Owning Their Future

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Engaged, involved employees will care far more about their work than those that aren’t.

If you’re a business executive or manager that has responsibility for people, your behaviour will affect those you work with and, importantly, will impact their feeling of ownership of their jobs.  I don’t mean literal ownership, but I needn’t explain how critical engagement is in employee performance and attitude.

Let me ask you a few questions: Firstly, do you make your bed in the morning when you leave home?  Secondly, do you make your bed when you wake up at a hotel?

Ownership matters

Clearly, the answer to Q1 and Q2 is very different.  Why? You don’t own the hotel but you do own your home so making an effort to keep it orderly and effective is much more important to you.

And so it goes with your employee team—the sense of “ownership” translates into care and engagement.  Just look at how companies like WestJet have used their literal ownership to attract loyalty and customer appreciation. While you cannot provide financial involvement for employees, you can help them to share that emotional bond of engagement by treating them as partners. Here are five suggestions.

Employees are people too

Get to know them: This needs to be genuine. You share a daily life and see them as much as their families in many cases. Who are these folks?  What are their interests, aspirations, and passions?  Where do they come from, how do they feel about things? If you can be genuinely interested and caring about one another, it’s an easier step to shared work goals.

Invest in them. In previous columns we have discussed training, advancement and other goals employees have. Not surprisingly, if you go to bat for them they will reciprocate with loyalty and effort. “My company is good to me” translates into mutual appreciation and an engaged working commitment.

Involve them in decisions. There are decisions made that impact each individual. There’s no more frightening situation than feeling the future is out of your control or that the decisions that surround your job are being made without considering your input. That’s especially true for caring employees—include them in planning discussions, especially those that impact them.

Trust their decisions

Trust: You hired your employees because they are good at what they do—so trust them to make decisions. Will they always get it right? Maybe not always or in every detail but when you trust your employees, they will strive to make the choices that are good for the company

Praise and thanks. If they are trying and care, positive reinforcement is vital. When you trust your employees and thank them for what they do, their feelings of ownership are validated.

You can talk, post platitudes on the bulletin board and hold corporate meetings to discuss how much you value your employees. But the proof is always in your actions and your attitudes. When business owners or managers are engaged, their employees feel part of the process and feel that sense of proprietorship.


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