benefits of having employees that can self-manage

Have you ever stopped to really consider what you mean when you say, “I want to hire great employees’ Does “great” mean hardworking, collaborative, goal oriented or career-aspiring? The answer could be all of the above, but an important missing trait on the list is the “ability to self-manage.”

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Adaptive Employees for an Adaptive Workplace

The workplace is rapidly changing. It is often more dispersed, heavily invested in technology and dynamic. Continuous change is a common characteristics of organizations across industries. As a result, work-life balance is morphing into “worklife” in which people do not have clear transition lines. Surveys have found that over half of U.S. employees expect organizational change to affect them, and 55 percent of employees are experiencing prolonged stress due to the ongoing change.


Being able to work hard and collaborate with others are two great qualities, but in a dynamic work environment, you also need employees who can work autonomously and successfully control workflow and results within the context of continuous change. You need employees who feel empowered and are willing to take more responsibility for their success.

You need employees who thrive in response to change, rather than get stressed. You need employees who can self-manage.

characteristics of a self-managing employee

Workers who can successfully self-manage really are great employees. The characteristics of a self-managing employee include:

  • Goal oriented
  • Internally motivated
  • Takes the initiative
  • Self-evaluates performance
  • Enjoys working autonomously
  • Embraces change in a productive manner
  • Asks a lot of questions in search of new strategies
  • Holds oneself accountable
  • Takes responsibility for work and performance
  • Embraces feedback as learning opportunities
  • Willing to help others succeed
  • Identifies issues and offers solutions

Self-managers are internally driven to succeed. The list of all the qualities makes it clear that truly great employees are the people most likely to innovate, find new solutions to problems, develop creative approaches to meeting goals and see continuous change as creating opportunities rather than a process for making work more difficult.

identify candidates that have high-potential

The child’s game of tag has different kids running around and trying to tag someone. When hiring employees, the first task is “tagging” those considered to have high-potential.

Managers spend a lot of time discussing how to identify high-potential employees. So what is a high potential employee, and what is the relationship to an employee who is a self-manager?

High potential employees refer to people who are expected to rise in the organization as leaders. They are people who self-manage because, by its very definition, self-managers are motivated to succeed in their jobs and in the organization.

what are the Qualities of a high-potential employee

This makes them natural high-potential employees. Consider the qualities of a high-potential employee:

  • Talented
  • Produces consistent work
  • Works well autonomously
  • Possesses leadership potential
  • Motivated
  • Able to handle change
  • Self-driven to develop new skills
  • Collaborative
  • Maintains a positive attitude
  • Accepts responsibility
  • Stretches to learn new things
  • Learns from feedback
  • Willing to share information and help others
  • Strives to improve the organization, so always looking for ways to resolve issues or problems

People who self-manage are “Tag, you’re it!” people, meaning self-managers are likely to be high-potential employees. It may be you need to develop their leadership skills, but the innate qualities needed for success are there.

How to Identify Employees Who Self-Manage

Identifying self-managers is a key success strategy in the talent management process. Pre-hire assessments are the ideal way to identify self-starters. They include:

  • Simulations that assess an employee’s skills and ability to adapt in pressure situations paralleling the real-word work environment
  • Personality assessments that assess whether a person is goal-focused, innovative, outgoing, reliable and aspiring
  • Custom situational judgement assessments that consider how a person will respond in situations unique to the organization
  • Problem solving assessments that consider a person’s ability to solve complex problems that include integrating data sources, which often requires consulting with people from a variety of departments
  • Motivation assessments that identify people who share values with the organization, including ability to quickly achieve goals and self-monitor performance to reach goals and objectives

The key is to implement scientifically developed assessments that are aligned with your organization’s needs in terms of employee roles. Assessments should be evidence-based and produce the analytics needed for continuously effective hiring decisions.

Once the self-managers are identified and hired, you must then ensure they get development opportunities. As high potential employees, they will not be satisfied for long unless allowed to leverage their internal strengths for personal and organizational success. Many of these employees are your future leaders.

Self-Management & Employee Engagement

Self-managers are high potential AND engaged employees. The reality is that they are not likely to remain in a job in which they are not allowed to be autonomous or are not given opportunities to strengthen skills or learn new information. If a self-managing employee does not become a turnover statistic, you have succeeded in engaging the employee. It means the employee is a good culture fit because your organization’s culture supports self-managing employees.

The reality is that the continuous change and dynamics found in most workplaces today leave little management time to babysit employees. You need employees who are able to take the initiative, get their work done, take responsibility and think of ways to improve the company. You need employees who can self-manage.