Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ownership and responsibility

One thing that most smaller companies or any company for that matter really treasures are employees who take ownership of what they do. This is because employees that take ownership often will go the extra mile for a project because they feel that they own the project. In my opinion this is hard to create in a employer-employee based company because of the inherent weakness of this structure. Employees are normally paid monthly. Whether they take on more or less projects, their salary will still come in, so the less they do the better off they are. Taking on the responsibility of a project will only give them more headache and more to answer to.

The boss who wants to create this kind of situation must be brave enough to take the leap into somewhat unchartered region. Profit share. You want partners start treating your employees like partners and I am sure they will rise up to the challenge. Trust them and allow them to make mistakes. Mistakes are the single most important asset for a small rising star. They are your mistakes and they are there to show you the way. Learn from them and cease making them mistakes. Mistakes are good. Expect to make many of them. The more you make the higher the chances of success. You know in the beginning your staff will screw up, except their work anyway making as least modifications as possible. Asking your staff to make a 10 page writeup only to at last use the last 2 sentences will be a killer on morale and will create the "I-don't-give-a-shit" employees. Let them make mistakes and take a chance with them. They will appreciate it.

Follow through on your words. Expecting people to own a project without any compensation or carrot will just create a situation where your people will feel exploited and words will sound hollow. Who in their right minds want to take on extra work for nothing? Bosses or companies owners who realize this early will be able to tap into the entrepreneur side of their employees and create a situation where their employees will naturally take on extra responsibilities without fuss. As the owner or the boss you main job is to step out of the way of your people as they do their work offering your support along the way. At the end of the day if your people feel that they have achieved something with the least help from you as possible then you are successful in creating people who take on ownership of projects and you in the would have gained leverage.
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