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Many managers and business owners want their employees to have greater accountability so let’s look at some ways that we can instill a greater sense of ownership at work.
Q: How does an owner think?
A: An owner thinks about getting and keeping customers and generating profit from increasing revenues and reducing costs. An owner worries about generating cash flow from the business.
Q: So the owner has complete accountability?
A: Yes, they suffer or enjoy the consequences of their actions and decisions. When the business does well, they enjoy the consequence of having extra cash to either reinvest in the business or spend personally. If the business does poorly, the owner often has to make up the shortfall.
Q: Why don’t employees think like an owner naturally?
A: Some employees do think this way, and yet a majority do not. Employees tend to get paid no matter how the business is doing. Employees sometimes look forward to slow times when they can relax while the owner sees the slow times as costing them money. The employees don’t see the consequences of doing what is right or what is wrong.
Q: So how can the manager create a greater sense of ownership or accountability?
A: The manager needs to explain to the employees how their job affects the company’s ability to attract and keep customers and generate more revenue, than cost. The manager must constantly reinforce this message at every opportunity – when an employee is successful, the manager will offer positive feedback or praise and connect it to the business goals. When an employee doesn’t do what is required, the manager will explain the impact on the business.
Some companies do profit sharing, or incentives, or bonuses. This works once employees can connect their actions to the results. If the employee does not understand accountability or consequences then the incentive or bonus, while appreciated will not generate a change in behaviour.
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