Learning & Development

The Risks of a Lack of Ownership

In a previous post, we talked about the concept of ownership in the workplace. This could apply to having ownership over a specific project or initiative or, more generally, having ownership over a team or department. 


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We discussed that ownership requires, among other things, the ability to take accountability, demonstrate initiative, and be willing to escalate when necessary.
Here we talk about the challenges businesses face when their employees lack ownership or initiative.

Stifling Progress

One of the major problems with a lack of ownership is slow progress on various initiatives. If no one feels like he or she owns the project, nobody is going to be driving the project, and it will ultimately become stagnant.

Dropped Balls

When there is no ownership on a project or subcomponent of a project, it’s likely that critical elements of the project simply won’t get done. When these critical items fall through the cracks, people often start pointing fingers at others. That could have been avoided if someone had been assigned ownership at the outset.

Duplication of Efforts

The flip side of dropped balls is a duplication of efforts. When nobody knows who the owner of a project, initiative, or team is, multiple staff members might end up performing the same tasks because they aren’t aware that someone else is doing what they’re doing, or they’re working on the same project elements. Duplicated effort is wasted effort and results in lost productivity.

Lack of Trust

As Warren Tanner, author for Medium, says: ownership is crucial for developing trust. “Low trust translates to poor productivity,” he adds. “If you don’t trust your teammates, you spend time and energy following up and managing details you shouldn’t be.”

Stunted Growth of Potential Leaders

The Dottino Consulting Group tells us that a lack of ownership among employees often leads to a “dump and run” approach, where employees dump their problems onto their managers and express frustration if the manager doesn’t promptly solve the problems for them.
This is just one of many examples of how failing to instill a culture of leadership can stunt the growth of potential leaders who have never truly learned how to own something and proactively think for themselves.
We’ve talked about what it means to take ownership within the workplace in a previous post. Here we’ve looked at some of the very real challenges businesses run into when their employees don’t demonstrate real ownership. In our final post on this topic, we’ll discuss some tips to encourage ownership within your organization.

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