Having a sense of control in our lives is a fundamental need, and work is no exception. This is called autonomy. Autonomy can take many forms, such as the freedom to determine your own workload, having your voiced ideas heard, and mobilize your ideas into action.
There’s more to autonomy than simply getting work done in the way we see best. Autonomy has a powerful influence on our motivation to excel in our roles. I’m referring to ‘intrinsic motivation’, the type of motivation that draws us to accomplish a task out of interest and curiosity – the ‘carrot’ vs. the ‘stick’ – which is clearly a more sustainable type of motivation which can have a positive impact on our overall wellbeing.
In an ecosystem where professionals are labeled ‘Trailblazers’, encouraged to speak out, seek out innovation (and are celebrated for doing so), are these advocacy campaigns induced by Salesforce reflective of reality? Do ‘Trailblazers’ have the freedom to do what they see best for the organization, and themselves?
You may have arrived at this post from one of two angles:
- As a Salesforce professional who has concerns about their autonomy (control their over workload)
- Or, as a manager/hiring manager that are looking to retain Salesforce talent and are curious why some people slip into feelings of helplessness, and eventually, leave the organisation.
This article has two objectives; firstly, to paint a picture of sentiments in the Salesforce ecosystem today, and secondly, to show why autonomy is so important to Salesforce roles, in particular (and why Salesforce ‘Trailblazers’ need breathing room).
Are Salesforce professionals satisfied with their autonomy?
First, what are the sentiments towards autonomy in the Salesforce ecosystem today?
Our Salesforce Happiness survey, in partnership with Mason Frank, asked Salesforce professionals how closely they agree with the statement:
“I am satisfied with the overall level of autonomy I have in my role”
According to the results, around three quarters of respondents (73%) say their role and surroundings give them enough autonomy. That’s a promising sign, weighting the most positive out of four well-being indicators (working environment, support for work stress):
It does prompt the question: what about the 11% who aren’t satisfied, and the remaining 16% who feel indifferently? What could be stifling their autonomy, and what could the downfall be if left unchecked – not just for these respondents, but for any professionals?
Context: the responses from 1,800+ Salesforce professionals were collected in the first half of 2020, as the Coronavirus pandemic impacts were trickling down at different paces, depending on industry. Time context aside, we must also note that figures are based on self-reported data, captured at a single point in time; feelings of autonomy can’t always be neatly packaged into ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ answers, and may even fluctuate hour by hour for some people.
Why is Autonomy Key for Salesforce Trailblazers?
The introduction briefly touched on the powerful influence autonomy has on our motivation to excel in our roles, building intrinsic motivation that’s founded on interest and curiosity (as opposed to drivers such as the threat of penalties, or external rewards like money). Regardless of the industry, autonomy will bring positive results.
We included this question in the survey because I believe there are reasons specific to Salesforce Trailblazers (admins, developers, consultants etc.). The reasons I will share build the case for ensuring these roles have autonomy.
Salesforce professionals are best placed to manage their own skill development – in other words, they know what they don’t know.
Being able to take time to upskill, without justifying why to others in the organisation, will mean they are able to fill their own training gaps by using self-service resources (eg. Trailhead). This will result in those steering the Salesforce org to feel proficient, to do what’s expected with confidence even with an everchanging technology like Salesforce.
Salesforce has three releases each year; while the release cycle timings are consistent, the effort expected of admins from one release to the next, however, is not. For instance, one release may require a feature to be retired and transition the users to new functionality, involving both technical and change management prowess. This makes the professional’s workload and training time fluctuate, therefore they are best placed to dictate their own needs according to the needs of your organization’s Salesforce instance.
2. Project Work
On a similar note, a large portion of a Salesforce professional’s time is likely spent on projects. The project lifecycle dictates busy periods, mainly the run up to deployment day, which anyone would vouch is hectic and extremely stressful.
The project plan has been assembled with a rationale behind it. In larger projects, the plan would align various other technical resources internally and externally. Requesting that changes be made to accommodate other tasks would be disruptive and could undermine a professional’s autonomy.
Where resource is restricted, it becomes a tradeoff between project work and day to day operations, a fact that others around the organisation may not be aware of, or onboard with.
Most Salesforce professionals have advisory roles in the organisation. Even admins who are employees act as internal consultants, driving how Salesforce (a ‘strategic investment’) should best be configured and extended. With such a robust and flexible platform, there are multiple options; some that follow best practice, others that are short-sighted and will cause issues down the line.
Certified Salesforce professionals should be the ones to make decisions on solution design (within their competencies). Instead of only sharing requirements, there are anecdotes of domineering stakeholders that dictate how an admin/consultant/developer should get to the end result – worst still if these people don’t have a full grasp on how Salesforce works.
The organisation hired that professional for their Salesforce best practice knowledge and lateral thinking. They shouldn’t be coaxed into implementing a solution that’s not fit for the organisation; short-term gains may hurt the org in the long run.
4. Hidden Complexity
On the same thought, there are times Salesforce professionals will advise a task or project will take longer than what a layman would predict. Some functionality in Salesforce looks deceptively simple from the outside eye! Plus, it’s those who know the platform well or can call upon past experience that will see project risks or dependencies where others would not.
Yet another reason why Salesforce professionals in your organisation need the autonomy to make both the minor day to day decisions, through to having the key seat at the table with the major decisions.
Having a sense of control in our lives is a fundamental need, and work is no exception – especially for Salesforce roles that entail fluctuating self-development needs, project-based work, and the ability to advise on best practice without getting stifled.
While it’s promising that three quarters of the survey respondents said they are satisfied with the level of autonomy they have, let’s continue raising awareness around how important autonomy is for the professionals driving the future of your Salesforce org.
You can read other findings from the Salesforce Happiness survey on a range of wellbeing topics here.