10 Steps to Get Your Employees Take On the Ownership Mentality

Joan Nadene

May 14, 2021

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Your employees are what keep your engine of a company running. If they don’t have the right mindset at work, your company could be running at less than optimal levels. Make sure your employees possess the right mentality that ensures success and satisfaction for all: the ownership mentality.

There are generally two types of workers in the world.

On one hand, you have the ones that simply work to be paid. These people work just enough to avoid getting called out or terminated, nothing more. They’re not particularly passionate about their job, and often look for the easiest ways to get the job done. They often think of their organization as a separate entity, often this large, complex, and unfeeling machine.

And then there are the workers that seem to love their job. These workers believe in the values and the vision that their company has. At most they are passionate advocates, and at the very least they simply like the work that they do. They value their work, and strive to deliver their best every time. They are invested in their company, and see themselves growing with it.

So which ones does your company have?

If you’re unsure, or are quite certain you have more of the former than the latter, then your company definitely needs a change.

Specifically, your workers need to take on more of an ownership mentality.

What Is the Ownership Mentality?

Imagine you’re on a vacation and staying at a hotel room, with all the expenses paid. Everything is free. You don’t have to worry about a thing.

You mess up the sheets, maybe spill some wine on the floor, and order as much as you can from the hotel room service. 

You don’t really worry about tidying up or making sure everything stays neat and clean, or as good as new. This is because one, there are people tasked to clean up after you and two, you don’t own the place. You also don’t worry about the amount of resources you consume because hey, it’s not coming out of your pocket.

Now imagine that you just bought a house.

Almost immediately there’s a difference in the way you treat and perceive the place. You’ve invested a lot of time, money, and effort to buy this house. You’ve equipped it with all the appliances and furniture you need, and decorated it according to your preferences. 

Naturally, you’ll want to take care of this house. You’ll clean it, maintain it, make sure that it stays in the best condition possible for as long as possible.

That is the difference that the ownership mentality makes. 

Ownership thinking shifts a person’s point of view from being indifferent to taking personal accountability for the quality and success of the outcome of their work because they have a stake in it. When you think like an owner, you care more– about the organization you are a part of, about the mission and values that your company stands for, and about the outcomes of your work and how it will affect the organization as a whole. 

As you’ve probably already realized, having workers develop an ownership mentality benefits the organization as a whole, including the workers themselves. They become more fulfilled with their work, and your company benefits from the better results they are willing and able to consistently deliver.

How to Achieve the Ownership Mentality

The results of having the ownership mentality within an organization makes it one of the most powerful and coveted characteristics of a successful work environment. But it is by no means easy to obtain. Accountability is not something you can mandate. It is not a rule that can be followed in a snap, nor is it a tool or a process that can be quickly established. 

The ownership mentality is something that your people must willingly take on themselves. This may sound quite challenging, as you cannot exactly force people to take on a particular mindset. However, you can encourage and persuade them. A lot of that willingness will actually come in response to the actions you make as their leader. 

When you give your people the tools, trust, and agency they need to accomplish things, they will naturally develop the ownership mentality, and your entire organization will be all the better for it.

So where should you begin? Here are 10 steps to get you started:

  1. Share your vision – For your people to think like an owner, they must know how you think. That means sharing your mission and vision for the company, the goals you plan to achieve within fixed time periods, and the steps you plan to take to achieve those goals. Communicate these to your people early and often, and be clear on the role each person will play in all these. State the importance of each person’s contribution, and ask for their continual input. In doing so they begin to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. They will also see how committed you are to your goals and will eventually follow suit.
  2. Increase employee involvement – Establishing rules, objectives, and plans, and making important decisions need not and should not always be the work of only one person. Involve your employees in making these important decisions, or at the very least articulate to them your process for making difficult decisions. By getting their input on such important matters, they will feel their significance in the company, and be more supportive of these decisions because they had a say in it.
  3. Communicate well and thoroughly – Emails, instant messaging, verbal instructions, performance reviews, handbooks, daily meetings– whatever means of communication you may be using, make sure that you communicate well and communicate thoroughly. This means being clear with your instructions, being honest with your intentions, and providing enough context so that people understand why things must be done or done in a certain way.

    When you communicate well, employees understand their role in your organization better and will do things not just because they were told to do them, but because they understand the importance of what they are doing and why they are doing it.
  4. Delegate effectively – Often employees won’t take ownership of work or make tough decisions because they’re not so sure that they should. Eradicate that uncertainty by allowing your employees to make decisions on their own, and give them leadership roles, like overseeing certain meetings or managing junior employees. By delegating not just work but authority as well, employees will feel more accountable. Just be sure to exercise good judgment when delegating, as you also don’t want to set anyone up for failure by giving them too big of a responsibility.
  5. Let them find their own way – Whether it’s solving a problem or meeting a certain deliverable, allow your employees to find their own way. Giving them step-by-step instructions on everything limits their capabilities and also makes them feel like you don’t trust them enough to know what to do to get the job done.

    By allowing them to find their own way (with some guidance if needed) you allow them to build ownership. They might even surprise you with a more efficient way of doing things. If they do the opposite however, don’t be too quick to scold them. Instead, ask them why they took that route. Lead them to see the better options, and allow them to correct their mistakes.
  6. Earn their trust, but give yours – It may seem unbalanced to have to earn somebody’s trust while you give yours away freely, but when it comes to developing employee accountability, this is the way it has to be. Why, you ask? It’s because your people need to trust you before they can follow your lead. Nobody wants to follow someone they don’t trust.

To earn your people’s trust, you need to be transparent with your plans, goals, intentions, and business objectives. At the same time, you have to trust them before they actually earn that trust. Knowing that they have your trust will spur them to want to earn it, and will give your people the confidence and encouragement they need to succeed.

  1. Hold them accountable – Just because you trust your people doesn’t mean you go easy on them. You still need to make sure that they meet their deadlines and objectives. Make sure you hold them accountable for their work and responsibilities, and guide and encourage them to do their best work.
  2. Acknowledge exemplary performance – Recognizing great work by giving an award, a shoutout during a team meeting, or even just a well-deserved compliment can go a long way to encouraging your people to step up and do even better. Always show your appreciation for above-and-beyond performance and commitment, and reward these commensurately. You can always reward in kind, but even the simple expression of greater trust from you can be the best reward.
  3. Give constructive feedback – No matter the results, always give your people feedback. It will let them know how they are doing, what they need to improve on, and more importantly, let them know that you care about their development as much as the company’s.
  4. Choose your people wisely – While ownership thinking can be developed, it helps to have people who are open-minded and willing to learn and improve right from the start. Having a good vetting process when hiring ensures that you select the right people for your team: those who may already possess the ownership mentality, or are willing to take on that mindset for the greater good of all. 

It can be difficult to find such people, especially if you need them to be technically skilled as well. If you need help finding and procuring such people for your team, you can always turn to the experts here at CoDev. 

We’re experienced in procuring highly skilled offshore workers for companies of various sizes, and these workers will be ready and able to work remotely when you need them. Being already in a remote work setup, they know how to work independently and take ownership of their work even with minimal supervision. With CoDev, you can successfully outsource software development and other technical aspects of your operations. Get in touch with CoDev today to know more.

Joan Nadene

Joan Nadene

Joan Nadene, a seasoned content writer with a decade of experience in the field of outsourced work, wields a strong background in collaborating with offshore outsourcing companies and serving clients across diverse industries in the US and Australia. Joan has been an invaluable part of the CoDev team for over 7 years.

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