Learning & Development

How to Instill Ownership in Your Workforce

We’ve spent a couple of posts now discussing the concept of ownership in the workplace.


Source: doble-d / iStock / Getty

In an initial post on the topic, we explained that taking ownership means that you take accountability for something and its results—whether it’s a project, a department, a brand, or whatever it may be. It also means taking the initiative to drive what you own, and it means escalating, as needed, to get the job done.
In our second post, we discussed how a lack of ownership has detrimental impacts on a company by stifling progress and hindering the growth and development of new leaders—among other risks.
Here we look at some best practices for instilling a sense of ownership among your employees.

Don’t Micromanage

Micromanaging employees can really kill the propensity for them to take ownership. “Micromanaging creates a negative cycle where taking initiative is punished because how the task was completed, or the particulars of the result are criticized,”  says Warren Tanner. “It teaches employees that they should seek guidance and check in often to ensure they are on the right track.”


“Ownership is a two-way street,” says Tanner. “Communication cannot all be one-way. If you want employees to take ownership of their work, then you must create an environment in which they feel free to express themselves openly and honestly, and share their ideas with you.”
In other words, managers need to create an environment in which employees are empowered to take ownership by helping them when escalation or guidance is needed.

Culture of Ownership

A culture of ownership means that examples of ownership are praised, rewarded, and held up as a high standard so that everyone in the organization understands that taking ownership is valued. It also means holding owners accountable for unacceptable results.

Make It a Team Effort

Just because someone is the owner of a project or initiative doesn’t mean that he or she bears the entire responsibility to do all the work. It doesn’t even mean the individual is necessarily solely responsible for failures.
Others within the team may very well have important roles in a project, and they need to know that they own their own project pieces and will be held accountable. The leader of the effort is ultimately accountable for the results, but that is different from having sole responsibility.
Ownership is key to a company’s success. This is particularly true the larger the organization grows. As a company gains size, it’s simply not feasible for top management to oversee every aspect of the operation down to the minute details.
Over the last several posts, we’ve explained the concept of ownership, discussed the detrimental effects of not having sufficient ownership, and provided some tips on how to instill ownership among your own employees. What steps will you take to boost ownership among your employees?

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