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Leaving the Matrix Behind

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

In the 1999 film The Matrix, Morpheus tells Neo to choose between the blue pill and the red pill. The blue pill is the world as he knows it, in the Matrix that controls every aspect of life. If he takes the red pill, he will see the world as it really is, but he can never go back to his previous life. Without hesitation, Neo takes the red pill. Like most of us, Neo prizes autonomy—the ability to make choices about the things that affect him—over security.

For decades, research has shown the most important factor in job satisfaction is not money, but autonomy. Autonomy makes us more productive, reduces turnover, and may even cut the risk of heart attacks. When employers allow their employees to make decisions and choices, they demonstrate confidence in their skills and empower them to take ownership of their part of the business. Like Neo, we prefer the risks and expectations that come with responsibility rather than the security of being told what to do.

In some industries, increasing autonomy can be pretty painless: employees can work from home or set their own hours as long as the work gets done. In other industries, such as chauffeured car services, giving the reins to employees seems impossible. Chauffeurs cannot decide which fares to pick up, wear athletic clothing to work, or choose a scenic route to the airport because they are tired of the highway. Reservationists and dispatchers have to follow set policies and procedures to provide excellent customer service. Fortunately, self-determination is possible even in an exacting industry such as ours.

  1. Give managers the discretion to make decisions about their staff. Managers who really know their employees can find ways to give them ownership of some parts of their jobs. If all of their employees have participated in Myers-Briggs typing, it will be clear which ones will feel autonomous if they are allowed to set their own goals (ENFJ, ENTJ, INTJ); which ones need to have the freedom to interact with customers and coworkers (ENFP, ESFJ); and which ones thrive when they have permission to work on their own from time to time (INFJ, ISFJ, INFP, ISFP). By the way, this strategy is a two-fer: both the managers and the employees are acting autonomously.

  2. Consider autonomous teams. If you have a group of reservationists or maintenance employees, encourage them to work as a team to set goals, implement policies, and solve problems. Building a healthy team that is by necessity made up of individuals can be tricky. Myers-Briggs team-building workshops can help team members value and use each other’s contributions and strengths.

  3. Start small. It’s always better to add more self-direction and freedom than to take it away. Goal setting is a great place to start with virtually any employee. Encourage employees to set personal goals—most of the time their goals will be loftier than ones you would have set for them.

If you would like to partner with us to empower your employees or to develop strong teams using Myers-Briggs typing, please contact us at

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