Entrepreneurs

How To Encourage Ownership Among Your Employees

By Maria Thimothy, senior consultant at OneIMS who helps businesses grow by creating and capturing demand and managing and nurturing relationships.

As a business owner, feelings of ownership are part and parcel of the job. Your commitment to your job is a result of your conviction and determination to make your vision a reality. However, it can be a struggle to find employees who can share your feelings of ownership and investment in the company. Although much of your success in building a good team is down to identifying and recruiting talent, once you have a good workforce on board, it is important to provide the right environment to encourage them to engage and take ownership in their roles. Ideally, you want to encourage people to feel that by working for you, they are also working for themselves — not only because their jobs allow them to develop their careers, but because the business directly supports them in doing so. By following a few simple strategies, you can also help foster an environment of growth and improve employee ownership.

Clearly Establish Your ‘Why’ Factor

Almost no one does well working in a vacuum, unclear as to what they are working toward. As business leaders, we sometimes forget that just because our vision is clear in our mind’s eye, we are not always good at communicating this to our employees. This is why it is very important to have a clear business plan with both long- and short-term goals that help outline what you are working toward as an organization and why. By having these in place, you can not only help employees see the bigger picture of where the company is going but also design their short-term performance goals in line with this. Understanding the why of what you do at work also helps during the inevitable busy periods when teams feel overwhelmed. The knowledge that there is a long-term goal that everyone is working toward helps keep up motivation and morale when unexpected challenges crop up. 

Tackle ‘How’ As A Team

It is natural for management or business owners to want to plan out in detail how they see business goals being accomplished. And while planning is important for success, not including your team in mapping how you will achieve your goals is not only a missed opportunity to discover good ideas you wouldn’t have thought of yourself, but also a lost chance to get employees to be more involved and take ownership. If you have already established the why of what you are doing, then it is important to also involve your team in brainstorming how you will achieve your targets. People respond far better and engage more when implementing solutions that they have proposed or been involved in creating, rather than simply being told what to do with little or no agency over how they do the work. So get everyone involved and find you will naturally foster an environment of growth and encourage ownership at all levels.

Encourage Autonomy And Constructive Feedback

Once you have the why and how working, you want to add the elements of autonomy and feedback in order to create a closed-loop of encouraging employees to take ownership. Where appropriate, employees need to be encouraged to be autonomous — think being put in charge of delivering projects or running certain business processes. Allowing them to do that in the way they see fit gives them the opportunity to feel agency over what happens in their jobs. It also frees you up as a manager so you don’t micromanage your team, with the focus being on results rather the process. Your employee may not perform their tasks as you would, but they may be just as, if not more, effective by using their own methods. However, it is also important to encourage open feedback so that you can quickly and openly address any issues as they occur, as well as recognize and highlight success. 

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Owning Long-Term Success

Taking ownership means investing time and energy in taking responsibility for your job and role within the bigger picture of what it contributes to the company. In order for employees to be willing to do this, they need to feel that through their work, not only are they investing in themselves but the company is also willing to invest in their development. By fostering an environment with clear goals, where employees are encouraged to take part in the development of plans and given autonomy to implement solutions, you will surely find long-term business success with a team that takes ownership.

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