Encouraging Employees to Take Ownership

You have a new employee who came on seeming eager to do a great job, but you’ve quickly discovered they’ll rarely make a move without checking with a manager first and have been heard to utter the statement, “Well, nobody’s checking on me, so I didn’t really think I had to do it.” In fact, a number of employees seem to have the mentality of doing what they’re told and making excuses they “didn’t know” when an error occurred. How can you get your team to step up and have a more personal stake in the work and the company overall?

  • Give them the why; let them work on the how. For employees to want to take ownership of their work, they need to understand why they’re doing it and why it has importance. As a leader, you need to share a clear vision with your staff and encourage them to become a part of it, as well as how their job connects to a larger overall picture. And once you have given an employee a task, allowing that person to figure out how to get it done demonstrates your trust in their abilities and gives them freedom to use their own skills. If you need to, give them the frame but let them build the house with their own ideas and materials. Guide but don’t micromanage.
  • Delegate effectively. Poor leaders not only micromanage; they don’t define their expectations or needs clearly. This leads to employees feeling they have to frequently check in because they feel unsure they should take ownership of the work — they don’t want to make a decision you won’t agree with. Make sure to do more than just assign a project: Tell them which parts of the project they have full control over and who they need to check in with so they can move forward confidently. This also puts the responsibility on each person for their own work.
  • Ask for feedback. One of the most frustrating responses for a new employee who comes up with a suggestion is, “Well, we tried X in the past and it didn’t work,” and simply end the discussion. Companies who ask for employee input on small and large decisions that will affect the company (and, by proxy, them) have staff who truly care about the company’s success because they have a personal stake in the game and feel they have a voice. This fosters better working relationships, engagement and collaboration.

Encouraging ownership among your employees will also inspire them to see their jobs as a personal responsibility, not just something to do to meet a deadline. To find your next great employee, visit PrideStaff Thousand Oaks and Ventura County.