Arjun Singh Rathore
“What is your favourite thing about working at your organization?” The usual answer by any of the employee is, “I have been on the inner side of the table and I know that my organization was awarded as one of the best places to work for several years, offers a fantastic salary package and is part of growing industry.”
But, when it comes to deciding if my organization is the right place for me, the answer, rather our behaviour is just “talk the talk,” because we all follow, “walk the walk”, ignoring the fact that we have an obligation to the organization in terms of results, and that we have an obligation to act on the items that impact those results. We may have to assemble a team to help ourselves to bring about the results, but ultimately, we must be accountable and own the results of our actions. There must be one value that speaks the most and makes it easy to answer from the employees with complete honesty- “My favourite thing about working at my organization is Ownership”.
For the growth of both the organization and it’s employees, every employee has to adopt ownership at their workplace and behave like an owner while taking a decision for the execution of the jobs allotted to them. Ownership is taking the initiative to bring about positive results. It means not working for others to act, and caring about the outcome as much as an owner of the organization would. It is being accountable for the results of your actions – that are of the highest quality and delivered in a timely manner. Taking ownership shows others that they can trust you to do the right thing in the right way.
At the same time the employer has to create an environment where employees feel empowered to act and bring about changes. The culture that values ownership, permits an employee to think and act on the line that, I can make a difference within the organization (I am empowered to take initiative); I have the support of my immediate Boss, my organizational head and the rest of the whole leadership/management team (they know I will be accountable for my actions); I can chase down my passions and incorporate that into my position (my actions create positive results for myself and the organization) and last but not the least, I feel trusted (because the team knows I will do the right thing).
Unfortunately, even less than one-fourth of employees working in any organization feel like owners. Another 50 percent are “job renter”, bringing only their hands, but not their hearts to work. They show up every day, keep a low profile, and collect a pay-cheque. The remainder are actively disengaged, and passively block or actively sabotage forward progress.
I’m still convinced that the best advice one can give to Job renters, is to find something that drives you to work as hard as you can, and still want to enjoy it, Stay humble, but don’t be afraid to take a risk and own it. As a business owner, if you want people to take ownership with you, treat them like owners. That’s how you get where you want to go.
Management must encourage their workers to “own” their responsibilities literally and legally. Employee ownership is not, however, a magic bullet. Some management gurus have long regarded it with scepticism, arguing, for example, that employees of all but the smallest organizations can rarely see a link between their efforts and the organization’s results; hence, ownership has little effect on business performance. They also point to the “free rider” problem: Even if employees as a group have an incentive to work harder and smarter, some individuals will be tempted to slack off and let others carry the burden. They suggested that employees don’t value ownership as much as it costs a company to provide it. Employee-Management-Owners must be trusted to do what is best for their organization. They know which numbers to watch, and they watch them. The organizations that have been the most successful at implementing employee-ownership plans follow these precepts: Believe in what you propose; Communicate the meaning of ownership; Share profit-and-loss information; Make it worthwhile financially; Turn your owners into decision makers.
Being transparent with your financial statements and metrics is vital in building trust. Don’t withhold bad information. Give them the Clint Eastwood version: “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly”. As for employees, they are much smarter than you give them credit for. If you share only good news, they will think you are full of it. They understand that business is like life, Bad things do happen. Nothing is great all of the time. Sharing financials without teaching doesn’t work. It is important that employees understand each line item and how those line items connect to the organization’s performance. Most importantly, help employees understand how their actions affect each line item. Take every opportunity to Teach, Teach and Teach.
On part of the employer, make a difference, simply by allowing your employees to make decisions. How can you expect them to have an ownership mentality when they can’t do this? Yes, it’s true-they are going to make some wrong decisions from time to time. Owners do make wrong decisions too. Most of the time when you give employees this responsibility, they want to be successful and they will be most of the time. Don’t let two wrong decisions overshadow 50 right ones. The bottom line is people don’t wake up in the morning and say, “I am really gonna suck at work today!” People want to succeed. It’s human nature.
To unlock the culture with strong sense of ownership, we have to build and support team member’s freedom and responsibility, change the mindset, embrace the shared values, use positive reinforcement and support entrepreneurial thinking. Once the stimulating and motivating company culture is adopted, it is time to start developing a culture of ownership at your place of business. It is important to understand the difference between accountability and ownership. While accountability is a task that is assigned, while ownership is related to an employee taking initiative, coming up with his or her own ideas, and stating that he or she will accomplish a particular goal.
Trust your employees to grow them as the owners of their organization, which will ultimately lead to greater productivity and help others take more initiative at work. Trust will also bring the employees to take more ownership in the workplace when it comes to expanding upon projects and developing innovative, new ideas.
We, employee-employer-management-owner, all welcome taking ownership and because of that, we all can work and perform in absolutely one of the best places to work!
(The author is Executive Manager & Branch Head at JK Bank Marble Market, Jammu)
Arjun Singh Rathore