John Miller coined it very well, “Ownership: ‘A commitment of the head, heart, and hands to fix the problem and never again affix the blame.”
It is every business owners’ wish to have that perfect condition where all of his employees have the same level of attention, passion and motivation to drive the business towards success. It is not surprising though that only a few employees would have the same attitude towards the business – for the simple fact that they are not owners. They don’t share the same risks or benefits, thus, it doesn’t make sense to assume they’re going to approach things the exactly the same way as the owner.
Not everyone can own a business. But an attitude of ownership is something that can be achieved by every member of the organization. This is why organizations invest in programs and every effort to have employees — intellectually, psychologically and emotionally engaged; willing to innovate and take risks; be receptive to rewards and recognition; and be accountable for their actions. We know that these are essential in order for an organization to be successful. Furthermore, we also want to be working alongside team members who are as committed to the results of the organization as we are.
When the leadership down to the lowest level members of the organization have a sense of ownership towards the work that they do and for the success of the business, there is significant improvement on the following aspects at work: Ability to Adapt to Change, Teamwork, Innovation, and Turnover.
Ability to Adapt to Change
Work environments can change frequently as organizations update work procedures, introduce improved technology and add new products or services and customers. Employees who have a strong sense of ownership towards the success of the organization are those who are more receptive to change as they see change as a way to develop new skills. As a result they adapt to change more quickly, reducing the time it takes for the organization to implement change in a productive manner.
An employee who has ownership over his job as well as the results delivered by the team, has an impact on how he functions as part of one. Organizations nowadays are very diverse in terms of cultures, beliefs, nationalities, etc. Add to that the fact that each member of the team will have different personalities and ways of doing things. Employees who care about the results of the team as much as he cares about his own results, embrace diversity and are willing to assimilate the differences into their team – can foster a spirit of cooperation, making the team more productive as a whole.
A sense of ownership has a huge impact on innovation and creativity in the workplace. Workers with this attitude toward their job and the organization are more likely to make helpful suggestions or ideas that help the business grow. Additionally, these are workers who continuously find ways to improve their work as well as work processes of their teams.
We all know that high turnover rate equates to higher costs in terms or hiring, training and overall manpower costs. It also means loss of productivity until the newcomer gets the hang of the job and the company culture. Employees who have a strong sense of ownership about their job and the success of the organization are those employees who also have high engagement and are less likely to leave the company. Thus, they help in minimizing the productivity gap and the costs associated with hiring new employees.
How do you then get employees to acquire an attitude of ownership?
Start at Recruitment. – It is very common to hear nowadays to “hire for attitude, more than for skill”. It is easier to train a person with the right attitude to be able to acquire as certain skillset, than to train a highly skilled person to be molded into the attitude that you want to promote in your organization. During the selection process, look for people who want to understand the organizations’ processes and view the organization in the same way they see their favorite sports team.
Give your employees Autonomy on “how” to deploy their work. Allowing your employees to have the autonomy to do their work, have more decision-making power, and giving them opportunity to increase their responsibilities have proven to be effective in inspiring employees to develop the sense of ownership. Understandably, you will have to institute checkpoints to review progress and to see what help they need to succeed. Remember, you selected and hired whom you believe is the smartest and best candidate that would fit your organization needs. Thus, treat them as such and trust them to be able to do the job without your micromanaging.
Open and 2-way communication In fostering a culture where attitude of ownership is crucial, transparency and an open communication that goes both ways is important. Employees who contribute to the success of the organization is better influenced than commanded. It’s ok to share with them how you would do a task based on what worked for you in the past, however, ask them as well how they would do it and encourage them to create their own work routine that works best for them which working on the same goal.
Encourage entrepreneurship among your employees entrepreneurs are employees who are continuously coming up with innovative ideas and new ways to do work more efficiently. Allowing employees to innovate and find ways on how to improve their work processes reinforce their sense of ownership over their job and the results that they deliver for the organization. Companies such as Google and IBM foster entrepreneurship by encouraging their employees to invest a portion of their time in projects that would have a huge impact on work process improvement or even a positive impact in the community where they belong.
Actually give your employees Ownership of the company through profit-sharing or stock options –Lastly, making profit-sharing plan as part of your total compensation and rewards strategy is a surefire way to instill in them the attitude of ownership, by actually being part owner. Definitely, your other rewards and recognition initiatives will be good for motivating employees. However, with profit-sharing or allowing employees to buy stocks at preferred rates – you encourage them to really think as an owner. When bonuses or dividends are not paid out because organizational targets were not met, they directly feel the impact and pain as part owners of the organization.
Ultimately, having a team with a strong sense of ownership over their job and the success of the organization as a whole involves designing an environment that lets people connect with a meaningful purpose, do work that they’re good at, and share in the success of the organization as a result of their efforts.
Author-Mila Pascual-Nodusso, Strategic HR Leader at IBM and Transformational Executive Coach to CHROs and Emerging Leaders in ASEAN region. She is a HR leader and transformational leadership coach with over 16 years of experience from different countries across APAC in the different functions of human resources management and development, and in developing business leaders. She is a sought after Executive Coach for HR Leaders in Southeast Asia and currently a Strategic HR Leader in IBM Asia Pacific.