Trust and Loyalty
- Be willing to take action. Last week, we discussed the importance of collaboration. One of the quickest ways to erode an ownership mindset is not taking action on the ideas and suggestions that come from your employees taking ownership of the results of their position. Your team needs to believe that their ideas and insights are being listened to and are valued. Most people will simply not risk taking ownership if there is any doubt they are not being heard. How you and your business take action on employee input is a delicate balance, because there are somethings that are just not practical to implement. Time, other initiatives, and even cash flow can play a big role in what you take action on, but if your team feels like you never implement or follow through with their suggestions, they will never take on an ownership mindset. Be willing to discuss employee's ideas and engage them in being a part of thinking through the investment and impact of putting their ideas into action. When employees understand the company's point of view and the logic behind decisions to take action or not take action their sense of ownership will grow. If you've had issues in the past that have eroded the belief that you are willing to take action be sure to talk to your business coach about how to productively move forward with your team.
- Be willing to live up to expectations. If you and your leaders do not live up to expectations, there is no reason to believe that your team will either. Before you look at your team take a close look at how your company leadership is meeting expectations of employees and customers. There may be no issues here, but sometimes small things such as missing deadlines or meetings can erode trust. We encourage you to be observant of how you set and meet the expectations of your employees. Have leaders and managers conduct a self-check on how you each follow through with what you say you will do, and if you are following the systems and standards you expect your employees to adhere to. In the absence of clearly defined expectations employees will set their own expectations of what, when and how you should be doing things. Eliminate the possibility of inappropriate expectations by clearly defining what your team can expect of their leaders and when they can expect it.
- Be Transparent and offer insight. Your team's point of view is limited to their experience and knowledge of your company. No one knows your business better than you do, which can be a problem. If your team takes ownership of an issue or even a project, they won't have all the insights that you have unless you are more transparent with them. It can be tempting to try to save time and simply tell your staff that an idea is a bad one or that it simply won't work. Again, you have the experience and insight to make more knowledgeable decisions, however, your goal is to share those insights by being more transparent. Once again, communication is key. You can't just tell your team and hope it sticks, rather you must understand how they think and ask questions that allow them to view the situation in a different mindset thus changing the way they think.
- Show Confidence and Promote Learning. If you want your team to display more ownership you must be willing to accept that they will make mistakes. There will be decisions they make that you would have handled differently. Some of them will be small, insignificant decisions and others might be important decisions that impact your clients or finances. If you don't have confidence your employees can take the right actions to achieve the right results you should consider why. Do they need more training? Is there information or insights they don't have? Do they lack experience? Are they unclear of the boundaries they have for decision making? Your business is important to you and it can be very difficult to let go of some of the control to allow your employees to step into owning issues and opportunities. When your team takes ownership of an issue then you have to be willing to let them handle it and show support of their decision. This doesn't mean you need to agree with their decisions, it means that you all can learn and grow from both good and poor decisions. If you undermine their decisions, especially in front of others you will erode their sense of ownership. Mistakes will be made, but how you handle them will determine if your employees learn from them, grow in confidence and continue to take ownership or if they back away from taking ownership to avoid unpleasant repercussions. Take the time to celebrate employee's successes and discuss mistakes in a way that your confidence in their decision making increases and their confidence in making decisions increases their sense of ownership.
- Treat with respect and expect good results. Stephen R. Covey wrote, "Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers." It's a simple and powerful reminder. If you want your employees to take ownership of their position then you have to treat them as individuals who are qualified to make decisions that meet your company's standards. If an employee fails to meet your expectations show respect for them, take the time to understand why they made the decisions they did, and discuss what didn't work so you can both understand what needs to be different going forward.
Communication is a Two Way Street