed up in letting me bring home this helpless being without checking on my skills with a newborn. But the panic started to recede as I remembered the bits and pieces that I could do – I could change a diaper and feed the baby, these weren’t any different in a newborn than with the other babies I had watched.
My son became a toddler – when ‘me do’ is the anthem and autonomy is born. From then on out the decision can be made – can/should I do this task or is it better for someone else to do?
My younger son has been doing work for various contractors recently. Some want him to go ahead and move on to the next step without their input and some want him to just stop when he has completed the task that they assigned. He is just as capable of doing the tasks in either situation and so better suited to the times when he is allowed to keep moving.
Sometimes it isn’t possible to find a job that provides the ideal level of autonomy so it helps to know what range you can tolerate without getting frustrated. Or maybe there is a trade-off – less autonomy in one area but more of something else. It still helps to know all of this about yourself going in. All part of that ‘informed decision’ that we like to talk about these days.
Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.
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