The Secret to a High-Performing Organization? Employee Ownership

young-businessman-listeningAs a manager or business owner, one of your top priorities is becoming a high-performing organization. Specific definitions of “high performing” vary, but for most companies, it means employees are satisfied and productive, benchmarks are consistently exceeded and the overall culture is one of a shared purpose and commitment to excellence.

Literally hundreds of studies have examined what goes in to creating a high performing organization. While different researchers have reached a wide range of conclusions, one of the most common factors of success is employees with a sense of ownership.

What Does It Mean to Act Like an Owner?

When you hear the term “employee ownership,” you might immediately think of companies owned by employees in the fiscal sense; employees might be shareholders or have another type of financial interest in the company. However, when it comes to management theory, employee ownership refers to a form of accountability for individual performance and the performance of the company. When an employee acts like an owner, they have a greater sense of pride in their work and in their company, and will demonstrate a commitment to excellence in everything they do.

Encouraging employee accountability and a sense of employee ownership is different from motivating employees. It is not something you can mandate or force employees to feel. You can, however, use your managerial skills and knowledge to create an environment in which employees feel like they have a real stake in the success of the organization and they are part of something much bigger.

Foster Accountability

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Throughout your career, you have probably worked for at least one manager who wasn’t a great leader. Instead of encouraging employees and treating them like valued team members important to the success of the organization, the manager may have used bribes or incentives to try to motivate employees to do more, or they may have even resorted to threats, bullying, micromanagement or even begging to get results. And chances are, results of this management theory were not great.

Contrast this subpar business model to a high performing organization in which employees are expected to act like owners and be accountable for their work. Instead of working just to get a bonus or a reward, employees work hard because they genuinely care about what they are doing and are invested in the success of the company. How does a manager create such an environment?

Encourage Group Decision-Making

When employees feel like just another cog in the wheel, simply performing tasks as directed by management, they aren’t going to feel like they have much of a stake in the company. This is especially apparent when management theory dictates that decisions are made in an executive vacuum; it’s hard to feel like an owner of anything when unfamiliar, uninvolved people make decisions regarding your work.

Instead, high performing organizations foster a sense of employee ownership by including everyone in important decisions and soliciting feedback on important initiatives. When the group decides together how to manage a process, everyone feels more invested in a positive outcome.

Foster Employee Autonomy

Perhaps the greatest detriment to fostering accountability and ownership is micromanagement. When an employee is managed at every turn and not trusted to do his or her job, they are not going to feel valued for their unique talents and skills — and they will never try to stretch boundaries and exceed goals. Adapting your management theory to give employees autonomy to do their jobs and make decisions regarding their work allows them to have employee ownership, and therefore a greater investment in the outcome.

Encourage Problem Solving

When a problem occurs in your organization, who takes care of it? Do employees have the power to come up with their own solutions, or does your management theory require management approval at every turn? One of the best ways to foster accountability and ownership is requiring employees to brainstorm solutions before reporting problems. Such employee-driven problem solving has been proven repeatedly to create a significant culture shift and foster ownership.

Implement a Fair Reward System

Success breeds success, and when employees reap the rewards of their hard work, they will be more inclined to continue their efforts. When performance-based rewards are given out consistently and equitably, and in line with results, you will see a shift in employee attitudes and a greater sense of accountability.

A mediocre or low-performing organization is not going to become a high performing organization overnight, but commitment and a shift in how employees are perceived and treated will help your company make major progress toward that goal.

Photo Credits: www.123rf.com

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