Taking Ownership of anything means that you consider it your own. It is trivial as a definition. But, when you start peeling the onion of “Ownership at work,” different layers come out. From an employee’s perspective, It’s about feeling like you have a say in what goes on and being able to make a real impact on your work. From a manager’s perspective, the team members often just don’t do what they are told to do. They apply themselves and go above and beyond what is said and written.
Managers often struggle to create Ownership in their team members. Sometimes they stumble upon a naturally driven person in their team, and they think “ownership” comes naturally in an individual and can’t be built at scale in others. It is not valid. There is a lot that managers control how their teams take ownership of their work. One of the secrets to building ownership is building Accountability. Some may read Accountability as a synonym for Ownership. But it is much deeper than that. Building accountability is the start of building ownership.
If you want to build accountability in your team, then read here.
Just take a step back and read one of the above lines. “From an employee’s perspective, It’s about feeling like you have a say in what goes on and being able to make a real impact on your work.” Do you see the need from the employee’s perspective? It is the second step to building ownership in your teams. If you want your team members to go above and beyond what is said, you must take their input and involve them in decision-making. Often managers take data points subtly and seldom involve their teams in making decisions. In these situations, this is what your team thinks, “If you want to tell me what to do, then I will do what you want me to do.” Isn’t it?
The secret to this starts from learning how to take and work with multiple perspectives in your team. There is no doubt that you will be able to consider everything your team says. But when you take multiple perspectives, they feel heard and part of the process.
You can learn more about becoming good at taking multiple perspectives here.
In everyday work, things will go wrong. Your team members will make mistakes when they are on this journey of making decisions in their span of control. What matters is how do you react as a manager in such situations. How do you manage your emotions and deal with failure? The way you respond will undoubtedly contribute to how your team takes Ownership. An outburst would dent any confidence they would have gained to take Ownership. At the same time, a calm demeanor with a coaching attitude will help them learn from their mistakes next time.
Managing own and team’s emotions is a critical skill that managers can deploy in multiple situations. If you are interested in mastering it, then read here.
Building ownership in your team is a journey. It will take time and patience. But the results are rewarding. Don’t forget that what you expect from your team, you must be a role model for it yourself. But that is another topic that we will cover in the future.
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