A question I hear often is what are the components to have employees engaged and taking ownership? There are many considerations but I wanted to share 4 major components I believe are critical to have engaged, successful employees.
Culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which directs how people behave in organizations. Do you talk about the organization’s values through posters and cute exercises at staff meetings or are the values actually practiced and ingrained into your everyday work? The culture should be so prevalent it’s simple how employees act at work. It’s interesting when I walk into an office and see motivational posters on the wall. That typically says to me, that if they are advertising their culture, it is most likely a checklist item and not necessarily ingrained into the organization.
According to Bethany Forsyth, VP of Human Relations, Shopify, “Determine what behaviors and beliefs you value as a company, and have everyone live true to them. These behaviors and beliefs should be so essential to your core, that you don’t even think of it as culture.” In other words, live it, don’t talk about it. Actions speak louder than words.
What is your culture currently? Was it designed with intention or has it development organically over time? How does your staff embody it? How do you measure it? Or do you?
Ron Ashkenas wrote in ‘Why Accountability Is So Muddled, and How to Un-Muddle It’, in the November 26, 2012 Harvard Business Review, the three reasons organizations fail to achieve accountability among staff are:
- Complexity of the organization
- Work processes evolve constantly
- People work hard to avoid accountability
You need to look at your organization and ask
- How complex is our department or organization? Do so many hands touch a process that it makes it very difficult for someone to be accountable?
- How often does your work process change? How are those changes communicated out? Who is involved in the new workflow design?
- What do you have in place to make it easy for staff to be accountable. What is your performance review process like? What is your recognition process? Is there trust among your staff?
Ownership is different than accountability as ownership is about owning something versus taking responsibility for something. In other words, owning is about initiative. Doing whatever it takes to make something happen. Accountability means you made sure a task or project you were given was done to the specs.
An example of ownership is identifying a problem and coming up with a solution for that problem. Then implementing the solution. A Owner asks questions, challenges assumptions and has the mindset of what can I do to move the business forward.
What can you do to empower employees to take ownership?
- Give them permission to take ownership
- Establish a high level of trust so that if they fail, there is learning involved and not blame.
- Have the employee accountable for the results
The final component is obtaining buy in. Buy in occurs when staff are on board with the vision, culture and goals of the department or organization. They also find the work satisfying and rewarding. This is not about them saying, this is a nice or a good place to work. This is about them being so connected to the organization they would have a hard time imagining working anywhere else.
There are four ways to achieve buy in. They are:
- Establish a strong vision that the employee can and does believe in
- Keep the lines of communication open. Check in often and ask how you can support them.
- Establish a high level of trust
- Treat them with a high level of respect and like they are an integral part of the team.
Let us know how you are doing in this area. Leave a comment below.
The Hofstetter Group, an employee development and performance company, provides coaching and advising to small businesses who are experiencing growth and change and want to protect their most important asset their employees.