Last week I put my car in for a service and was given a hire car for the day.  I haven’t got the most luxurious car in the world but the car I was given was definitely not a like for like exchange. Since you’re asking, I own an old Volvo C70 and what I was given as a replacement was a new Ford Fiesta.  I had assumed, as I was using a Volvo main dealer I would be given another Volvo, so I was a little surprised at the car I was directed towards.  I hope this doesn’t sound snobbish – there’s a point in giving you this background.

For the rest of the day I treated my loan Fiesta very badly. I drove it in a way I’d never do with my own car.  I redlined it, crunched the gears and generally behaved like a boy racer.  In fact I feel a little embarrassed telling you about it.

Reflecting on it now reminds me of the importance of ownership.  I was loaned the Fiesta, placed in my care, but I didn’t treat like it was mine.  It belonged to someone else and that someone didn’t particularly matter to me, especially as I had felt wronged by being handed in my view, an inferior car.  As long as the car was returned visually unscathed, all would be good.  Someone once said “no-one ever washes a hire car” and that was definitely true for me.  It wasn’t my car, so why bother.

Had I made the time to think about it, or had known in advance, I probably would have done things differently.  If I had acted with a sense of responsibility, I would have driven the Fiesta as if it was my own car.  Taking ownership for my own thinking, decisions and actions, puts a whole different completion in things.

Ownership at work is so important. If you want your employees to do great things, you have to make them feel that they have an important role to play and can link their role to the bigger purpose.   They have to be  involved in the decisions that affect them and feel that they have a measure of control.   They have got the tools and support to get the job done. You have set them free to do what is required but hold them accountable for the results.

Setting people free however, doesn’t mean casting the adrift. Developing a sense of ownership is something that requires support and understanding.  Here are 3 things you can do to promote ownership:

Break the Dependancy Cycle

When people come to you with a problem, don’t give them solution, help them think it through for themselves and come up wth their own answer.  It takes longer at first, but in the longer them you’ll benefit from having a more capable team.

Set an Example

If you want to create a greater sense of ownership amongst your team, the first pace to start is with yourself.  When something goes wrong, take it on the chin, admit your own mistakes and show that you’re willing to learn from them.  This shows everyone that you are willing to practice what you preach and can also help someone avoid making a similar mistake in the future.

Recognise Contribution

People want to do a good and they want to know that their work has been noticed.  Recognising employees for their efforts builds confidence and commitment.  Rewards don’t have to be grand or financial, they have to be genuine and heartfelt. Placing a focus on positive results achieved and identifying improvements for the future will build a virus circle of continuous improvement.

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