What Does True Ownership Look Like for You and Your People?

True ownership involves transparency, honesty, and giving feedback. Read on if you're ready to take ownership of work and become more productive.

published Nov 18, 2023

While anyone can start a company or become a top professional, many leaders and about 62% of employees do not like to step up and take ownership of work. There are cases where executives make mistakes and blame them on their employees. Other times, workers delay projects for months and refuse to take responsibility for the late turnaround.

Some leaders are quick to claim rewards and ownership at work for excellent results and don't applaud employees when things go smoothly or when they carry out tasks effectively. Taking ownership as a leader goes beyond dishing out tasks and bossing others around; managers doing this only put their company at risk.

This is because 77.9% of employees said they'd be more productive if executives recognized their efforts more often. But that's not all; keep reading to learn more about the importance of taking ownership, how it affects employees, and the results you should expect when your people start owning it.

Why Taking Ownership Matters

Taking ownership at work is not just for executives and leaders but also for employees. This is because when everyone owns what they do, they'll be more likely to put in 100% to ensure that projects are completed swiftly and operations run seamlessly. Aside from that, here are other reasons why taking ownership matters.

1. Boosts Self-Confidence and Gives Employees a Sense of Accomplishment

It's no surprise that 70% of employees are usually not engaged during work hours, affecting their psychological disposition and the team’s performance. One way to correct this is to create a work culture where everyone interacts and their efforts are recognized.

This gives everyone on the team more confidence to hop on complex and time-bound projects, especially when you give them more active roles in the company. A 2022 Gallup poll reveals 85% of the world's workforce are unhappy at their jobs for many reasons. This lack of satisfaction can lead to a feeling of lack of accomplishment or distrust in the value of the work they produce. When you encourage your staff to utilize their strengths and abilities and successfully complete such assignments, they'll feel more accomplished and perform better.

2. Encourages Creativity and Innovation

Taking ownership at work encourages employees to develop new ideas, build solutions, develop new products, and share concepts with their team members. This creates an environment where workers are unafraid to communicate their growth and suggest changes the company can implement to streamline processes and get more results.

3. Fosters a Sense of Responsibility

Taking ownership in the workplace gives employees a sense of responsibility, which in turn makes them more efficient in completing the tasks that their roles require. Workplace accountability can only exist when employees know what is expected of them. This understanding makes them more accountable and helps you in building a team culture while enabling a more accurate evaluation of team members' performances.

4. Engenders Trust

Loyalty and a willingness to stay longer at a company can only come from trust. About 50% of the workforce say they trust strangers more than their own boss. Without trust, you'll have an unhealthy working environment and broken work relationships between leaders, employees, and colleagues.

Encouraging colleagues to take ownership of work can build trust and a healthy team culture. At this point, employees and other team members are allowed to build portfolios around their work and the value they add to the team and their company. This portfolio serves as evidence, allowing every member to see their effort and trust their ability to complete certain tasks.

5. Creates a Positive Work Culture

Work culture is a collection of negative or positive attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that make up the regular atmosphere in a work environment. According to 94% of entrepreneurs and 88% of job seekers, the work culture in an office is paramount to the success of both employees and the business.

Hence, they focus on creating a company with a culture that aligns with their values. Taking ownership at work enables employers to give relevant feedback, recognize and reward valuable contributions, and promote a pro-team atmosphere. For workers, “owning it” enables them to solicit regular feedback and align with the company's mission, vision, and purpose while cultivating a strong coworker connection.

6. Promotes a Healthier Work Environment

Eighty-five percent of employees believe that their coworkers and work environment affect their mood and ability to be productive. A healthy workplace goes beyond physical health and safety. It also encompasses the psychological and social work environment.

Imagine a workplace where employees cannot freely express themselves, brainstorm and share ideas, or stretch their creativity. Such workers will not be as productive or innovative as those working in an environment where they are treated differently. It will ultimately destroy your team culture.

What Does Ownership Terminology Look Like?

Taking ownership at work means making the first move and taking responsibility for your team and company's ups and downs without blaming others when things go south. For leaders, it means giving others room to grow in their own positions and allowing them to take the lead when it makes sense. Striking this balance can be challenging (especially for leaders who have gotten used to overseeing everything), but doing so will benefit the business and everyone in it over time.

In more practical terms, let’s look at what it means for employees to take ownership at work and the language leaders should adopt to encourage greater ownership:

  • “You tell me.” This is a great phrase for leaders to use to encourage employees to solve problems on their own and think creatively.

  • Employees should feel comfortable expressing their opinions and concerns, whether they’re talking to their peers or their bosses.

  • Taking ownership means not waiting for others to act. It means starting to care about the outcome as much as an owner of the company would, taking into account that everyone in the organization benefits from small successes.

  • Owning projects, becoming more responsible, and providing great results aren’t enough. What happens when things don't go as planned? What do you do as an employee when you don't achieve the results you were aiming for? At this point, owning it means becoming accountable for the results of your actions. It’s okay to make mistakes. Remember: it’s all about learning.

However, here's what taking ownership does not look like:

  • When we say take ownership of work, it's not building your expertise or competence at the expense of others. Foster the relationships you have with the people around you.

  • Taking ownership at work is not doing what you feel like without looking out for others or showing respect to those who deserve it.

  • It’s not ignoring when it's your responsibility to act and instead pushing others to act on your instructions.

  • It's not just working on another job or completing a task; it's about making it your responsibility to ensure it is completed properly.

Remember that when no one takes ownership of a task or project, it fails. So encourage your employees to take initiative and reinforce those who are making efforts, no matter how small.

How to Create a Culture of Ownership

A great company and team culture starts from the top. The leaders must find the best way that aligns with their values and instills this culture in workers. Here are the best ways of creating an ownership culture that aligns with your purpose and people.

  • Enhance your modes of communication. Ensure requirements are highlighted to avoid mishaps.

  • Allow employees to explore (give them autonomy).

  • Ensure your employees are accountable. You'll have fewer talkers and more doers.

  • Involve employees when making certain relevant decisions.

  • Offer them room for growth. You can organize training and development programs.

What Happens When Your People Start "Owning It"?

To take ownership of work comes with lots of perks. When each member of a company starts to own it, better results are achieved, such as:

  • Employees become more productive as their relationship with their bosses and colleagues is healthy and influences them positively.

  • Everyone becomes more accountable since they know their actions must be reported, rewarded, and examined.

  • Employees navigate solid deadline management.

  • Problems are solved faster.

  • Employers see better management of company resources.

  • Employees enjoy higher job satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment.

  • The company experiences better financial performance stemming from improved work performance.

What Is a True Ownership Culture Built On?

Aside from fat paychecks and organizing weekend hangouts for employees, a true ownership culture is built on transparency, honesty, and feedback. Through consultations, business coaching, investment, and partnerships, Foreword Companies can help you achieve the “own it” mindset your company needs and transform your team culture. Visit our website today to learn more about how we make businesses better!

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