Turn Your Employees Into Owners

Turn Your Employees Into Owners

When fear stops you from becoming an owner

One of the biggest problems facing clients we’ve worked with over the years is that their employees aren’t focused enough.

Blame-shifting, silos, and aimless meetings are running rampant in companies whose owners struggle with the painfully slow pace at which their distracted employees work. It almost seems like everyone is working towards their own personal goals rather than aligning them with the company’s objectives.

If you’re a business owner wondering why your employees work like they don’t care about the company, know that in order to solve the problem, you must understand the underlying issue causing all this: fear.

When you’re afraid, you try your hardest to stay within your comfort zone; in other words, focusing on what is within your immediate control.

The concept of the big picture is daunting for anyone, and for employees who are more tactical in thinking, homing in on the company’s big picture goals can be a challenge. This is why your employees focus more on more department-level or personal goals, because they’re more reachable, attainable, and less of a hassle to deal with.

And when your employees don’t aim higher than department-level goals, they’ll start to believe that the big picture goals of the company aren’t their problem. And if the company isn’t getting to their big picture goals, then it’s someone else’s fault, not theirs.

How to create a sense of ownership in your company

Fear is a crippling feeling, and if not dealt with the right way, it can manifest itself in ways that are damaging to your company, such as lack of ownership.

In order to conquer this fear, your employees needs to learn how to work together as a team. That way, when there’s a shared sense of ownership—that everyone is responsible for reaching the company’s long-term goals—, thinking in terms of the big picture won’t seem as intimidating anymore.

Hire a Project Manager

In a lot of the cases we’ve worked with, exhausted CEOs and frustrated business owners come to us stating that they feel they’re the only ones in the company who are taking a focused and conscious effort to make things happen in their organization. They think they’re the only ones actually aligning their goals with the company’s, and their teams are doing the exact opposite.

Frustrated business owners and exhausted CEOs: note that when this happens, it means you need a project manager on your team.

Project managers know how to delegate work in a manner that is effective and best suited to both your employees work styles and your company’s goals. They can work across different departments and report to you or your PMO on their progress.

Focus on Cross departmental Meetings

One of the ways you can make your meetings more productive is to have employees from different departments join in.

Take Phil Libin, former CEO of Silicon Valley-based software company Evernote, as an example. Whenever he would hold a meeting with a particular department, he would bring along employees from other departments to join the meeting. He made sure every employee knew how the company worked from top to bottom, and had his teams interact with other teams who worked outside of their speciality.

Cross-departmental meetings can be done if you make your meeting less about day-to-day operations, and more about the product, company initiatives, company long term goal-setting, and new company values you want to introduce to the company, or overall customer satisfaction.

Don’t base your meetings on department issues and problems. You should encourage team members to be problem-solvers without the need for a meeting every single time an issue arises.

Think, How many of your meetings are about the department’s performance, and how many are about the company’s? How many of your meetings involve a single department and how many involve multiple departments?

And questions to you as a CEO or business owner, How much do you know about the operations of a single department? How many times have you personally blamed them? Do you trust them? How much do you trust their abilities?

Treat your employees like business owners

Employees won’t ever learn how to become owners if you keep delegating work rather than delegating authority.

Encourage your team members and employees to be the initiators, problem-solvers, and quick-thinkers. Have them lead the meetings, let them ask questions, teach them not to be afraid to say “I don’t know.” Expose them to different situations where an owner—not an employee— is needed. Let them lead projects and take responsibility for the results of that project.

Creating a sense of ownership in your employees can be achieved by setting Objective Key Results (OKRs). Having each individual team member set their own long-term goals and measurable objectives that align with the company’s vision and big picture will slowly instill company values in them, and will therefore have them treating the business as their own.

Lastly: Challenge your employees to own their mistakes, and acknowledge them when they amend them.

The fear of the big picture is also linked to the fear of failure. There’s a degree of uncertainty involved when looking at the big picture when compared to day-to-day tasks and goals—long-term goals and strategy have a lot of risk in them.

This is why it’s important that when an employee or team member makes a mistake that they learn to own up to them. You can’t learn from your mistake when you refuse to admit it, so challenge your employees to look their mistake in the eye and say, “yes, I did that. I know my mistake, and this is what I will do next time to avoid it.”

Make sure you give them a good pat on the back when you see they’ve done the learning needed, and fixed their mistake as a result.